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STAR WARS REBELS at WonderCon

The Empire invaded WonderCon last weekend with a panel all about Disney’s upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels. Besides showcasing a new clip from the series, panelists Dave Filoni (executive producer), Kilian Plunkett (art director), and Vanessa Marshall (voice of Hera) discussed concept art and story with moderator Dave Collins. They also revealed composer Kevin Kiner is on board to provide the music for the new show.

Filoni and Plunkett have been working together at Lucasfilm for a while; both were part of the crew on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. They said Rebels has benefited from their time on Clone Wars, because they learned it was important to come up with a more unified look before diving in. This time they had a better idea about how to design the characters to take advantage of the medium. They did work closely with Disney to determine the look of the show – Filoni even had the animation supervisor on Rebels look at the style of Tangled to incorporate similar facial expression animation on Rebels – and yes, it will be completely different from The Clone Wars.

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Since Marshall was present, they showcased concept art for Hera (more in the gallery below). The Twi’lek pilot is nurturing and sort of the mother of the group, but from the clip we saw, it’s clear she’s quite capable of taking charge. She reminds me of Leia, and in fact, Rebels aims to match the original trilogy in tone – especially Episode IV: A New Hope. You can see visual similarities in the clip they showed, and that was intentional. Filoni said, “When you guys see a TIE Fighter blow up, it’s going to feel exactly the same [as A New Hope].” He credits CG Effects Supervisor Joel Aron for making that happen.

The music will also reference the original trilogy. Fans complained about the lack of John Williams touches in The Clone Wars, but here, since we’re leading into Episode IV, it’s incorporated. Kiner joined the panel and stated, “Musically, it’s a lot more what A New Hope was.” He said George Lucas didn’t want him to venture into that territory much for The Clone Wars, but now it’s folded in. Kiner said, “We’re using a lot of Star Wars themes and integrating them with new themes [for Rebels].”

Star Wars Rebels cosplay group at WonderCon

Star Wars Rebels cosplay group at WonderCon

When they shared the musical theme for Rebels, those nods were apparent. The music was powerful and since it called up pieces from the Force theme and the Rebel Alliance theme from Return of the Jed, it invoked feelings of nostalgia.

Another difference from The Clone Wars is that Rebels will follow the primary group of characters – Kanan, Ezra, Hera, Sabine, and Zeb – rather than jumping around the galaxy and turning the spotlight on others. The story and arc focuses on the crew of the ship Ghost so that we’ll really be able to witness and appreciate how the characters develop as they travel and fight against the Empire.

Though Rebels will have a brighter palette than The Clone Wars and will be very different, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a peppy series without drama. The clip with Hera showcases a funny line, but keep in mind that along with those moments of levity, they’re facing the Inquisitor and the Empire. Drama and humor aren’t mutually exclusive, and based on the little footage we’ve seen so far, they seem like they’ll blend well in Rebels.

Star Wars Rebels premieres on Disney XD this fall.

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