At Star Wars Celebration Orlando (SWCO) it was announced that Lucasfilm animation would be producing a series of short animated episodes focusing on the leading female characters from the Star Wars saga, Leia, Rey, Padme, Jyn, Hera and Sabine. The shorts will air first on Youtube before being packaged together with additional episodes for televisions specials on the Disney Channel. In length, these episodes will be similar to the “Star Wars Rebels” character vignettes that were released in promotion for that series before its broadcast debut.
This expansion of Lucasfilm animation into another project is exciting news for Star Wars fans and could lead to a further expansion of the animation projects that Lucasfilm pursues. In this list, we look at 15 reasons why you should be excited for “Star Wars: Forces of Destiny.”
15. INTERNET AND TELEVISION SYNERGY
Technological development and implementation is something that Lucasfilm has always been at the forefront of. As digital media proliferates, “Star Wars” as a brand has embraced the technology, releasing a dedicated app and moving forward with robust digital content. Official Youtube content includes some of the back catalog of behind-the-scenes videos, allowing streaming of “The Clone Wars” television episodes on the website, and moving into broadcasting live events and new original content in the digital space. Lucasfilm releases “The Star Wars Show” weekly, which is a digital show that features news, announcements and interviews in a sub-10 minute format.
Disney has also moved into the digital space with Apps for its family of networks that allow streaming of live and on demand programming. For “Forces of Destiny” Lucasfilm and Disney Channel are partnering to put episodes of the series on Disney’s Youtube page beginning in July, before packaging these episodes with eight new episodes and airing them as part of a two-part special on Disney Channel in the fall.
14. MORE TOYS
What is Star Wars without merchandising? George Lucas famously retained merchandising rights to the film in his deal with Fox, leading to a partnership with Kenner and now Hasbro which helped fuel not only hours of kids’ imaginations, but also a financial empire. To accompany “Forces of Destiny,” Hasbro is producing a new line of toys, which they are calling “Adventure Figures.” These toys are described as a hybrid between the action figure that were traditionally marketed towards boys and dolls which were traditionally marketed towards girls.
Revealed as part of the series announcement, we got a sneak peak at figures for Jyn, Leia (Hoth outfit), Rey (Resistance outfit), Sabine, R2-D2, BB-8 and Chewbacca. Other figures will be released as well including a line of villains with Kylo Ren. In addition to these figures, there will be other merchandise including more toys for roleplaying such as Rey’s staff and a new lightsaber toy.
13. TIE-IN BOOKS
Since the acquisition of “Star Wars,” Disney has been very consistent with providing books to tie-in with both new and existing “Star Wars” content through both Disney Publishing and outside publishers. “Forces of Destiny” will be no exception in this regard. So far, two books have been announced that will be released with the series, “Star Wars Forces of Destiny – Daring Adventures” volumes 1 and 2. Each book will feature three stories, with each of the stories focusing on one of the female protagonists. Volume one will feature Sabine, Rey and Padme, while volume two will feature Jyn, Ahsoka and Leia.
These books appear to be adaptations of episodes and are geared towards a younger audience. For young fans or parents with kids, this is a great way to relive the adventures from the series without being in front of a screen all of the time. It is likely that more books will follow, but these are all that have been announced so far.
12. RETURN OF STAR WARS 2D ANIMATION
Star Wars has a long history with animation going all the way back to the 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special” which featured a nine-minute cartoon entitled “The Faithful Wookiee” which was the first appearance of Boba Fett. This was followed up in the 1980’s by two short-lived television series, “Star Wars: Droids,” which ran for one season, and “Star Wars: Ewoks” which ran for two seasons. Star Wars returned to animation in 2003 with “Star Wars: Clone Wars” which was produced by Genndy Tartakovsy and was meant to serve as a bridge between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith.”
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” debuted in 2008 under the leadership of George Lucas and Dave Filoni and lead a rebirth of “Star Wars” animation leading to “Star Wars Rebels,” the as of yet unreleased “Star Wars Detours,” and a variety of programs under the banner of “Lego Star Wars.” Since “The Clone Wars,” however, the animation has all been in line with the modern trend of 3D animation. “Forces for Destiny” provides the first real test for 2D animation with the modern “Star Wars” audience and, if successful, could lead to further 2D animated projects.
11. MICRO-SERIES STRIKES BACK
“Star Wars: Clone Wars” aired from 2003-2005 on Cartoon Network and is sometimes referred to as alternately the “Micro-series” after the length of the episodes or the “Genndy series” after the creator. Originally intended to tell the story that connected the final two prequel films as well as introduce General Grievous, this series was removed from canon when George Lucas decided he wanted to do his own animated series set in the same time period, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
“Star Wars: Clone Wars” received a two-volume DVD release, but as of yet has not been re-released in digital format or on blu-ray. “Forces of Destiny” carries on the micro-series tradition in two significant ways. First, it presents stories in small bite-sized portions which will be 2-3 minutes in length and second, it will present the animation in the 2D format. While the creative teams behind the two projects are different, the presentation of “Forces of Destiny” proves that the legacy of the micro-series lives on.
