If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the recently launched animated series Star Wars Rebels, which begins it proper television run later tonight on Disney XD, is just the first piece in a massive expansion of the Star Wars universe. The now Disney-owned Lucasfilm is taking the Marvel approach, crafting an expansive picture where everything is connected. We’ve heard various ways that Rebels will link up to movies like J.J. Abrams Star Wars: Episode VII, and the way they’re going about this continues to become more and more clear.
Executive producer and showrunner Dave Filoni recently talked about the series and the ever-expanding universe with SFGate. Venturing back to this world for the first time since The Clone Wars, which he also worked on, he says, “There were certain things we needed to get right.” This trickles all the way down to even the music, which they certainly get right in Rebels, using John Williams’ iconic score to create a tone and feel that has that distinct Star Wars flair.
As sprawling and expansive as the Star Wars universe is, the vast majority of action revolves around the exploits of a single family. Take away the Skywalkers, and you’ve got very little Star Wars left over (okay, some of the EU stuff spirals out in its own way, but that’s relatively minor in comparison to the main core of that far, far away galaxy). In Rebels, while there are certainly connections—we’ve already seen Obi-Wan Kenobi show up, and Darth Vader is slated to appear—the series marks the biggest move away from this storyline to date. Filoni says:
Something that I think is very important to the future of “Star Wars” is to take what has traditionally been the Skywalker family timeline and (stretches his hands to the sides) go way over here and way over here. … It is such a rich universe, and there are other possibilities with so many characters.
We were pretty confident that we could create this crew, and people would get invested in following this little family unit, even though they’re not involved in the bigger goings on in the films. … It just gives you more dimension to the galaxy, and breadth to the tale. For our money, we don’t really ever need to cross over with it. We can create our own little thing over here.
Another way in which Rebels is a departure from standard operating procedure, is that this also marks the first time that there have really been multiple additions to the canon in progress at the same time. That series has obviously started its run, even getting renewed for a second season, Episode VII is deep in production, and there are at least two more Episodes, as well as a series of standalone films in the works. And again, Filoni reiterates how all of this will be connected, and how approaching the universe in this manner has changed their work style. He says:
It’s a new thing at Lucasfilm to have multiple “Star Wars” projects happening at one time, especially cinematically. There were always books and comics and video games and we’d collaborate with different groups. But this is on a tremendous scale. We always have to watch what we’re doing, and think 30 years down the line. “Is there an implication for that?” It’s really fun. It’s fun to work with a creative story team. We didn’t have a story team before. It was George. It’s great to have ideas to bounce off people, to give opinions on. And to see other people deal with the pressure – the weight of what it means to take on “Star Wars.”
Star Wars Rebels continues its run tonight on Disney XD with the episode “Droids in Distress,” and Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters everywhere on December 18, 2015.