On April 22, the creative team behind the new Disney+ series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, held a virtual press conference, moderated by Entertainment Tonight’s Ash Crossan, and together they offered a look at what went into the making of the highly-anticipated successor to The Clone Wars.
Crossan, a self-described “lover of all things Star Wars,” welcomed Dee Bradley Baker, the voice talent for The Bad Batch, Supervising Director and Executive Producer Brad Rau, and the series’ Head Writer, Jennifer Corbett. Together, the group shared their insights into the characters who are The Bad Batch, what is was like to create a new chapter in the ongoing legacy that is Star Wars, and how their new series continues the visual style of The Clone Wars while tightening up the focus to reflect a more detailed storytelling and character intimacy. The result, says Brau, is a story he feels is “the spiritual successor to the Clone Wars.”
Star Wars: The Bad Batch, explains Baker, takes place following the “sudden, shocking transition from Republic to Empire” when “it becomes a suddenly much more rule-based power structure of the galaxy.” For the clones, who have known nothing but being soldiers throughout the previous Clone Wars, the question becomes, “What happens after the war is over?” and how do they fit in now that the galaxy is controlled by the Empire, according to writer Corbett. And as Baker laughingly points out, “the Bad Batch are”not so much a rule-based unit.”
The “family dynamic” of that unit, with all of the different personalities of “the batches,” lies at the crux of the stories told in this new Star Wars chapter, and results in a series, Rau says, that is “more emotionally charged, and emotionally based, giving the action a lot more texture, honestly.” As the voice of each member of the that team, Baker points out that, unlike the characters from The Clone Wars,”the Bad Batch are further apart from each other,” making his work easier as he jumps from voice to voice in reading the scripts.
The leader of Clone Force 99, aka The Bad Batch, is Hunter, whose tracking skills and heightened senses help him gauge the terrain. Tech is ” super cool, super calm, and competent with all things technical,” says Baker, while Wrecker is “the muscles of the group.” Crosshair is the squad’s sharp shooter, while Echo is an android clone brought back on-board from the Clone Wars’ series. Together, Baker adds, they are “a force to be reckoned with.”
And, as Baker describes, it is at this “transformational moment” for the team, when the Empire has gained supremacy, that the batches find themselves, not only struggling with their new roles on this squad, but also in this new ordered universe. It is also during this first episode of the series that we are introduced to Omega, a younger character that the batches are not initially eager to welcome into their group. But the relationship between Hunter and Omega begins to unfold, giving what Crossan feels are “Baby Yoda-like, reluctant dad-in-armor vibes,” and we see how the team accomodates to fit Omega into their lives. The dynamic turns into that of an “uncle/niece, or a father/child,” explains Baker, “but not entirely….Omega has her own potential of powers….”
Indeed, Omega becomes an integral part of the story, insists Rau, which, says Crossan, really “connects us to the story in a personal way. So it’s not just an action story.” As Baker points out, “…Star Wars never is…there’s always a personal story that connects you to the entire story.” Here, in this changing galaxy, Rau explains, are “these clinical, best of the best soldiers that are suddenly fish out-of-water…and they 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, that none of them are really equipped to go out into the world. How do they eat? 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? ….It’s all ‘wait a minute, we didn’t have to deal with that last week, now we gotta deal with it.’ It’s really interesting.”
Although Rau and Corbett have loved collaborating on the big characters of the Star Wars universe, and have enjoyed “blowing stuff up,” they also like taking on the challenge of the emotional context of the Bad Batch stories, “coming into characters that are familiar, yet, we don’t know that much about. And it gives us room to kind of play around with how those characters develop,” says Rau. Corbett, who served as an officer in the US Navy, says she tried to bring out the family aspect that people in the military experience. “When you’re in close quarters and kind of the camaraderie and also the banter that comes with living with people in high stress situations. So…that’s what I try to bring to it, is how this squad, even though they are elite soldiers, they are this family. But they don’t have to agree all the time…all the different perspectives that each of them brings, because they’re all so very different.”
Another character we see begin his emotional journey in the first episode is Crosshair, who Baker describes as “the lynchpin member of the team.” Baker teases, “As his nature is to be kind of set apart …from the team…a kind of political story plays out. Of this instantaneous, you know, mega transformation from Republic to Empire. Which is a very profound moment in the entire story of Star Wars.”
At the root of theThe Bad Batch, Baker summarizes, is really these “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 process is playing out, among their dynamic as well. It’s quite-there’s a lot there to unpack. And it’s coming.”
And it is coming, indeed. According to Executive Produce Brad Rau, he is leading “the best team..doing our best work ever right now,” and that is Star Wars: The Bad Batch, premiering on May 4, exclusively on Disney+.