10. RETURN OF THE CLONE WARS VOICE ACTORS
The cancellation of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was abrupt and shocking to fans. Left unfinished were episodes and storylines that fans had hoped to see some resolution to before the end of the series. Thankfully, as Dave Filoni and many crew members from “The Clone Wars” also worked on “Star Wars Rebels,” they were able to work in spots for many voice actors who worked on “The Clone Wars” to reprise their roles and perform new characters.
“Star Wars Rebels” gave us the brief return of actor Matt Lanter to voice Darth Vader when his mask is damaged in a duel with Ahsoka Tano in the season two finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice.” In the trailer announcing “Forces of Destiny,” it shows Lanter once again in the recording booth with Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano. At least one of the episodes will feature Ahsoka during the time of the Clone Wars with Anakin also appearing. This is a cool chance to see these characters interact again in what was for them happier times. We also learned that Catherine Taber who voiced Padme in “The Clone Wars” will be reprising her role in this series.
9. MOVIE ACTORS REPRISING THEIR ROLES
Disney has been particularly successful at is getting original film actors to reprise their roles where possible. In the films, this means both major and minor characters sound familiar. Gold Leader who appeared in “A New Hope,” for example, was inserted into “Rogue One” thanks to some old unused footage mixed with ADR from the original actor, Angus MacInnes. James Earl Jones returned to voice Vader in “Rogue One” and in season two of “Star Wars Rebels.” In addition to Jones, the animated series was also able to lure back Frank Oz to voice Yoda, Billy Dee Williams as Lando, Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma.
For “Forces of Destiny,” many of the leading actors will return to continue the journey of their characters. The episodes will be narrated by Lupita Nyong’o in her role as Maz Kanata and feature the return of Daisy Ridley as Rey and Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. The return of Jones is a little bit more surprising given the fate of her character and the Oscar-nominated actress’ busy schedule.
8. THE STORIES ARE CANON
One of the most appealing aspects of the “Star Wars” franchise for some fans is the gigantic interconnected storytelling universe. The universe includes stories told in movies, television, novels, comics and games in which events, characters and storylines build upon each other to form the galaxy far, far away. What these shorts will do is enrich the story of the heroines involved, as Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in the official announcement, “these shorts which capture the small moments and everyday decisions that shape who these characters are.”
Lucasfilm’s Vice President of Animation, Carrie Beck, further explained that the series of shorts will allow for storytelling between the larger moments we have seen in the films and allow characters to cross over and meet where they didn’t have the opportunity to do so before. So if you are a “Star Wars” completest and you want to know as much as possible about these characters, this series is going to be a must watch.
7. MORE STAR WARS REBELS CONTENT
“Star Wars Rebels” returns this fall with the fourth season and it was announced at Star Wars Celebration that this would be the final season of the show. By the end of the series, fans will have watched 75 total episodes along with four animated shorts that began the series. That is a significant amount of time spent with Hera, Kanan, Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, Chopper, Ahsoka, Rex and the newest Rebel, Kallus.
For “Star Wars” fans, however, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. Beginning in July, “Forces of Destiny” will give them shorts involving Hera and Sabine that will help satiate that desire for “Star Wars Rebels” until it returns. For fans of that series, these shorts will be an addendum that adds further richness to the characters, particularly Hera who often takes a narrative backseat for the development of Ezra and, more recently, Sabine.
6. INCREASING FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN STAR WARS
Disney purchased Lucasfilm at least in part to go with Marvel and balance “boy brands” with its incredibly strong stable of princess franchises. While it is undeniably true that both “Star Wars” and Marvel have fans of both genders, I am not sure Disney fully appreciated just how broad the appeal of “Star Wars” was to men and women, boys and girls. “Star Wars” is a franchise that has been going strong for 40 years and only continues to grow. One of the things that Lucasfilm’s leadership is conscious of had been the relative lack of female characters on-screen both as heroes and villains.
“Forces of Destiny” focuses on some of these major female characters in the franchise and gives viewers a chance to spend more time with them. Both the series and the toy line are specifically designed to appeal to female consumers without alienating male consumers. Each one of these characters has their own story to tell and giving them the chance to play the lead for a few minutes gives them a chance to become some little girl or boy’s favorite.
