Yes, Star Wars Resistance will catch up to the events of The Force Awakens.
It’s one of the trickiest balancing acts of extending the Star Wars universe: how do you give the audience something that feels fresh and original, but still completely immersed in all the aspects of the galaxy far, far away that fans have loved for over four decades now? In that respect, Star Wars Resistance is hoping that the Force will be with it – in a brand new way.
Resistance is the new Disney Channel animated series debuting October 7th that, in the tradition established by the fan-embraced, critically hailed series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, hopes to expand and deepen the established mythos. Like Star Wars Rebels, it desires to establish a new group of characters that viewers can invest in. And Resistance enters with a couple of its own distinct characteristics: its visually arresting cell-shaded animation style is in a more anime tradition than its CG-rendered predecessors, and it’s the first series set just prior to the events of the third Star Wars trilogy kicked off by Episode VII: The Force Awakens – six months prior, to be specific.
Watch an exclusive sneak peek from the series below:
“The seed of the show came from Dave Filoni,” says executive producer Justin Ridge, referring to the series co-creator who was also responsible for executive George Lucas’ vision for The Clone Wars and who the central creative force behind Rebels. “It was a concept Dave came up with: he wanted to have a show that went more into ‘How is the First Order gathering materials? What is the First Order doing before The Force Awakens?’ It grew from that initial seed.”
In the way that The Clone Wars focused largely on the Jedi Knights and the slow erosion of the Old Republic and Rebels viewed the rise of the Rebellion through the eyes of the crew of the Ghost, Resistance zeroes on another specific corner of Star Wars archetypes: the fast-paced, adrenaline-packed world of the hotshot pilots that populate the galaxy. At the center of the series is Kazuda Xiono, a talented rookie fighter pilot who finds himself recruited by none other than the new saga’s ace X-Wing jockey Poe Dameron, who plants Kaz at a galactic weigh-station – the Outer Rim fueling station Colossus features echoes of everything from the Mos Eisley Cantina, Cloud City and Maz Kanata’s castle on Tokodana – where pilots and other key figures come and go in hopes of getting advance intel on the increasingly active First Order.
“It’s definitely about the rise of the First Order, and Kaz is assigned to spy on these guys, so he’ll start to kind of pick up on things that are going on – without spoiling anything – as a part of his mission that leads into The Force Awakens,” says executive producer Brandon Auman. “Also, the rise of the Resistance. How is the Resistance being formed and what are they doing? How are they recruiting to try and stamp out this new rise of the First Order?”
So once again, a Star Wars animated series gets to blend the familiar – Oscar Isaac will periodically voice Poe Dameron, Gwendoline Christie will appear as Captain Phasma, BB-8 will be a recurring presence, and General Leia Organa will also make appearances – with the new as it fills in gaps in the greater mythos. Even with the aid of the continuity-minded Lucasfilm Story Group, which oversees the canonical integrity of all Star Wars film, TV, book, game and comic book properties, it’s set in a heady and largely wide-open territory in the big tapestry,
“I kind of wish I knew more, to tell you the truth,” chuckled Ridge. “There’s a lot of mysterious things out there, but it’s been a fun timeline to explore.” And it appears that the series will definitely advance beyond that initial six-month scope. “I can say that, even though we started six months before The Force Awakens, we do overlap into the movie.”
“At our writers’ conference, we always involve the story group, just to make sure that we’re within continuity with everything that’s being released out there,” adds executive producer Athena Portillo. “We have Pablo Hidalgo in there, we have the story group in there. Dave Filoni’s amazing, and knowing absolutely everything in terms of what’s happening with the other [Star Wars projects], whether it’s live-action, anything. So we always have them in there and we do consult with them and we also have all our Visual Dictionaries there from all the movies that we refer back to; it’s a mixture that we’re accurate in what we’re representing, species-wise.”
“We’ve got a really fun mix of aliens from all the different movies,” says Aumen. “We’ve got aliens from the prequel trilogy. We’ve got aliens from the original trilogy. We’ve got new aliens from the new trilogy, and aliens that we got to invent and create that you’ll see for the first time in our series. We want it to feel very ‘Star Wars’ so we bring in elements from every aspect of the movies.”
Forty years into the evolution of Star Wars leaves a wealth of source material to tap – but the showrunners are also trying to exercise some restraint as to exactly who and what crosses Kaz and his allies’ paths.
“Obviously we want to bring in some of these elements from various media, but the real focus is, much like Rebels, to focus on our team first and foremost because that’s what most important,” says Aumen. “And if you start bringing in too many elements too fast, it starts feeling kind of fan fiction-y. It starts feeling like ‘Oh, we’re just doing that just to do it, because we can.’ Whereas it’s better to select these characters that can breathe on their own and then maybe meet a character from a book or a movie. They can’t run into everybody…If they start running into people, it starts feeling like a very tiny galaxy.”
Rewatch the trailer for Star Wars Resistance prior to its premiere on Sunday, October 7th.
Scott Huver is a freelance writer for IGN who loves all things Star Wars. You can follow him on Twitter at @thehuve.