Star Wars: Underworld Was a Rad Live-Action Show That Never Made It

Long-hidden footage from Lucasfilms and Stargate Studio shows a nifty live-action show cancelled after Disney negotiatons began.

If you wanted cool, on-the-ground action from the Star Wars universe, like some of the scenes in Rogue One, there was a chance it could have happened. Star Wars: Underworld was pretty much exactly that: the aesthetics and stakes of a spin-off film with all the charm of an early 2010s sci-fi series.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get that awesome live-action spinoff. It appears the series lost its way in the midst of the Lucasfilms Disney buyout process. However, 10 years later, the original test footage, plus some behind-the-scenes treats, made it onto YouTube.

In the Star Wars: Underworld footage, we see a bit of mystique, a bit of action, and a lot of suspense. A young woman, understood to be a Rebel, hijacks the plans to an Empire ship. She bring them to a merchant, asking for all the best fighters to set up an attack. It’s not the simple, of course. This is still Star Wars, so something needs to go wrong. And the lurking stormtroopers guarantee just that.

If it sounds like your thing… then chances are it probably is. The dialogue is minimalist, but that’s really not the point. The footage is meant to, well, test the aesthetics, effects, and initial concept of Star Wars: Underworld. 

Star Wars: Underworld definitely would have fit the aesthetic of the time. The world was just starting to accept goths, and the Resident Evil and similarly-titled Underworld series were in full swing. Evanescence was still slightly cool, Harry Potter was shifting into darker colors, and the Twilight movies were starting to come to a close. In other words, we could have used yet another edgy science fiction series out there. Hey! Maybe it could have even defeated Arrow in the television wars.

More importantly, it continues Star Wars in a way that “old canon” fans likely would have enjoyed. A series that focused its camera onto on-the-ground character would have brought opportunities for world building. And in Star Wars, world building is key to understanding motivations for characters and organizations. In the old canon, for instance, there were far more non-partisan Force users.

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Underworld appears to lean more towards non-Force users anyway — much like in Rogue One. (Heck, the plots are even similar!) But unlike Rogue One, it builds on more — wait for it — underworld lore about the Star Wars world. Instead of just focusing on the Rebels, this scene alone hints at more lore on how on-the-ground factions play out. The merchant seems to keep more in his arsenal than it appears, for instance.

Unfortunately, since this leaked 10 years later, it seems unlikely this will come to be. Until Disney decides to give us something more empowering, which seems unlikely given the direction The Rise of Skywalker went, we at least have the final season of Clone Wars coming up. That seems like it’s going to be an emotional ride in its own right! After that, though, we’ll have to wait and see.

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Victoria Rose

Victoria is a Brooklyn-based, chaotic-good former dungeon master and a Contributor-At-Large for Fanbyte. She's a self-proclaimed esports pundit, and used to do Dota 2 news and reporting as a full-time part-time gig. She's also four red pandas stacked in a hoodie. [she/her/hers or they/their/theirs]

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