5. MORE STORIES WITH JYN BEFORE ROGUE ONE
Jyn Erso burst on the stage in “Rogue One,” but 133 minutes really isn’t a lot of time to spend with a character. The prequel novel for the film, “Catalyst” by James Luceno, gives readers some background on the relationship between Jyn’s parents, Galen and Lyra, and Directer Krennic, but ends with Jyn still very young. Jyn will be getting her own novel from Disney publishing and author Beth Revis entitled “Rebel Rising” on sale May 5th. However, fans still want more Jyn.
With Felicity Jones returning as Jyn in “Forces of Destiny,” viewers will get the chance to tell story set before “Rogue One’s” dramatic conclusion. It isn’t clear at this point whether Jyn’s stories will be set during the adventures of adult Jyn that we see in the film or if some of them may be set between when she is rescued by Saw and when she is later rescued from Imperial custody by the Rebels.
4. RECREATING A DELETED SCENE FROM THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
One of the most famous deleted scenes from “The Empire Strikes Back” is the wampa attack on Hoth base. There were multiple pieces of scenes cut out that show the wampas breaking through the walls of Echo base and then attacking Rebel troopers. When Han is evacuating Leia later as the Empire is attacking, they run past a door with a yellow warning sign on it. Threepio pauses and removes the sign, and moments later, a squad of Imperial snowtroopers arrive and open the door, only to be grabbed by a wampa arm, pulled in and the door shuts. Darth Vader arrives and stands with the remaining snowtroopers, listens to the fate of the trooper inside with the wampa, turns and leaves.
“Forces of Destiny” will take the idea of the wampa attacking on Echo base and tell a story that involves Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO, in which Leia rescues Chewie from the wampa attack. Concept art for the series even features the yellow warning sign, something that, if it makes it into the final animation, would be a nice easter egg to fans.
3. A RETURN TO THE CLONE WARS
Artwork released from “Forces of Destiny” reveals Ahsoka Tano wearing her burgundy colored outfit that debuted in season three of “The Clone Wars” and wielding two lightsabers. This places at least one Ahsoka story in the series later on in the events of the Clone Wars. We also were shown in the preview video a still from an animatic that appears to be Ahsoka dueling with Anakin in front of the Jedi Temple. There is also an animatic of what looks like a Separatist vulture droid firing upon a starfighter carrying R2 in the droid socket.
We have seen artwork from the Padme short on one of the tie-in book covers that shows her white “Attack of the Clones” outfit. The fact that we have both Padme and Ahsoka as part of this series means that we are going to get a healthy dose of Clone Wars era characters and events even if the two characters don’t reunite.
2. A NEW STORY FEATURING HAN, CHEWIE, REY AND FINN
In a deleted scene from “The Force Awakens,” Unkar Plutt follows the Falcon from Jakku to Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana. In a subsequent confrontation, he would get in a fight with Chewie who in turn ended up literally ripping Unkar’s arms off. While this didn’t make the cut, the idea of tracking the Falcon will lead to a story in “Forces of Destiny.” In one of the episodes, Han, Chewie, Rey and Finn will need to work together aboard the Falcon to disable an explosive tracking device, presumably so they won’t be tracked or blown up by the latest owner of the Falcon.
This is a nice treat for Star Wars fans who are still dealing with the loss of Han in “The Force Awakens.” It is similar to how they dealt with the death of Chewbacca in the legends stories, after Chewie was killed in the novel “Vector Prime” in 1999, Dark Horse Comics released the miniseries “Star Wars: Chewbacca” in 2000 and Del Rey released an ebook novella “A Forest Apart” in 2003, each telling more stories about the character after he was killed off.
1. HERA AND LEIA TEAMING UP
While the fate of most of the characters on “Star Wars Rebels” remains a mystery, two of them have had parts of their fates revealed. In “Rogue One,” we see Chopper at the Rebel base on Yavin IV and Hera’s ship, the Ghost, at the Battle of Scarif. We also hear an intercom announcement mentioning “General Syndulla” on Yavin IV. It has been revealed that in “Forces of Destiny,” Hera will survive into the events of “Return of the Jedi,” as she will appear in a story set on Endor in which Hera teams up with Leia, Han and Ewoks against the Imperials.
Leia and Hera have crossed paths, the two meeting in the season two episode of “Star Wars Rebels” entitled “A Princess on Lothal.” “Forces of Destiny” will be the latest story that we know about featuring any of the main characters from “Star Wars Rebels.” It also raises the possibility that we could see Rex as well, as he is getting a new character model for season four of “Rebels” which features him in Endor-style Rebel fatigues, and it is all but confirmed that he is being retconned as the white-bearded Rebel trooper on Endor.
Are you going to be watching “Star Wars: Forces Of Destiny?” Let us know which “Star Wars” animated series is your favorite in the comments!