Before Rey ever found her way off Jakku in a piece-of-junk freighter, the Resistance fought the First Order in the many years after Return of the Jedi. A new animated series called Star Wars Resistance, from The Clone Wars and Rebels creator Dave Filoni, will follow a young pilot in those years before the emergence of Starkiller Base, doing for the Sequel Trilogy what Rebels did for the Original Trilogy — and bringing its own visual style inspired by anime.
So what’s it about and where should it go? The show follows “Kazuda Xiono, a young pilot recruited by the Resistance and tasked with a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order.” They (Kazuda’s gender is yet to be announced) will presumably fill the Ezra Bridger role as a young point of view character with some growing to do, but their skill as a pilot also puts them in the position to be an important member of the New Republic’s military.
As we know from Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novels, New Republic leader Mon Mothma has pushed for disarmament in this era, but Leia Organa believes that she needs to fight the First Order on her own. She creates the Rebel Alliance-inspired Resistance to keep an eye on the fascist threat growing in the Unknown Regions. Kazuda, who has undoubtedly grown up at a time when the New Republic is still in power, is going to need a reason to join Leia’s side and face the oncoming threat in person.
Speaking of threats, Resistance has a chance to explore more about the formation of the First Order. We’ve already learned a few things about the First Order from the books, comics, and games. The faction was born out of the remnant of the Empire after its ultimate defeat at the Battle of Jakku. What was left of Palpatine’s government and military was forced to retreat to the Unknown Regions, beyond the jurisdiction of the New Republic. The remaining Imperial leaders spent the next few decades rebuilding their forces, creating the First Order out of the ashes of Palpatine’s war machine.
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We know that General Hux’s father, Brendol, was a part of the final days of the Empire and the early days of the First Order, and he was the one who set his son on a dark path towards war and destruction. Might we see Hux’s formative years? Or, at the very least, his early machinations as a First Order leader? Hux’s appearance on the show is not confirmed, but it’s hard to imagine Filoni and the writers would skip over such an easy opportunity to flesh out the character.
It does sound like we’ll learn a bit more about Captain Phasma, though. Gwendoline Christie will reprise her role as Phasma in Resistance, and if the action in this show is anything like the lightsaber fights and clone trooper battles in Rebels and The Clone Wars, she could get a chance to finally show off her combat skills in earnest. Phasma’s shining armor design is a great look, but the movies have so far required her to be knocked down again and again, turning her into a bit of a throwaway character.
The show has a chance to make Phasma more frightening and formidable, especially if she’s the main antagonist. Maybe, we’ll even get the first complete look at her face (assuming Phasma actually died in The Last Jedi). We’ve also learned Phasma’s origin story, thanks to her self-titled novel, but we’d love to see her escape from the planet Parnassos on screen.
Where there’s Phasma, there’s also the chance for other fan-favorite First Order characters, such as Kylo Ren or former Imperial Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, who disappeared into the Unknown Regions and whose fate is not yet determined or revealed. Sloane would be an excellent addition to the TV series, as both a complex female villain and a woman of color.
On the side of the heroes, Oscar Isaac is also signed on to bring his own brand of shine to his saga character, the charming resistance pilot Poe Dameron. The new show could explore the evolution of his relationship with Leia, whom he looks up to as a hero and a mentor. Who better to involve in a “high-flying” show than Poe, whose witty and inspiring dialogue puts him firmly in the tradition of dashing pulp fiction pilots? The show could also include elements from his comic book series, in which Poe leads Black Squadron. Maybe he ends up helping Kazuda on a mission, too.
Filoni said in the initial announcement on StarWars.com that the idea for the project stemmed from his own interest in planes and World War II aircraft, the same George Lucas used for inspiration for the dogfights in the Original Trilogy. Fans of Aaron Allston and Michael Stackpole’s X-Wing series of novels might find something to love here too, as the series explores the action and camaraderie of pilots. These two authors laid a lot of the groundwork for what it means to be a pilot in the Star Wars galaxy and Resistance could draw from them for its tone.
However, the brief description says that Kazuda is on an undercover mission, so the pilot will presumably spend a considerable amount of time outside the cockpit trying to find out what the First Order is up to. Those TIE Fighter helmets are pretty good disguises… It remains to be seen just how much time Kazuda will spend in the skies in the show’s initial run of episodes.
