The upcoming animated TV series Star Wars Rebels is the first canon installment in the Star Wars franchise under Walt Disney Pictures’ watch. For that reason, it’s long been rumored that Rebels – which bridges the gap between Star Wars: Episode III and Episode IV – will include elements that lay additional groundwork for the seventh live-action Star Wars movie, arriving in 2015 (see: the latest unconfirmed Episode VII plot details and the rumored connection to Rebels).
However, the promotional campaign for Rebels has, by and large, resisted highlighting direct links between the series and either the established and/or future Star Wars mythos – save for the cameos by Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO and R2-D2 in the show’s trailers. Instead, the main concern of the Rebels‘ marketing has been to promote its cast of new characters – making them seem all the more appealing to the show’s younger target demographic.
For example, a previously-released seven minute clip from the Rebels premiere episode very much paints its young protagonist, the street urchin Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) as being the sort of anti-authoritative hero that kids can relate to. Similarly, a newly-released 3-minute Rebels short, “Art Attack”, shines the spotlight on another “cool” young main cast member from the show, named Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar).
Sabine, like Ezra, looks to start out Rebels‘ run as a fairly broadly-sketched archetype – a sassy punk artist (with some sick Mandalorian armor) – who will, fingers crossed, gain additional dimensions as the series progresses. Indeed, the hope in general right now is that Star Wars Rebels will start out well enough, then continue to gain in depth over time – as the Clone Wars animated TV series did before it.
Rebels appears to harken back to the original Star Wars movie trilogy; not just on the surface (with callbacks like the famous Return of the Jedi line “You rebel sum!”), but in terms of its upbeat adventure vibe and playful spirit. For that reason, it’s unlikely that Rebels will ever feel as dark and downbeat as the last few seasons of Clone Wars (which set the stage for Episode III).
Mind you, that doesn’t mean Rebels cannot become as intelligent as Clone Wars did over the course of its run. Seeing how Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni is working on Rebels alongside writer/producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), we remain hopeful that this new Star Wars program can be kid-friendly, upbeat, and smart, all at once.
Star Wars Rebels premieres with an hour-long special on Disney XD in October 2014.