With the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi just a week away, fans are in a tizzy speculating what Star Wars secrets and surprises the highly anticipated Disney Plus series will reveal. The trailers thus far show that the six episode miniseries will fit within a well-established canon chronology set roughly ten years after the prequels and ten years before the events of the original trilogy.
This is the period during which the Star Wars Rebels animated series that ran from 2014 to 2018 is also set. Rebels was a high point for Star Wars, post-George Lucas (the mastermind sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012). Along with The Clone Wars, the show was one of the few universally acclaimed Star Wars properties not suffering the radical differences of opinion that have split the fandom regarding other movies and shows (such as The Last Jedi). Thus, the excitement is high for the crossover elements on display in the Obi-Wan Kenobi trailers. We break them down here.
Animated and live-action crossovers
Given the popularity of Rebels and the Star Wars time period during which it is set, it is not surprising that the Obi-Wan Kenobi creators are leaning on the show to provide some of the most prominent material seen in the trailers thus far. Crossing over also continues the trend seen in recent Star Wars shows, The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, of rendering characters and elements from the animated shows in live-action. These characters include Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryze (both of whom appeared in Rebels and The Clone Wars), as well as the bounty hunter, Cad Bane, who featured in The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch.
Although many surprises surely await in the six hour Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series, the two trailers thus far reveal many characters from throughout the rich Star Wars saga. Below we identify which of those characters appeared in Star Wars Rebels.
The Grand Inquisitor
It’s not easy to come up with memorable new villains in a universe that spawned Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Jabba the Hutt, Darth Maul, Boba Fett (yes, once a villain!), and may other fearsome baddies. But Rebels did a fantastic job creating new characters, especially evil ones, rather than just relying on existing source material, which has been among the complaints lodged against The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett — shows which some fans feel lack creative juice.
Rebels featured the inquisitors early in the series and their sheer, awesome wickedness is a big part of why the show remains such a popular and well-regarded Star Wars entry. The Inquisitors are Jedi hunters — fallen Jedi themselves — assigned by Darth Vader and the Empire to purge the galaxy of the last of the noble Force users in the wake of the dissolution of the Galactic Republic. The Grand Inquisitor (voiced by Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs) was the first to be introduced in the show, a relentless hunter who pursued the Rebels heros, Jedi Kanan and Padawan Ezra, throughout season one as they worked to help build up the nascent Rebel Alliance.
The Grand Inquisitor’s appearance in Obi-Wan Kenobi
However, fans may have a point this time, as the character’s appearance is markedly different, particularly the shape of his head, which is narrower and more angular in Rebels and here appears almost round. The Rebels version also has sharpened teeth, which the Grand Inquisitor in the trailer seems to lack. In short, the Rebels GI looks more like a vampire, and the Obi-Wan Kenobi version looks more like Frankenstein’s monster, though fans were happier with the extended look at the character in the second trailer. Given the altered appearance from the show and from the first trailer, could other changes be in store for the character’s transition from animation to live-action?
The Grand Inquisitor appears prominently in the new trailer. He and other inquisitors, Fifth Brother and Third Sister will be hot on Obi-Wan’s tail throughout the series, as they continue their savage quest to extinguish the last of the Jedi. Though fans are excited about the Grand Inquisitor’s role in the new show, his appearance in the trailers was met with consternation among Star Wars fans, similarly to how some criticized the live action transformations of Cad Bane and Ahsoka Tano. (Although let’s be honest, there isn’t much new introduced to the Star Wars universe that fans don’t criticize for supposed lack of fidelity to its source material.)
One of the most inspired things about the Grand Inquisitor — along with some of his Inquisitor underlings, such as Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister — is his double bladed spinning lightsaber. The fearsome weapon features prominently in the Rebels season one climax in an epic three-way lightsaber battle between the Grand Inquisitor and Kanan and Ezra.
The lightsaber’s singular appearance and specialized capabilities make it among the most distinctive in the Star Wars canon, revered by fans alongside Darth Maul’s double bladed saber, Mace Windu’s purple blade, and Ahsoka Tano’s dual Samurai-style curved hilts and white blades. The spinning lightsabers appear prominently in the Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer.
The Grand Inquisitor (spoiler) fell to his death at the conclusion of season one of Rebels during his climactic battle with Kanan and Ezra. However, Darth Vader sent more of the fallen Jedi after our heros in season 2: Fifth Brother (voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez), who traveled and fought alongside the popular Seventh Sister (in a fun bit of casting, she was voiced by Sarah Michelle-Gellar, who is married to Freddie Prinze Jr., the voice of Kanan).
The official Obi Wan Kenobi trailer features several shots of Fifth Brother, though Seventh Sister is nowhere to be seen. However, a new Inquisitor, Reva the Third Sister (Moses Ingram) features heavily throughout the teaser and the official trailer. Given the awesome design of her character and the fierce portrayal on display by Ingram, fans should be more than satisfied even if no other Rebels Inquisitors appear in the show.
This may seem like a no-brainer (the show is titled after him!), but not all Star Wars fans may realize that Obi-Wan appeared in several episodes of Star Wars Rebels and is mentioned in several others, confirming his prominent place within the galaxy, even as he hid out in a cave on Tatooine.
Though Obi-Wan’s appearance in the animated show is minimal, his one major appearance is a huge moment for the Star Wars canon, as he rematches with Darth Maul, the Sith Lord who killed Obi-Wan’s beloved mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Of course Obi-Wan already slew Maul once, cutting him in half at the climax of The Phantom Menace. Maul’s return for a rematch in the season 3 episode, “Twin Suns” (spoiler) just allowed Obi-Wan the pleasure of cutting him down once more (which, again, he didn’t have a whole lot going on at the time, so this would have definitely highlighted his week).
Not only does the Dark Lord of the Sith feature prominently in Star Wars Rebels, he is still voiced by the great James Earl Jones! One of the pleasures of Rebels for fans is that Vader appears in several episodes and is mentioned in a number of others. Even though he is not the primary villain in Rebels, his dark shadow still looms over the galaxy.
Of course a huge part of the hype surrounding Obi-Wan Kenobi is not only the return of Darth Vader, but also of actor Hayden Christensen who famously played him in the Star Wars prequels. Fans are totally psyched at the prospect of master and apprentice squeezing in another duel between their epic battle in the fires of Mustafar and Obi-Wan’s swan song in the Death Star in A New Hope. While Vader’s breathing was only just barely heard at the close of the Obi-Wan Kenobi teaser trailer, his presence is unmistakable in the official trailer, during which we not only hear him, but see his famous armor.
Hanging TIE Fighters
Among fans’ favorite aspects of Rebels is the fantastic space battles that feature many beloved Star Wars ships, especially TIE fighters, which appear in many creative ways throughout the series. One of the Rebels heroes, Sabine Wren, even paints in one in bright flowery colors and designs, thus expressing her artistic panache while subverting the sinister ethos of the war machine in one fell swoop.
TIE fighters are often seen hanging from the undersides of bays and larger ships in the show and this is also on display in the trailer. It may be a small moment, but for Star Wars fans, TIE fighter aficionados, and lovers of Rebels, it is one more thing to get excited about.