Star Wars: Rebels, the latest from Lucasfilm animation may be a year away from its premiere, but that didn't stop them from bringing a tease to New York Comic Con 2013. In the appropriately named "Empire Theater," fans of both imperial and rebel stripes were treated to a presentation and a hint of what's to come when Rebels hits televisions in the fall of 2014.
Pablo Hidalgo hosted the panel that started with a video shot at the Lucasfilm ranch. It was the same video that premiered on StarWars.com a few months back, with co-showrunner Dave Filoni teasing the series (he's working with Greg Weisman and Simon Kinberg on Rebels).
Hidalgo then took the stage and said the show will debut in "about a year" as an hour-long special on Disney Channel, then as a half hour show on Disney XD. He warned there will not be a finished trailer at the panel, but Filoni is currently in Asia working with the animation team, while Weisman and Kinberg are scripting.
A video greeting from Greg Weisman played, saying he was "bummed we couldn't be out there with you." They're "really in the thick of it" at the moment, and said that Hidalgo would take good care of the fans. Filoni's video greeting followed, and said, "keep your eyes open, you might get a glimpse of something sinister coming your way."
Hidalgo recapped what has been revealed so far about Rebels. At Star Wars: Celebration Europe in July, he said, Dave Filoni stressed the importance of Ralph McQuarrie's art and designs to the show. A planet he designed in the early development of Episode VI is being used in Rebels, as well as things like a communications tower that didn't get used.
"The Ghost" is the main ship in Star Wars: Rebels, as also revealed there. "Today though, we're not going to talk about the Ghost, we're not going to talk about the Rebels, we're going to talk about the bad guys, the Might of the Empire."
Hidalgo "set the galactic stage," with the series taking place 13 years after the end of Episode III. "When the Empire first formed, the stability was actually a welcome change from the constantly warring and declining Republic."
"One of the principals of the Empire is expansion, and they did that by pushing out into the Outer Rim territories that the Republic never really got into." Palpatine easily sells the idea. The planet Lothal is one of the principal locations for the show, a frontier world in the Outer Rim.
The Empire “doesn’t have the resources to invade every planet they want to annex," Hidalgo said. Instead, they tend to simply install new rulers on each world that doesn't declare loyalty. "It becomes pretty apparent, though, that the Empire doesn't have the best interests of Lothal in mind," and fosters a feeling of rebellion.
The Stormtrooper design for the show was put on screen, and it's "nearly identical" to the live-action model. Hidalgo outright said that Clone Troopers, who were lab grown, George Lucas said, "showed too much individuality to be of use to the Empire," and the Storm Troopers are instead recruited patriots.
The blaster the Storm Troopers will use on the show will have the bump that was on the original Kenner action figures, something that never made it into the movies.
A new walker, the AT-DP will be introduced, with new pilots as well. That was designed by Joe Johnson. The All-Terrain Defense-Pod is the first of many new vehicles.
Hidalgo teased the "Troop Transport" by showing the old commercial, and that will actually make it into the show.
The TIE-Fighters in the series will have a larger ball cockpit and smaller wings than that in the films. It's based off McQuarrie's original design (seen above). Hidalgo said they had a long email chain about whether troopers get into the TIE fighter through the top or the back hatch - for their "earlier version of the TIE Fighter" in this show, they'll all go in through a hatch on the top.
A new freighter was designed for the show, as well, but the Imperial Star Destroyers will also make it in. Hidalgo pointed out that with the show being "about 5 years before Episode IV" there will be some differences in these ships - they too will be inspired by McQuarrie paintings.
"That's how serious a threat the Empire is," Hidalgo said. "Our heroes are very much the underdogs." He pointed out that is a major change from The Clone Wars, where the heroes were the establishment.
Another video featuring Dave Filoni and his team was shown next. "One of the things that's really exciting is I have a lot of Clone Wars veterans working on this new show," Filoni said. "One thing that all of us were excited about was the Empire. It's great to have those characters back in play.
"Every era of the Star Wars saga has a marquee villain. For most people, when Darth Vader hits the scene, he's the preeminent one. But there are others" and they introduced The Inquisitor, a dual-bladed lightsaber wielding white-skinned agent of Vader tasked to hunt down the remaining Jedi.
Fan Q&A was next.
"If the Inquisitors are brought in, that means the Empire has reason to believe that Jedi are involved somehow. They are, but we are very cognizent of what happened with Order 66, and Luke's importance as the last of the Jedi."
Hidalgo couldn't answer a question about The Inquisitor and his possible relationship to Starkiller from The Force Unleashed. The Inquisitors are a part of lore that are being pulled into this story, though.
Clone troopers aged twice as fast as everyone else. Some of them have gone on to become trainers of Storm Troopers. "George provided all these notes about what happened after the Clone Wars, and we're designing the show with that in mind."
A fan asked if any characters from Star Wars the Clone Wars will show up on Rebels, and Hidalgo said he couldn't answer, "but given that there are a lot of people that worked on Clone Wars working on Rebels, that's definitely something to think about."
Hidalgo said there is a big focus on the Imperials in the show, and they'll be as developed alongside the heroes.
The Ghost is the final name of the ship, and it is named that "for a very specific reason," said Hidalgo.
Rebels will not operate on the one-year lead time that The Clone Wars did. He said that the biggest difference content wise between the two shows is that George Lucas is not directly doing the ideas for this series.
"It's not just black and white Rebels versus Empire" Hidalgo said in response to a question about bounty hunter presence.
Fans tried to pry for some more information about the Inquisitor(s), and Hidalgo only said "our heroes will find out that when they are more successful, they'll have to fight bigger bosses."
The Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes that were produced for an additional season will be released in "early 2014."