Four Star Wars Rebels Shorts Invoke the Feel of the Original Trilogy

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With Star Wars: The Clone Wars a thing of the past, Disney is just a month away from launching its successor, Star Wars Rebels. As part of the promotion, four short films have been released over the last month, culminating in the final one released today.

If these shorts indicate anything, the feel of the older, classic Star Wars movies have returned in full. Clone Wars certainly captured it at times, but was bogged down by the prequel era. We’ll be going through each of the shorts and talking about the characters and why we’re so excited to see a this type of storytelling return to the Star Wars universe.


“The Machine in the Ghost”

The first short introduces us to three main characters, Kanan (Freddie Prince Jr.), Hera (Vanessa Marshall), and the droid Chopper. Kanan is the leader of the titular rebels while Hera pilots their ship, the Ghost. The short resembles a classic scene from A New Hope where Han and Luke shoot down TIE fighters on the Millenium Falcon. The twist is that Kanan and Hera have more of a Han and Leia relationship, as showed by their near kiss toward the end.

But the astounding thing about the short is how funny it is. The characters quickly come alive, including Chopper, to capture the spirit of Luke and the gang taking on the Empire back in 1977. A lot of the shots of the skirmish are reminiscent of how the older films were shot. As for the ship, their clothes, and even Chopper, the era is clearly very different from the civilized nature of The Clone Wars. These characters are clearly on the run, and they might just always be.


“Art Attack”

The second short introduces us to Sabine (Tiya Sircar), a Mandalorian graffiti artist who also calls the Ghost her home. The clip sees her taunting a squadron of stormtroopers to get an early version of the classic Rebellion insignia on a TIE fighter. Of all the characters, Sabine seems the most like she could have walked off of Clone Wars. That is obviously mostly because her armor harkens back to Death Watch episodes toward the end of that series.

I have a theory about Sabine’s family tree. In the Season 5 Mandalore arc of The Clone Wars, we found out that the planet’s leader, Duchess Satine, and Death Watch’s second-in-command, Bo Katan were sisters. Darth Maul of course murdered Satine, but based on the similar name to this new Rebels character, Sabine could very easily be Bo Katan’s daughter. The last we saw of Bo Katan, she was helping Obi Wan escape the planet and asking for Republic reinforcements. With the show cancelled after that and the canon being rewritten, Bo Katan’s post-Order 66 life could be a place to explore.



The third short introduces us to Zeb (Steven Blum), the brute of the group. The character is clearly a mix of the new and the old. His design is based off of Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art of Chewbacca. However, many fans will recognize the weapon he uses as the same General Grievous’s guards used in Revenge of the Sith.

Zeb, along with Sabine, is a clear indication that the folks behind Rebels will be embracing the entire Star Wars universe, even if the tone is meant to feel like the original trilogy. This is a level of respect to the material I hope to see again from J.J. Abrams when Episode VII is released in 2015. For now though, things are looking good.


“Not What You Think”

The final short brought us the most debated character amongst Star Wars fans, Ezra (Taylor Gray). His design had many worried about the “Disneyfication” of Star Wars due to his very close resemblance to Aladdin. On top of that, his eyes are a little freaky looking. Based on this short, which includes hints of him using the Force, he looks to have a little of Phantom Menace Anakin and A New Hope Luke, meaning that people are going to find him annoying (or, with the slingshot, he could be the Bart Simpson of Star Wars, keeping this entire post positive).

That said, one really encouraging aspect of this short is the handling of the Imperial pilot of the crashed TIE fighter. Ezra has a real interaction with him, making sure this soldier isn’t just a soldier. Fans of The Clone Wars know how wonderfully this was done with the clones in that series. While stormtroopers and Imperial officers likely won’t be put in the same heroic light, giving them dialogue like the pilot got here is a nice reminder that they are in fact alive, not just droids.


All in all, these four shorts point to something really special coming out way. The tone fits the original trilogy, but the world-building aspects of The Clone Wars have not been forgotten. And none of these clips featured the frightening Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs).

Star Wars Rebels premieres October 3 on the Disney Channel before moving to its regular home on Disney XD, where it will air Mondays at 9:00 pm starting October 13. However, the premiere, subtitle Spark of the Rebellion, will be available online to Disney XD subscribers September 29. May the Force be with you as we officially enter this new age of Star Wars. Surprisingly, after the rollercoaster we’ve been through for the past few decades, I don’t have a bad feeling about this.

By Matt Dougherty

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