Star Wars Rebels is an animated television series set during the time frame between the films Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. It premiered worldwide as a one-hour television movie, Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, on Disney Channel on October 3, 2014; Regular episodes aired for four seasons on Disney XD, from October 13, 2014 to March 5, 2018. During its run, the series was nominated for four Emmy Awards, including two consecutive nominations for "Outstanding Children's Program."
The series follows a motley group of rebels who live aboard the starship Ghost as they fight against the evil Galactic Empire. The rebels include Ezra Bridger, a young orphan from Lothal who learns he can use the Force; Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi who survived Order 66; Hera Syndulla, a Twi'lek pilot and veteran resistance fighter; Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian explosives expert; Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, a Lasat warrior; and the cantankerous astromech droid C1-10P, also known as Chopper. The crew will eventually help give rise to the Rebel Alliance.
Lucasfilm first announced Star Wars Rebels on May 20, 2013, following the news that the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be ending and that a new series would be produced. Star Wars Rebels was the first new major Star Wars project to be released following The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012. The series was created by Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Carrie Beck, and stars actors Taylor Gray, Freddie Prinze Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Tiya Sircar, Steve Blum, David Oyelowo, James Earl Jones, Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Jason Isaacs.
- "…we're going to really show the origins of the rebellion. When our series begins, it's not the Rebel Alliance yet; we start with a group of rebels. It'll be really interesting to show the progress of the Alliance forming…"
- ―Executive producer Greg Weisman, Star Wars Insider 146
The series begins five years before Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, fourteen years into the reign of the Galactic Empire. The general premise is described as follows: "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."
- "We have a character who's our focus character, and then five other characters that make up this group of six rebels. Even within the first season, that cast expands, and there are more people, but the focus is still on this small group of rebels who are basically gadflies from the standpoint of the Empire they're fighting."
- ―Greg Weisman
Star Wars Rebels focuses on six main characters, who crew the starship Ghost. They include the teenage con-artist Ezra Bridger, the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus, the Ghost's pilot and owner, the Twi'lek Hera Syndulla, the teenage Mandalorian explosives expert Sabine Wren, the Lasat "muscle" Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, and the astromech droid C1-10P or "Chopper." The series also features a number of diverse villains, including an Inquisitor.
Ezra Bridger is a 15-year-old Force-sensitive Human male street urchin and con-artist on the Imperial-controlled planet Lothal, whose parents were imprisoned and later killed by Imperial forces for setting up public broadcasting transmissions speaking out against the Galactic Empire's harsh rule, leaving him to fend for himself for the next eight years before joining as the scout of the Rebel crew of a VCX-100 light freighter called the Ghost, armed with an energy slingshot and later a double-barred guard shoto lightsaber with a built-in stun blaster. Bridger also begins learning the Jedi arts from Kanan Jarrus, and becomes best friends with Sabine Wren and Zeb Orrelios.
Kanan Jarrus is a Force-sensitive Human male. Prior to the rise of the Empire, he was Padawan to Jedi Master Depa Billaba. He survived Order 66 and the extinction of the Jedi Order, compelling him to go into hiding from the Empire before joining the crew of the Ghost. He is armed with a two-piece dual phase lightsaber and a DL-18 blaster pistol. He mentors Ezra Bridger in the use of the Force. Though Hera Syndulla is the Ghost's pilot, Jarrus serves as the group's de facto leader.
Hera Syndulla is a Twi'lek female who is the owner and pilot of the Ghost (though she did not necessarily acquire the ship legally). Independent and strong-minded, Syndulla serves as the heart of the Ghost's crew, keeping the group together and bringing the best out of them. She is a skilled pilot who fights against the Empire for reasons that she has yet to share with the others. Though she is not Force-sensitive, her skills as a pilot and gunner put her on par with Force-users, and she is determined to see her missions through to the end. Syndulla serves as a mother figure to Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren, and helps Zeb Orellios manage his temper. Syndulla is fluent in binary.
Sabine Wren is a 16-year-old Mandalorian female graffiti artist, Imperial Academy dropout and former bounty hunter who specializes as the weapons expert of the crew of the Ghost. She frequently personalizes her armor, hair, and cabin aboard the Ghost, and frequently leaves graffiti calling cards in the Ghost's wake.
Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios
Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios is a Lasat male honor guardsman whose people were one of the first species to rise up against the Empire in its early days, which responded with a massacre on his homeworld that has left him with a gruff demeanor, yet he remained loyal to the struggle against the Empire as the muscle of the crew of the Ghost. A trained and capable warrior, Zeb is highly educated and skilled despite his fearsome appearance. Orrelios begrudgingly becomes close friends with Ezra Bridger, though they both strongly dislike Chopper, a feeling that is reciprocated by the droid. Orrelios's favorite pastime is to beat up stormtroopers (whom he calls "bucket heads"), and he is an acrobatic fighter in combat.
C1-10P, more commonly known as Chopper, is the Ghost's astromech droid. Built from spare parts, Chopper is irritable, cantankerous, stubborn and uninterested in gaining the affection of organics. Despite this, he is frequently essential in saving the rest of the group from dangerous situations. He and Zeb Orrelios dislike each other. Hera Syndulla is Chopper's owner.
- "They wanted to do an animated show and I loved [Cartoon Network's] Clone Wars and grew up with a lot of animated shows. So we just started to talk about where it would fall in the general Star Wars timeline. Really there was no predetermination going in. It could have been a prequel, sequel, a stand-alone universe."
- ―Simon Kinberg
Star Wars Rebels was created by Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Carrie Beck. The concept originated with Beck, who suggested it be about "this A-team group that went around righting wrongs." This reminded Filoni of his original concept for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which he described in The Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "My rough idea was to deal with a small number of characters [a Jedi Master and Padawan, a smuggler and his girlfriend, and a Gungan "strongman" called Lunker], have them based on a Millennium Falcon-style smuggling ship, and involve them in black market trade, war espionage, and other stories that existed outside the giant galactic conflict going on in the background."
Discussion of where Rebels would fall in the Star Wars timeline led to the decision to center the series on the Rebel Alliance. Thus, the series was placed between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, during the reign of the Galactic Empire, though not so close to A New Hope that it would feel repetitive. In contrast to the galaxy-hopping structure of The Clone Wars, it was decided Rebels would depict the Rebellion from one group of characters' point of view. According to Filoni, Kinberg likened it to imagining a show set during the American Revolution "that was about five guys that were locked up in a farmhouse somewhere fighting against the local British military and without any real knowledge of the larger political movements". He also noted how the original trilogy mentioned events like the dissolution of the Imperial Senate without depicting them.
The development team set out to differentiate the series from The Clone Wars by basing much of the visuals on the designs of Ralph McQuarrie—the artist who developed concept art for much of the original trilogy of films. Rebels was influenced by ideas developed by George Lucas for Star Wars: Underworld, and much of the action in Rebels was influenced by the Indiana Jones franchise. Early in development, Disney wanted a more comedy-oriented series than Lucasfilm was interested in making. Kathleen Kennedy and the Rebels creative team had to make their case otherwise. At one point, Filoni considered involving the Death Star plans in the show, but abandoned the idea after Rogue One began development. He later planned to have appearances from the Death Star and Orson Krennic, but decided it was best to focus on things that directly affect the Ghost crew.
- "It has been great seeing the mind meld between our executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman during the writers' conferences. [...] Everyone on the team is so passionate about Rebels, and of course it helps that we are all huge fans of Star Wars!"
- ―Athena Portillo, Star Wars Insider 146
Lucasfilm Ltd. veteran sculptor Darren Marshall, who worked on Star Wars: The Clone Wars prior to its cancellation, developed sculpts for the core characters of Star Wars Rebels before leaving Lucasfilm in June 2013. By December 2013, the production crew had finished developing the series' first season and had begun animating the first script. As of January 2014, the scripts for Season One were halfway completed. Voice-recording had been finished for five episodes, with three more episodes undergoing storyboarding, two more undergoing animation, and the first episode undergoing lighting. Sound design was also underway, with a theme in place for the series. Greg Weisman joined the project as an executive producer in May 2013, though the series had been under development well before then.
On January 17, animation supervisor Keith Kellogg announced that the production crew had wrapped up animation on the first episode of the series. To aid in animating the show, Lucasfilm developed a special tool for Adobe Photoshop that emulates Ralph McQuarrie's artistic style; the character Zeb Orrelios is based on McQuarie's original concept art for the Wookiee Chewbacca. The series' look is also inspired by the work of Hayao Miyazaki—a favorite of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. Filoni requested that the animation crew look at the Disney film Tangled, for which 2D facial expressions were created using 3D animation. Simon Kinberg wrote the series's first two episodes, which serve as a short story arc to introduce the show's main characters. By March 2014, the entire first season had been mapped out, and according to Greg Weisman, the series as a whole is organized as a three-act play. The first season serves as the first act of the overall series, while the second and third acts may take more than one season.
