The Disney+ original animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in The Clone Wars) as they find themselves in a galaxy that’s transitioning from the Republic to the Empire. Each of them individually have a skill that they contribute to make the squad stronger and that they use on mercenary missions while they try to find their new purpose.
During both a virtual press conference and a chat just with Collider, executive producer/head writer Jennifer Corbett and executive producer/supervising director Brad Rau talked about the time period this story takes place, collaborating with Star Wars guru and fellow executive producer Dave Filoni, telling a more stripped down story, the importance of Omega, how much character crossover there could be, and whether they know what their endpoint is.
Question: For those who are not familiar with the Star Wars animated world, would you say that you have to have seen the other Star Wars animated series to watch this series?
BRAD RAU: I don’t think so. We wanted to make it so that, if you hadn’t seen any of Star Wars, you could watch this show and you could follow along. It’s something we talk about a lot. And yet, as a Star Wars fan, I think you’ll get more out of it with the Easter eggs that might happen and the people we might see in the show. It would enhance the viewing experience, if you are familiar with animated Star Wars, but it’s not necessary.
This period of time is something that fans think they know, but then this series shows yet another unique angle of those days. What’s happening in the galaxy when we pick up this show and what are the challenges that the Bad Batch is going to face?
JENNIFER CORBETT: This time period is one of the reasons that I got so excited about this show, other than this oddball group of characters. I just found it intriguing and engaging to watch a series where we’ve seen The Clone Wars with the Clone Troopers doing what they’re meant to do and what they were created for, and the question became, “When the war is over, what happens to all of these Clones who only know how to be soldiers?,” especially for the Bad Batch who do things differently with the Republic and how they fit in once it becomes the Empire. Those are obviously two very different regimes, and it’s about how they react to this new environment and the new way of doing things and new way of following rules, which isn’t their favorite thing to do. It was interesting to just 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. It’s the early stages. I found it interesting 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. It’s just laying the groundwork for what everyone knows the Empire to be later on.
Image via Lucasfilm
You’ve both worked with Dave Filoni before and he’s overseeing this show. What’s it like to collaborate with him?
CORBETT: I got to work with Dave on Star Wars Resistance, which was such a great experience. Getting the chance to develop this series with him is like a master class in writing Star Wars. With this being a sequel series of sorts to The Clone Wars, it was crucial that he be involved in this process because these are characters that he’s created and it’s the world that he knows. But every day, every script is a learning experience. It’s so exciting to see this show grow and develop with this team. He’s been fantastic to learn from.
RAU: Yeah, absolutely. Dave is awesome. I’ve known Dave for a long time. When he was starting The Clone Wars, I first met him up at Skywalker Ranch. I happened to just be starting my own animation studio at that time, so I was unable to join The Clone Wars. It was one of my regrets that I rectified later on Rebels, joining as an episodic director, and then on Resistance. He’s an awesome guy and a good friend. I couldn’t think of a better mentor, especially for Star Wars. The stuff he tells us every day is fantastic and amazing. Just collaborating with him and being able to work with Jen so closely on this show had been awesome. It’s been a dream come true.
How is it to make a show that’s more stripped down and focused on a group of reluctant, rag-tag soldiers, as opposed to grand characters, like Jedi and Sith?
RAU: That’s a massively awesome question. We love all of that stuff, but it’s really interesting, to deal with this family dynamic. To have the stories be emotionally charged and emotionally based gives the action a lot more texture, honestly. We’re blowing stuff up and we’re having fun doing that, but to have the emotional context of that is the challenge, 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. It gives us room to play around with how those characters develop.
What’s it like to hear and watch what Dee Bradley Baker brings to these roles?
CORBETT: It’s impressive to watch him do it in the room. When we first started, I thought he was gonna go a character at a time. Just watching him act out a scene with himself, with all of these Clones, there’s no pause. He just goes right into it and I was blown away. Each time we do one of these record sessions, I’m just amazed at Dee’s talent.
Other Star Wars animated series, like Rebels and Resistance, have established their own unique visual styles, but the look of The Bad Batch definitely matches its predecessor, The Clone Wars. Why did you feel it was so important to maintain that sense of visual continuity, between those two series?
RAU: That’s very intentional, so it’s cool that you picked up on that. The Bad Batch is a spiritual successor to The Clone Wars, so we wanted to honor the style and the legacy of that. That being said, the whole team at Lucasfilm and our partners at CGCG, we’ve just tightened everything up. The fidelity is tighter, the style is tighter, and the rigs are tighter. The way that it’s designed is still the legacy of The Clone Wars, but a little more detail and a little bit more focus. The work we’re doing, for me, having worked on a lot of these shows with a lot of the same people, internally, it’s just the best team and I think we’re doing our best work ever right now. It’s really fun.
Image via Lucasfilm
In the premiere episode, you introduce a new character named Omega, who seems pretty important. What can you tell us about her and how important she’ll be to the story?
RAU: Yes, she is, definitely. She’s so great. We have this awesome team of elite Clones, and everything we’ve been talking about in this changing galaxy and this time period that, as a fan, I’m just so excited to see. We haven’t seen that much about the rise of the Empire. So, it’s interesting to have these clinical best-of-the-best soldiers suddenly be these fish out of water in this changing galaxy, and to have this kid that they do look to, to help raise in a very parental way. And it’s a two-way street, honestly, the way that works, and none of them are really equipped to go out into the world. How do they eat when they don’t have a mess hall to go to. How do they get their gear fixed? How do they get fuel for their ship? They didn’t have to deal with that before, but now they have to deal with it. Those are all things we get into, which is really interesting.
