Disney, Lucasfilm and Netflix are joining forces (no pun) to finish up the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series this March, before the next era in the animated section of the iconic sci-fi/fantasy franchise gets underway, with Star Wars Rebels – a new 3D cartoon series that will air on Disney XD later in 2014, following a TV movie launch pad that will premiere on the Disney Channel this summer.
Rebels takes place during the period between Episode III and Episode IV of the Star Wars live-action movie saga, centered around a (what else?) plucky group of characters, who are affected in different ways by the rise of the Galactic Empire. Together, they work to foil the Empire’s forces in their attempts to spread tyranny across the galaxy – thus offering a more intimate look at how the Rebel Alliance was formed, during the aftermath of Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious’ takeover.
As expected, the Mouse House/Lucasfilm have already started to carefully plant the seeds for a larger Star Wars Rebels marketing campaign to begin closer to the show’s premiere. Character and world designs from the series were teased at the 2014 Toy Fair last week; the first teaser trailers were later dropped online, while videos that introduce the primary cast of heroes have been popping up on a daily basis of late.
Last, but not least, of these character reveals/featurettes is a video showcasing Hera, a Twi-lek (i.e. the alien species with headtails) whose no-nonsense attitude and maternal nature makes her the mother figure in the show’s family of heroes.
Admittedly, it is nice to see an additional female character in the form of Hera – voiced by Vanessa Marshall (Black Widow on The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Black Canary on the Young Justice cartoon series) – being included along with the previously-unveiled artistic Sabine (Tiya Sircar) on Star Wars Rebels, since the ladies tend to be under-represented in the Star Wars onscreen universe, generally-speaking.
That said, Hera and Sabine read as very much being generic “strong female” archetypes (read: two-dimensional personalities); their hobbies aside, the pair essentially sound like the Star Wars animated universe equivalents of Agent Melinda May and Skye from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series – neither of which are characters heralded for their complexity.
By contrast, the male Rebels include a Jedi who must abandon his old life to survive (Kanan, voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) and a powerful brute with unexpected intelligence (Zeb, voiced by Steve Blum) – personalities that seem to have been cooked up with more imagination. Oh well, there’s still the mysterious young female lead in Star Wars: Episode VII to look forward to…
In case you missed them, here are the previously-released Star Wars Rebels character introduction videos:
Star Wars Rebels is expected to begin airing on Disney XD by Fall 2014.