Star Wars Squadrons: Hera Syndulla’s Return Explained

Star Wars: Squadrons will see the return of Rebel hero Hera Syndulla. What does Hera's return say about the video game and its story?

Star Wars Hera
Photo: Lucasfilm

The animated series Star Wars Rebels introduced an ensemble cast of major characters, both soldiers and Jedi, but there’s one hero, in particular, who has gone on to affect the wider Star Wars universe the most. Hera Syndulla, starfighter commander and Rebel leader, isn’t occupied with being a Jedi or on a quest to find one. Instead, she’s focused on fighting the Empire and freeing the galaxy from tyranny. From the TV series to the pages of the comics and novels, Hera has become one of the most familiar faces in the Rebellion and the New Republic, alongside Leia Organa and Mon Mothma. 

Now, fans have spotted her in the trailer for Star Wars: Squadrons, the upcoming video game from Motive Studios and Electronic Arts. Coming out in October, it follows squadrons of Imperial and New Republic pilots after the Battle of Endor. Since Hera connects the game to several other Star Wars stories, she is the best clue fans have so far about how this game fits into the wider universe. 

Star Wars: Squadrons still

Who is Hera?

A skilled pilot in her own right, Hera is also a keen commander and a good leader. One of her particular strengths is in helping the morale of her pilots, making sure groups trust and like one another before they go into battle together. Her leadership skills are on display in Star Wars Rebels as well as in the novel Alphabet Squadron, where she commands the struggling pilots of a New Republic fighter squadron. Throughout all of these stories, Hera emphasizes hopefulness and optimism in the face of a long war and values her bonds with other people. 

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She started out at the helm of a ship called the Ghost, leading a Rebel cell before the Rebellion officially coalesced into a whole out of smaller groups. In Star Wars Rebels, she rises through the ranks of freedom fighters, first becoming the leader of Phoenix Cell, and later a general in the Rebellion and in the New Republic after the fall of the Empire. In Rogue One, her name can be heard over the intercom in the Yavin 4 Rebel base. The Ghost also makes a cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, which suggests Hera is still fighting the good fight decades after the Galactic Civil War.  

What’s Hera’s role in Star Wars: Squadrons?

While the game is set after Return of the Jedi, what’s left of the Empire after the Battle of Endor is still trying to make a comeback after the death of the Emperor. Chancellor Mon Mothma is trying to de-emphasize the New Republic’s military branch in order to practice the non-violence it preaches, but with the Empire still trying to re-gain a foothold, military might is the only thing that can keep the galaxy safe. 

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Hera leads a fleet of New Republic starfighters in Alphabet Squadron. In fact, it’s possible that her New Republic flagship, the Lodestar, might be the ship Hera is standing in during the trailer. That’s a pretty neat example of synergy in the modern-day Disney canon, since the Alphabet Squadron series has only been around for a year, and the sequel, Shadow Fall, is set to come out later this month. Vanguard Squadron, one of the New Republic squadrons under Hera’s command, is set to star in Star Wars: Squadrons, further solidifying the Alphabet Squadron connection.

In the trailer, Hera is also wearing the same costume she sported in Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, which is set before Return of the Jedi. It’s another way in which Motive Studios has subtly embedded Hera’s history into the story of Squadrons.

Jedi Connections 

Hera’s presence in Squadrons also implies that other cameo characters may appear. For example, Wedge Antilles, a Rebel hero from the Original Trilogy and a pilot Hera crossed paths with in Rebels, is teased in the Squadrons trailer.

Now, consider EA’s Battlefront II, another Star Wars game with an emphasis on big battles, which featured Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren in its campaign. The Original Trilogy trio has been featured heavily in recent Marvel comics, but we know little about Luke, Han, and Leia’s adventures after Return of the Jedi. Hera could be a way to bring all three of these major characters to Squadrons. Not only did she previously help Han during the Battle of Endor and has been working with Leia since the princess-turned-general was just a teenager, but Hera also learned some things from her partner Kanan Jarrus that might be useful to Luke.

Even though Hera isn’t Force-sensitive herself, Alphabet Squadron showed that she has some level of Jedi knowledge. In the book, she directs the ragtag pilots of Alphabet Squadron to a hidden Jedi temple, believing that even if none of the people involved could feel the Force, it would have some kind of positive influence on them. 

Hera’s appearance in Squadrons teases another character that is sure to excite fans. While Kanan died fighting the Empire in Rebels, Hera was already pregnant with their son. Jacen Syndulla appears in Star Wars canon only once in a brief epilogue to the animated series, so there’s no further information about him except that he appears to have inherited his mother’s aptitude for piloting ships. Interestingly enough, Jacen is also named after a Force-sensitive Solo child from the old Star Wars Legends continuity, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it might be fun if Hera’s investment in Jedi lore comes from an interest in guiding her son towards the ways of the Jedi. 

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Overall, Hera is a welcome returning character in Squadrons, her moral backbone and military prowess emblematic of the kind of heroes who tend to appear in Star Wars. And while she’s appeared in comics, the Lego cartoons, and books, this would be her first video game appearance. The chance to not only see her on-screen again but to interact with her directly in the game is one of the major selling points of the next big Star Wars game.

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