Look. If there was any one panel the Monsignor wanted to see at this year’s New York Comic-Con, it was this one, the follow-up to the hit Star Wars animated series, “The Clone Wars.”
And, man, this panel actually lived up to the infinite standards of the craziest pop culture fans in the world. And to think they didn’t even show a trailer. In fact, executive producer and Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni wasn’t even there. He was overseas. We can forgive producer — and writer of the first episode — Simon Kinberg for being more concerned with Fox’s Days of Future Past (and perhaps even The Fantastic Four reboot). And, Greg Weisman, producer to both “Young Justice” and “Spectacular Spider-Man,” was nice enough to contribute a few cool moments to a special behind-the-scenes look at “Rebels,” despite some intense script-writing duties.
Of course none of this would have been made possible without the concept art of Ralph McQuarrie. The essence of “Rebels” comes courtesy of the color tones and palettes from A New Hope. With kudos to Captain America: First Avenger director Joe Johnston — who came up with a lot of SW designs of his own, much of McQuarrie’s original sketches and paintings during this “Revenge of the Jedi” period of Star Wars play the primary aspiration for the new cartoon, perhaps even from an unlikely source: Alderaan.
One of the beautiful things about Star Wars — and perhaps those disappointed by THE Star Wars comic would disagree — is that there are so many untouched pieces of the lore that have yet to see light. Even the most obscure items like an imperial trooper transport vehicle is being reimagined for “Rebels.” Expect lots of odes to all things Star Wars in addition to reimaginations of classic Kenner toys like the TIE Fighter. Our host of the hour, Brand Communications Manager at Lucasfilm Pablo Hidalgo, even joked about the transport vehicle packing “the cutest guns in the empire.” As you expected, our Clonsies were delighted with every minute.
Hidalgo, in fact, may have been one of the most genuine, candid hosts I’ve seen in a panel. For a show that is at least a year away from completion, still recording a multitude of voice actors, storyboarding, scripting, and animating, there was a lot shed this afternoon at NYCC’s Empire Stage.
As if Lucasfilm could do this anywhere else.
Hidalgo opened up on the new series focus on heroes (the Rebels, duh), its immense appreciation for the classic Evil Empire (they’re basically Agents of E.M.P.I.R.E.), its relationship with George Lucas (developing “Rebels” with his between Ep. III & IV notes in mind), the music inspired for the show (Filoni draws to specific John Williams tunes, if he’s not already listening to his favorite NHL Penguins, of course), and the possibilities of more Clone Troopers and a “Clone Wars” influence (the Clones will still be around, despite aging twice as fast as most and offering more “identity” than even the Stormtrooping common folk; and, as far as carryover from the last show, expect some familiar “C.W.” faces since most of the creators have jumped imperial ship).
When I first heard of the announcement for a brand new Star Wars animated series, I wanted something Dark Empire inspired. But, seeing how that would be a tough sell with the need for good guys(toys!), and despite the extraordinary shift in time, “Rebels” appears to be as close of a gift as it gets. Lots of death and destruction. Sure, you won’t be able to witness the unseen-as-of-yet fallout of Episode VI (when Luke snaps it up with the revived Emperor in the Dark Horse books); but the “Clone Wars” follow-up does offer the true formation of what is better known as the Empire — a welcome change from the Separatists, I’m sure — in addition to many of the origins of our favorite heroes from The New Hope.
Now, those possibilities are riveting.
More striking, is that the Empire always meant well. Sort of. In their need for expansion, their want for order in their disorder, Senator Palpatine sells the idea to poor colonies in need of resources (i.e. security, minerals, supplies, TIE’s, etc.). Brilliant. When war causes these independent systems, the Empire attempts to move in on these frontiers with more subtlety. You know, such as making sure their leaders are loyal to their cause. The fact that these invasions are not so atypical is another factor that makes “Rebels” an intriguing part of Star Wars lore.
Guess we just need to find out who all the goodies are in the months to come, Jedi.
Star Wars: Rebels will air on Disney XD in the fall of 2014.