With every new Star Wars series and movie released, it seems like there are some kind of Easter eggs pointing back to Star Wars Rebels. The first project out of the Disney era has slowly grown in importance over the last few years.
Is it worth watching, though? This article will answer that question by looking at the show, who it is about, and why it is crucial to Star Wars canon. From there, you can decide whether or not the series is for you to check out.
Animation and Star Wars
One point often brought up against Rebels is that it’s an animated series, so it’s a “kid's show.” Does that make it “bad,” despite Lucasfilm Animation’s history in the franchise?
It’s important to note that animation is a medium, not a genre, so it’s simply another method to tell a story. Rebels might be targeted toward a young adult demographic, but so are the Star Wars films. George Lucas has always maintained that Star Wars was created for children first and foremost, but adults also enjoy it. Rebels being animated doesn’t make it strictly for kids, as there is something in the series for everyone.
Animation is cinema, and animation is for everyone. The medium is significant to George Lucas, dating back to his relationship with the animation studio Nelvana creating “The Faithful Wookiee” short for the Star Wars Holiday Special. There’s a reason the first Star Wars television series, Droids and Ewoks, were chosen by Lucas to be animated and not live-action, and that’s because he adored the medium. So, let’s get the nonsense out of the way that just because Rebels is animated that it’s a “lesser” show than its live-action counterparts.
What Is Star Wars Rebels?
Star Wars Rebels was a series produced by Lucasfilm Animation that aired on both Disney Channel and Disney XD. It was created by filmmaker Simon Kinberg (X-men, Sherlock Holmes), Lucasfilm’s Carrie Beck, and supervising director of The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni.
The series starred Taylor Grey, Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze Jr., Tiya Sircar, Steve Blum, and Dave Filoni. The composer for the series is Kevin Kiner, with themes credited to John Williams. The series' look was heavily inspired by Lucasfilm conceptual designer and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie and was the first Star Wars media to feature McQuarrie’s artwork on screen.
Over the show’s four seasons, it accumulated nominations and wins for the Annie Award, the Saturn Award, and the Primetime Emmy Award.
Rebels also had a web series accompanying it called Rebels Recon. Free to watch on YouTube, the series was hosted by Andi Gutierrez, breaking down every episode of the show. Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo would appear to answer fan questions weekly. Much of Rebels’ lore and behind-the-scenes knowledge comes from Rebels Recon.
What Is Rebels About?
Rebels starts on the Outer Rim planet of Lothal, which doesn’t seem incredibly important on the surface. It’s the home world of the protagonist, Ezra Bridger, who has been an orphan since the Empire took his parents. He meets a group of rebels, including a Jedi in hiding named Kanan Jarrus, as Ezra discovers that he is Force-sensitive.
The rest of the crew is a ragtag group. The leader and pilot of their ship, the Ghost, is Hera Syndulla. Sabine Wren is a teenage Mandalorian running from her past. Their muscle is Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, a Lasat honor guard member who survived the genocide of his people. The final member is Hera’s cantankerous droid, Chopper.
Ezra joins them, and the first season focuses on the group working on Lothal, which has become their base of operations. Season 1 gets a lot of flack for being “too childish,” but I would argue it’s the most crucial season. Every major event in the show, all the world-building for later plotlines, and the groundwork of every character arc form its groundwork in season one. While it’s not the most plot-heavy, season one is vital for the world and characters. It firmly established Lothal as a home base to give the characters and audience a world to love and want to protect.
Starting in Season 2, the Ghost crew expands into the wider Rebellion when they’re forced to leave Lothal. Deadlier enemies arrive over the course of the show, like Imperial Jedi hunters called Inquisitors, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, and even Emperor Palpatine. What starts as a humble, fun story becomes a harrowing saga over the four seasons.
When Does Rebels Take Place?
Star Wars Rebels begins five years before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope. Fun fact: Ezra is only a few days older than Luke and Leia. The series covers four years during its run, with a six-month time skip between seasons 2 and 3. Andor and Rebels‘ first seasons occur in the same year in the Star Wars timeline.
Is Rebels Better Than Clone Wars?
Rebels is often compared to its predecessor, The Clone Wars. It begs the question, is Rebels better?
The answer depends on the viewer. Both shows have their pros and cons. They are two very different shows doing two very different stories. It’s like comparing an apple to an orange; at the end of the day, they’re both fruits despite their differences. Both are fantastic Star Wars shows doing Star Wars things. It’s up to you to decide which series is better.
Why is Star Wars Rebels Important?
Being the first property of the Disney era, Rebels laid down much of the groundwork for the series and movies afterward. There are nods toward Rebels throughout the Sequel Trilogy, and it sets up significant story implications for The Mandalorian since Bo-Katan Kryze is in the animated series.
As Rogue One was filmed and released while Rebels was running, Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera are in the animated show, both voiced by their Rogue One and Andor actors Genevieve O'Reilly and Forest Whitaker.
In turn, these series pull from Rebels. Andor, The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Bad Batch, and The Book of Boba Fett either continue the stories from Rebels, has Easter eggs, or reference back to the series. Chopper makes a cameo in Rogue One, and Hera’s name is announced on the Yavin-4 base. The Ghost is also in the final battles of Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker.
In Andor Season 1, the P.O.R.D. initiative that the Empire creates is why Agent Kallus has so much power to wield in Rebels. As showrunner for The Mandalorian, Dave Filoni constantly touches back on his animation roots from where he started at Lucasfilm.
Star Wars Rebels also links the Prequel Trilogy to the Original Trilogy, bridging the two timelines together. It features characters from both timelines, such as those mentioned above, and legacy characters like Leia, Lando, C-3PO, and R2-D2.
So much of the current canon is built from the groundwork of Star Wars Rebels, making it firmly crucial in the saga.
Is Star Wars Rebels Worth Watching?
After all of this, that question is up to you to decide. Everyone should give Star Wars Rebels a try. There might be parts that aren’t for everyone. But when Rebels is fun, it’s heartwarming and wholesome.
When Rebels is harrowing and devastating, it is truly felt by the audiences as soul-crushing losses. Star Wars Rebels is a ride, and you should try it if you haven’t.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.