Highlights of the ‘Star Wars’ Animation Panels at Dragon Con 2018

There’s no doubt the Star Wars animated shows are a significant part of the Star Wars universe, so it’s no surprise the shows had a great presence at this year’s Dragon Con.

Here are some of our favorite observations and quotes from each panel.

Farewell, Star Wars Rebels
Moderator: Matthew Rushing
Panelist(s): Bria LaVorgna, Tom Hutchens, Timothy Zahn, and Henry Gilroy
Audio: Tosche Station

  • When the series first started, Dave Filoni mentioned they could not have a story set on Mandalore because it would have been too expensive to make. It wasn’t until they got to a certain point that they knew it needed to happen out of narrative.
  • Timothy Zahn believes the writers did a great job at having Sabine realize she’s not ready to be Mandalore’s ruler. Henry Gilroy added, “She has enough smarts to know this isn’t hers. Also, you have to realize she actually sees what people with power have to go through … and she sees what people of power turn into.” He uses Sabine’s mom as an example. Ursa became a cold and callous person to lead her family. Sabine’s learned important selfless lessons from the people around her, like Kanan and Ezra. Zahn tied the conversation nicely by saying she would be a more capable and experienced leader for Mandalore in the future.
  • Matt Rushing brought up Hondo as another character who went through a remarkable arc throughout the series, emphasizing how Ezra reminded the old pirate of what the galaxy used to be like. Gilroy added how Hondo saw a bit of himself in Ezra at the beginning and might have seen Ezra as his legacy.
  • Rebels did an amazing job at expanding and adding to the saga, like the World Between Worlds. Dave Filoni and George Lucas had conversations about this idea. Gilroy thinks the World Between Worlds is a nexus between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force because it combines space-time manipulation and the cosmical aspect of the Force. He also said, “I always got the sense that if somebody else had gone into that World Between Worlds, they would have experienced something completely different. They would have heard different voices echoing, the portals would have been different, so it’s all about what you bring into it and what your experiences are and what your connections are.”
  • After season two, the Inquisitors faded into the background and weren’t seen again in the show, but their presence has been around in novels and comic books. Gilroy had also pitched a story, but the “Force” villain transitioned into a personal villain with Darth Maul in season 3.
  • Creatures play a big part in Rebels, especially in the final season with the Loth-wolves, Loth-cats, and the Purrgil. Gilroy pointed out that it’s interesting that a city boy had such a natural connection to nature and developed a great empathy for those around him.
  • Like Hondo, Maul also saw Ezra as some sort of legacy for himself, but Ezra is someone who treasures relationships and lifts people up. Maul, on the other hand, sought to control and conquer and that’s evidenced by the cave he had on Dathomir with all of those materialistic possessions that, in the end, meant nothing.
  • Dave Filoni had mentioned once that Maul was supposed to die in “Twilight of the Apprentice,” and with the Inquisitors out of the picture, Gilroy created Veris Hydan for season 3. He had envisioned this character with an archaeological background who worked for the Emperor. This character would scour the galaxy for Jedi Temples to erase them but also to extract secrets from them. He was supposed to have a bigger presence in season 3 and be the mystical villain to the Jedi characters.
  • Bria LaVorgna brought up the question of when Jacen Syndulla was conceived. Gilroy described a scene from the episode “Kindred,” where Hera finds Kanan meditating out in the fields. He said there was a time-cut or dissolve after that and “a lot of things can happen in a dissolve.”
  • The writers talked about and considered bringing Commander Cody into Rebels. Gilroy mentioned there was an idea of Thrawn realizing the rebels are working with former clones, so he would have done his research and brought someone in to assist with the problem and that could have been Cody.
  • In the past, we learned the Grand Inquisitor was once a Jedi, so Gilroy explained that Palpatine kept an eye on aggressive and selfish Jedi and those who could possibly be turned into Inquisitors.
  • There was a 2-minute sequence of Ezra meditating and going through the process of building his lightsaber. Since we had already seen that before in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it was cut from the episode.

Resistance and Star Wars Cartoons
Moderator: Bruce Gibson
Panelist(s): Brian Larsen, Christy Morris, Lynn Walker, Michael Morris, and Henry Gilroy
Audio: Tosche Station

  • Henry Gilroy talked about how Ahsoka got her name. Most people know that she was originally called Ashla, but George Lucas didn’t want that because that’s what he called the light side of the Force. To give her a new name, Lucas looked through a history book and picked out Ashoka, but Gilroy kept spelling it Ahsoka because it would have been too on the nose to have a fictional character named after a historical character. Lucas kept correcting him in the scripts until he finally made a comment and said they should just keep Ahsoka.
  • Gilroy explained how his Dark Horse comic went from Clone Wars script to comic back to Clone Wars script. It was something that caught George’s attention, so they adapted the story for the animated show.
  • According to Gilroy, Wolffe probably carried out his orders during Order 66. The removal of the chip happened after the event was done, but the programming and trauma are still there. That explains his aggressive reaction to seeing Kanan for the first time.
  • Ray Stevenson (Gar Saxon) was in the area to record his final appearance on the show, but he hadn’t read the script ahead of time. So while recording, he learned his character had died, but Gilroy said he enjoyed his time on the show and bringing that character to life.

