Star Wars Rebels: What We Know

7/10/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

Star Wars is coming back in a big way in the next few years.  Although Episode VII and the spin-off movies are getting most of the attention, the first (well, technically the second) official new canon installment since the Disney acquisition will be the animated show, Star Wars Rebels.  The series will take place after Episode III and before Episode IV, so it will clear up a lot of questions fans have about the beginning of the Empire and (especially) the Rebel Alliance.

Rebels is also a sort of followup to The Clone Wars (which ended somewhat abruptly with season 6), and includes much of the production crew from The Clone Wars, which is good news for those of us that were fans of the series.  Dave Filoni is returning as an Executive Producer.  He's featured in all of the video below (wearing the cowboy hat), so I'm not going to dedicate a paragraph to him.  I sample information from him throughout.  Anyone that has watched The Clone Wars knows he's good stuff.

There's been a slow trickle of news about this show for the past few months, so I've gathered a master list (similar to my DC Movie Universe roundup) for everyone to catch up on exactly what's up with this show.  There will be spoilers for anything Star Wars, including The Clone Wars.

The most exciting part about Star Wars Rebels is the opportunity to return to a lot of the classic iconography that many Star Wars fans missed with the prequels.  Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for the original trilogy is a heavy source of inspiration, meaning a return of Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers, Stormtroopers, X-Wings, and etc.

They are even basing the imagery off of McQuarrie's color palette with lighting, color tone, and even camera movements being heavily inspired by the Star Wars Original Trilogy.

Kevin Kiner, who did the music for The Clone Wars, is returning to compose for Star Wars Rebels.  He did a great job with The Clone Wars, but he says he's excited to be involved in Rebels, because he has an opportunity to work with more of John Williams's original score.

The music is one of the most iconic parts of Star Wars (outside of McQuarrie's concept art), and you can see Kiner sampling some of the music from the Original Trilogy video above.  You can hear the influence of songs like Binary Sunset/Force Theme or The Imperial March in some of his music, and if you're like me, you might feel the hair o the back of your neck raise a little bit.

One of the most exciting things about all the new Star Wars properties is the involvement of Simon Kinberg.  Kinberg will be helping with the shaping of the overall universe as well as helming one of the Star Wars spinoffs.  I'm a big fan of him as a writer, as you may know if you read my review of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Kinberg is serving as an Executive producer for Star Wars Rebels, which means he'll be working to make sure it not only fits into existing Star Wars canon, but also serves to facilitate a much larger Star Wars universe we'll be seeing over the coming years.

If you watch the video above, you'll be happy to see that Kinberg is a Star Wars fans fan.  He says he "grew up worshipping Star Wars," his favorite character is Han Solo, Empire Strikes back is his favorite movie, but the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in A New Hope is his favorite scene.  Those are all things I'm glad to see in the person that will be shaping the overall direction of the Star Wars shared universe.

Greg Weisman is also serving as an Executive Producer.  He's an animation veteran, coming from fan favorite shows such as Gargoyles and Young Justice.  Weisman is also a Star Wars fan and his favorite character is Chewbacca (which fits nicely as a companion to Kinberg's Han).  He's excited to show how the Rebel Alliance came to be and says that this show will bear a much stronger resemblance to A New Hope than it does the prequels, which is music to the ears of many Star Wars fans that have distanced themselves from some of the more recent franchise installments.

We also have a preview of many of the characters we'll be seeing in Star Wars Rebels.  The Clone Wars tended to jump between a lot of different characters, telling more of a broad, galaxy wide story.  Very little is known about Star Wars rebels, but the cast announcements and tiny story details suggest it will be a much more intimate story, at least initially.

As Simon Kinberg says in the video above, it's important to have to create a good villain and the "greatest villain in history of story telling is Darth Vader."  The new main villain for Rebels may not exactly be Darth Vader, but the creators did want to make sure there was relatable, but still scary.  The villain we get, is The Inquisitor.

There is not a character video for The Inquisitor as there are for the other characters below and next to nothing is known about him, except he is tasked by Darth Vader to continue to hunt down and destroy the remaining Jedi Knights.

Although Revenge of the Sith ended with the execution of Order 66, not all the Jedi are gone.  We know Yoda and Obi-Wan have gone into hiding (some rumors say they may make an appearance in Rebels), and there are a few Jedi still unaccounted for, such as Asoka Tano (who fans would be elated to see make an appearance).

