3 things to think about with Star Wars Rebels

Vader on the hunt

Earlier this week we saw the announcement of a new animated series, Star Wars Rebels. With Dave Filoni on board, joined by Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, Young Justice) and spin-off screenwriter Simon Kinberg and a new look based on the art of Ralph McQuarrie? Exciting times.

Here are my thoughts on why it’s a good thing:

It moves the franchise focus forward in the timeline
A focus on the gaps of prequel era was all well and good when the Star Wars movies were ‘over,’ but now that the sequels are on the horizon, Lucasfilm and Disney have every reason to want to redirect that focus to an era a bit further along.

McQuarrie A-WingsIt’s almost their only choice, really. Heading straight to after Return of the Jedi could prove problematic while the new movies are still in their early stages. While I’m sure the folks at Lucasfilm have a basic idea of what shape the era is going to take, the details will no doubt be in flux until the first couple of movies are actually released – that’s not a place you want to start your brand-new cartoon.

The era between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, on the other hand? We know where it begins, with Revenge of the Sith. We know how it ends, in A New Hope. There’s even relatively little Expanded Universe material – a handful of books and comics plus The Force Unleashed and a few references to the early Rebellion (Garm Bel Iblis, etc.) in later works – but that’s not a whole lot, at least in comparison to what we have during and after the OT. That’s good news for EU fans, because although it’s quite entirely possible that Rebels will do with the existing canon as it will just like The Clone Wars did, what’s there is for the most part stuff that’s pretty small scale.

With sequels looming, Lucasfilm and Disney want fans of all ages familiar with and thinking about the original trilogy. The Clone Wars put the prequel characters in the forefront of kids’ minds by putting it on their TV on a weekly basis – now it’s time for Rebels to do the same with the original trilogy, even if Leia is the only one of the Big 3 we’re likely to see.

McQarrie X-Wing

New start, fresh eyeballs
A new show with a new focus on a new channel is a fresh start for everyone. Old Clone Wars viewers, kids who haven’t shown much interest in looking past the prequel era? Star Wars fans and parents who are only really interested in the original movies? This could be a blend of both. The placement means they can bring in both elements from The Clone Wars and elements from the A New Hope-era Rebellion, plus characters that already straddle both like Bail Organa and Grand Moff Tarkin. Who wants to spend some time on Alderaan? In Rebels, we can!

You could even see Clone Wars favorites like Ahsoka Tano and Hondo Ohnaka. With Filoni on board I fully expect they’ll be a part of this show, even if introduced sparingly at first to allow the new cast some time to stand on their own.

McQuarrie's VaderOh, and Darth Vader. Do you really think they’re not going to use Darth Vader?

What’s next?
Let’s say that Rebels runs five or six seasons – 2014-2020. Assuming everything remains on schedule, that takes us through Episode IX. The next show? Could take place between Return of the Jedi and Episode VII. In fact… I’d bet on it. Maybe I’ll get my salad bar after all.

No, Rebels isn’t my dream Star Wars series. But I can see how and why this is an attractive option for Lucasfilm right now: It just makes sense. It’s directing a wider audience back towards thinking about the original trilogy and opening up an era that hasn’t been much explored. It’s using Ralph McQuarrie’s concepts as an inspiration, promising a bold new look that recalls perhaps the most iconic Star Wars artwork out there. A little old, a little new – and what’s more Star Wars than that?

12 thoughts on “3 things to think about with Star Wars Rebels

  1. Mark Elwood

    I agree. I’m pretty excited about this show. As with anything new in Star Wars it will perhaps take away from the mystery that is currently “The Dark Times” and the time that Vader “helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights..” Same thing happened with the Clone Wars. It used to be mostly up to the imagination. Now that we know what they look like, is it as awesome as we thought? Was a young Anakin what we expected Darth Vader to be like as a child in the prequels? So there is always that danger that it might not be what we expected, or just a little bit of sadness of loosing the mystery from that Era. But by in large, this is usually overshadowed tremendously by the great storytelling of the new content, be it movie, game, or whatever.

    I’m happy about it being in an lightly touched EU era as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they carry over some of the characters from the Clone Wars as well, to really pull people back into the classic Star Wars era.

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  2. Leigh Oakley

    Characters we might see in Rebels…

    Princess Leia (obviously), R2-D2, C-3PO (unless the ‘Droids’ cartoon series is considered to be canonical).

    Ahsoka Tano. Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin. General Dodonna. Admiral Yularen.

    Mara Jade, later on? Boba Fett? Jabba?

    Maybe we’ll even see a pre-ANH Han and Chewie occasionally?

    TIE fighters and Z-95 Headhunters.

    Got to say, loved ‘The Clone Wars’ animated series. Can’t WAIT for ‘Star Wars: Rebels.’ :-)

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  3. Jason Ward

    This article makes many of the same points I’ve been making with my Star Wars friends since the announcement, heck, since the speculation began based on the hints from Twitter started. Many assumed programming was going to tie in with Episode VII, but that is impossible considering this show is actually “filming” before Episode VII has filmed a day or even had any casting announcements.

