When the Star Wars prequel trilogy was released — long before modern fans inexplicably started believing they’re great films — even the most staunch critics agreed: the lightsaber battles were awesome. The fast-paced, extremely acrobatic choreography, often taking place across multiple locations, was a sight to behold. Fans will be pleased to know that Manny Jacinto, one of the Stars of Disney’s upcoming Star Wars series The Acolyte, says the show will bring back that style of fighting.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly about the new Star Wars project, Jacinto said that The Acolyte will focus on intricate, highly-choreographed lightsaber battles. Blasters, which are far more prevalent than lightsabers in most Star Wars media, will be all but absent from the series. The hope, Jacinto says, is to reach the high-water mark set by The Phantom Menace’s much beloved “Duel of the Fates.”
“If you loved that sequence with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and Darth Maul, I think you’re going to enjoy this show.Manny Jacinto
Star Wars’ The Acolyte has some big shoes to fill. The iconic wordless battle between the two Jedi and the dual-saber-wielding Sith apprentice lasted more than five minutes onscreen, featuring more jumps, spins, flips, and twirls than anything audiences had seen before.
The combatants fought their way through the massive environment with more energy and speed than anything in the original trilogy or any later films.
This announcement will probably generate excitement from fans of the Star Wars prequels, who have often lamented the basic lightsaber combat in more recent productions. While the sequel films focused on the emotional impact of the battles, with the exception of a single (perhaps overly-indulgent) battle in The Last Jedi, the choreography of its lightsaber battles paled in comparison to anything found in the prequels.
If Star Wars shows it can return to prequel-style combat in The Acolyte, it might attract some fans who have all but given up on the franchise.
Of course, cast members aren’t satisfied with saying the combat is like the fight scene in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace — they claim that The Acolyte‘s combat will be even better. Charlie Barnett boasted that the lightsaber fights have more “tangible physical moves” than those seen in the iconic Duel of the Fates.
He stated that the series will have more “visceral” scenes — ones that have resulted in Barnett accidentally getting whacked in the head during filming.
If Star Wars: The Acolyte‘s lightsaber battles are choreographed so that the actors risk getting hit, that means it addresses one of the few criticisms that have ever surfaced about the Duel of the Fates. That criticism being, for all the fight’s flashiness and martial arts moves, the combatants never take a swing that looked like it could actually make contact with their opponent.
Charlie Barnett boasted that the lightsaber fights have more “tangible physical moves” than those seen in the iconic Duel of the Fates.
Older Star Wars fans probably remember the viral video “Star Wars: The (Totally) Phantom Menace,” which made this problem clear.
It remains to be seen whether Star Wars will have a new standard for lightsaber fights after The Acolyte airs. Filming for the series wrapped up in June 2023, though the series isn’t set to release on Disney+ until 2024. Until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with Star Wars: Ahsoka, which will premiere on August 23.