There are many things to love about Star Wars — it's a sprawling narrative that combines fantasy and scifi, with plenty of characters and stories to satisfy every fan. This universe stretches beyond the much-loved movies and into extended media, with comics, novels, and video games filling in the blanks in this fictional galaxy's history. Ever since A New Hope, the Star Wars Extended Universe has been gaining popularity, as fans ate up all the extra material they could get their hands on.
Of course, once Disney purchased Lucasfilm many of these stories were struck from the official canon, but Disney are hard at work to replenish some of this narrative support for the mainstream Star Wars films. And one of the key elements in this mission is their animated show Star Wars: Rebels.
With an overwhelmingly positive response from fans and critics alike, Rebels is a nice little addition to the narrative. Rebels follows on from the popular series Star Wars: Clone Wars, with both animated shows providing an access point into the franchise for younger viewers. But it's not just about broadening the narrative — recently, the TV shows have become far more relevant to the films, and Disney are planning to use Rebels to plant the seeds for future plot threads.
Tying The Narrative Together
In a recent interview with Moviefone, Rebels exec Simon Kinberg talked about how Lucasfilm will use the show to tie into the films.
"We keep sort of bringing characters from the original movies and sort of deepening the relationships between our core characters, the Ghost crew. So it’s trying to balance the two different things, like the original cast from the first season with Clone Wars, with characters from the original movies, and maybe even feeding into future movies."
Although it may seem to be just a gimmick, this is actually a really bold and interesting choice on the part of Lucasfilm. By including Saw Gererra in Rogue One they're legitimizing the animated shows, and proving their dedication to a coherent and consistent narrative. For fans of Clone Wars, this also adds in a nice little emotional connection to the show — Saw was a really interesting character, one of the protagonists of a four-episode arc at the start of Season 5. Rogue One using this as a jumping off point, rather than just creating a new character as a blank slate, is far more intriguing for the audience.
Crossing Over Characters
This isn't the first time Lucasfilm have crossed characters over between the movies and the TV shows. Until this point though, these crossover points were very much a one way street, with characters from the movies appearing in the shows, and not vice versa.
Obviously, Clone Wars followed Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi in the years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, introducing Ahsoka Tano as Anakin's padawan. But although Star Wars: Rebels doesn't include movie characters as leading roles, there have been a few cameos and minor roles which tie the narrative together.
In Rebels Season 1, Senator Tarkin appeared several times, adding a sense of villainous gravitas to the show. Season 2 was when things really kicked off though — Princess Leia appeared in the latter half of the season, giving her a nice bit of backstory. But it was Darth Vader who really stole the show, as his relentless pursuit of the rebels and final showdown with Ahsoka tied up some emotional threads from Clone Wars.
Much of Rebels Season 2 dealt with the shadows of the past, resolving plot threads left dangling by the films. As in the Extended Universe, Darth Maul made his long-awaited return too, having cast aside his Sith allegiances. He helped the team for a while but eventually revealed his true motivations, which were far from heroic.
So, What Does This Mean For Episode VIII?
As it stands, Rebels is acting as a sort of staging platform for characters that may make an appearance in the movies some day. Now that Kinberg has confirmed that Rebels Season 3 really will start to plant hints for the future movies, pretty much anything is possible.
Of course, we're unlikely to see any major revelations in Rebels — like the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke — but keep your eyes peeled for anything and everything that might be a clue. After all, it's not out of the question that Rey's parents might appear in Rebels Season 3, especially now we know her father probably isn't Luke Skywalker.
All in all, this goes a long way to restoring a vast narrative and bringing it together in a coherent and consistent fashion. Also, crossovers are cool and we love seeing our faves in the TV shows as well as the movies. So more of that can only be a good thing!
Do you think Rebels Season 3 will reveal anything important about Episode VIII?