Star Wars: Rebels producer on the challenge to 'surprise people inside of the canon’

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Jul 4, 2015, 5:14 PM EDT (Updated)

The new footage from Disney XD’s Star Wars: Rebels actually looks pretty cool, but we’re still anxious to find out exactly how they plan to tell exciting new stories in an era where they can’t really make any big changes. Now we know.

Producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg both took some time to chat with /Film about the upcoming animated series, which is set between the two main film trilogies. Considering the fact that the show picks up after major canon events in the prequels, and must leave the stage set for the beginning of A New Hope, the duo said it created a unique set of challenges when crafting the pitch.

So how’d they figure it out? Essentially, they’ve decided to focus on a smaller crew out fighting the good fight in one corner of the galaxy — meaning they’ll have their own battles to fight while the rest of the war wages around them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect a few surprises — as Kinberg name-checks X-Men: Days of Future Past as one way you can mix up the canon while not throwing it all out:

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.”

Simon Kinberg: "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.”

This honestly sounds like a great idea. The Star Wars universe is a massive, rich world, and there’s more than enough room to get a bird’s-eye view from the crew of a rebel ship fighting the good fight. It’s reminiscent of the first season of CBS’s short-lived Jericho (R.I.P.), which went off the rails in its shortened second season by trying to tell too big a story. There’s nothing wrong with smaller stories, and they can be damn compelling if told well.

Here’s hoping the Star Wars: Rebels crew are focusing heavily on that last point.

The series is set to debut on Disney Channel this October, before settling into its regular timeslot on Disney XD.

(Via /Film)