The Clone Wars 10th Anniversary Panel
Moderator: Matthew Rushing
Panelist(s): Henry Gilroy, Bryan Young, Tom Hutchens, and Melissa Pye
Audio: Aggressive Negotiations

  • The writers were initially shocked to discover that Anakin was going to get a Padawan, but learned over time that the decision helped add more drama in the storytelling.
  • Rotta the Hutt’s part of the story and him being carried by Anakin on his back was inspired by an old Samurai movie, Shogun’s Shadow.
  • The intention behind the art style of the show was to make it look like a moving Ralph McQuarrie painting. Gilroy said, “Our early tests were basically taking a Ralph McQuarrie painting, separating it into levels, and putting on 2D elements and panning around it just to see how it would look.”
  • Everyone on the panel mentioned their favorite arcs, such as Umbara, Ahsoka, Mortis, and the Mandalorian arc from earlier in the series. Gilroy said some of his favorite stories expose character, like Waxer and Boyle showing humanity and compassion in the Ryloth arc.
  • Gilroy had pitched a story he called “Warriors of Beskar” in which the Jedi were trying to stop Dooku from acquiring beskar armor. His plan was to melt down and use the molten metal to create impervious battle droids. Elements of this story were used later on, but when it originally came across George Lucas, he commented that Mandalorians were pacifists.
  • The flirtatious interactions between Ventress and Obi-Wan were written as such on the scripts and not something that was a product of the actors performing with each other. The purpose was for Obi-Wan to manipulate her emotions and find out how disciplined she was as a Force user.
  • One of the things Gilroy is proud to have contributed is writing Plo Koon as a Jedi you wouldn’t expect, since he is a paternal-like figure. When finding a voice for the character, they originally wanted to cast Sonny Chiba and give Plo Koon a thick Japanese accent.
  • As we learned in Star Wars Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor was a Jedi Temple Guard. When Order 66 happened, he betrayed the other Temple Guards and murdered them in order to allow Anakin and the clone troopers access into the Jedi Temple.

Thrawn With Timothy Zahn
Moderator: Nanci Schwartz
Panelist(s): Timothy Zahn
Audio: Tosche Station

  • Zahn has proposals for future stories, but he has to wait on other storytelling decisions to happen first, like Episode IX and post-Star Wars Rebels. He has a story that would not go past season 4 of Rebels, so he’s hoping it’ll get approved. He has a 2-book proposal that would take place after Rebels and it may not come to pass until years from now when Dave Filoni and the rest of the crew figure out what happens after Rebels.
  • Zahn believes Filoni would make a great Ahsoka and Sabine story, but given all of the current animated projects in the works, there hasn’t been time for Zahn to have a conversation with Filoni about where that particular story would go next and what happens to Thrawn and Ezra.
  • The original concept for Thrawn: Alliances was to have Thrawn and Anakin look for Ahsoka, but since she was off limits, Padmé was used instead.
  • Zahn said, “I think [the Rebels crew] did a really good job with Thrawn in Rebels. They understood how to write for him, what the character was like, how to structure what he says and does, but also the meta of how you defeat him. You throw something at him he cannot anticipate or cannot control. That’s the only way to beat him.”

Creating Iconic Characters
Moderator: Matthew Rushing
Panelist(s): Robert Allsopp, Fon Davis, Henry Gilroy, E.K. Johnson, and Timothy Zahn
Audio: The 602 Club

  • In talking about how characters react to other characters in the story, Timothy Zahn brought up Agent Kallus and how he wanted to see a plot thread about how other rebels wouldn’t trust him. Gilroy mentioned they had written some of that, but it was cut out of the story.

Were you at Dragon Con this year and learned an exciting new detail you want to share? Or have you tuned into the panels and picked up on something we missed? Share them in the comments section below.

1 comment on “Highlights of the ‘Star Wars’ Animation Panels at Dragon Con 2018

  1. Pingback: A Close Read of Star Wars Rebels “Twin Suns” – Part 10 – Suns and Moons | DilDev's Blog

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