Most talent would be happy to land a role in the ever-growing Star Wars universe of movies, TV shows and animated series, but veteran voice actor gets to do it all not just once, twice, three times or four times, but five all at once, with his voice starring role in Disney+’s new animated spin-off, Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Following seven seasons of the hit Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, which ended its run with a bang with the final Siege of Mandalore story arc delivering high-octane lightsaber action, heartrending moments, and narrative tie-ups to the canonical movie universe, Lucasfilm is not closing that final chapter, and continuing the series’ legacy in a new animated show.
Releasing on May the 4th, The Bad Batch follows an elite team of experimental clones who had gone rogue after Admiral Tarkin called for their termination. The titular Bad Batch comprises leader and stoic soldier Hunter, former ARC Trooper turned cyborg, Echo, computer and weapons specialist, Tech, the hulk of the team aptly called Wrecker, and lastly, team sniper, Crosshair.
Speaking at a press conference alongside head writer Jennifer Corbett and producer Brad Rau with Geek Culture in attendance, the bad boy behind The Bad Batch, Dee Bradley Baker, whose voice has traversed the world of Star Wars in The Clone Wars and Rebels, shared that voicing many characters at one go is like an easy magic trick.
For starters, each of The Bad Batch characters are different from one another, unlike the clones in The Clone Wars. Commending the clear writing, jumping from character to character “feels like I’m jumping from rock to rock on a stream.”
“I can see the rock, I can see the [characters], I feel like I know them, and it actually helps that they’re they’re further differentiated vocally, and also in terms of their personality and their mood, so it comes off looking as more of a magic trick, than it does maybe with the clones,” said Dee.
Set in a post-Clone Wars world, the Bad Batch, like other clones, were created to fight for the Republic. Whilst the elite team of soldiers were capable in taking out enemies, their deviance and inability to conform to orders have now become a problem when the Empire was formed, and when Palpatine’s Order 66 kicked in.
“This time period is one of the reasons I got so excited about the show. Other than this oddball group of characters, I found it intriguing and engaging to watch a series where the question became ‘What happens after the war’s over?’”, asked Corbett.
“What happens to all these clones who all they know is being soldiers, especially for the Bad Batch who do things differently as it is with the Republic and how they react to this new environment and the new way of doing things and new way of following rules which again isn’t their, their favorite thing to do.”
“It was interesting to just sort of 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. This is kind of like the early stages and 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 and it’s kind of just laying the groundwork for what, everyone knows the Empire to be later on.”
As hinted in the trailer, The Bad Batch later come across a girl named Omega, who squirreled her way into the hearts of the unit. Whilst early episodes have yet to reveal how integral she is to the overall narrative, viewers will easily be able to notice parallels between Hunter and Omega’s relationship and Din Djarin and Grogu’s relationship in The Mandalorian.
“It’s interesting in terms of the story, in the writing, to have this kind of personal relationship with a younger character, and to see how that changes and how they accommodate that and how that works because it’s more of like an uncle-niece, or a father-child dynamic, but not entirely because Omega has her own interesting potential of powers and so it’s interesting to see all of that unfold,” said Dee.
“I think it connects you to the story in a personal way so it’s not just an action story as Star Wars never is. There’s a personal story that’s also playing out as well that connects you to the entire story.”
Producer Rau adds, “This family dynamic [makes] the stories emotionally charged and emotionally based and it gives the action a lot more texture honestly. Let’s face it, we’re blowing stuff up and we’re having fun doing that but to have the emotional context helps. We are coming into characters that are familiar and yet we don’t know that much about them and it gives us room to kind of play around with how those characters develop.”
For head writer Corbett, the familial relationship within Clone Force 99 struck a chord. This is especially since the 40-year old served the United States Navy and is no stranger to the types of relationships depicted on screen.
“When I saw the original story arc for the Bad Batch that was meant for The Clone Wars in the final season, I immediately responded to it because I got the dynamic between this squad and I understand how people in the military become like brothers and sisters very closely when you’re sent on missions together when you’re in close quarters. The camaraderie and also the banter that comes with living with people so closely in high-stress situations – that’s what I try to bring to this – how this squad, even though they are these elite soldiers, they are this family,” shared Corbett.
“They don’t have to agree all the time and each of them brings different perspectives because they’re also very different and I think that speaks to the military – no one comes from the same background. Everybody has their different reasons for doing what they’re doing, and it is a family dynamic in real life.”
Whilst The Bad Batch looks at another series of events and characters entirely, it doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor, The Clone Wars. From the get go, The Bad Batch maintains the same visual style as The Clone Wars, unlike the other Star Wars animated shows Resistance and Rebels, which have gone on to adopt their own aesthetics. According to Rau, the similarity was intentional to “honour the style and the legacy” of The Clone Wars.
The transformation from Republic to Empire is a profound moment in the entire story of Star Wars and The Bad Batch is the first and only series to cover the impact of the wars and the gradual change. The series attempts to shed light on the political tensions and divide as well as deliver hard action loved by Star Wars fans of all ages. Smartly weaving topics of chosen family and loyalty, The Bad Batch proves that it’s not to be missed, not with everything up their sleeves.
“There’s a lot there to unpack and it’s coming,” teased Dee before letting out a devious laugh. “There’s always a plan.”
Star Wars: The Bad Batch premieres on Disney+ on 4 May 2021.