We all know that Star Wars Episode VII will be general audiences’ first chance to see what the franchise’s live action future will be. There’s plenty of excitement, nervousness and skepticism in the air. However, Star Wars fans might be able to slightly alleviate, or confirm their fears upon viewing Disney’s first foray into a galaxy far, far away: the animated series, Star Wars Rebels.
Taking place several years before the events of A New Hope, Rebels follows a small rag-tag team of mercenaries, and their adventures working with the newly formed Rebel Alliance.
Led by a rogue Jedi Knight named Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), the team is comprised of a number of characters with their own unique quirks and personalities. Following Jarrus and his Imperial hating ways is the teenage thief, Ezra (Taylor Gray), who’s coming to grips with the fact that he can use the Force; Sabine (Tiya Sircar), a Mandalorian warrior with a love of explosives and graffiti art; Hera (Vanessa Marshall), the pilot and owner of the Ghost, the team’s personal starship; Zeb (Steve Blum), the group’s Chewbacca-like muscle; and Chopper, a moody astromech droid tasked with the responsibility of repairing the Ghost.
With a cast of fun-loving heroes, a suitably detestable villain is needed. Trained by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader to eliminate “terrorists” and force sensitive individuals, the pale skinned Inquisitor (Jason Issacs) seems more than up for the task. Equipped with a double-bladed lightsaber, the Inquisitor seems to especially relish hunting down Jedi and instilling fear into his opponents.
Coming from the same animation team that created The Clone Wars, Rebels seems to not only be striving to capture the look and tone of the original 1977 film, but the iconic artwork of conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie. Gone are the chrome plated starships and cities seen in the prequels. In their place are the dirty and battle worn starships and technology fans of Star Wars might glimpse in The Empire Strikes Back. Even the clothes and armor adorned on the characters bodies has a worn look to it.
With the show’s look grounded very much in the original films, it comes as no surprise to hear a number of familiar sounds too. It’s almost a shock to hear the sound of a TIE Fighter screaming across the sky overhead. It’s a noise that many people haven’t heard in a Star Wars movie in quite a long time. While the oddly shaped starfighter is meant to instill fear into those that see it bearing down on them, the iconic wail probably instills warm memories for viewers of the animated series. The Imperial speeder bikes also make an appearance in the show, and much like the TIE Fighters, make the exact same noise as they did nearly 32 years ago in Return of the Jedi.
Even with all these positive signs and familiarities, there are still concerns coming from Star Wars fans. As stated before, it should be noted that Rebels is coming from the same team that created The Clone Wars. Originally premiering in theatres with a full length film, the series was often criticized for its look and writing early in its six season run. Still, six seasons offers plenty of time for improvement, and the series did eventually get better. The Clone Wars was not only able to present a number of well written storylines, but a number of fairly dark ones as well. Anyone still questioning the show’s writers at telling a dramatic story must watch the first five episodes of Season 6.
First impressions are so important, especially to thousands, if not millions of bitter Star Wars fans who have had to endure the prequels and their spin-offs for over a decade. Disney has the monumental task of methodically repairing damage to a beloved franchise that has undergone unwanted revisions and ret-cons. It’s a difficult and extremely profitable position to be in. I, and many others, am hopeful that their first steps into this franchise will be respectful ones. Let’s just hope the Mouse knows what he’s doing.
What about you reader? Are you excited for Star Wars Rebels? What are your concerns for the show? Let us know in the comments below.