Folks that are not attuned to the media Force may have missed the fact that this last weekend was Star Wars Celebration, a giant Star Wars convention that happens every year. Well, technically, it was Star Wars Celebration Europe III, but that’s an unimportant detail.
People may not realize that Star Wars is formally entrenched in the Disney production machine. Quite a lot of news leaked out of the convention concerning a variety of Star Wars properties. Of course, people that have followed us for a while know that my first loyalty in Star Wars fandom are the CGI animated television shows (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels). This weekend featured the release of the trailer for the upcoming Season Three of Rebels [Warning: Spoilers abound for people that missed the end of Season 2]:
The trailer seems to throw a lot out there. Probably the biggest revelation is the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn, first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s non-canonical Heir to the Empire. Thrawn, the only non-human in the Empire to be promoted to Grand Admiral, has been a subject of fan question ever since the House of Mouse exploded the Expanded Universe. A fan favorite, he might represent the most competent Imperial Officer ever introduced in Star Wars (given the propensity for most of the other ones to die rather unfortunately). Other revelations include the return of Maul and some new revelations as to the nature of the Force.
Truth be told, I missed it, but Dan pointed out that the voice of the Bendu, the peculiar creature claiming to be the “middle ground” of the Force, is voiced by none other than Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. Although not the first Doctor to appear in a Star Wars series, as that honor would belong to David Tennant in his portrayal of the droid professor Huyang, it does say something about the reach of the animated Star Wars content. Between Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, the CGI animated series is becoming the place for notable actors to go (George Takei, Seth Green, Clancy Brown, Simon Pegg, Katee Sackhoff, Jon Favreau, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jim Cummings, and even Mark Hamill in a different role).
With a lot of serious story going on in Rebels, it’s easy to forget that 2016 will also bring something new to the Star Wars continuity: a live-action “side story” (or what Dan and I like to call a “Gaiden”) film in the form of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Although a new trailer was featured at the event, it hasn’t been officially released as of this writing. However, a production trailer combined with the original was released:
I will admit that the closer it gets to release, the more excited I get about this new movie. A departure from the Skywalker-centric stories of Episodes I-VIII, this new “Star Wars Gaiden” looks to be expanding the Star Wars universe in new, cinematic directions. From what little has been released, it feels like this movie (and, potentially, the rest of these Gaiden stories) will create compelling characters and stories within the iconic Star Wars universe that are tangentially related to the Skywalker Magnum Opus we got with Episodes I-VI, which should be a nice change.
Additional information about the next Star Wars Gaiden, popularly referred to as “the Han Solo movie,” was also provided: Alden Ehrenreich has been confirmed as the man playing the galaxy’s favorite scoundrel (although I’ll admit to being more of a Lando man, myself). With filming beginning sometime in 2017, it will be interesting to see where the directors of The LEGO Movie will take the character of Han Solo and the Star Wars universe.
Overall, Star Wars Celebration dribbled just enough Star Wars fun to keep everybody excited for the Fall. If you’re interested in all of the details, I recommend checking out Gizmodo’s coverage spread of articles here.