It appears that the Star Wars animated universe has been brought back to life with plans to tackle an era which will be pleasing to old-school fans. The Disney-sized Lucasfilm coalition have announced that production has begun on a new animated series set to debut in fall of 2014 called Star Wars Rebels. Kicking off with a one-hour special premiere on Disney Channel, the show will then settle into its home on the regular schedule of Disney XD.
Just a few short months after new franchise owners, Disney dropped the grim news that the long-running animated staple, Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be a victim of their own equivalent of an "Order 66" mass franchise refurbishment, it seems that plans were already in the works for a new phase. While the former series explored the period inbetween Star Wars Episodes II and III, Star Wars Rebels will actually fill the rich and mostly untouched territory spanning two whole decades with the period between the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the very first Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope. (Although, this does not bode well for the enduring canonical place of The Force Unleashed video games, which was set within that time period.)
While fans of The Clone Wars still anxiously await the series' proper denouement via the announced "bonus material" set to drop, they should be relieved to know that the old show's supervising director, Dave Filoni will return on Rebels with a title bump to executive producer. Filoni will work alongside exec producer peers in Simon Kinberg screenwriter of X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Greg Weisman, a veteran of notable animated shows like Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and the acclaimed classic 90's series, Gargoyles. Additionally, Filoni will be bringing much of the creative personnel from The Clone Wars like art director, Kilian Plunkett, which should also induce a sigh of relief among fans of the late series.
Much like with the bittersweet announcement of The Clone Wars' end, the heralding of this "new hope" of a show comes with a behind-the-scenes video featuring Dave Filoni discussing the new, grand task of tackling the hunt for the last vestiges of the Jedi and the beginnings of the Rebellion against the Empire. Check it out below!
This truly does represent a great opportunity to not only flesh out a mostly unexplored era of the (acknowledged) Star Wars canon, but makes for an excellent context-setting companion piece for the upcoming sequel films. (Which will surely be much further along in production by the time Rebels premieres.) More importantly, it carries the task of bridging the two existing trilogies and create a proper transition between the films that's desperately needed. This is especially true if the upcoming sequel films end up becoming an elemental hybrid of both trilogies. With generational divisions causing fans to draw preferential lines in the sand, such a thing could be helpful for both Prequel Trilogy and Original Trilogy fans in accepting the broader Star Wars canon.
In the meantime, the show has already set up shop on Facebook and has been posting some (indecipherable) snippets of what could be concept art for the show. Fall 2014 can't come soon enough.