Star Wars: The Bad Batch producers promise 'familiar faces' on the show
Star Wars: The Bad Batch (TV Series)
The latest animated entry in the Star Wars universe will finally be unleashed when The Bad Batch premieres Tuesday May 4th (natch) on Disney+. Telling the story of Clone Force 99, a group of "defective clones with desirable mutations" who were originally introduced on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch is a spin-off of the other popular animated series.
So how will The Bad Batch be similar to The Clone Wars? And how will the story of Hunter, Tech, Wrecker, Crosshair, and Echo be different? Are regular clones now the villains due to Order 66? And will we be seeing some familiar faces from other Star Wars shows and movies (beyond the appearance of Wilhuff Tarkin, Saw Gerrera, Captain Rex and The Mandalorian's Fennec Shand in the trailer)? We spoke to executive producers Jennifer Corbett (also head writer) and Brad Rau (also supervising director) to get the scoop on the new show.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We met the Bad Batch as an arc on The Clone Wars. So how is this spin-off similar to Clone Wars and how is it different?
JENNIFER CORBETT: It's similar because we've already met these characters in that final arc in The Clone Wars and it is still delving into clone stories and what life is like for them. But obviously where it's different is the war's over and how these clone troopers adjust to the fact that the Republic is gone, now they're part of an Empire and how they fit into that and what their identity is moving forward.
It's similar to Clone Wars because there's a lot going on. And even though the war's over, the galaxy is shifting and there's still a lot of turmoil that's happening. When we follow the Batch and we follow Omega with them in this journey that they're going on, they experience these epic adventures similar to The Clone Wars, but the battles that are happening are just very different because it's not going to be the four episode, massive, war arcs that were fantastic on Clone Wars. It's more of how they're navigating through this galaxy and the trouble that they get into along the way as they're trying to figure things out and find out how to survive because not being attached to the Republic isn't something that they're familiar with, and them learning how to be civilians, in a sense, is definitely a struggle.
During the war, the Republic took care of everything for them. Things like finding fuel or finding food or even money was something that they never had to worry about. And now it's all foreign to them and they have to just figure it out on their own and they don't really have anybody to fall back on.
Tell me about creating the look and vibe and feel and tone of this show. How would you describe it?
BRAD RAU: The Bad Batch is a legacy show, spiritual successor to The Clone Wars. It was obvious very early on that we wanted the same style of The Clone Wars, as opposed to creating a new style. But that being said, we went into the design, and the camera work, and the lighting, and the way all the characters were rigged, and the animation, and we just wanted to take everything that was working so well with the Lucasfilm animation group and push it, just push it all further and further, which is a challenge.
So when you say that you want to push it, explain to me what that means?
RAU: So in Clone Wars, there was a style from really early on — this kind of chiseled straights on curves, classic animation style, and then some characters would be more pronounced, more chiseled, depending if it's a creature or a droid. And the likenesses of the characters were always never intended to be a perfect caricature of actors that we might know from the prequels, but just try to set a style for what it was.
There was always sort of an inspired brush stroke to the texture, and so we want to take those things and push them further. So, whatever the facets are, and you can see it on someone like Tarkin in the premiere episode where he looked very similar to the Clone Wars design, and yet there's more detail, there's more nuance. The brush strokes are more intentional. Just the quality we can get in the final picture. We can bring all that stuff out more.
And I'd say, in particular, the way that it's lit and the depth of field and the camera work, over the years, has pushed more and more live action. Some animated shows, to great effect, lean into the animation style, and we've always tried to approach it from more of a live action style. The way that the cameras are set up, the way that the lighting will hit someone like Tarkin. And it's not just a key light and a bounce light, but the way that the light might go through the parts of his ear a little bit to get a little bit of a lifelike feel to this very stylized character.
It creates, honestly, in my humble opinion, this eye opening, wow, it looks like Clone Wars, but something's going on here. It's a little bit deeper.
The clones were the good guys in The Clone Wars, but now we've got order 66. So are the regular Clones now the bad guys in the new show?
CORBETT: It's definitely tricky. Visually what's really fun about the series is that because you're so used to associating the clones as the good guys, once the Empire takes over, Brad and the whole team was very careful about taking any identifying quality about the clones away. So bleaching their armor, taking away any kind of adornment that they had, so it all feels sort of imperial gray.
In terms of how the Empire views them, before, during Clone Wars, clones would often give themselves different names and weren't always referred to as their clone designator number. The Empire is obviously very different and it's more like the clones feel more stormtrooper-y and they don't really have an identity, and it's supposed to be this is how things operate now.
It's challenging because when we have the Batch go against clones, they're aware that it's their brothers in a sense. And we were very careful about how we're going to explore those interactions, especially with them fighting and the battles that they go on.
