Recenly, it was revealed that Lucasfilm's Dave Filoni was promoted from the role of supervising director of the animated Star Wars: Rebels series to executive producer. Hidden in the announcement was news that Filoni would be "overseeing future animation development" for Lucasfilm. Basically, this was more confirmation that another new Star Wars animated series was coming, and relatively soon. Which leads one to wonder, what in the world could the next Star Wars animated series be about? And when would it be set?
Filling in the blanks of galactic history
The one thing the two modern Star Wars animated series have in common is that they shed light on much-speculated about periods in galactic history, points in time that only get glossed over in the actual films. Ever since Obi-Wan Kenobi named dropped something called "the Clone Wars" in A New Hope, fans wondered about this great conflict. Ultimately, we saw the start of those wars and the very end of them in the prequels, but those movies skipped over the bulk of the conflict. The animated Clone Wars series actually gave us all the details on this time period, and fully fleshed out something that was only barely mentioned in the original movies. Similarly, the currently running Rebels series is giving fans the full story of the Rebel Alliance's earliest days.
So now with The Force Awakens behind us, there are some thirty years of galactic history to cover that we know very little about. So far, some of the new canon novels have begun to tackle this time period, so we have some idea of what happened in a post-Return of the Jedi galaxy. The excellent novel Bloodline, for example, which takes place some six years before TFA, shows how the First Order grew out of a pro-Empire wing of the New Republic. And some of the video games have shown how the Rebel Alliance ultimately defeated the Empire for good, and forged a New Republic about a year after the battle of Endor.
"When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be. Pass on what you have learned..."
But there's one big piece of post-Return of the Jedi history that was only glimpsed in The Force Awakens, and that is the story of Luke Skywalker's ill-fated Jedi Academy. At the end of Return of the Jedi, a dying Yoda asked Luke to pass on what he had learned, and begin the Jedi Order again. We know Luke tried to honor Yoda's wishes, and we also know he had many students, judging from the amount of dead bodies we saw in Rey's vision/flashback in TFA. And we know Luke's own nephew Ben Solo was one of them.
While I'm sure the exact details of what happened to Ben to make him turn against his uncle--and turn to the Dark Side and become Kylo Ren--are going to be saved for Episode VIII, I imagine there are many years worth of stories of what happened before everything went sour. All of this is ripe for animated series. And much like Clone Wars, it would only serve to enrich the live-action films.
Luke training a new generation of Jedi Knights is something that fans have always wanted to see, and many of the old Expanded Universe books dealt with Luke having a Jedi Academy or school of one sort or another. Having an animated series in a school environment would provide a storytelling framework all kids can relate to (just look at the popularity of both Harry Potter and X-Men) and would make for a perfect show for Disney XD.
Much like Clone Wars, and even Rebels, there would be something of a bittersweet feeling that hangs over the show for adult fans of the films. Despite how chummy Anakin and Obi-Wan were on Clone Wars, not to mention how loyal and friendly their Clone troops were, we all knew how it was going to end for them in Revenge of the Sith, and that it wasn't pretty. Even Rebels has something of that same bittersweet air about it, because if continuity is to be maintained, then it's highly likely that both Jedi Knights Kanan and Ezra don't make it out of Rebels in one piece. A Jedi Academy show would have that same quality to it.
Star Wars: Jedi Academy, featuring Luke Skywalker, Ben Solo, and...Ahsoka Tano?
So who would the characters be? Obviously, Luke Skywalker would have to be part of it as Jedi Master and teacher. I don't think you'd have to pull any teeth to get Mark Hamill to return to voice his character. A young Ben Solo would obviously be a part of the proceedings as well, along with other young students. Leia would probably show up as well, and R2-D2 and C-3PO are probably givens too. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say another beloved Star Wars character should be a main cast member on any proposed Jedi Academy series: Ahsoka Tano.
Ahsoka is easily the most popular character that Star Wars animation has ever produced. Heck, she's one of the most popular characters in Star Wars, period. Anakin's former apprentice was a huge part of Clone Wars series, and recently turned up in Rebels as being one of the early movers and shakers behind the early Rebellion. The season two finale of Rebels--which saw Ahsoka face off against Darth Vader--left her ultimate fate pretty ambigious. While she might not return on Rebels anytime soon, executive producer Dave Filoni has all but confirmed that Ahsoka is very likely still alive out there.
So what if Ashoka is still alive in the time period when Luke is training his young Jedi apprentices? As a member of the Togruta species, she doesn't necessarily have to age at the same rate as a humans do, meaning 20 years after Return of the Jedi (or whenever this show is set) she could still be very much in her prime. In Rebels, Ahsoka no longer considered herself a Jedi, having been expelled from the order towards the end of Clone Wars under trumped up charges. After she was cleared of any wrongdoing, she chose not to become a Jedi again, because the Jedi Order didn't have her back when it counted.
But maybe Luke, being the only Jedi Master left, officially convinces Ahsoka to return to the Order, and help him train the next generation of Jedi. A Luke/Ahsoka dynamic is something fans would love to see, considering the fact that she's the only living being in the galaxy left who knew Luke's parents, especially his father. As Anakin's apprentice, she was something of a sister to him, making her Luke and Leia's de-facto aunt in a way--their only living link to a father whom they only really knew as a bad guy.
Of course, a show set in this time period would have some obstacles. For example, who would the villains be? The Empire is long gone at this point, and First Order is still years away from being active. Although we know next to nothing about the so-called "Knights of Ren"--it's possible these Dark Side users pre-date the First Oder and could be the show's main villains.
While I have no solid evidence, I think it's possible that this is where Lucasfilm animation is heading for their next series. First off, Filoni and crew love to touch on "lost eras" of Star Wars history for the animated shows. Luke's attempts at starting a new Jedi Order is now one of the biggest of these "lost eras." Secondly, Filoni himself was recently on the set of Episode VIII in the UK. Now, could he have been just using his Lucasfilm employee cred to get on the set and watch the movie being filmed? Sure. Or...maybe he needed to confer with Mark Hamill about something. Like coming back as the voice for Master Luke, maybe? Yes, it's all just conjecture, but it might not be far off.
Either in novels, comics, or video games, the untold story of Luke's Jedi school is something that will be touched upon one day by someone, so what better format to do it in than a new animated show? As with most things related to that galaxy far, far away, the possibilities are endless.
What do you think of Jedi Academy as a potential Star Wars spin-off animated show? And what would your ideal Star Wars animated series be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.