We are still about 14 months away from Episode VII, but we have now seen our first glimpse of what new Star Wars content will look like under the Disney banner, in the form of the new TV show Star Wars Rebels.
And things certainly look promising.
The show premiered with a 1 hour (probably closer to 42 minutes minus the commercials) “movie,” which did a great job of setting up the initial premise, the main characters, and the overall tone. The show is very clearly trying to emulate the look, feel, and spirit of the original trilogy: a young orphan from a dark corner of the universe gets caught up with a group rebelling against the evil Galactic Empire. And, wouldn’t you know it, the kid seems to have a special connection with the Force, because obviously a Star Wars show is going to need some lightsabers. There’s a sassy, troublemaking droid a strong willed woman who’s used to getting what she wants, and a large brutish alien along for the ride as well.
It’s pretty easy to draw parallels to OT characters.
That may have been intentional, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. By using familiar archetypes, we feel that we sort of know these characters, even though they are new to the universe. And the leader of the crew is a Han Solo-esque rogue who is also a Jedi in hiding, which makes him more of a Han/Obi-Wan hybrid. (Obi-Han?) And there’s a SECOND female character in the crew (whoa, right?), so it’s not like everything fits neatly into a cookie cutter mold of what came before.
The series takes place five years before the events of A New Hope, and the Empire is throwing their weight around the universe in a not-very-nice way. But, as the the title clearly states, a rebellion is forming. So far, it seems like the series isn’t necessarily about the genesis of the official Rebel Alliance, but rather how one particular group is doing what they can to fight the good fight.
The movie and the first episode after it were a ton of fun, full of the wit and adventure we all remember from the movies. The most recent episode started to tread into some slapstick territory, which felt more like Jar Jar in Episode I than anything else. But according to the previews for next week, our heroic rebels are about to meet a powerful adversary: the Jedi-hunting Inquisitor.
It’s still very new and early in its run, but the show definitely has a ton of potential. There will be haters tuning in to see how much Disney is “ruining” the franchise, and there will be plenty of comparisons to the animated series Rebels (effectively) replaced: The Clone Wars. Off the bat, it seems like Rebels is going for a more “fun” approach than the dark, militaristic approach of The Clone Wars. But that doesn’t mean it is all sunshine and rainbows either; there have already been references to slavery and genocide in Rebels, and knowing the Empire, I’m guessing there will be more where that came from. I thoroughly loved The Clone Wars, but the fact that it’s going in a different direction doesn’t mean that Rebels won’t be as good.
Rebels is off to a strong start, it has already been renewed for a second season, and producer Simon Kinberg has said that the events of the show could directly influence the new movies. So for any fans of the franchise, the bottom line is that it’s a show definitely worth checking out.