When the Star Wars Rebels animated series premieres this fall, it will be one of the first projects set in the streamlined Star Wars canon, which recently rendered everything that isn’t the six Episode films or The Clone Wars “unofficial.” Future Star Wars projects may pull elements from the so-called Expanded Universe — in fact, there are already hints that it will be doing just that — but the new stories will not be beholden to the vast quantities of books, games, and comics that came before. But since Rebels is set before A New Hope, we’ve been wondering how much, if any, it would directly tie into J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII. It turns out the answer to that question might just be, “A lot.”
While covering the Star Wars Fan Fun Day convention in Lancashire, the folks at Movie Cricket grilled Empire Strikes Back actor John Morton about whether he had any Star Wars tidbits to share, and whaddya know, Morton was all too happy to dish. No, he didn’t spill the beans about any of Episode VII’s secrets, but he did have this to say:
Rebels is the key. Rebels will provide the link to bring in the continuity from Clone Wars, the Original Trilogy and the Prequels to enable LucasFilm and Disney to tee-up Episode VII. If you want my informed opinion, it will enable Episode VII to leapfrog over the whole trilogy.
It’s hard to guess what “leapfrogging” the trilogy means, but I’m guessing he just means that Rebels will help establish connections between these various parts of the new Star Wars canon, from the existing movies and Clone Wars, to the announced Star Wars novels that are due to begin releasing this summer.
However, Morton made one other claim that’s even more interesting. He says, “The characters they are creating in Rebels will be around in Episode VII.” That some of the Rebels characters might be referenced in some capacity in future Star Wars content already seemed likely, but could this mean we’ll actually see one of Rebels’ main characters playing a role, large or small, in the events of Episode VII? Since Rebels is about the founders of the Rebellion, it makes sense that these characters would be known by Luke, Leia, and the rest, even assuming they weren’t primary players by the time of Return of the Jedi.
On the other hand, the Rebels figures being referenced could be more familiar than the new animated series’ core characters. Billy Dee Williams claimed last year that he was doing voice work for Rebels…presumably reprising his role as Lando Calrissian. Billy Dee wasn’t among the Episode VII cast announced last week, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that he’s being held back as a surprise. There are also rumblings that the Expanded Universe character of Mara Jade might play a role in Rebels, setting her up to be introduced in Episode VII as well. And then there are those Obi-Wan rumors…
All of this, however, should be taken with a grain of salt, and I’m not just saying that because the dude’s name is Morton. He obviously has a connection to Star Wars, but he’s not the first person you’d expect to have the inside scoop about the new stuff. If you don’t recognize the name, Morton played Dak in The Empire Strikes Back, better known as “the can-do gunner in Luke’s back seat during the Battle of Hoth who thought he could take on the whole Empire himself.” So the question becomes, how did Morton get this information? He doesn’t say, but for the moment his name hasn’t been mentioned in connection to any of the new Star Wars projects. Maybe he’s still friendly with Mark Hamill, who knows. For the meantime, however, heed the words of Yoda: impossible to see the future is.