STAR WARS: REBELS, New Animated Series on Disney XD in 2014

The new series will draw visual inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie Concept Art
Credit: Lucasfilm Animation

The next Star Wars animated series is officially titled Star Wars: Rebels. The series, announced Monday morning in a press release, will take place surprisingly in the era of time between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This era, between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, is known to fans by several names, including Dark Times, when the Empire was reaching its height, and the continued purge of the Jedi by Darth Vader and Darth Sidious ravaged the galaxy.

The series will air on Disney XD beginning in Fall 2014, and has quite the animation pedigree running it: Dave Filoni, of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Greg Weisman, most recently of Young Justice, and known for his groundbreaking Gargoyles (and whose resumé is far too long to type out here). Filoni posted his "first-ever drawing of a TIE-Fighter" on social media a couple of weeks ago. The pair will also have Simon Kinberg, previously announced as working with Lucasfilm and Disney on stand-alone features of the film franchise, to share in Executive Producer duties, with Kinberg also writing the special hour-long premiere episode (further episodes of the TV series will be the fairly standard half-hour).

Disney officially describes Star Wars: Rebels as an "action-filled series in a time where the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape." The time-frame, about 19 years, has been featured in the Dark Horse Comics Dark Times and Purge series, as well as in the multimedia video game/comic book/novel franchise Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, but has never been commited to the "official" canon of film and animation.

Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide, said, "The entire team at Lucasfilm has provided extraordinary creativity and innovation for over three decades, and we're thrilled to be bringing the expansive and imaginative world of Star Wars to Disney XD's viewers."

"I couldn't be more excited to explore new corners of the Star Wars universe," said Kathleen Kennedy, president, Lucasfilm. "I think Star Wars Rebels will capture the look, feel and fun that both kids and their parents love about Star Wars."

No casting or additional writers were announced yet, though fans who attend Star Wars: Celebration Europe in July 2013 will get a first look at the series. Killian Plunkett, design lead on The Clone Wars, Joel Aron, CG Supervisor from the series are among the transfers to Rebels.

The era does give some interesting casting possibilites to fans. Sam Witwer, who played "Son" in the highly regarded "Mortis Trilogy" of episodes on The Clone Wars and later returned to voice Darth Maul, earlier voiced the character of Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice who helped him carry out the Purge during this era in The Force Unleashed; that character could certainly appear in this series, if it takes place closer to Episode IV than Episode III (Leia, born in the closing moments of Episode III, is about 15 or 16 in that story, and was voiced by Cat Taber, who also voiced her mother, Padmé on The Clone Wars, another possible returnee).

Ahsoka Tano, voiced by Ashley Eckstein , likewise has the potential to appear. Having left the Jedi Order in what turned out to be the series finale of The Clone Wars, it is highly likely Tano escaped the fate of the Jedi when Order 66 was activated and the clones turned against them. A hermit-ed Obi-Wan Kenobi, secreted away on Tattooine watching over young Luke Skywalker is another possibility, and James Arnold Taylor has told Newsarama (amongst many others) that he'll always be up to play the character again.

In a video promoting the series on StarWars.com, Filoni said it's "thrilling" to work in the era he grew up with. He also confirmed that the series will be CG, like The Clone Wars. Filoni also says the look will be somewhere between the Ralph McQuarrie concept art for the original film and what was commited to screen when the trilogy hit.

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