Fan-favorite Original Trilogy hero Wedge Antilles (played by Denis Lawson) has been in the fight since 1977. The quintessential Star Wars pilot, Wedge faced two Death Stars and has a long career as a Rebel leader and a New Republic defender in both Disney canon and the old Legends continuity.
Now, decades after his original adventures in the Original Trilogy, Wedge is jumping back into the cockpit for Motive Studios and Electronic Arts’ Star Wars: Squadrons. In the upcoming video game, Wedge will once again fight for the New Republic, alongside Rebels character Hera Syndulla, presumably as part of the game’s single-player story campaign.
So who is Wedge and where does he fit into the story of Star Wars: Squadrons?
Wedge Antilles, Rebel Hero
Although he was technically a side character, Wedge appeared in every movie of the Original Trilogy. While the main trio of heroes was the focus of the story, Wedge was always in the fight, leading starfighters against the Empire in space. First introduced as the pilot skeptical of Luke Skywalker’s ability to hit the Death Star’s small weak point from a fast-moving starfighter, Wedge served as Luke’s wingman in the Battle of Yavin. He got an up-close and personal look at the destruction of the Death Star in the finale of A New Hope.
His role in The Empire Strikes Back is more earth-bound, with Wedge flying a snowspeeder while trying to defend the Rebel base on Hoth. While Wedge’s role in the movie was over after the Rebellion escapes the ice planet, we know he was one of the Rebel leaders who helped transports full of freedom fighters evade Imperial Star Destroyers and reach the rendezvous point.
In the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, while Luke was embracing his Jedi destiny and confronting the Emperor, Wedge led Red Squadron, covering Lando Calrissian’s back as he flew the Millennium Falcon into the core of the second Death Star. Both fired on the reactor that caused a chain reaction and destroyed the battle station, delivering a crippling defeat to the Empire that it would never recover from.
While it’s clear that Wedge played a major role in all three of these battles, his status as a side character meant the movies could never explore the pilot’s backstory or life outside of the cockpit. For example, you might not know that Wedge hails from Corellia, the same planet as Han Solo. Fortunately for fans of the old and new Expanded Universes, Wedge’s story was thoroughly expanded upon in the books and games. Outside of the movies, Wedge gained a life of his own.
The ’90s and early ’00s were a golden age for the Rebel pilot, as Wedge’s story became one of the focal points of the no-longer-canon Legends timeline. In fact, Wedge enjoyed starring roles in both the Rogue Squadron video games and the X-Wing book series by Aaron Allston and Michael A. Stackpole.
The arcade-style starfighter games from LucasArts for the Nintendo 64 and GameCube followed Rogue Squadron, an elite wing of Rebel pilots led first by Luke and later Wedge, as they fought against the Empire in various battles from the movies as well as ones inspired by the Expanded Universe and original stages created by developer Factor 5.
In the X-Wing books, which were known for their humor and action-packed Star Wars stories, he led a quirky group of pilots after the defeat of the Empire. Made up of 10 books in total, the series was basically “Star Wars meets Top Gun” and featured starfighter combat, Imperial warlords trying to hold on to their power, and pilot camaraderie. At the center of all these battles with the Imperial remnant was Wedge, who led his fellow pilots in out of the cockpit during several New Republic campaigns to restore peace in the galaxy.
Wedge’s popularity came in part from his role as the quintessential Rebel soldier. He had a strong moral code, a willingness to stand up for himself but also a keen eye for when confidence turned into arrogance, and the motivation to protect others instead of treating violence as its own end.
Return to Canon
When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars in 2012, Wedge came along with the deal. As such, he.was given a new backstory in Star Wars Rebels that wasn’t so different from his Legends counterpart. Still from Corellia, Wedge joined an Imperial academy and trained to fight in the TIE Fighter Corps until he defected to the Rebellion two years before the events of A New Hope. In the episode “The Antilles Extraction,” he and Derek “Hobbie” Klivian (another Rogue Squadron and X-Wing regular) helped Rebel agent Sabine Wren infiltrate the TIE fighter academy and escaped the Empire’s clutches with her.
Wedge’s time on Rebels actually provides the clearest connection to Hera and the story of Star Wars: Squadrons. Like Hera Syndulla, Wedge was part of the Rebellion in its earliest form, before it had solidified into a true alliance of freedom fighters. Since Wedge and Hera already know how to work together and trust each other, it makes perfect sense that he would be called in to help with Vanguard Squadron’s missions in Star Wars: Squadrons.
In the announcement trailer, we see as Wedge nods at one of the game’s characters from his cockpit. The nod kind of looks like reassurance or approval. Surely, Vanguard Squadron will be glad to be flying outside one of the Rebellion’s greatest heroes. Just how much time he spends helping the other characters in the story remains a mystery. But its possible that his other big appearance in the new canon might inform his role in Squadrons.
Wedge had a substantial role in the Aftermath series by Chuck Wendig, one of the first stories to explore the era between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens in the Disney canon. Wedge joins New Republic pilot Norra Wexley on various missions, forming Phantom Squadron to help liberate the Wookiee planet Kashyyyk as well as fight in the Battle of Jakku, where the Empire was defeated once and for all.
Will Wedge lead Phantom Squadron into battle alongside Vanguard Squadron in the game? That depends on when exactly the game is set. It was established in the Aftermath series that Wedge’s Phantom Squadron was actually an unsanctioned military force that wasn’t a part of the official New Republic Defence Fleet. After the liberation of Kashyyyk, the squadron was disbanded by the galactic government before being reformed for the final conflict on Jakku.
Squadrons could pick up before the events of Aftermath or somewhere in the middle, before the fall of the Empire, which means that we could meet Wedge just before the formation of Phantom Squadron or perhaps after its dissolution, but it would indeed be a nice nod to the books if this fighter team made an appearance.
Either way, this won’t be the first time Wedge has appeared on screen in the Disney era. Not only did he make a cameo in Rogue One — his voice can be heard on the Yavin base at one point in the movie — but also appeared in the climactic battle of The Rise of Skywalker, with Lawson reprising the role as one of the Millennium Falcon’s gunners in a moment of pure fan service.
His presence on Exegol shows that Wedge has seen more history than perhaps any other movie character outside of the droids. He fulfills the fantasy of a Star Wars hero as much as any of the saga’s main characters do. Wedge’s return in Squadrons will continue that great legacy.