As we catch our breath after the past week of non-stop Star Wars Rebels reveals we have a chance to take a step back and take a closer look at the six heroes that have been introduced and that will form the core cast of Star Wars Rebels.
Star Wars Rebels will feature a core cast of Chopper, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, Hera and Sabine. These six will be the characters that we spend the most time with focusing on Ezra as the main character of the series. Each character received an introductory video featuring the voice actor portraying them and crew members discussing the character. These reveals have given us a look at what these characters’ personalities and a hint at their back-stories. What do we know and what has been hinted about each character? What do I think of each character so far?
Astromech droids are highly useful members of the Star Wars galaxy. In Rebels we are introduced to C1-10P, otherwise known as Chopper. Aboard the Ghost, Chopper is the chief engineer charged with keeping the ship up and running.
Chopper is programmed as a masculine droid and is described as lazy and cranky with a personality akin to that of a cat.
Weapons and Gear:
Chopper is a heavily modified and cobbled together droid inspired by early Ralph McQuarrie concept art for R2-D2. He has three extending gripper arms, a periscope, a center mounted rocket booster and an extendable third wheel for rapid ground movement. The other surprises that Chopper may be hiding under his durasteel shell have yet to be revealed.
I love the look of Chopper except for the top sensor dish which sticks out to me as odd and looks rather fragile. The vocalizations of Chopper are rather distinct and a deeper tone thanwe usually hear out of droids. One of the most interesting things to me is the potential banter that Chopper can be a part of. To me this reminds me of the playful banter we got between Han and Chewie as they worked on the Falcon, they seemed to always be working at cross purposes in the films. With Chopper doing things his own way and also being the mechanic of the ship it seems likely that there will be plenty of opportunity for him to take a part of the ship apart at inopportune moments.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the crew interacts with Chopper without the benefit of a protocol droid around to translate for him. Though again, this could lead to some comedic moments when communications break down between the droid and the living crew members.
What would Star Wars be without a Jedi? In Rebels we are introduced to Kanan Jarrus, nicknamed “the cowboy Jedi.” Kanan will be voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.
While much of Kanan’s past is yet to be revealed, we do know that he survived Order 66 and that he then went into hiding forsaking the ways of the Jedi and hiding his lightsaber away. Living life below the Empire’s radar as to avoid being killed Kanan has replaced his Jedi robes with armor and a blaster.
In the introductory video for Ezra, executive producer Dave Filoni mentions that Kanan will “never reclaim his status and become a Jedi Knight” without Ezra. This gives us our clearest indication that at the time of Order 66 Kanan was a padawan, likely of the same generation as Ahsoka Tano, which may have made Kanan a Jedi Commander during The Clone Wars. It is also possible that Kanan could have been a generation behind Ahsoka making him a younger padawan during the later stages of the Clone Wars.
Without necessarily intending to Kanan will also become a mentor to Ezra and presumably will introduce him to the ways of the Force. But if Kanan is not a Jedi Knight then his own knowledge of the Force and the ways of the Jedi may be somewhat limited.
Weapons and Gear:
Kanan is armed with a hip-holstered blaster pistol, a single-bladed blue lightsaber and armor covering his right shoulder and arm.
Visually Kanan presents a pretty cool look for a character. I am digging the green armor as a departure from the Clone Wars era white armor that the Jedi wore. His blaster and lightsaber are also well designed, the blaster being a rather utilitarian looking weapon and the lightsaber evoking the Japanese katana sword hilts. His lightsaber taken together with his pony-tail emphasize that Samurai influence on the development of the Jedi.
It was tough to judge the character by the brief snippets of voice acting we saw in the introductory video, but at New York Toy Fair actor Freddie Prinze Jr. made an appearance promoting the show and the merchandising and his passion for Star Wars was obvious and infectious so he seems like a great fit as part of the larger Star Wars family and I hope his enthusiasm translates onto the screen.
Ezra Bridger: Force-sensitive Con Artist
Ezra is the character that we will see the events of Rebels through voiced by Taylor Gray. A street smart con artist and pickpocket on Lothal, Ezra has lived his entire life during Emperor Palpatine’s New Order. At 14-years old Ezra is the same age as the young Princess of Alderaan and the young adopted son of a moisture farmer on Tatooine.
We don’t know for sure if Ezra is an orphan, but we do know that he needed to steal to survive on the streets of Lothal. But stealing to survive isn’t his only hobby, he also likes to steal from the Imperials and has a preference for helmets.
As a result of his upbringing Ezra has led a hard life and doesn’t trust anyone. This lone wolf philosophy will be tested when he meets the crew of the Ghost and becomes integrated into what will become his surrogate family.
We also know that Ezra is Force-sensitive and uses the force in an “instinctive and reactionary” way and through Kanan he will learn that what he is doing is tapping into the Force.
Weapons and Gear:
Ezra has a repainted stolen Imperial TIE pilot helmet, a backpack, a piece of shin armor, a wrist mounted laser sling-shot, and at some point during the series he will also gain a lightsaber of unique design.
