The final short promoting the protagonists of the new animated series Star Wars Rebels features 14-year-old Ezra Bridger, the street-smart kid from Lothal voiced by Taylor Gray. Known as the focus character and the one through which we will see the story unfold, Ezra is Force sensitive and slightly rough around the edges. Stealing and trading with the black market is how he has survived on his own, but he yearns for company, despite his “I don’t stick my neck out for anyone” attitude.
Although I find Ezra endearing and intriguing, one of my favorite things about him, so far, is his energy slingshot. It’s unique to the Star Wars universe in that it hasn’t appeared in the films or in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Big Shiny Robot recently interviewed executive producer Simon Kinberg and he had much to say about Ezra’s weapon.
We were trying to come up with some kind of weapon for him that felt homemade and actually viable as something he could take down stormtroopers with but that wasn’t lethal, that didn’t feel like his life had gotten so dark that he was shooting at people, and obviously he couldn’t have a lightsaber yet. So we went around, and actually I think it was Dave Filoni that actually came up with the actual design for it, where on the one hand it felt quite young but then it felt like, in the classic mythic storytelling tradition, the most famous underdog fight in history, before “Rocky” was obviously David and Goliath, so the slingshot felt like it sort of did a lot for us. It felt young and effective and also felt like it was part of a larger mythos.
This level of detail is something I respect and admire because it would have felt completely wrong if Ezra had been given a blaster as his weapon of choice instead. He’s only a kid trying to make ends meet with the skills he’s learned on the street. He’s not looking to kill anyone or add that kind of weight to his conscience. He needs something that will render his enemy unconscious long enough for him to scurry away and live another day. Having his weapon be homemade also demonstrates his ingenuity and his ability to make something useful out of scraps.
Most adults find it easy to dismiss children because what do they know, right? Wrong. Children are smart, great thinkers, and deserve the same attention and respect we desire as adults. When I see people make fun of Ezra’s weapon or call him “childish” (or call the show “childish,” for that matter), I immediately jump at the chance to educate and defend the age group. Sure, the weapon is childlike and he may have childlike tendencies, meaning that it falls under that age range, but he is a kid and kids are naturally innocent and naive.
Check out Ezra’s short, entitled “Not What You Think” (originally called “Property of Ezra Bridger”).
In “Not What You Think,” a special Star Wars Rebels short, Ezra finds a downed TIE fighter on the plains of Lothal. The young rebel opens the ship’s hatch–pretending to help the ungrateful Imperial pilot–and leaves with a few souvenirs.