When Disney acquired Lucasfilm, changes to the Star Wars universe were inevitable. Licenses moved hands - for instance, Dark Horse relinquished the rights to produce Star Wars comics to Disney-owned Marvel - and other properties, like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, disappeared altogether.
Looking to fill The Clone Wars' void is Disney XD's Star Wars Rebels, one of the first collaborations to come from Disney's incorporation of Lucasfilm. Rebels is expected to air later this year in the fall and was first announced in early 2013. Set within the two decades between Episodes III and IV, the series will explore the formation and early days of the Rebel Alliance with a brand new cast of characters. On board are many from The Clone Wars' creative team, including former supervising director, Dave Filoni.
Joining him as executive producer is Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past). In an interview with EW, Kingberg discussed the tone of Star Wars Rebels, how the aesthetic will differ from The Clone Wars, and how closely it will connect with the original trilogy.
Kinberg explained what drew him to the project was a chance to "tell an untold story," adding:
"I’m a fan of 'The Clone Wars' and aspects of the prequels, but really the original movies were the reason I wanted to get into movies. I always loved origin stories and the origin of an entire organization, I don’t think we’ve seen that before, and we’ve approached it in a real-world way. If I told the story of the American Revolution, I wouldn’t want to start with the most famous battle, I’d want to start when it was just four guys in a room, the earliest spark of that seems dramatic and cool. That’s a big part of the fun of it, the little back-room dealings, the first time you see it’s possible to stand up to the Empire."
As for how strong the influence of the OT will be and how they will affect the artistic style of the show, Kinberg said:
"...the intention is for it to feel quite different from 'Clone Wars.' The place we went back to as to a visual template was Ralph McQuarrie, who was one of the original concept artists for the original 'Star Wars' films. His art is softer, a little more figurative, more of a feel of being drawn, less computer-generated. The first few movies had a bit of a hand-made quality. We wanted the show to have that."
Like The Clone Wars, Rebels won't be afraid of exploring darker storylines, in this case about the Empire and its tyranny.
"The world we’re creating is an Imperial world. You’re seeing the impact of the Empire, of stormtroopers around the galaxy, abusing and oppressing people. Thematically and politically, it goes to some dark places. But for the tone of the show we took our cues from the original movies, which had fun and adventure and swashbuckling with emotion and grounded human characters. We took all our cues from the original films. "
Finally, Kinberg said that we should expect Star Wars Rebels to be "less maybe political than the prequels and more personal" and very close in spirit to the original trilogy. (News that is surely music to the ears of most diehard of Star Wars fans.)
There's no denying Star Wars Rebels is looking to appeal to Star Wars fans old and new. It's an excellent plan and good synergy to have an an animated series that is expected to reach a wide audience focusing on a period linking the two already existing trilogies before Disney embarks on a third. Bringing on the award-winning talent behind The Clone Wars ensures its quality, and involving Kinberg with Star Wars Rebels brings fresh ideas to the Star Wars universe. Star Wars Rebels has the potential to be a smash hit, and with all the promotional power of the House of Mouse behind it, it's almost guaranteed to be just that.
Be sure to read EW's entire interview with Kinberg as the writer has more insights to share about the production and direction of Star Wars Rebels.
What say you, Screen Rant readers? Are you a fan of The Clone Wars who's jonesing for another animated series set in a galaxy far, far away? Do you find Kinberg's comments promising? Let us know in the comments below.
Star Wars Rebels will premiere on Disney XD in the fall of 2014.