October 14, 2013

Star Wars Rebels - Behold the Power of the Empire

News about the upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels has been trickling down to fans even though the premiere is still one year away. The first significant reveal happened at Celebration Europe II in July, and Lucasfilm brought more news to New York Comic Con over the weekend. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the panel presented by Pablo Hidalgo, and attendees were treated to plenty of information - certainly more than I'd hoped for. The focus of the panel wasn't on the heroes but on the Empire and the Imperial threat facing the galaxy. This included the reveal of the Rebels villain, the Inquisitor:
Star Wars Rebels takes place about 14 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Inquisitors hunt after Jedi so take from that what you will. Hidalgo stated the Jedi have a presence in the series, but that they (the crew) are very cognizant of Order 66 and the importance of Luke Skywalker being the last hope. They won't diminish that facet of Star Wars history. The Inquisitor will be the primary big bad, but the Empire is a formidable foe across planets. During the panel, we specifically looked at the world of Lothal.

Hidalgo described Lothal as a frontier type planet where the Empire has swept in and started recruiting and taking advantage of natural resources. At first, they seem like the good guys and like they have the best interests of the people of Lothal in mind. In fact, that's felt throughout the galaxy. Hidalgo pointed out that the Clone Wars left the galaxy unstable and the Republic was declining and leaving people disillusioned; many thought the Empire was a welcome change. They pushed into the "unruly outer rim territories" and started gathering forces and installing Stormtroopers.

Speaking of, Hidalgo took the opportunity to settle a debate long argued by some Star Wars fans. Clone troopers were produced on Kamino; they age at accelerated page. Stormtroopers are volunteers who join the Empire - as are TIE Fighter pilots, etc. That comes directly from George Lucas. "The lab grown clone troopers actually exhibited too much individuality to be of use to the Empire and that you find better uniformity in patriots who volunteer for service."

The Empire has a variety of transport vehicles and starships present on Lothal, and several pieces of concept art were shown. Here are a couple of images from Hoth Bricks:
AT-DP

The look of the series is heavily influenced by Episode IV. They are pulling heavily from Ralph McQuarrie's art as well as a bit from Joe Johnston's work. I think this quote from Hidalgo says it all: "As much as possible, this show is a Ralph McQuarrie painting come to life."

They so much want to replicate the vibe that Joel Aron, CG Effects Supervisor, has looked at the original trilogy film stock to get the look as close as possible. The art department went to the Lucasfilm archives to look at the original paintings to understand brush strokes, paper, line weights - everything. So yes, it will be distinct from The Clone Wars, so much so that they can't re-use any of the existing animation models. Everything has to be created from scratch.

Simon Kinberg will write the hour long premiere of Star Wars Rebels which will air on Disney Channel next fall; it will switch to a half hour format on Disney XD for the remainder of the season. The show will progress in chronological order and follow the same basic group of heroes.

Filoni introduces the crew and the Inquisitor in the video below:

During the panel, I thought I spotted George Lucas and he is in there but they are clearly looking at The Clone Wars and not Rebels.

Finally, some TIE Fighter pins were handed out at the end of the panel and the copyright notice was for Sienar Fleet Systems. Interesting.

Are you excited about the new series?

14 comments:

  1. Fantastic! Cannot wait for this series. After the end of The Clone Wars S5 (and the unfortunate stoppages of the othe Lucasfilm projects...), my Star Wars buzz died down a bit...

    But since hearing all the news over the weekend (including the completion of the final Clone Wars stories for next year), the buzz is back up again! ^^

    Also, I may run a few 'no-one expects the Imperial Inquisition' gags for a while...! Monty Python aside, the new villain does seem like a cool addition. (Wonder if they've actually based at least some of the idea on the actual Spanish Inquisition...It'd be interesting; historical inspiration is always a good motivator for Star Wars, as we all know! ^^)

    AM

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