Every generation deserves a Star Wars movie trilogy to call its own, which makes it fitting that Episode VII will be released in 2015 - and thus, usher in a new era of space battles, force duels and memorable (in ways both good and bad) non-human characters for kids of the early 21st century. However, moving forward sometimes means having to leave something behind, as will be the case with the popular Star Wars: Clone Wars CGI-animated TV series.
Disney studio executives and the newly-appointed President of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, do not intend to disregard everything that has come before in the Star Wars Universe hereon out; that includes, the non-movie canonical material produced across multiple platforms (TV shows, video games, books). Nonetheless, at this stage in the franchise's development, bridging the gap between history and the future is not quite as important getting the next phase in the SWU started on the right foot.
Case in point, the upcoming Star Wars Rebels animated TV series will explore new story territory for the TV medium, yet also represent the handiwork of several writers, directors and animators who previously collaborated on Clone Wars. The newly-released Rebels behind the scenes video sneak peek - framed throughout by an introduction to the show from executive producer Dave Filoni (who also helped to oversee Clone Wars) - runs the gamut, in terms of which creative veterans of the SWU have been recruited in order to make this show a hit.
Here is the official synopsis for Star Wars Rebels, followed by the first look at the show's central antagonist ("The Inquisitor"):
Star Wars Rebels continues the epic tradition of the legendary Star Wars saga with all-new exciting, action-packed adventures. It is a dark time in the galaxy, as the evil Galactic Empire tightens its grip of power from world to world. As the series begins, Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruling with an iron fist and ruining the lives of its people. But there are a select few who are brave enough to stand up against the endless Stormtroopers and TIE fighters of the Empire: the clever and motley crew of the starship Ghost. Together, this ragtag group will face threatening new villains, have thrilling adventures, and become heroes.
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Rebels, in case you weren't aware, takes place in the 15-20 year period between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, which helps to explain why "The Inquisitor" bears a resemblance to the Starkiller character from The Force Unleashed video games series (in terms of the pair's shared qualities, but not so much their appearances). Could this mean that "The Inquisitor" may end up being a foe whose motivation isn't so clear-cut throughout the overarching narrative for Rebels, similar to Starkiller in TFU (gotta love that acronym)?
That might seem like a stretch for a kid-friendly cartoon series like Rebels, but it's worth noting that Clone Wars started to explore more complex and somewhat adult story lines during its later seasons; meaning, people like Filoni might want to continue in that direction with their new Star Wars show, after honing their craft during the five seasons of Clone Wars. Moreover, the other executive producers on Rebels include Simon Kinberg - writer of next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past and one of the developing Star Wars origin story spinoff films - in addition to Greg Weisman, who previously created the animated TV series Gargoyles (one of Disney's more sophisticated cartoons of the 1990s).
That's not to say that Rebels will be as all-ages-encompassing as Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC - the former is still a Disney XD series after all - but part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's formula for success includes appealing to as many demographics as possible (for better or worse, from a creative perspective). As such, the upcoming wave of Star Wars movies and TV shows will strive to not ostracize longtime fans, even as they attempt to get youngsters hooked on creator George Lucas' sci-fi/fantasy brand.
Case in point: Clone Wars fans will get some closure next year, as Filoni has revealed through his Facebook page:
Star Wars fans - I have some exciting news! We have wrapped production on all of the remaining Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes, and while that might be sad news in one way, it's good news in another. It means you will finally get to see them. When, exactly, is a detail I cannot yet share. I can confirm that in early 2014 you will be watching the final episodes of The Clone Wars, including one of Master Yoda's most challenging missions. So, get ready. We've got Clone Wars and Rebels coming at you in 2014. Animated Star Wars is alive and well. Trust in the Force my friends.
Star Wars Rebels begins airing on Disney XD in 2014.