Another Jedi driven into hiding, is Kanan Jarrus.  Kanan was a padawan at the time of Episode III, and has since put away his lightsaber and left the Jedi order in an act of self preservation.  This presents an interesting and new archetype for Star Wars, a renegade Jedi.  The portayal of all force users has traditionally forced into this binary dark side/light side paradigm, but theres a whole gradient to be explored.  Kanan falls right into that grey area.  We'll likely see him struggle with the Jedi role and redefine the understanding of what it means to be a Jedi in contrast to the rigid stance of the Jedi Council in the prequels.

The next character is Ezra, a force sensitive street rat that is taken under the wing of Kanan.  Ezra probably resembles a version of Luke Skywalker from A New Hope and will serve as the lens through which the audience is introduced to the larger galaxy.

Although we have seen a similar archetype in Luke from A New Hope, we never got the chance to see him actually train to become a Jedi.  That all happened off screen.  Ezra presents an opportunity--due to the episodic format--for fans to actually witness the slow transition from non Jedi to Jedi.  Obviously neither him, nor Kanan, are present in the Original Trilogy, so it will be interesting to see their character arc and if they are killed off or if there is another explanation for their lack of presence in the existing universe.

Zeb is a brawler and the muscle of the group.  His species, the Lasat, are actually based on the original concept art for Chewbacca, although he is clearly not a Wookie and he definitely speaks Galactic Standard.

Zeb will likely fulfill a very similar role to that of Chewbacca, although he is not the second fiddle to any other character.  He seems to be very independent and a highly trained warrior.  Very little has been announced about him, but his hatred for the empire seems to be on a more personal level and his backstory will likely be a significant component of the series.

And what would Star Wars be without a droid with a strong personality?  That's where Chopper comes in.  Chopper is an astromech droid with an attitude, and is honestly my biggest concern with the series.  Some of the weaker moments of Star Wars come with the over use of cheesy droid moments.  Fortunately, it looks like Chopper won't be too ridiculous, but this show will air on Disney XD, so it would be irrational to not expect some childish moments.

The design of Chopper is actually really cool.  They went back to McQuarrie's R2-D2 concept art in order to make something that appears older than R2 does in the original trilogy.  Star Wars Episode VII is actually employing the services of an R2-D2 builders club for some of the set work, and some of the members have gone to work on Star Wars Rebels designing and building functioning Chopper models.

The newest character introduced is Agent Kallus.  Kallus is an imperial officer he takes his sense of duty very seriously.  The character design and voice definitely harken back to the imperial officers of the Original Trilogy, which is really exciting.

Kallus heads up a task force who's goal is to stamp out any scent of Rebel scum.  Since that's the entire point of this show, Kallus will likely hold a significant role as the Rebel hunter.

The Clone Wars touches on The Mandalorians briefly, there have been no major Mandalorian characters in the Star Wars Universe.  Boba (and Jango) Fett are the closest we've come, but they merely acquired Mandalorian armor.  Sabine Wren will be the first major character that not only wears Mandalorian armor, but is also of Mandalorian heritage.

Sabine is a weapons and explosives expert who despises the Empire.  She'll be a very interesting character, not only for her Mandalorian roots, but also her graffiti.  Sabine often tags her targets and defaces Imperial property, which makes her a great character to introduce some interesting Star Wars iconography.  She is shown painting several versions of the Rebel Alliance Phoenix symbol in the video above, so it's possible she'll be a sort of origin of one of the most famous Star Wars images.

Then, of course, the whole crew needs a ship and a captain.  Ghost is a modified VCX-100, which might have a slightly familiar design, because it is a Corellian freighter, just like Han Solo's modified YT-1300, The Millenium Falcon.  Ghost also holds a small attack shuttle, Phantom, which is normally docked in the rear.

The pilot of Ghost is a Twi'lek named Hera Syndulla.  Hera is the ships Captain, and therefore will serve as a spiritual leader for the group and a sort of emotional heart.  It sounds like the crew basically resembles the crew of Serenity, which makes Hera the Star Wars equivalent of Mal.

Overall, it looks like a great crew.  The Clone Wars did a phenomenal job of filling in some gaps and "fixing" parts of the oft maligned Star Wars Prequels, so hopefully Star Wars Rebels can build on that and serve as an effective glue to tie the prequels to the original trilogy.

Having Simon Kinberg aboard is huge, as it is his job to make sure that all the new properties fit into the same universe.  Episode VII comes out in december of 2015, but the first step down that path will be Star Wars rebels this fall.  I'll be right there and you can expect episodic coverage and analysis at that time as well.

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