Inspiration could come from closer to home, too. Resistance isn’t pitched as a sequel of any kind to Rebels, but that doesn’t mean it won’t contain some of the same characters. After all, Filoni has a habit of bringing back characters from his previous series. Rebels enjoyed appearances from The Clone Wars‘ Ahsoka Tano, now a mature and powerful Force user, as well classic villains like Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. The Original Trilogy show even had a tie-in episode with Rogue One that featured Saw Gerrera, who was also originally introduced in The Clone Wars as well
So what Rebels (and The Clone Wars) characters might appear on Resistance?
Hera Syndulla and her son, Jacen, are obvious choices and would fit into the pilot milieu perfectly. We know that Hera continued to fight alongside the Rebellion through the rest of the Galactic Civil War and was alive and well with her son in the aftermath. It seems inevitable that Kazuda will cross paths with both of these characters at some point — or, at the very least, an older Jacen. It’s hard to believe these two heroes wouldn’t rally around Leia’s Resistance cause after being so tied to the Rebellion.
While the decades between series does seem to forestall the appearance of some characters, it’s hard to imagine Filoni resisting even a mention of Ahsoka, whom has so far been the connective tissue between all of the showrunner’s animated series. Last we saw them, Ahsoka and former Ghost crewmember Sabine Wren were on a mission to find Ezra, and while it doesn’t look like Resistance will have the time to focus on them, it’s possible their story might be intertwined with Kazuda’s.
There’s of course the question of just how much Leia, Han, Luke, Chewie, Threepio, and Artoo we’ll get in this series. The answer is probably not that much for most, especially Luke, whom, even after death, is still wrapped in so much mystery. It’s hard to believe Filoni won’t jump at the chance to do more Threepio and Artoo stories, though. Being the Resistance leader, it would also be difficult to skip General Leia altogether. Chances are that she’ll give the series the major star power Vader and Lando provided for Rebels. (Speaking of which, we’d love to see Lando in Resistance if we can’t get him in the Sequel Trilogy.)
As far as Han goes, it’d definitely be fun to see Kazuda end up getting into trouble with everyone’s favorite scoundrel. The timeline of the series is unclear as of yet, so we can’t say for sure if Han has already moved on from the Resistance and returned to smuggling cargo across the galaxy. It all ultimately depends on whether Ben Solo is still on the side of the light in the show’s timeline.
Resistance‘s visual style also hints at other sources of inspiration for the show’s storytelling. Filoni describes the show’s animation style as “an anime-inspired style, which is something the entire team has been wanting to do for a long time.” Star Wars has edged into anime-style territory before with manga adaptations of the films and webcomic adaptations of novels, but this is the first time Filoni will be able to go all-out with the style that has inspired him for so long.
Filoni has cited Princess Mononoke‘s wolf girl San as the inspiration for Ahsoka and some of the imagery in Rebels mirrors elements from other Hayao Miyazaki films, including the steampunk-esque fishing boat walker the clones use in season two. For Resistance, the showrunner has leaned heavily on anime tropes, including giving his main character a Japanese-style name, with a science fiction “X” added in. It’s possible that some of the environmentalist themes and mystical creatures that showed up in Rebels — and were a big part of Princess Mononoke‘s subject matter — will also follow through here.
Drawing too much from other sources can make a show feel thin, though, and the main story of Rebels sometimes lacked weight in part because it had to fight for space with the ongoing stories connected to The Clone Wars. Resistance is a chance to tell Sequel Trilogy stories from a new point-of-view character, unburdened (for the most part) by the interconnectivity of the Prequel and Original Trilogies. The unexplored time gap between Return of the Jedi and the Sequel era would allow Filoni to really build something new, as the story leads up to The Force Awakens, itself a pretty vague movie.
In essence, the rules for what stories Filoni and the writes can tell aren’t as defined this time around. If Resistance takes place several years after RotJ but several before TFA, the show will have a big chunk of the Sequel era to play with. The focus on heroic pilots and the mysterious origin of the First Order seems to be a step in the right direction for Resistance in terms of unexplored territory, as long as the series doesn’t fall into the trap of looking backward instead of forward.