Star Wars Rebels was overseen by three executive producers: Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman. In addition to Filoni, the Rebels production team included several crew members returning from Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Athena Yvette Portillo as line producer, Kilian Plunkett as art director, Joel Aron as CG effects supervisor, Keith Kellogg as animation supervisor, and Steward Lee as episodic director. Lee, Filoni's longest-running episodic director from The Clone Wars, was joined in directorial duties by brother Steven G. Lee, a veteran of LucasArts. Kevin Kiner, who was previously the composer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, returned as the new music composer for Star Wars Rebels. Lucasfilm hired music producer Flux Pavillion to remix Kiner's Rebels main theme. Other returning crew members from The Clone Wars included Amy Beth Christenson, Andre Kirk, Pat Presley, and Chris Glenn on the concept art team, managed by Liz Cummings, as well as Paul Zinnes on the development team. Pablo Hidalgo, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, also works with the team as a fact-checker. The crew aimed for an overall aesthetic similar to the original trilogy. As such, Joel Aron tried to give the visuals a "grainy look," Matthew Wood used many of the original trilogy's sound effects for the series' soundtrack, and the crew animated the lightsabers in such a way as to emulate the look of those in the original trilogy.
- "Citizens of Lothal: It is by Imperial Decree that you are requested to proudly display these posters on behalf of your Empire. As loyal residents of one of the Empire's most vital stations on the Outer Rim, your compliance is appreciated. Imperial Service is a noble endeavor which paves the way for your freedom and security. Remember, it is the will of Emperor Palpatine to ensure the future of a stable and prosperous galaxy."
- ―Letter included in the Star Wars Rebels propaganda poster mailing promotion
Star Wars Rebels was first announced on March 11, 2013, as an unnamed animated series set to replace Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Its name and fall 2014 premiere were announced in a press release on May 20, 2013. The first Star Wars Rebels teaser trailer debuted on the Star Wars YouTube channel on October 7, 2013. The series' main characters were first revealed at the January 2014 Nuremberg International Toy Fair, which showcased forthcoming LEGO Star Wars Rebels sets. The sets, which depict the Ghost and the attack shuttle Phantom, included minifigures for Ezra Bridger, Zeb Orrelios, Hera Syndulla, and a placeholder for Kanan Jarrus. The box originally identified Zeb's last name as "Orretios," but the finalized boxes at the New York Toy Fair not long afterward corrected the name and included Jarrus's minifigure.
On February 4, 2014, Lucasfilm distributed six original artwork pieces by Amy Beth Christenson exclusively to six select websites across the Internet—ET Online, TheForce.net, IGN, Mashable, Omelete, and Empire Online—to promote Star Wars Rebels. The artwork, presented in the form of Imperial propaganda posters, was part of an exclusive mailing campaign, in which limited-edition cards featuring the artwork were sent to 2,500 people around the world on February 5. The mailings arrived in black-embossed envelopes addressed from the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order on Coruscant and included a letter urging citizens to proudly display the posters in support of the Imperial occupation of Lothal. The six card backs, when combined together, formed the Rebels phoenix logo.
Starting with Chopper, the "grumpy astromech droid" on January 28, a series of videos was released that introduced each of the crew members of the Ghost. Kanan was introduced as "the Cowboy Jedi" on February 12, and "the Street-Smart Hero" Ezra Bridger followed on February 14. Two Rebels teasers, entitled "Spark" and "Ignite," were released on February 17, and videos introducing Garazeb Orrelios, "the Muscle," Sabine Wren, "the Explosive Artist," and Hera Syndulla, "the Pilot," were released on February 18, 19, and 20 respectively. The videos were released by independent news sources such as TV Guide, IGN, and Entertainment Weekly, and then were posted on the official Star Wars YouTube channel shortly afterwards. On April 16, in conjunction with a following panel at WonderCon 2014, a clip featuring the character Hera Syndulla was released on the Star Wars YouTube channel.
