The week of July 4th, Disney/LucasFilm released the first of a new series of animated shorts, Forces of Destiny. Targeted towards the four to six-year-old age group, these quick but well-done cartoons are fun, bridge some story gaps from the films, and serve to introduce certain characters to one another, possibly with the hope of seeing future collaborations and team-ups. Released as a whole on July 9th on The Disney Channel, they will be a launching platform for a new series of books, stories, merchandise, toys and apparel.
One of my favorite “in-between” series to date has been the popular Genndy Tartakovsky animated shorts, The Clone Wars, appearing on The Cartoon Network from 2003-2005. They served to satiate the ravenous appetite of those fans who were excited for what was then to be the last Star Wars movie ever, Revenge of the Sith. Additionally, they introduced new characters, foremost in my mind being General Grievous.
Following suit are the exciting shorts on the Disney YouTube and basic cable channel, The Disney Channel. Each short features an honest to goodness big-time Star Wars character (in some cases, multiple) along with a theme or message:
Sands of Jakku—Rey & BB-8: Kindness
BB-8 Bandits—Rey & BB-8: Friendship is its own reward
Ewok Escape—Leia & Wicket: Friendship
The Padawan Path—Ahsoka & Anakin: Murderous Robots deserve death
Beasts of Echo Base—Leia, Chewie & R2: Teamwork plus ESB bonus
The Impostor Inside—Padme & Ahsoka: Teamwork
The Stranger—Jyn Erso—Pokemon Go?
Bounty of Trouble—Leia & Sabine Wren (& IG-88!): Stormtroopers are dumb
Each episode is narrated by Force Awakens character Maz Kanat (Lupita Nyong’o!) In fact, Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka) and Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren) all reprise their headliner roles to voice these characters. New talent has been brought in for other characters, but they quickly invoke the spirit and strength of these giants of the galaxy.
Produced by Dave Filoni (aka, Mini-George), the stories are wedged in between popular story lines. "Sands of Jakku" and "BB-8 Bandits" take place immediately after Rey finds the round robot in the desert but before encountering Finn in The Force Awakens. "Ewok Escape" occurs right after Leia meets Wicket the Ewok, but before being found by Luke and Han in Return of the Jedi. "The Padawan Path" and "The Impostor Inside" occur sometime during the Clone Wars, and "The Stranger" could happen at any point in the Rogue One timeline. "Bounty of Trouble" matches up Sabine Wren with Leia, and takes place around the time of A New Hope.
My favorite has to be "Beasts of Echo Base." It pays homage to a deleted scene from Empire Strikes Back, and is sure to be a fan favorite.
I’m excited for these new shorts for a number of reasons. First, they are building up the Girl Power movement that is blowing the lid off Hollywood and media right now. Wonder Woman crushed it in the box office, and it was so great to see young girls and women dressing up for that film. There is a huge demand for female-driven stories, and the Star Wars Princesses/Heroines are perfect for that purpose. I would have loved to be able to have watched these shorts with my young daughter, to show her strong characters that were not muddled up with romance, helplessness and frailty.
Also, the potential for expanded stories based off of the mash-ups are downright thrilling. Padme and Ahsoka? Leia and Sabine? Yes, please!
Check out these new shorts on YouTube or The Disney Channel; look for the books in bookstores everywhere.