As much as I have read the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) it was hard for me to get past the obvious comparisons of young Ezra Bridger and the childhood of Han Solo on the streets of Corellia and aboard the Trader’s Luck. Whether it is a young Han Solo, Disney’s Aladdin, Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or the classic Oliver Twist from literature, this is a familiar trope used across storytelling. There are also influences from American culture and the ideas of self-reliance and individualism that seems to influence Ezra’s characterization.
On top of all this there are echoes of Luke Skywalker where we have a seemingly unimportant youth on a back-rocket planet, who unbeknownst to him possess the ability to use the Force and the potential to become a Jedi. It seems that Star Wars Rebels will follow Ezra’s hero’s journey as he grows, matures and takes the fight to the Empire.
In terms of the appearance of the character the lavender/purple eyes and the blueish/black hair are curious choices that may speak to some near-human ancestry mixed in with baseline human biology. His backpack seems like an obvious connection for young kids to make who carry their own backpacks to school every day. His shinguard armor on only one leg is a curious design choice and I wonder if there is a specific reason for it. The lightsaber that he eventually wields looks a bit like a staple gun and has a rather curious guard around the hilt which may contain a blaster or some other technological tool that he can use. The TIE pilot helmet that he has stolen and customized is pretty cool and I have to wonder if Sabine is the one that painted it for him.
I really enjoyed the brief clips we heard of Taylor Gray’s voice acting that we saw in the introductory video. One thing that is sticking in the back of my head in thinking about Ezra is the journey’s that the character of Luke and Ahsoka take. In A New Hope Luke begins as a whiny farmboy but he matures quickly through the film and wins viewers over. In The Clone Wars film Ahsoka is introduced in a way that makes the character seem rather obnoxious, but as some of this snarky bravado is brushed away we see Ahsoka grow and mature over the series and she quickly became one of my all time favorite Star Wars characters. I saw all that by way of pointing out that we may not all like Ezra in the beginning and in fact that arc of the character may work better if he is a bit annoying or obnoxious when we start out as it allows them to show a more significant amount of character growth.
Zeb Orrelios: The Alien Muscle
Zeb voiced by Steve Blum is physical muscle of the crew of the Ghost. While we know that Zeb is based off of early Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Chewbacca, his actual species described as “bizarre” is a new one and has not yet been revealed.
What we do know is that Zeb is both highly skilled physically as a fighter and very intelligent and well educated. On his home planet Zeb was a member of an honor guard. He also has a hobby of beating up Stormtroopers and has bit of a playful big brother to little brother relationship with Ezra.
Weapons and Gear:
Zeb is armed with a rather nasty weapon which is mounted on his back. It converts from a electro bo-staff to a blaster rifle. He also wears what appears to be some light body armor.
Zeb just looks like a lot of fun. My initial thought was of the X-Men team member Beast who couples the savage physical appearance with the highly intelligent mind. The voice acting of Steve Blum sounded really good in the introductory clip and the character certainly seems to have a very strong sense of humor. His weapon is very cool and the ability to switch from a bo-staff to a blaster rifle along with his hand-to-hand combat skills should provide a heavy dose of action in the show.
I am very curious about Zeb’s backstory. What is a well educated honor guard member doing away from his home planet and the ruler that he was trained to guard? Was Zeb exiled from his people for something he did? Was Zeb’s world/civilization destroyed or enslaved by the Empire forcing him to flee and creating his hatred of the Empire and Stormtroopers or as he refers to them as bucketheads? Did Zeb send himself into self-exile for some violation of his own personal code of honor or self-perceived failure?
It would be very cool if we saw something similar to the origins of the Noghri from the EU in the story of Zeb’s new species. I can’t wait to find out more about who Zeb is and where he comes from.
Sabine: Mandalorian Exposive Expert and Anti-Imperial Artist
Sabine who is voiced by actress Tiya Sircar seems to be the early breakout star of the show and fan favorite. A female Mandalorian, Sabine is an expert in weapons and combat with a love of explosives. She is a warrior poet balancing her martial skills with an artistic side. She is a graffiti artist who leaves her mark on Imperial property and personnel.
Sabine appears to have a big personality being described as both spunky and fiesty and is clearly not afraid to express her feelings artistically.
It appears that Sabine also goes by the call-sign ‘Specter 5’ while on missions.
We know that something caused Sabine to turn against the Empire and take up arms and spray-paint against the Empire, but just what triggered this is not clear. There is an obvious similarity in her name and that of the late Duchess Satine Kryze, but it isn’t clear if their is any relation between the two.
Weapons and Gear:
Sabine is equiped in a uniquely painted set of Mandalorian armor (beskar’gam) including a helmet (buy’ce), shoulder and and chest armor, as well as armor on her elbows, knees and front of her ankle. She wields a pair of differently colored (grey/yellow and blue/grey) Westar-35 blaster pistols which where used by various Mandalorians during the Clone Wars era. She also has a small spay paint tool which appears to hold 5 different colors or cartridges.
So let me get this straight, we have a female Mandalorian with brightly colored armor, wields two blaster pistons, likes to blow stuff up and also likes to graffiti tag Imperials? Even Boba Fett thinks that Sabine sounds cool. Her character design is pretty awesome, I love the Rebel logo painted on her armor and I am very curious about the checkerboard pattern that also appears on her armor.
If the initial fan reaction is any indication actress Tiya Sircar may one day rival the popularity of Ashley Eckstein and James Arnold Taylor among fans.
Sabine fits into a very cool role with her graffiti. She not only echoes real world protesters with her defacing of Imperial propaganda, but she also speaks to the larger message of individuality versus conformity.
The fact that Sabine is Mandalorian and that she has “turned against the Empire” have me very excited to find out more about this character. One of the biggets gripes that fans had with The Clone Wars with how it treated Mandalorian culture and the EU related to the Mandalorians. We were left in Season 5 of The Clone Wars with an unresolved civil war on Mandalore. What happened to Mandalore between that season and the beginning of Star Wars Rebels is an open question and one that I need to find out. The fact that she turned against the Empire makes me wonder if she was and Imperial supporter, recruit or even officer at some point before rejecting the Empire.
When she was first announced I kidding mentioned on Twitter that perhaps she was the love child of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Satine Kryze. Now that comment was tongue in cheek. The fact that Sabine’s name is so similar to Satine and is Mandalorian does raise the obvious question to whether these two are related or not. It may not be a close relationship but I would wager that we will learn that Sabine is related to Satine and Bo-Katan in some way.
Hera Syndulla: Twi’lek Owner/Captain of the Ghost
The Twi’lek Hera Syndulla is voiced by actress Vanessa Marshall and is the pilot of the Ghost.
Hera is described as the heart of the crew as well as being an ace pilot and able fighter. The Ghost is her ship and she is the captain but it seems like there is a relative equality between Kanan and Hera when it comes to leadership of the group.
She is a strong-willed woman who has great interpersonal skills and is able to talk to the other crew members in a way that encourages them “to get the best out of themselves and to be part of that team.”
Weapons and Gear:
Hera wears a orange flight suit that is far more practical that what we usually see female Twi’leks wearing. She also wears a unique helmet and goggles that cover the base of her lekku (head-tails) as well as her ears. She is armed with a small blaster pistol that is stored in an ankle holster.
Thanks to LEGO while she was the last hero character officially announced we have known about Hera for a while now. LEGO also revealed that her last name is Syndulla, the same family name as The Clone Wars Twi’lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. There has been some discussion among fans whether Hera is either the female Twi’lek child shown with Cham during those episodes or possibly Numa another female Twi’lek that appeared in the Ryloth arc episodes. The young female we see with Cham has different skin color than Hera so that seems to be out. Both Hera and Numa are green skinned Twi’leks though it is a different shade of green. Hera could be Numar grown up using a different name, but the explanation may be simpler. It may simply be that she is a character related to Cham that we simply didn’t see during any of The Clone Wars episodes.
The very curious thing is that the Ghost is Hera’s ship. It was mentioned at conventions promoting Star Wars Rebels that the name the Ghost had specific significance to the crew. I have discussed this before but the company of troops that the clones who helped rescue Numa and liberate Ryloth were from was Ghost Company. The connection is just to obvious to be ignored. I wonder if Numa who we saw reunited with her uncle lost him later in the Clone Wars era and was adopted as a war orphan by Cham.
Cham’s rivalry with Ryloth’s Senator Orn Free Taa, and Taa’s closeness to Palpatine makes me think that Syndulla did not have a happy fate after the Clone Wars ended. So if Hera is related to Cham her reasons for rebelling against the Empire may be very personal.
I love, love the fact that Hera isn’t being the stereotypical sexualized Twi’lek. Her choice of baggy flightsuit actually downplays her sexuality in a way that seems both practical and realistic given her role as captain and pilot of the ship. I think this is a positive character to show to young girls and boys today particularly given the wide spread increase in questionably appropriate attire with young people.
The only weapon we see her is a small blaster pistol that she keeps in an ankle holster. This appears to almost be what is referred to the EU as a hold-out blaster. It seems that Hera’s fighting will mostly take place from the cockpit of the Ghost and that she may be leaving any ground operations to other crew members.
We have seen our core cast of heroes announced for Star Wars Rebels and while I don’t think that everyone will like every character, each character is distinct and novel enough that I believe that the creative team behind Rebels did a good job in mixing up the cast. They all have unique looks, unique weapons, and most importantly seemingly unique personalities.
What has me really excited is each character has their own back-story and unique reason for disliking the Empire. If done right these back-stories could give tremendous depth to the characters.
So far Sabine is my favorite character, but I am an admitted Mando fanboy so she is an easy sell to me. Who is your favorite and who are you most excited to learn more about? I’d love to hear from you leave a comment below or send us a message on Twitter @RebelsReport.