Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII announcement or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
The theme of this HoloNet Digest is, “When it rains, it pours.” Lucasfilm has dropped a nice slate of Star Wars Rebels goodness over the past seven days, and all of it points toward an exciting fall debut for the Disney animated series. Hot on the heels of the announcement of the Jedi Knight Kanan, we also learned about Ezra Bridger and Zeb, both of whom will join Kanan’s band of rebels as they fight the Empire on Lothal. Ezra is a native of Lothal with nascent Force powers whose growing distaste for the galactic government encourages him to take his skills to the resistance movement. Zeb is an alien whose design was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art for Chewbacca. Taylor Gray voices Ezra and Steve Blum voices Zeb.
As with Kanan, both character reveals include introductory videos, where executive producers Dave Filoni and Greg Weisman, concept artist Killian Plunkett, the voice actors, and other members of the crew discuss how the characters will fit into the series and work together as a team. The videos promise hope (Kanan will take Ezra under his wing and instruct him in the ways of the Force) as well as tension (Zeb hates Chopper, the group’s grumpy droid).
This week’s Star Wars Rebels fun didn’t stop with the aforementioned character reveals. On Monday, Lucasfilm posted (and Disney XD later aired) two teaser videos to promote Rebels. The thirty-second spots gave us our first good look at how the animation, dialog, and sound design will fit together. Check them out below.
The first thing many fans noticed is that this isn’t The Clone Wars; the animation is noticeably different. Regardless, Lucasfilm Animation is doing top-notch work, the voice actors seem comfortable in their roles, and the teasers suggest that the action on Lothal will be gripping from the start. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that this is a kids’ show. (Although if The Clone Wars didn’t disabuse you of that notion, I don’t know what will.) Rebels is an ambitious look at the inter-trilogy period from a competent, experienced team full of passionate Star Wars fans.
There are other Rebels reveals still to come this week, and we’ll cover them next week, but one thing is clear at this point: Rebels is shaping up to be an awesome slice of the Star Wars galaxy, filled with exciting new characters and a meta-story to rival that of The Clone Wars.
And speaking of The Clone Wars, we now know when and where the series’ bonus content will make its debut. Lucasfilm announced last Thursday that the thirteen-episode mini-season, known as “The Lost Missions,” will be available exclusively on Netflix beginning on March 7. In addition to this Season 6 material, Netflix will hold the exclusively streaming rights to the other five full seasons –– including “several director’s cut episodes never seen on TV –– and the 2008 movie. Fans hungering for more bonus content previews can check out this clip of Yoda hearing “a voice” that Lucasfilm gave to USA Today. The bonus content has already begun airing in Germany, but I’m patiently waiting until March 7 when I can start watching (and reviewing) the final episodes of one of the most enjoyable TV series –– and one of the strongest contributions to Star Wars –– that I’ve seen in a long time.
Toy Fair 2014 is happening now at the Javitz Center in New York City, and toy companies are showing off the merchandise that will debut later this year as part of the Star Wars Rebels marketing blitz. Hasbro’s Saga Legends 3 ¾-inch figures will include The Inquisitor, Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, Chopper, and an Imperial officer named Agent Kallus. There will also be Rebels-themed two-packs, one with Zeb Orretios and a stormtrooper, and another with C-3PO and R2-D2. (That’s our first and so far only indication that the droids will appear in the series.) I recommend checking out Rebelscum’s photo gallery of the Hasbro figures.
Disney Consumer Products held its own press conference at Toy Fair, where Kanan voice actor Freddie Prinze Jr. took the stage to show of the LEGO set of his character’s ship, the Ghost, and discuss his experience working on the show. One of the things he revealed is that Rebels was code-named “The Wolf” when he went in to read for the role of Kanan. (Dave Filoni loves his canids.) When Prinze found out that it was a Star Wars show, he said, “You guys have to give me a minute,” and went outside to collect himself. As this comment and the rest of his appearance demonstrate, Prinze is obviously a huge Star Wars fan. Watching him on stage, you can clearly see how excited he is to be a part of Rebels. After so much waiting to hear about the future of the franchise, this kind of energy from one of the series leads is refreshing. Check out more information from Prinze’s on-stage appearance here.
Let’s wrap up this week’s jam-packed HoloNet Digest with yet another promising look forward. Lucasfilm Events Lead Mary Franklin has been hard at work preparing Celebration Anaheim (April 16-19, 2015) in Anaheim, California, and recently, she shared several photos from her scouting trip to the Anaheim Convention Center. As you scroll through the photos, just imagine walking those hallways and chatting about Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Episode VII, both of which we’ll know a lot more about by the time we get to Anaheim. And speaking of knowing a lot more, Franklin promised that “news and stories” about Celebration 2015 will start hitting “when we hit the one-year mark this April.” Two more two months to go!
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He co-hosts The ForceCast podcast and manages social media for Star Wars fan sites TheForce.Net and Rebelscum.com. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.