When an animation panel at Star Wars Celebration features Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo, fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels know right away that it’s not one to be missed. There have been several variations of the Star Wars animation panel in past years, but this year’s version delved into the origins of fan favorite characters, such as Maul, Ahsoka, and even Chopper, and how this generation of Star Wars characters grew out of animation over the years.
One of the first things Filoni and Hidalgo commented on was how big the audience had grown, the panel having taken place at the Galaxy Stage, where thousands of fans sat down to take in some of the rare artwork, stories, and clips. It’s easy for some in the fan community to dismiss the animated shows and consider them a lesser form of storytelling and entertainment, but for the past decade, both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels have been the entry point for a significant portion of the fanbase. Many grew up with Ahsoka and many more are growing up with Ezra and his crew.
Before the two creators dove into the origins of the heroes, however, they first explored the background of the Dathomirian Zabrak antagonist, Maul:
- Only George Lucas had the power of bringing back that character. No one else had considered it, and when Lucas made the decision, it was up to Filoni and his team to figure out how it would happen.
- The parts that led up to him ending up on Lotho Minor, where Savage eventually finds him, were intentionally left unclear. According to Filoni, “The more you define that stuff, it can be a little bit difficult to believe.”
- During his final scene with Obi-Wan, there were some dialogue differences and lines were changed during editing because it was important to not overstate things.
- The episode was originally 35 minutes long and what was mostly cut included scenes as originally seen in Rebels Recon as well as content that featured Hera, Kanan, and Zeb. “Rebels is ultimately about family,” said Filoni, emphasizing the fact that at this point in the episode, Sabine was gone. Ezra also decided to take off, leaving behind the older three members of the group. The scene was originally going to show what was happening from their perspective, but it was cut down to focus more on Ezra’s journey with Maul.
- When writing Maul into Rebels, they had to be careful and not bring too much of The Clone Wars into the series because new viewers wouldn’t have been able to immediately connect and understand what was happening. In the original script, Maul was being haunted by visions of Duchess Satine Kryze and his brother, Savage Opress. The creators even went as far as to design Savage for the shots of Maul in the desert, but they had to omit that content for the benefit of new viewers who didn’t watch or grow up with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. That said, Filoni and the crew do enjoy putting things in that core fans would eagerly study and pick up on, but things of that nature are left to the background and don’t drive the main parts of the story.
I’m always in awe at how Filoni and Hidalgo talk about the creative process because there are so many factors involved that need to be considered and carefully analyzed before putting the final product out there for public consumption. Best of all is how the story is written and portrayed to benefit those who entered the world of Star Wars through Star Wars Rebels. Not every fan has seen the original movies. Not every fan attended the release of the prequels nearly 18 years ago. There’s a different entry point for each of us and the creators are constantly aware of that fact.
Filoni and Hidalgo moved on to talk about another fan favorite character: Captain Rex. The fan community has come to love and appreciate clone troopers over the years, and Filoni gave most of the credit to Dee Bradley Baker. He gave the troopers an individual voice throughout all six seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and continues to do so in Star Wars Rebels. Filoni saying that took me back to an old Dee Bradley Baker interview, where he described how he did each voice. Years later, his talent never ceases to amaze!
One of the biggest takeaways from this portion of the panel was the fact that Filoni originally had 9 surviving clones for Star Wars Rebels instead of 3. He wanted 9 as an homage to Walt Disney’s core animators who he called his Nine Old Men. Filoni said he couldn’t remember the entire list, but stated that it might have included Jesse and Kix. Kix, however, was incorporated in the short story The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku, which was set around the same time period as Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
As for Wolffe and Gregor, many fans have been wanting to know whether the two veterans would make another appearance.
“I would say it’s very probable that they come back at some point. Probably in the next season,” said Filoni, but we’ll have to wait and see if that comes true or not.
Soon after, the audience burst into applause and cheers when Rex showed up on screen in rebel armor very similar to what we saw in Return of the Jedi. While I wasn’t a big fan of the theory, I’ve grown to accept that the random soldier on Endor could be old Captain Rex. What Hidalgo and Filoni gave fans is just a little taste of what’s to come, however, so here’s hoping we see more of it play out in some form or another.
The next character is someone who went from being hated by the core group of fans to being praised and loved: Ahsoka Tano. Although her fate wasn’t a point of discussion at this panel, it was great to travel back to the time when she was first developed. Filoni shared his first drawings of Ahsoka both on paper and in digital form, the former of which was later finalized into the animated feature film, as seen below.
As for her fate, since the topic couldn’t be completely avoided, Hidalgo said, “There is more to say, but it’s not going to be said here.”
Other characters were also mentioned, such as Chopper and Saw Gerrera. Chopper’s portion was naturally on the more humorous side, since he’s a big time celebrity now after his appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Saw will also return in season four of Star Wars Rebels as well as his leading mercenary pilot Edrio Two Tubes. The Ghost and the Hammerhead Corvettes also made it into the discussion, since they are characters all on their own that had to be remodeled for live action.
The best, however, was saved for last: Cad Bane!
The ruthless bounty hunter is one of those characters whose story was left untold following the cancellation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He was supposed to play a major part in a bounty hunter arc, which was originally intended for season five, and it would have shown the fates of notable bounty hunters, such as Aurra Sing, Boba Fett, and Bane himself.
When the character was first developed, he was originally going to be a version of Durge, a bounty hunter who first appeared in Star Wars: Republic: The New Face of War, and later, in Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars. Lucas, however, wanted him to be a cowboy type character. His next appearance would have happened in the aforementioned arc, where Cad would have taught Boba how to be a “real” bounty hunter. The audience was treated to an animatics clip from that arc of episodes, which had been fully voiced by Daniel Logan and Corey Burton.
Both Cad Bane and Boba Fett ended up shooting each other in the clip, leaving us with questions as to what happened to Cad Bane, but the clip also gave us the origin of the dent seen on Boba Fett’s helmet. The resounding “oooh” from the audience was my favorite reaction from that panel.
I also noticed something else that I didn’t immediately pick up on right away. When Marrok laid two weapons down on the ground, there was a knife and a blaster. They belonged to Sugi! So it looks like Sugi may have been killed in an insurrection against Cad Bane.
One other thing that stood out to me in this clip was how Boba was trying to protect the innocent and prevent them from getting hurt. I’m curious as to how this particular event changes him, since in other canonical appearances, he’s shown to be more brutal.
As for Bane’s fate, Hidalgo and Filoni intentionally left it up in the air for fans to speculate. I like to think he survived the encounter, but what are your thoughts? Share them in the comments section below.
Also, make sure to check out StarWars.com’s highlights from the panel.
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