Star Wars Bits: The Clone Wars Returns, WWE Superstar Sasha Banks To Appear In The Mandalorian, An Excerpt From The Upcoming Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Novelization, And More!

In this edition of Star Wars Bits:

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars returns this Friday on Disney+!
  • Learn about Ashley Boone Jr. and the critical role he played in launching Star Wars
  • An excerpt from the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization
  • A glimpse at deleted scenes from The Rise of Skywalker
  • WWE Superstar Sasha Banks to appear in The Mandalorian
  • Freddie Prinze Jr. on his voice cameo in The Rise of Skywalker
  • And more!
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars returns this Friday on Disney+

    The seventh and final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars arrives on Disney+ on February 21. ScreenCrush has an 11-minute recap of everything you need to know about the previous six seasons of the beloved animated series before its returns. Learn about the arc of Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano, the fall of Anakin Skywalker, and the history of Mandalore!

    Star Wars' Secret Weapon: Ashley Boone Jr.

    Ashley Boone Jr. helped make George Lucas' space opera hit in the '70s but chances are you've never heard of him. The first black president of a major Hollywood studio, Boone Jr. was a marketing and distribution expert who championed Lucas' space fantasy flick when nearly everyone else — including the board of 20th Century Fox — thought it was a bad idea doomed to fail. The Hollywood Reporter has a fantastic article on his contributions to the success of Star Wars, as well as films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Ghostbusters.

    "I had a bad time with the studios," George Lucas tells THR. "The only one I didn't have a bad time with was Fox, and it was really because of Ashley and Laddie."

    Kylo Ren Rages in an Excerpt From the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Novelization

    Written by Rae Carson and available for pre-order now, the novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives March 17. The book features expanded scenes and content not seen in theaters, as well as a few surprises — all culled from deleted scenes, concept material, and input from the filmmakers. In's exclusive excerpt, Kylo Ren is hunting a Sith artifact – the wayfinder – that could lead to Emperor Palpatine; but in a new sequence, he encounters a strange being protecting device:

    The spider creature spoke. "I am the Eye of Webbish Bog. I know what you seek."

    "You will give it to me," Kylo said.

    The Eye cocked its head, making an eerie squealing noise. It took a moment for Kylo to realize the creature was laughing at him. "No need for that," the Eye said. "Do you really think my lord would have left it in the guardianship of one who could be swayed by a trick of the Force?"

    No, he supposed not.

    "You've been seeking it for a while, yes? I must warn you, our fiery planet burns away deception. If you proceed down this path, you will encounter your true self."

    The spider-like creature, referred to as "The Oracle" in previous The Rise of Skywalker leaks, has been glimpsed in behind-the-scenes photos and concept art. It's a shame this scene wasn't included in the film, as it really gives some much-needed information about Palpatine's return and the planet Exegol, but at least the novelization will expand upon the film's opening sequence and give us more time with Kylo Ren on Mustafar.

    The Rise of Skywalker's Deleted Scenes 

    Speaking of deleted scenes from The Rise of Skywalker, Star Wars Authentics – the official autograph partner of Star Wars – recently released some official photos from the ninth and final episode of the Skywalker Saga and some of the images give us a look at potential deleted scenes from the film. The images suggest additional moments between Kylo Ren and his Knights of Ren, as well as the Supreme Leader's dynamic with General Hux and Allegiant General Pryde. Hopefully, we'll get to see these key moments as deleted scenes on the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital/4K release.

    WWE Superstar Sasha Banks to Appear in The Mandalorian

    According to the Mat Men Pro Wrestling podcast and Pro Wrestling Sheet, WWE Superstar Sasha Banks has filmed scenes for the upcoming second season of The Mandalorian. While there's no word on who the professional wrestler will play, it's reasonable to assume that her character will display some impressive combat skills. Gina Carano, who plays former Rebel shock trooper Carasynthia "Cara" Dune on the Disney+ series, was a highly skilled mixed martial artist before becoming an actress, so it's easy to see how Favreau and company would be interested in utilizing more performers with experience in fight choreography and combining athletics with dramatic performance.