The first full-length trailer for Rebels was released on May 4, 2014. A thirty-second preview of the trailer aired on May 2 on Good Morning America, followed by the full trailer on May 4, which aired throughout the day on various Disney networks and became available online at StarWars.com and Disney.com. On July 9, 2014, ESPN's Wednesday Night Baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates featured a Star Wars theme, including elements from Star Wars Rebels. On July 24, 2014, Lucasfilm hosted a panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. Known as "The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels," the panel featured Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and the series' principal voice cast. Attendees were each given "HoloNet registration cards" that directed them to a re-launched version of HoloNetNews.com that features videos of Imperial propaganda. Around this time, several more promotional videos were released, including two more full-length trailers, two previews exclusive to San Diego Comic-Con, as well as videos that introduced Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kallus and The Inquisitor. August saw the release of a seven-minute preview, a four-minute preview, as well as three television spots. Beginning on August 11, four three-minute prelude shorts were released consecutively (on a weekly basis) on Disney XD. In September, six more TV spots and another trailer were released. Also that month, the Toys "R" Us website began releasing a series of promotional videos called "Secrets of the Star Wars Rebels" that will run through October.
On October 2, 2014, Disney announced that it had renewed Star Wars Rebels for a second season. The series debuted the next day on the Disney Channel with the TV movie Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion. Two final TV spots were released prior to the debut of regular episodes on Disney XD on October 13.
- "We're all very dedicated, and we know this show is going to be canon, so we take that responsibility very seriously. We know that on the one hand there's an audience who's going to be watching this that knows everything there is to know about Lucasfilm canon and knows beyond that tons of stuff from the Expanded Universe, which may or may not turn out to be canon once Lucasfilm decides what is official and what's not. So we want the show to work for that group, the most extreme fanboys out there. At the same time, we also have the responsibility that for a certain generation of kids, this is going to be their first exposure to Star Wars."
- ―Greg Weisman
Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo first provided a timeline for Star Wars Rebels of approximately fourteen years after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which corresponds to around five years prior to the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Although the official StarWars.com press release announcing the Rebels character Chopper later alternatively stated a timeline of four years prior to the events of A New Hope, Hidalgo quickly reaffirmed the original timeframe via Twitter. In reprinting portions of the original StarWars.com Chopper press release, the Launch Pad department from Star Wars Insider 148 also stated a series timeline of 4 BBY. Simon Kinberg told Empire magazine that the series would have strong connections to the overall saga: "[I've] always felt [Star Wars Rebels] would lead into IV and potentially set up characters you might not meet until V, or VI, or even VII, but the notion was that this would stand alone from Episode VII. That doesn't mean that we can't introduce Easter eggs that will pay off in VII, VIII, IX."
Dave Filoni originally claimed that Zeb Orrelios was of a new species based on Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for the Wookiee Chewbacca, but a preexisting Expanded Universe species known as the Lasat had already been based on the concept art. Star Wars Insider 148 identified Orrelios as a Lasat, though it misspelled his last name as "Orrelious." Star Wars Insider 149 issued an editorial apology for the misspelling but nonetheless misspelled the character's name again, this time as "Orrilios."
- "The series takes place between Episodes III and IV. By this time, Order 66 has been executed and the Empire's search for the last of the Jedi Knights is in full effect. The events seen in the show take place closer to A New Hope in the Star Wars timeline. However, if you stay tuned, you may be in for some surprises…"
- ―Athena Portillo, Star Wars Insider 146
|Season||Episodes||First airdate||Last airdate|
|One||March 2, 2015|
|Two||March 30, 2016|
|Three||March 25, 2017|
|Four||March 5, 2018|
- "We have these phenomenal voice sessions with, like I said, this terrific cast. We've gotten some incredible guest stars, some names you'll have heard of and some names that you won't have heard of, but you'll be wondering why you've never heard of them before once you hear what they are doing."
- ―Greg Weisman
Notes and references
- Star Wars Rebels on Disney NOW (backup link)
- Join the Rebellion on the Disney Parks YouTube channel
- Meet Chopper on the Disney Parks YouTube channel
- HOLONET NEWS
- Sienar Fleet Systems — TIE fighter and Starship Manufacturer
- 'Star Wars Rebels': New series goes to dark places — EW.com
- EXKLUSIV!: Neuer Droide : Star Wars - Rebels – Interview mit Produzent Dave Filoni — moviepilot.de
- First look: 'Star Wars Rebels' rustles up a cowboy Jedi — USA Today
- Greg Weisman Talks Star Wars Rebels and Showing the Beginning of the Rebel Alliance — IGN
- First Look: A New Recruit for Star Wars Rebels — TV Guide
- Star Wars Rebels Exclusive First Look: Meet Zeb — IGN
- 'Star Wars Rebels' Sabine's Reveal Sneak Peek — Hollywood Reporter
- 'Star Wars Rebels': Final hero revealed plus all the new characters - EW.com