Jennifer, how did your experiences in the U.S. Navy help or influence your writing process and vision for The Bad Batch?
CORBETT: That’s a good question. When I first saw the original story arc for The Bad Batch that was meant for the final season of The Clone Wars, I immediately responded to it because I got the dynamic between this squad. I understand how people in the military become like brothers and sisters. When you’re sent on missions together and you’re in close quarters, there’s a camaraderie and a banter that comes with living with people so closely and in high stress situations. That’s what I try to bring to it. Even though this squad are these elite soldiers, they are this family, but they don’t have to agree all the time and on all the things. Each of them brings a different perspective because they’re all so very different, and that speaks to the military. No one comes from the same background and everybody has their different reasons for doing what they’re doing. It’s a family dynamic, in real life.
Is there a plan for a finite amount of episodes?
RAU: Yes, there’s a plan.
How many episodes make up this season, and after the first episode or the rest about 30 minutes, or are they going to vary in length?
CORBETT: I’m not sure if we can say. I don’t think that’s been confirmed, so we can’t say. After the pilot, the other episodes are more along the 30-minute mark, like Episode 2.
With how many Star Wars series are in development, how will The Bad Batch tie into the rest of the series?
RAU: It’s a really interesting time period that The Bad Batch takes place in because we haven’t seen that much of it, so it makes it exciting. There’s a lot of possibilities, but there’s also a lot of different characters that we might be familiar with, from other animated shows or other forms of media for Star Wars. It’s exciting that we may be able to come across some of them. We can’t say too much in detail who that might be, but we will see some familiar faces.
Will we see any characters that could eventually appear in live-action series, in this series?
CORBETT: Yeah. In the trailer, people saw Fennec Shand. Obviously, she made her debut on The Mandalorian and we were lucky enough to be able to bring her into The Bad Batch. There are some faces that people will definitely recognize from live-action and from other animated series. With the other shows that are happening, luckily ours, in the timeline that we are, we have some distance between them. We don’t have to worry too much about that continuity that’s going on, and that’s freeing and exciting.
What made you decide to bring in a younger version of Fennec Shand, and what can you say about her role and how much of a role she’ll have?
Image via Disney+
RAU: Without speaking too much about how much of a role she’ll have, it was definitely exciting, when we were talking to Dave Filoni about the possibility of bringing her onto the show and the fact that we could get Ming-Na Wen to voice her. She’s so awesome. She’s such an awesome actor and a great person to work with. We’ve had a lot of fun seeing this younger version of Fennec that hasn’t quite become the bounty hunter that we see in The Mandalorian. The way that she does things is a little different and very exciting, and we get into all of that.
When you want to introduce another character from the Star Wars universe, how hard is it to bring someone in? Is it almost easier to create new characters, or is that equally as difficult?
CORBETT: I think it depends on what you’re trying to say by bringing that character back. Whenever we do have a familiar face, we wanna make sure that they’re serving a purpose for the story, and it’s not just fan service like, “Oh, hey, check out this character that we brought back.” The tricky part is that, when you inherit a legacy character, you should be paying attention to who created that character and staying true to what that character is. That’s why sometimes it is easier to create new characters. It also broadens the series and your world. It is a massive galaxy, so we wanna make sure that we’re meeting new people while also seeing familiar faces, as they’re along their adventures.
How far ahead have you guys figured out the series? Do you have a three-season arc? Do you have a five-season arc? Are you envisioning it as a finite thing, or is it more open?
RAU: I’m so sorry because we keep saying, “We’re not gonna tell you the real answer,” but we think about it a lot. There’s a lot of stories to tell, with this interesting group that we don’t know that much about. Getting into the Bad Batch and their dynamic in this changing galaxy, is just a really awesome opportunity. So, yeah, we were excited for the stories we’re telling. We hope the fans are excited, as well. Sorry, I can’t answer the question directly, but there’s a lot to tell.
CORBETT: I will say that we have an idea of where we’re going. It’s just more how much time we have to get to that point. As creative types, we’re always thinking of ways to work with what we’ve got.
Do you have like a set endpoint in your head, or are you trying to not think about things that exact?
CORBETT: I think it helps to know where you wanna go. Of course, that can change, either drastically or it can adapt as the series adapts. I, personally, have a goal of where we’re trying to go and where we’d like to be, but it’s all part of that collaborative process and the show takes its own shape, as we head to that point.
What can you say to tease the arc of the first season?
RAU: Really, it’s just the idea of seeing this elite squad of commandos who are the best of the best, and they don’t care about rules too much. They’re set up to be this awesome team, and then we just flip it, in this changing galaxy, that they’re on the run and they have to find a way to fend for themselves and help each other out and be parental figures to this new character that we’re introducing. It’s about how they survive in this galaxy, how they eat, how they get fuel, what they do when their gear breaks down. Those are really interesting things that take these soldiers in a different direction. They have to solve problems in a different way. We have a lot of action that happens along the way, but that really is the DNA of this first season.
CORBETT: And it’s all set within the backdrop of the beginning of the age of the Empire and how that starts to take shape.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is available to stream at Disney+.
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Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter at Collider. Having worked at Collider for over a decade (since 2009), her primary focus is on film and television interviews with talent both in front of and behind the camera. She is a theme park fanatic, which has lead to covering various land and ride openings, and a huge music fan, for which she judges life by the time before Pearl Jam and the time after. She is also a member of the Critics Choice Association and the Television Critics Association.
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