    Freddie Prinze Jr. On His Cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Fans of Star Wars Rebels got an awesome surprise during Rey's climactic confrontation with Emperor Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. Rey hears the voices of past Jedi, including Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano, who lend her their strength. IGN spoke with the voice of Kanan himself, Freddie Prinze Jr, about how he came to be a part of the scene and teased a future project with Rebels creator and executive producer Dave Filoni:

    I can't wait to see more of this stuff in Dave's head get out there," he teased, not offering any details on what he heard. "He's told me some of the best– to where I felt like I was a kid and sitting on a pappy's knee, and they were hearing an old story. That's how good they are, and those haven't even been told yet. So they have a ton of work ahead of them, and it's all work that they're inspired by ... But I love the direction they're going in, and I love Dave's influence over the brand at this point."

    Disney+ 4K Visual Comparison of Return of the Jedi

    Drew Stewart curates the Star Wars Visual Comparisons blog and has been working to create a visual guide to all the changes found in the new Disney+ 4K versions of the Star Wars films. Working with Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits, Stewart recently completed work on in-depth reference guides to Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Now he's back with a guide to all the various changes — 39 of them in all — made to Return of the Jedi.

    If you haven't checked out these reference guides, you're really missing out. Stewart's work provides the most thorough and comprehensive look at the numerous versions of these films, from their initial theatrical release to the 1997 Special Edition, 2004 DVD release, 2011 Blu-ray release, and the most recent Disney+ offerings.

    Jake Lloyd's Family Shares Update On Former Star Wars Actor

    Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker in 1999's Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, is making progress in his battle against mental illness. Lloyd's mother, Lisa, shared an update on the former Star Wars actor in a statement given to Geek News Now. You can read the statement below:

    "We would like to thank everyone for their kind words, their support, and goodwill. Jake has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but unfortunately, he also has a symptom called anosognosia which causes a lack of insight into his illness. This only adds to the struggle he faces, which has been very difficult after the tragic loss of his younger sister, Madison. He has moved closer to his family and we are all working hard to help him with this. He is still a kind and caring person and we hope to have him back to his fun and entertaining self as soon as possible. Jake will continue to make progress with the love and support you continue to show."

    The 30-year-old Lloyd, who also appeared in 1996's Jingle All the Way, retired from acting in 2001. Like Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, who contemplated suicide after the backlash to his character, Lloyd was bullied and berated incessantly by the dark side of Star Wars fandom. Hopefully, Lloyd can continue to progress and enjoy some semblance of a normal life with the support of his family and friends. We wish you all the best, Jake.

    Somewhere George Lucas is Screaming

    In happier news, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker sound designers David Acord and Matt Wood apparently hid a "special scream" in The Rise of Skywalker that belongs to none other than the maker himself, George Lucas. According to ABC News' sources, the scream is a voice clip recorded by Lucas for 1973's American Graffiti that is "affectionately called 'The George.'" Check out The A.V. Club for full article. Hopefully, a tech-savvy Star Wars fan can isolate the sound effect so I can set it as every alert possible on my phone. Who hasn't wanted to wake up to the soothing screams of papa George!?

    Stormin' the Toy Aisle

    The Vintage Collection Imperial Troop Transport from The Mandalorian is now available for pre-order at Entertainment Earth. This all-new vehicle, which hits store shelves on March 31, features an opening top hatch, removable access top, opening rear hatch, seating for two drivers, six external trooper pods, and seating inside for six troopers via jump seats and a swivel turret. The Troop Transport first appeared as part of Kenner's 1979 line – it was the first Star Wars toy released that didn't first appear in a film.

    Also, the Kotobukiya ARTFX Star Wars: A New Hope Stormtrooper Statue is available for pre-order. Expected to release in September 2020 and priced at $139.99, the 1/7th scale statue stands at 10.5 inches tall and is highly detailed. At last, you can complete your display by pairing this Stormtrooper with the previously released Star Wars: A New Hope Darth Vader ArtFX Statue.

    Awesome Star Wars CosplayStar Wars fans never cease to amaze me with their creativity and craftsmanship. Check out this incredible General Grievous costume by Wicked Armor!

    Also, cosplayer and model Jessica Nigri created a kick-ass Mandalorian costume from the Disney+ series, complete with "The Child."

    Top Ten Moments From the Skywalker Saga

    And finally, Alex at Star Wars Explained is back with his top ten favorite moments from the nine films in the Skywalker Saga.