    I think you make an excellent point about this being a blend of the I-III era and the IV-VI era. It is a perfect balance of the two established Star Wars eras we’ve seen before. I would extrapolate upon that even a little further to add that you need characters alive to tell stories with them. So in many ways, this is actually better than getting a show set during IV-VI for that reason. Jabba’s cohort is there to be worked with now, whereas after VI, most are presumed dead.

    I am with you 100% about a post-Episode VI series not being appropriate at this juncture. I love that these shows resides beside the films. It matters to know that they matter. Look at Boba Fett in the Holiday Special cartoon or even General Grievous in 2005’s Clone Wars. Both depictions aren’t totally in line with what we got in the films. For me, it makes them lesser than the films. It makes them something else; something half baked (but still appreciated). If we ventured after Episode VI, we’d run that risk of large inconsistencies at every turn.

    Seeing Darth Vader fighting rebels is going to be so intriguing. As a kid with my VHS tape, I used to ponder Vader’s line “There’ll be no one to stop us this time,” which alluded to a greater strife between Vader and the rebels of the past. This show might fill in that idea for me. Hopefully one day when I watch Episode IV, I’ll think of this show when he says that line.

    Other things with Vader come to mind as well. Does Vader feel inner turmoil after what he did and about what’s become? Or does he just become even more focused in his hatred and violence? What is like for the classic heroes during this time? When it comes to Han SoloI would say the more callous and shut off a person appears, the more they’ve been hurt and betrayed by people who were supposed to love them. Cynicism is learned. I would say Han Solo is very much a damaged character, tarnished by less than ideal life experiences. His true nature, his warm heart, and his selflessness are revealed as he experiences the goodness and selflessness of others (Han and Leia). If we get some of what made him that man before he changed, I would happy.

    This era is so mysterious and so expansive, I can see it going on forever. Look at what The Clone Wars did with three years, this era has twenty years and tons more characters to pull from. I always hoped to see twenty year old Lando in The Clone Wars, but I’ll take 22 year old Lando after The Clone Wars too. I’m sure many of these stories are being saved for films and that may be the only enemy to this series. What they can have to withhold from the spin-off films maybe the only detriment. But hopefully Simon Kinberg being aboard means some cohesion between the two that will allow for this show to move forward without too many obstacles.

    That said, I really liked the new characters in The Clone Wars the best. Cad Bane, Ahsoka, Lux, Sugi and her bounty hunter squad, the Nightsisters, and many more were fantastic additions to Star Wars. I look forward to a new cast of heroes and new characters most of all.

    My personal hope is that Ahsoka unites the disparate rebel groups she partook in as a Padawan. These rebel groups that were founded during the The Clone Wars are what becomes the rebel alliance years later, at least that was the impression I left that series with. I would like to see Ahsoka uniting the rebels on Onderon with the Cadets from Mandalore, and many others we can assume she trained but we never saw on screen. Even the Night Owls would not accept outside rule of Mandalore and surely did not welcome imperialism any more than they welcomed Maul. Just the aftermath of The Clone Wars gives a ton of stories to tell.

    I am more than excited about this news. I was honestly as bummed as one can be about a canceled TV show after The Clone Wars, but I feel this will allowed for all the loose ends to be tied up. Sure, I never got to see Obi-Wan and Anakin in the Outer Rim sieges and I never saw how Padme hid her pregnancy (which might not have flown on a kid’s show anyways). But I think the trade off is worth it in the end.

    Cool article, as per usual, Dunc.

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  4. Dom

    I’m excited about the series, but a bit worried about the potential market for it. With the Sequels on the horizon, are people really going to be that interested in this era? How much are viewers going to invest in this era when the rest of the franchise is moving forward? I’d actually say Disney would be smart here to announce a timeline for the show, say 1-2 years, so people can focus intently on it and then switch their attention to the sequels.

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  5. Skywalker2B

    Good points. I agree. However, I would hope that this show wouldn’t have to have its full run before they work on a new one set after RotJ.

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  6. derp

    Thos are all good points. :) I’m very excited for this series, I hope it will be able to go as dark as TCW with Disney at the helm. The idea of basing it on Ralph McQuarrie is a great one. TCW already often looked like his painting, but this new era will be able to do that much more.

    I hope that the new show will pursue some of the stories that TCW left incomplete. As Jason mentionned, the mandalorian certainly wouldn’t accept the Empire. It would be interesting to see how its arrival impacts their own internal conflicts.

    It would be really great to have Sidious using Maul to track down Jedis. It would make perfect sens, it would be his ”other use” for Maul.

    How Ahsoka reacts to the arrival of the Empire and how she acts against it would be great to see. I’m pretty sure show would start her own rebellion cell. I really want her to be with Ventress, and maybe a bit like Ventress. Leaving the order and the rise of the Empire certainly had an impact on her, and I would love to see her as a more grey, conflicted character, dealing with some dark side issues while fighting the Empire. But if there is one thing that I’m sure about, it’s that I don’t want to see Lux. And certainly not with Ahsoka. Their relationship was resolved, and I don’t think it should be reopened. Just because the Order isn’t here anymore doesn’t mean she all of a sudden can fall in love. Attachements lead to the dark side. I know, I mentionned Dark Sideissues, but I don’t think those should involve romance. And if they really have to, may they not involve Lux. He was really annoying.

