We finally have confirmation that Star Wars: The Bad Batch will air on May 4th, 2021. At first, I wasn’t too excited about the series. I mean I love The Clone Wars, but I wasn’t sure what kind of stories they could tell with Clone Force 99. I had some theories but nothing solid. That is until I started thinking about another Lucasfilm property. I realized that The Bad Batch was probably going to be more like Star Wars Resistance than its predecessor The Clone Wars.
Before people get all up in arms and correcting me, I know that the Bad Batch are Clone Wars characters. What I’m discussing today is the story structure and function of the series and how it will work in the canon.
As I’ve talked about in a previous article, Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels served specific functions in the universe. They were plot driven shows created to change the fabric of the canon. Clone Wars filled in the gaps between Episode II and Episode III. Star Wars Rebels told the story about the formation of the Rebel Alliance before the Original Trilogy. While both series had plenty of stand out character moments and helped define new mythos, they are there to fill in the gaps and change canon. They’re made to make us rethink the movies with new information.
Star Wars Resistance broke that mold. Its function is not to change the canon, acting a lot like an in universe novel brought to life. Its function is to show how the canon changes characters. It shows how the “Wars” of Star Wars affect normal people. Resistance, unlike its predecessors, is a character driven show where their actions and choices dictate the plot and narrative. Sure, the series gives some background on the Sequel Trilogy, but that’s not its purpose like Clone Wars. Resistance was made to be a character study of normal people in a galaxy far, far away.
Then we have The Bad Batch on its way. The summary for the series says, “The series follows the elite and experimental troopers of Clone Force 99 as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War.”
This sounds a lot like what Resistance was. Resistance was a very personal and quiet show. It was about everyday problems as peacetime broke down around the residents of the Colossus. With our Bad Batch boys, it sounds like the opposite. They’re moving away from war, what they were born to do, to peace where we know the clones are eventually phased out for stormtroopers.
That alone has a lot to explore. When they were bred for war, what do they do when they’re supposed to be in peacetime? I’m sure there is PTSD to consider when writing the Bad Batch. A big question is whether or not their inhibitor chips went off in Order 66. If they did, then we’ll have to break the group from their hold. If not, they have to work through the guilt that (possibly) they and their brothers killed all their Jedi allies. The trailer seems to hint that they will be fighting other clones at some point, so the Bad Batch could be labeled traitors. The clones represent the Lost Generation of Star Wars. This series could really delve into what that means.
I’ll be happy to be wrong, but I can’t see how The Bad Batch will change the fabric of the canon like Clone Wars did. Maybe if the series goes on long enough where it eventually bumps into Rebels, we could see Clone Force 99 team up with Rex, Wolffe, or Gregor. Maybe they help Mon Mothma or Bail Organa with Rebellion missions. We know Fennec Shand will make an appearance to tie it into The Mandalorian. But ties usually don’t make huge changes when it comes to the entire canon of Star Wars. I believe that this will be a smaller focused story on the changing lives of these characters.
Which is also very fitting in modern animation. Animators from different studios know each other and impact each other’s works. Clone Wars came out on the heels of Avatar: The Last Airbender as both Dave Filoni and Justin Ridge worked on the series. Both shows have similar story structures of the daily struggles of war until a big final conclusion. Star Wars Rebels has a similar format to series running at the time like Gravity Falls and Steven Universe with a strong focus on family as the wider story evolved around them. Resistance fits the mold of its animated peers like Amphibia which is incredibly similar to each other in story format (which I talked about here). It also rode the wave of Steven Universe fitting the slice of life mold against the backdrop of a cosmic war.
Which leaves The Bad Batch. If we look at other shows running now or recently finished, it could be similar to them. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power might be a show about war, but it was also a story about mental health, sacrifices, and what it meant to be a hero when sides changed. Adora faced off against her childhood friend, Catra, possibly how the Bad Batch might have to face their own brothers. Hordak and Wrong Hordak broke away from their indoctrination where the Bad Batch might have to break away from their own upbringing.
Perhaps it will be shaped like The Owl House where it’s a story about finding their purpose in a new place. Luz Noceda is dropped into a magical world and has to adapt to being the first human witch, challenging her physical limitations. Clone Force 99 could be dropped into the Empire and learn what the limits of their morality are when faced with challenges. Like Resistance and Amphibia, its story structure could be truly a slice of life character driven story as hints of the bigger plot are dropped in until a finale reveal. The Bad Batch might be on board with the Empire at first, like Tam was to the First Order in Resistance, but they might see its atrocities and leave. Perhaps Clone Force 99 team up with Commander Cody early on, like Anne teamed up with her friend Sasha in Amphibia. But like Anne, they see Cody isn’t who he used to be anymore because times have changed. And also inhibitor chips have gone off too.
We don’t know what the structure of the story will be, but it seems The Bad Batch could likely fit into the mold of current animation.
Lastly, we have to look at the creative team. All of the executive producers for The Bad Batch worked or produced Star Wars Resistance being Dave Filoni, Carrie Beck, Brad Rau, Athena Portillo, Jennifer Corbett, and Josh Rimes. Corbett is also the head writer. She did NOT work on either Clone Wars or Rebels. Her only prior Star Wars credit is Resistance. She also was a writer for NCIS, in which police procedurals tend to be about the day to day lives of police officers. They tend to be more character driven, personal stories.
But we’ll see! This is me speculating and I’ll be happy to be wrong if The Bad Batch ends up being a canon-defining series. At the moment, I just don’t see it happening. I believe it will follow the trends of modern animation and Resistance to function in a different way than Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels did. It will be like a Star Wars novel brought to life in animation to give us a glimpse into the lives of Clone Force 99 as the galaxy changes around them.
What I do know is the more I think about it, the more I get hyped for May 4th when we finally return to the Bad Batch once more.
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