The upcoming Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels is the next canonical installment in the Star Wars franchise – not to mention, the start of the Disney-backed Star Wars universe. A seven minute excerpt from the show’s premiere episode (see above) has been released online; said clip takes place on the planet Lothal and introduces four of the show’s main characters, including the young street urchin Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) and Jedi-in-disguise Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze, Jr.).
Rebels‘ animation style was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie’s conceptual artwork for the original Star Wars movie trilogy, which accounts for elements such as the more figurative (or, rather, “cartoony”) design of the stormtrooper’s helmets, as well as the soft feel of the world’s design in general. The Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, which is also part of the Star Wars canon, has a harder look than Rebels – so certain longtime fans will have to adjust to the renovated visual template of the Star Wars cartoon universe.
Clone Wars began as more of a kid-friendly space adventure series, before (during its later season) it shifted to exploring more adult subject matter and digging deeper into the complicated psychology of such familiar characters as Yoda and Anakin Skywalker. Rebels executive producer Simon Kinberg, whose fellow EP on this new Star Wars show is Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni, has said the series – which takes place between Episode III and Episode IV – will likewise eventually begin to examine darker narrative material that concerns “the impact of the Empire.”
At the same time, however, Rebels will (according to Kinberg) have a sense of “fun and adventure and swashbuckling” that harkens back to the first Star Wars movie trilogy. That’s very much the vibe that’s given off by the seven-minute excerpt from the series’ premiere episode.
Previously-released clips from the series have also teased a mix of whiz-bang action and playfulness, but the full-length Rebels trailer arguably does the best job out of the previews unveiled thus far – when it comes to teasing both the show’s light-hearted elements and the darker story material that Kinberg mentioned. Director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII may well share tonal qualities with Rebels in those respects (as well as larger story and character connections according to the rumor mill).
Star Wars Rebels premieres on Disney XD with a one-hour special in October 2014.