What You Need To Know About Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

Darth Malak on the cover of Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic

Although things are slowing down on the theatrical front for a bit, there is still a ton of Star Wars headed our way in the future. There are multiple films from both David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and Rian Johnson on the way after this year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wraps up the Skywalker Saga.

That may not be all though, because if a new report is accurate, a movie based on the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game is also in the works. According to the report, Laeta Kalogridis, co-writer of Alita: Battle Angel and creator of Netflix’s Altered Carbon, is close to finishing the first script of a potential Knights of the Old Republic trilogy.

A Knights of the Old Republic trilogy is huge news because the Old Republic is something die-hard Star Wars fans have been calling for since Disney took over Lucasfilm and started making new movies set in a galaxy far, far away. But not everyone played the Knights of the Old Republic video game or is familiar with Star Wars stories outside the films, and thus have no idea why this is exciting news.

So here is a rundown of what you need to know about Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic gameplay

The Games (And Comics)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was released on the original Xbox and PC in 2003. The role-playing game from BioWare and LucasArts is a 40-hour epic written by Drew Karpyshyn, who also wrote Mass Effect as well as five Star Wars novels, including the Darth Bane trilogy. KOTOR received universal acclaim and is considered to be the best Star Wars game ever made. It’s also seen as one of the best role-playing games ever and one of the best video games of all time. Basically, there is a ton of love out there for Knights of the Old Republic.

Obsidian Entertainment teamed up with LucasArts to handle the sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, which was released in 2004. A third game, the massively multiplayer online RPG Star Wars: The Old Republic was released in 2011 that was set 300 years after the original games, but was impacted by those events and was still during the Old Republic time period.

There was also the Dark Horse comic series that ran for 50 issues from 2006-2010 and was set eight years prior to the first Knights of the Old Republic game. Additionally, there is the Star Wars: The Old Republic novel series, two titles of which were written by KOTOR’s Drew Karpyshyn. This is all to say that there are plenty of sources and ancillary materials for Laeta Kalogridis and Lucasfilm to draw upon for a Knights of the Old Republic movie.

Darth Malak and Darth Revan wielding lightsabers

The Story

The story of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is its biggest claim to fame and why so many want to see it on the big screen. Set 4,000 years before the Galactic Empire and the events of the Skywalker Saga, KOTOR tells a story of Jedi and Sith when both are powerful forces in the galaxy with many in their ranks (this is before the Sith’s Rule of Two).

The opening crawl warns that the Republic is on the verge of collapse and under attack from Darth Malak, a Sith Lord and last surviving apprentice of the notoriously evil Darth Revan. Malak has released an armada against the Republic and countless Jedi are falling in battle, with some even falling to the Dark Side.

We learn that prior to the events of the game, Darth Malak and Darth Revan were both Jedi Knights who abandoned the Order to fight for the Republic in the Mandalorian Wars. The two became heroes, but following the end of those wars, they went into the Unknown Regions where they fell under the influence of the leader of the Sith Empire. The two returned as Sith and battled the Jedi and the Republic, but eventually Darth Malak turned on his master, firing upon his ship and usurping Revan’s position.

The game begins with the player assuming the role of a soldier of the Galactic Republic who wakes up aboard the Endar Spire, a ship in the Outer Rim, as it comes under attack. The player eventually crosses paths with Bastila Shan, the Jedi Knight sent to capture Malak and Revan when they returned from the Unknown Regions.

Alongside Bastila Shan, the player seeks to put together a star map that can lead them to Darth Malak and the Star Forge, a superweapon speculated to be the source of much of his power. It’s a 40-hour game, so a lot happens, but the player travels to multiple planets like Tatooine, Dantooine, Kashyyyk, Manaan and Korriban, coming into contact with a wide cast of characters in the fight to stop Darth Malak and save the galaxy.

Darth Revan

The Twist

Part of what makes the story of Knights of the Old Republic so special is a twist that ranks up there in Star Wars storytelling with the “No, I am your father” moment from The Empire Strikes Back. Spoilers for a 16-year-old game ahead! During the course of the game, the player learns that his or her true identity is none other than Darth Revan, the Dark Lord presumed dead when Darth Malak fired upon his master’s ship.

Bastila Shan and her strike team were on Revan’s ship to capture him when Malak fired upon the ship, trying to kill his friend and master. Darth Malak almost succeeded as Revan was gravely wounded. But Bastila Shan saved him and took him to the Jedi Council on Dantooine. There, Revan’s memories were wiped and he was brainwashed into believing that he was a Republic soldier. The hope being that eventually, through the Force bond Bastila and Revan shared after she saved his life, they could use him to discover the location of the Star Forge and help destroy the Sith.

It’s a huge reveal that sets up a forking path for Revan. Should the player choose Dark Side choices, he or she will usurp Malak at game's end and reclaim the title of Dark Lord of the Sith, seeking new dominion over the galaxy. If the player remains in the light, he or she will destroy the Star Forge, defeat Darth Malak and be hailed as a hero and welcomed back into the Jedi Order as the Prodigal Knight.

Bastila Shan

The Characters

A major aspect of Knights of the Old Republic’s compelling story is that it is following a rich, diverse cast of fun characters that the player cares about. Revan, a human male, is a fascinatingly complex character in the Star Wars mythos because he has lived on both sides of the Dark/Light spectrum and everywhere in between. There is a reason he remains a fan favorite despite no longer being part of official canon.

Darth Malak is merciless and powerful, everything you could want in a Sith Lord. Bastila Shan is one of Star Wars’ great female characters, a confident and skilled Jedi Knight with the incredible Force power of Battle Meditation. The power allows her to boost the morale, stamina and courage of her allies, helping them to act as one, quickly and efficiently, while simultaneously demoralizing and striking fear in the hearts of the enemy.

Other characters include the skilled Republic pilot Carth Onasi, the Mandalorian mercenary Canderous Ordo, the cheery Twi’lek teen Mission Vao, the Wookie Zaalbar, the Gray Jedi Jolee Bindo and the fan favorite, and K-2SO predecessor for droid snark, the assassin droid HK-47. They are all great characters that put faces to the galaxy’s conflicts and make the universe feel bigger.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Possibilities For The Film

What all of this means for the movie it is too early to say. I think the biggest question is whether or not this is a real adaptation of the Knights of the Republic video game. The initial report said that Laeta Kalogridis was writing a script based on that game, but the cynic in me thinks that leaves a lot of wiggle room for a Knights of the Old Republic movie to have a different story.

As evidenced by the jettisoning of the Expanded Universe, Lucasfilm under Disney has shown a reticence to adapt existing material, instead choosing to tell entirely new stories where all audiences are on an even footing knowledge-wise and no one knows the story in advance. So I could totally see a Knights of the Old Republic movie simply being a story set during the Old Republic time period that takes inspiration from KOTOR, but not one that has the same story of Revan and Darth Malak.

That would be a shame though, because as Game of Thrones showed, you can adapt material where some of the audience already knows the story beats and still have success. If anything, the experience of watching that show was enhanced because some audience members knew what was coming in advance, making Ned’s death and the Red Wedding all the more fun. The same could be true for the truth about Revan.

Lucasfilm has cherry-picked non-canon elements from the EU before (like Grand Admiral Thrawn appearing in Star Wars Rebels), so maybe that’s possible here. Hopefully it does more than cherry-pick though, because Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most beloved Star Wars tales for a reason and it has all the necessary ingredients to make for a awesome big screen trilogy.

We’ll keep you updated on all the various Star Wars trilogies in the works as we hear about them. You can next revisit a galaxy far, far away when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all this year’s biggest movies.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.