Disney’s marketing strategy for Star Wars Rebels has included releasing self-contained 3-minute shorts, each of which depict an incident between the Imperial Forces and one (or more) of the show’s characters. The first of these shorts, “The Machine in the Ghost”, pays homage to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope‘s iconic dogfight between the Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters, while the second short (“Art Attack”) and the newest one, “Entanglement” (watch it above), focus solely on introducing the personalities of individual Rebels on the series.
Zeb (voiced by Steve Blum) is the Rebel who steps into the spotlight in “Entanglement”; the character is the “muscle” of the group (according to his official description), yet clips like the one above illustrate that he’s got his fair share of brains to go with the brawn and brawling capabilities.
In keeping with the general visual template for Star Wars Rebels, Zeb’s physical build goes back to Ralph McQuarrie’s conceptual art designs for the first Star Wars movie trilogy; to be more exact, Zeb’s appearance is based on McQuarrie’s original, but ultimately abandoned, design for Chewbacca.
Appropriately enough, there are traces of the Han Solo/Chewie dynamic in the vocal interactions between Zeb and the “Jedi Cowboy” Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) in the “Entanglement” short; the first of the following Star Wars Rebels TV spots likewise contains an in-joke about the connection between Zeb and the Wookie race.
The second and third TV spots tease the growing threat of the Imperials in Star Wars Rebels – which takes place as the Galactic Empire tightens its grip between the events of Episode III and Episode IV – and how the series’ heroes (members of the starship Ghost) find themselves becoming part of “something big,” as young Ezra (Taylor Gray) puts it.
Obviously, that’s in part a reference to the eventual organized rebellion against the Empire shown in Episodes IV-VI, but it could also be a nod to Rebels‘ importance in the next era of the Star Wars multi-platform shared universe. Rebels also looks to have very much a swashbuckling sprit and rousing adventure feel on the whole. Again, that quality is something that calls back more to the vibe of the original Star Wars movie trilogy, whereas the prequel film trilogy was more ominous and, ultimately, tragic in its outlook.
Rebels‘ more family-friendly outlook may require some adjustment from those who got used to the darker wartime/political drama featured on the latter seasons of the previous canonical Star Wars animated series, Clone Wars. Then again, Rebels might prove to be the perfect lead-in to Episode VII – detailing a more black and white time politically, in the Star Wars Universe, before things become more grey in director J.J. Abrams’ film (according to the rumor mill, anyway).
Star Wars Rebels premieres with the one-hour special “Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion” on Disney XD on October 3rd, 2014 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It begins its regular series shortly thereafter on October 13th (also at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD).