Rebel after rebel with no Imperial in sight, fans were starting to wonder when character videos would appear for the antagonists of the series. Although the Inquisitor was revealed at New York Comic Con 2013, the identity of the voice actor remains unknown, with some rumors pointing to Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs. Some hoped the voice would be revealed at San Diego Comic Con 2014’s Star Wars Rebels panel, but according to Tracy Cannobio, the heroes of the rebel crew will be the main focus. Tracy also mentioned that July would be a big month for Star Wars Rebels news, and we saw that develop on Thursday, July 10, when Agent Kallus was properly introduced to the audience.
Kallus is an Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) agent, one of the Empire’s leading enforcers, and a serious threat for the rebel crew. Voiced by David Oyelowo, Kallus is ruthless and a soldier on the ground leading the stormtroopers, often taking the fight straight to our heroes. While wearing the familiar gray Imperial military uniform, Kallus also sports a notable beard. “He’s pretty literally a rebel hunter,” said art director Kilian Plunkett, “His whole task is to investigate any sort of instance of local insurgency and see if it’s the beginnings of what could become a rebellion.”
Upon learning more about this particular character, I was curious to know whether he would become the Tarkin type. Kallus is, after all, ambitious and eager climb the ranks of the Empire. Between Tarkin and Kallus, however, Kallus appears to be just a man fighting for the Empire’s cause. Tarkin, on the other hand, proved himself to be more conniving and able to slither his way around the system. I also find interesting that he carries a modified version of Zeb’s honor guard staff. A man of his position, I could see that as being a sort of trophy and a tool of power over others.
At one point during the character video, Kallus was originally depicted as a Chiss, a near-human species with blue skin and red eyes. Personally, I’m glad the design didn’t become permanent because certain fans would see that as a possible introduction for Thrawn and other characters from Star Wars Legends. I should clarify that I don’t mind the appearances of such characters, but I’ve noticed that fan behavior and expectations regarding that aspect of the universe often leads to negative comments about the series when the writers don’t deliver (the same happened to Star Wars: The Clone Wars).
Justin Bolger (@TheApexFan) July 11, 2014
Others were quick to point out the fact that a black actor was voicing a white character–a character that could have been another person of color (besides Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, and Sabine Wren). Justin Bolger from TheForce.net does have a point, as seen in the tweet above. There are very few black characters in the Star Wars universe. One was an entrepreneur/gambler and a general during the rebellion era and the other was a Jedi Master. In terms of representation, this would have been the perfect opportunity to add a different role to the mix–a villain. There is, however, the worry that minorities are often portrayed as evil and villainous characters. A very good friend of mine said it best when she said, “Hollywood has no problem finding colored people to play terrorists and gangbangers, but when you need a lead role or good-guy supporting roles, it’s like ‘Well, obviously white people are the best actors/actresses for the part.'” This was said in reference to the movies Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and the upcoming Pan film, where Rooney Mara will play Tiger Lily, a Native American character. Obviously, the concern expressed in the quote doesn’t apply to Kallus exactly, but it reflects the bigger problem of minorities and representation.
That said, I think there’s a perfectly good reason why Kallus is designed as we currently see him. Star Wars has themes and imagery that are taken directly from our own World War history. (A great place to find those kinds of parallels is From World War to Star Wars, a site created by Cole Horton.) The notion of a superior race, or the Master race, was a very common concept in Nazi ideology. The ideal German soldier was blond and blue-eyed and the image was often used in Nazi recruitment posters and propaganda. This could be something that Star Wars Rebels is attempting to portray, especially since the Empire is known for eradicating and enslaving “inferior” species and races.
Agent Kallus seems like a great addition to the Star Wars universe and I can’t wait to see him in action!
(via Hero Complex)