You know what tomorrow is, don’t you? It’s the 4th of May, known in Star Wars circles as May the Fourth… as in May the Fourth (Force) be With You.
Of course Disney is not going to let this special Star Wars day go by unnoticed. Tomorrow sees the launch of the latest entry into the Star Wars universe, “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” which will stream exclusively on Disney+.
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” follows the exploits of Clone Force 99, a squad that resulted from efforts to create a clone unit of special commandos. This unique team, which varies genetically from other clones, was first introduced to Star Wars fans in the Emmy® Award-winning animated series “The Clone Wars.” Each member of the team possesses enhanced senses and skills that aid them as they navigate their way in the fast-changing, post-Clone War era.
The team is made up of:
— Hunter, the team’s leader, whose keen senses give him an edge when tracking down targets.
— Echo, a former ARC Trooper rescued from the Techno Union with cybernetic implants.
— Tech, the chatty computer and weapons specialist.
— Wrecker, the muscles of the group, who often provides comic relief.
— Crosshair, the reticent and somewhat mysterious sharpshooter.
Surprisingly, all of the Bad Batch characters are voiced by one actor: Emmy® and Annie–nominated voice actor Dee Bradley Baker. Baker has worked on “Star Wars” feature films and other projects in the “Star Wars” universe for Disney+/Lucasfilm, including the frog couple featured in the recent season of The Mandalorian. He has also won accolades as Captain Rex plus the army of clone soldiers in Lucasfilm’s Emmy®–winning “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Disney theme park-goers are probably already Baker fans without even knowing it — he’s the voice of the parrot on the Pirates of the Caribbean and Boba Fett for the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attractions!
Special guest voice actors will provide the voices for new characters that will eventually be introduced into the storyline. No spoilers here, though!
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is executive produced by Dave Filoni, creator of the “The Clone Wars.” Filoni is also executive producer, episodic director and writer on the Emmy® Award–winning series “The Mandalorian,” and is currently in production on the new series “The Book of Boba Fett.” Joining Filoni as executive producers are lifelong Star Wars enthusiasts Athena Portillo (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Wars Rebels”), Brad Rau (“Star Wars Rebels,” “Star Wars Resistance”) and Jennifer Corbett (“Star Wars Resistance,” “NCIS”).
Rau and Corbett, along with Dee Bradley Baker, recently took some time to talk with the media in a virtual press conference and shared a little bit about what viewers can expect from the new series.
“I just found it intriguing and engaging to watch a series where it’s the height of the Clone Troopers doing what they’re meant to do, and what they were created for,” Corbett said. “The question became, ‘What happens after the war is over? What happens to clones who, all they know is being soldiers?’ Especially for the Bad Batch, who do things differently as it is… It was interesting to just sort of talk about the transition from the Republic to the Empire and what that looks like, because it’s not what we saw in the original trilogy, where it’s the dominance of the Empire.”
“In the sudden, shocking transition from Republic to Empire, it becomes a suddenly much more rule-based power structure of the galaxy, of the universe,” Baker added. “And the Bad Batch are not so much a rule-based unit.”
“This time period, as a fan, I’m just so excited to see,” Rau noted. “Because we haven’t seen that much about the rise of the Empire.”
Corbett pointed out that because the series shows the Empire in its early stages, they have been able to “show planets and places that were happy that the war is over, and they don’t really understand the implications of what an Empire actually means. And it’s kind of just laying the groundwork for what everyone knows the Empire to be later on.”
New revelations and characters, in particular one new character, shift the direction of the Bad Batch and give the storylines added dimension. As Rau explained, they begin to deal with a family dynamic that lends the stories an emotional charge and more texture.
“Let’s face it,” Rau said, “we’re blowing stuff up and we’re having fun doing that, but, to have the emotional context of that is the challenge, I think, in any of these stories… It helps that we are coming into characters that are familiar and yet we don’t know that much about. And it gives us room to kind of play around with how those characters develop.”
Corbett, who previously served in the U.S. Navy, noted that her background has helped her with that character development.
“I understand how people in the military become like brothers and sisters very closely when you’re sent on missions together, ” she explained. “When you’re in close quarters, the camaraderie and also the banter that comes with living with people, so closely, in high stress situations. So, I think that’s what I try to bring to it — how this squad, even though they are these elite soldiers, they are this family. But they don’t have to agree all the time… And all the different perspectives that each of them brings, because they’re all so very different.”
“That’s part of what’s so interesting,” Baker noted. “You have the personal dynamics of these few characters who are a lot of fun to hang out with. They’re really competent. Really fun and interesting. And this whole larger process is playing out, among their dynamic as well… there’s a lot there to unpack. And it’s coming!”
Check out the trailer for Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” below. The original animated series launches exclusively on Disney+ on Tuesday, May 4, with a special 70-minute premiere, followed by new episodes every Friday starting on May 7.
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