I have watched the new Star Wars cartoon three times now. Why three? It is fantastic. It’s Disney’s first real Star Wars project since acquiring Lucasfilm; if this project is any indication, I have serious hope for Star Wars Rebels and fair to middling hope for Episode VII (because Abrams).
Fans were shocked when the giant mouse bought the sci-fi giant in 2012. Since then, Disney has not made any serious missteps in handling the biggest single science fiction property of all time. I agreed with the streamlining of the Expanded Universe, commonly referred to as the EU, for the new movie because it got weird fast. I was never a fan of the Yuuzhan Vong, but I have been an avid EU reader since the mid-’90s when I was watching Star Wars movies every night before bed and reading the latest X-Wing book. I definitely have a vested interest in the success of the new Star Wars properties. I hated the last two and half or so (I will argue there are good points in Episode III) movies. In some ways, I understand Lucas’ perspective in the most recent films: he wanted to make movies for children, and he thinks Star Wars is for children.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon was fantastic. It was aimed at children, but many hardcore fans got the nudges and winks they wanted. I appreciated that one of the main characters was female and that she kicked major ass. The ending of season 5 was the default ending of the series because Disney had bought Lucasfilm, so a Netflix exclusive season 6 was considered bonus content by its creators.
Given how well the last Star Wars cartoon worked out, I had high hopes that Rebels would measure up. Watching the first episode, I am impressed. The artistry is spot on and based on Ralph McQuarrie’s original Star Wars sketches. The voice cast is an interesting mix and includes one former teen heartthrob (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Lucius Malfoy.
The characters seem dynamic and fully realized. My only qualm is that neither the former Jedi or the young force-sensitive kid is female. I get that they are trying to play off of the Obi-Wan/Luke dynamic, but it feels like a step back after Ashoka was so integral to the entirety of Clone Wars.
Sabine Wren is a new Mandalorian character who seems pretty awesome and ballsy. I am sure plenty of people will debate if it matters that she seems to be clothed in purple and magenta armor throughout the series. I am waiting to see if the creators did it because she loathes traditional Mandalorian colors or if it was a make-the-girl-wear-pink decision.
The opening episode paid homage to the original trilogy, including mirroring some scenes. It also included at least one obscure reference to the original Star Wars script, which originally had Luke observe Leia’s ship’s initial capture. In Rebels, it opens with a play on that with Ezra looking up into space and seeing a Star Destroyer descend onto his planet.
I will be sticking around for a few reasons. I love Star Wars. I love cartoons. I love cartoons that seem to have some sort of actualized adult content as well. If Lucasfilm is getting the Pixar treatment, then I can see this marriage as a match made in heaven.