RAU: The regular clones are the face of the forces of the opposition. They are the antagonist in the show. We looked at the design... It was an idea that Dave [Filoni] had. It was so cool to start taking some of the color out of the pauldrons and the cool individual character markings that we grew to love over The Clone Wars. You see a character like Rex with all of his interesting personalized paint job, and just the way he looks. With his hair, he's got it styled a certain way. He's more individual. There's a big effort to say these aren't just droids. They might be clones, but each one is a different person. Everybody is different.
So then, at this point, after Order 66 to back that up and start taking out the color and be careful when we take anybody's helmet off and treat them more like what we would think of as stormtroopers. Honestly, how do we approach that? And I think that also has to do with the gear becomes more the same. You've seen it in the trailers where we have AT-TE marching through the streets. That AT-TE is essentially the same as one we'd see from the Clone Wars, but all of the color has been drained from it. The life is pulled, the blood's been pulled from it and now it's just this sort of boring, insidious, Imperial gray.
And honestly, it looks shocking when you see all of these clone troopers running around with these Imperial-looking tanks. They feel like bad guys, just one for one. And the way that we pose them, the way that they talk, the way that they sound through the helmet is a little different. It's a little bit closer to what a stormtrooper would be. All these little things.
And musical cues, certainly. When I talk with Kevin Kiner and his team, we talk a lot about, how do we take a traditionally good guy theme and play it with a different instrument, or in a different key to give it more of an evil sound? Or, how do you take something that would be more of a villainous score and play it differently to make it more heroic. So, we're constantly mixing those metaphors. You might not even notice it right away unless you really dig for it. We just want it to be a feeling through the whole show.
How many characters from Clone Wars and other Star Wars shows and movies are we going to be coming across along the way?
CORBETT: Because we're all such massive Star Wars fans on the team, it was very tempting to want to just play with everyone possible. But we had to check ourselves and make sure that the people that do come into the story, it has to be purposeful and why we're incorporating them in this episode and how it relates in terms of the batches journey. Because otherwise, as fun as all these characters are, it might just be fan service if we're using all the action figures, but it's really serving no point.
You will see some familiar faces and it was very, very planned out and thought out of why our team specifically interacts with them because where we are in the timeline, there's several people out there that they could cross paths with.
RAU: It is really fun that, at this time period, after Order 66, a good chunk of time before events of Rebels or New Hope or anything that we know later on, there's a big chunk of time in the timeline that hasn't really been explored with the rise of the Empire.
Everything we were just talking about with clones becoming the face of the bad guys, and when do the stormtroopers show up? These are all interesting questions, just as a fan, I've always wondered. How does that work? So it creates an interesting opportunity to play with all that, including, at this time, there's a lot of different characters that we know and love from a lot of different media that are kicking around the Star Wars galaxy doing who knows what.
So it creates a really interesting opportunity to cross paths with other people we know. We just are very careful that we don't take the action figure box and just dump it, although I would love to, and just play with everybody. It wouldn't really make sense. So we try to pick and choose what makes sense for our characters. Again, what serves our story the best? Does it make sense to run across this character? Oh, cool. That's interesting. I think the fans might like that, so we go for it.
How much is the show going to be individual missions, and how much will be bigger serialized arcs, Brad?
RAU: The way we approach it is from, beginning to end, things happen and will create consequences that affect our characters all the way through. So there's not a reset, but there are definitely some standalone adventures, and there are other storylines that continue throughout. So, it is conceived of more as standalone episodes, but we have arcs that go all the way from the beginning to the end.
CORBETT: Every episode is an epic adventure. I can say that. In terms of serialized, it's very much like Rebels in that sense. It's not like Clone Wars where we'll have a four episode arc, which fit that series because it's usually about a battlefront, but this is a little different. But we do sort of have some storylines that involve both groups, but we were trying to serve all characters of the Bad Batch in that sense.
We don't want to show too much. Whatever we show of the Empire, we want it to track and make sense because even though the Empire is the ultimate big bad, there's a lot of things going on in the galaxy, especially with this change. So we definitely wanted to explore other villains out there, other things going on, and different issues that the Batch gets involved with that isn't always connected to the Empire.
Finally, who is your favorite Bad Batch member?
CORBETT: Probably Hunter. I love telling the story of this squad leader who his main job is keeping his team alive and how everything changes when Omega is added to the mix. And now all of a sudden he finds himself in this position of being a guardian, which is so foreign to him, but his journey in that. You find the most surprises and unexpected ways, and I think that Omega helps them grow and they're helping her grow.
RAU: I definitely personally identify the most with Tech, but I got to say Wrecker. It's been really fun dealing with Wrecker because he's the obvious first, bombastic fan-favorite. Taking that kind of archetype, the big guy, the big Teddy bear who likes to blow stuff up. Everything is very simple, black and white.
It's been really interesting to give him more nuance. He's not just a big, dumb guy. He's a really smart guy. What he does, he's the best at. And when he has fun, he's the best at having fun. And so really getting more nuance in his character, I think the fans will like. I think it's given him dimension that's kind of surprised me, honestly. I really like him.
This article was consolidated from two separate interviews.