How 'Star Wars Rebels' Links To Original Trilogy And Matches Existing Canon

One of the highlights of San Diego Comic-Con for me was Star Wars Rebels. Not only did I finally get to see and revel in the fantastic pilot, I got the chance to discuss it with two of its executive producers, Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg. In a 15-year professional career, it was the first time I got to sit down and discuss Star Wars with people directly involved in Star Wars. It was pretty exciting.

Over the course of the next few days, we're going to share the highlights of these one on one interviews. To start, I talked with both men about where, when and how Star Wars Rebels fits into the overall canon of Star Wars, what that means, how it effects their storytelling, and linking into the original trilogy. Read their quotes about the Star Wars Rebels plot connections below.

First up, here's my discussion with Dave Filoni about the Star Wars Rebels plot. Filoni is not only the executive producer of Rebels, he was the showrunner and driving force behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

/Film: Without spoilers, can we safely say this band of characters is beginning of a growing thing that'll lead to Princess Leia and the creation of the Death Star? Is this the beginning of the snowball effect?

Dave Filoni: I think the way to look at it, Simon said this beautifully. He described the American Revolution as if this was a show that was about five guys that were locked up in a farmhouse somewhere fighting against the local British military and without any real knowledge of the larger political movements or what's going on. I think that that's really how you look at the truth of it with the Rebels. How do you get all these people together? We're looking at one little small group that's trying to stand on their own and how does that hook up to what you know is a rebel alliance in A New Hope?  I think that's one of the things that we're gonna reveal as this story moves forward.

We started this Rebel activity back in Clone Wars with an arc called "The Onderon Arc."  Where we see the Jedi empowering local military groups to fight back for their own little planets.  And in George [Lucas]'s big scheme, it was these small groups that began the fledgling rebellion against the Empire.  So we have this much bigger architecture of a plan that this is all setup against.  So the same way you hear in A New Hope, "The Imperial Senate has been dismissed," we don't see any of that stuff.  They just say it.  There are these bigger things that we've thought out in the background, but we would like to stay focused on our characters.

But you mention the Imperial Senate, the Death Star. Those are just some example from A New Hope. And there are places the Rebel Alliance has been before – Yavin and Dantooine. How do you balance putting those things in or are they so far down the line from where we are at the beginning of this show that you don't worry about it yet?

Yeah, they're so far down the line, they are separate to me.  You know, I wouldn't really wanna go to Yavin because I think it makes the galaxy seem so small.  The more times you go there, the harder it is to believe that the Empire didn't find them there. The Death Star plans really don't come into play at the story at this point.

But the Empire has to build the Death Star and Princess Leia has to become a leader...

Yeah, I think all that's happening, but somewhere over there.


And, you know, if we were to intersect with any of that, we'd have to be just very careful how we did it. I think the galaxy's big enough to imagine that our crew is having its own adventure and maybe they never know or maybe they hear about a Death Star at some point. Probably not. Maybe they hear about this thing that gets blown up. But it would be an interesting perspective to not be involved with that and just hear about it. I mean, I would be voting on the [Lucasfilm] Story Council to go more in that direction. We've got so many stories to tell now in this universe that it really can go anywhere.


So Filoni makes it sound like he wants to drive the story away from specific references to A New Hope. Kinberg was slightly opposed to that. His thoughts on the topic started on mid-discussion of working into the canon. (Kinberg is not only an EP on Rebels, he's a consulting producer on Episode VII, a writer of a Star Wars spin-off, and the head of Fox's Marvel division among other things).

Simon Kinberg: So it's an easier canon to sort of keep in mind as you're writing. Because I'm such a crazy fan of Star Wars anyway, I know it just as a fan. In fact like if I was watching Star Wars Rebels and I had nothing to do with it, I'd be able to pick out things that I didn't think were canon.  So that's not so much a challenge and part of what's fun about it is like knowing that this leads pretty directly into A New Hope. That was for me, when we first started talking about the show, the thing that was so much fun was that it was like a baby prequel. "Baby" only in the sense of its not wildly before, but it's, you know, a short interval prequel before A New Hope.  That was the draw for me.

/Film: But in saying that, in New Hope and Empire, we're led to believe Luke is the New Hope and then there's Obi Wan and Yoda and they're the last Jedi.  Does that sort of back you guys into an ending  because now we have Ezra and we have Kanan, so can we assume they have to die at some point? Have you guys thought about that?

We have definitely thought about how it fits into the larger canon, yeah. And part of what you get to do when you're working these kinds of worlds, we did with X-Men too as well, is sometimes change. I mean, obviously Days of Future Past is a perfect example of this. Because of things you do in the past, you know, you can't change some of the canon, but you can surprise people inside of the canon.  And so some of the show will try to do that.  But for the most part it'll fit very snugly into the original trilogy.


Taking both quotes, I think it sounds obvious Kinberg and Filoni are being very careful with the Star Wars Rebels plot not to contradict what George Lucas set up in his six films but, at the same time, enhance and expand that much in the way The Clone Wars did.

We'll have more from Filoni and Kinberg in the coming days. Star Wars Rebels premiered on Disney XD in OCtober.