    Darth Vader having some emotionnal issues of his own would be cool. And I really would like to see Captain rex and Fives. Are they stormtroopers now? Did they quit the army? Those would be interesting questions, but I suspect that we will have answers in the bonus content, with the order 66 stuff. Who knows, maybe they will leave in the bonus content, and we will see them in the new show.

    I have great hope for this series, but I personnally think that Lucasfilm could’ve brought it to us without such a brutal cancellation. There were three seasons left written. They could’ve removed from those all non-essential arcs until they had 1 and a half to two seasons left, that they would’ve aired and then have a transition to episode 3 in TCW, and then continue with the new show. It would’ve avoided them some fan rage, given them a chance to make more money out of the prequels while still changing era before Episode 7, and having a more direct transition between eras would’ve probably dragged even more viewers from TCW to this new show; for Clone Wars fans, it would be almost as if it still was the same show, just in the OT, so there would be fewer losses than with ending TCW brutally. That combined with an increase in the OT fanbase watching would’ve secured more ratings. Keeping the Clone Wars a bit longer would’ve also given them the chance to exploit Star Wars TV potential while Rebels isn’t on the air yet, and the new show could have surfed on TCW’s popularity, which it won’t do as well a year after the Clone Wars’ cancellation.

    I still have hopes that one day, in a few years, they will make some unaired episodes. In it’s last seasons TCW had been dealing a lot with the Republic and Anakin’s transformation, and by the looks of the bonus content it was just the beginning. The bonus content being just 2-3 arcs, I can’t help but be saddened by the thought of all these other arcs dealing with those important themes that will never air. Those are themes that Rebels will never be able to deal with as directly as TCW, no matter how interesting the new show looks. And so I keep hoping about TCW returning in a few years, when all this transition will be behind us…

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  7. Stooge

    I must be the only masochist here who thought it was hilarious every time TCW blew up continuity. At least in retrospect.

    What’ll make or break this series for you? The animated style?

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  8. Dunc Post author

    Stooge: It never bothered me with TCW, I doubt it will here, either. What I did get sick of was all the whining about it.

    The style would be part of it in that it has to actively not turn me off. But overall, I was also rarely impressed that much with TCW beyond just my issues with the character design. The few times I watched it (which are by no means conclusive) it tended to have some major moments that were a lot more tell than show. I don’t know if that’s par for the course with a kids show or not, but it was deeply annoying to me. I didn’t have that problem with ATLA, but I guess ATLA is a rare bird… And not taking place in a universe where I was already well-versed in the basics. So I hope Rebels can be a bit more subtle in that aspect.

    I don’t really know what will make it for me – characters I can care about? That’s tough for me and Star Wars these days (mostly me,) but anything’s possible, I guess. And I hope they can balance standalone stories with multi-parters… Did TCW even DO any standalone stories that last season?

    Rebels is almost certainly going to be a wait-and-see. But I think the chances that I’ll watch more than a dozen episodes over multiple seasons are pretty good. I’ll probably give it more of a chance, assuming it doesn’t put me to sleep during the debut hour. ;)

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  9. Wild Horse Fantasy

    Ah. Potential. And then there’s Han, Chewie and Lando floating about. Even if they aren’t in the Rebellion, they are out there for hire, right? It would be rather appropriate given that Chewie showed up in an episode of the Clone Wars…

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  10. SarahK

    A cool setting for sure! Will we see Han in his Imperial days? Mara’s parents? Lando when he still had the Falcon? Leia during the fledgeling days of the Rebellion?

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  11. Dunc Post author

    As for existing characters appearing…

    Obi-wan, Han: I wouldn’t bet on it. (Obi-wan more than Han, due to his situation.) But mainly because these two are almost certainly prime material for spin-off films during this era. Lando? Maybe. I’d expect Lando first.

    Vader, Palpy, Tarkin: Pretty much a given. Also Ahsoka. That said, I don’t expect to see any of these before the S1 finale, although I wouldn’t be shocked if they use Ahsoka as the ‘Boomer’ reveal for the premiere.

    Bail, Artoo, Threepio, Leia: Very likely.

    Mara: Possible, but VERY unlikely. (I hope not her parents, because I very much Do Not Want To Know.)

    Maul: I kinda hope not, but it’s not out of the question. Maybe for Ahsoka or Vader to take out, as you can’t expect too many Jedi or Jedi-trained survivors at a level that could beat him. (Though that may largely depend on exactly how close to ROTS this ends up.) Almost any trained Force sensitive that appears during this is going to have a very quickly-approaching expiration date. But I would rather have him here than show up as the villain in an actual Obi-wan film.

    Wild card: Padme’s nieces?

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