Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has a chance to bring characters from animated series Star Wars Rebels into live-action. Debuting in 2014 on Disney XD, Rebels, created by Dave Filoni, featured an all-new cast of characters.
Familiar faces such as Princess Leia, Mon Mothma, Emperor Palpatine (who is also set to return to the big screen, with Ian McDermid confirmed to appear in The Rise of Skywalker) and Darth Vader appeared sporadically throughout its four-year-run, but it focused primarily on a small band of freedom fighters operating in and around Lothal. Set just several years before the Resistance's breakthrough in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the gang of Hera, Kanan, Sabine, Zeb, Chopper and Ezra provided help to those who were most affected by the Intergalactic Empire's evil reign.
It wrapped its run just over 18 months ago, but Star Wars Rebels did leave some questions unanswered with regard to some of its remaining characters like Ezra. And if Lucasfilm has any plans to addressing these mysteries, The Rise of Skywalker is the perfect opportunity to begin that process.
Why Star Wars 9 Is The Best Time To Bring Back Rebels Characters
Poe (Oscar Isaac) opened the final Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer with a rousing speech about the Resistance not being alone. He emphasized the notion that if they lead, good people will follow them in this fight. When things ended in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there were only a handful of remaining fighters on their side. Their fleet was basically wiped out that they all of had to board the Millennium Falcon to flee from the First Order's onslaught in Crait. With a one-year time-jump in-between films, the Resistance has clearly been able to recruit more supporters for their cause. Even those like Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who was missing-in-action in the first two films of the Sequel Trilogy, is back helping his former allies win the fight against the seemingly more powerful First Order. And if Lando, who didn't show up even after Han Solo's death, comes to the Resistance aide, chances are that the Poe's call for help was positively received from various pockets of the galaxy.
This brings us to the remaining Star Wars Rebels characters, mainly Ahsoka, Sabine and Ezra. Assuming all three are still around, The Rise of the Skywalker opens a great opportunity for them to return at the forefront of the good vs. evil battle. The finale of the animated prequel series left said characters in bleak futures. Filoni confirmed that Ezra survived the space whales' (Purrgil) jump to hyperspace, with both him and Grand Admiral Thrawn aboard the villain's battered Star Destroyer. After several years and once peace is restored in the galaxy with the Emperor and Empire defeated, it's revealed that Ahsoka and Sabine were on their way to hopefully locate him.
Since then, we don't know what happened to those three characters. But if Lucasfilm has any plans for them moving forward - be it in the small screen via a Disney+ series or a big screen, then Star Wars 9 is the perfect opening to do just that. The reveal of an aged Ezra, Sabine, Ahsoka - and maybe even Hera, Zeb and Chopper partaking in teased massive aerial battle scene fits well with core message of Poe's speech - if they lead, good people will come out and follow them in this fight.
How Can The Rise of Skywalker Bring Back Star Wars Rebels Characters
With less than two months before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters, Disney and Lucasfilm are running an extremely measured marketing machine, leaving most of plot points of the film tightly under wraps. There have already been three trailers for the movie, as well as a handful of other promotional materials, but not much is still known about what goes down in the final Skywalker Saga entry. That being said, the latest preview offered fans a glimpse of an all-out clash between the Resistance and the First Order, with both grounded and aerial battles happening simultaneously.
Aside from the primary players confirmed for the movie, we have yet to see other possible Star Wars characters partaking in this climactic battle. But with the spotting of other familiar-looking ships in Star Wars 9's final battle, including what looks like the Ghost from Rebels, there's a chance that The Rise of Skywalker will be bringing some of the franchise's most memorable characters to join Rey, Finn (John Boyega) and Poe's cause. With this, the movie can show some of these familiar faces fighting alongside the Resistance, including Ezra, Sabine and Ahsoka, as well as other Rebels characters.
Star Wars 9 doesn't even have to explicitly explain who these characters are so as not to take away the focus on the main cast, and they don't have to make an appearance until the final third of the movie where the said battle will supposedly take place. These characters can grace the screen for just a split-second, confirming that they are indeed involved in the Resistance-First Order battle and that will be enough to establish the connection between the ongoing primary saga and the animated show. This won't also have to confuse casual moviegoers as they might simply assume that they're supporting characters in the film. However, they will make for great Easter eggs for die-hard Star Wars fans who know their stories from Rebels.
Director J.J. Abrams promised that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be an emotional and cohesive ending to the Skywalker Saga. And while Star Wars Rebels didn't directly have anything to do with Anakin's lineage except for a brief appearance from Princess Leia, the show was intricately linked to the franchise's overall story of light vs. dark. With the episodic movies wrapping up, Lucasfilm will have to continue Star Wars stories focusing on other characters. Considering the following that the Disney XD animated series accumulated during its run, continuing their narratives in new avenues is a good bet to help make the franchise sustainable in the foreseeable future.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019