When the Star Wars Rebels mid-season 3 trailer dropped, it showed off Saw Gerrera making his way back to animation, Sabine Wren using the Darksaber, the ever-conniving Grand Admiral Thrawn, and then, finally, Darth Maul heading to Tatooine, where he found Obi-Wan (or is it Old Ben?) Kenobi.
That last bit, of course, set fandom aflame, but it also brought up some real concerns. When you dance this closely to the story of the original Star Wars trilogy, your story is getting much riskier.
"Everything has to make sense from a story standpoint, and if it makes sense and it's valuable to the character's past, then I don't think you hesitate to do it," Dave Filoni told ComicBook.com of using Ben Kenobi. "I think you have to have a lot of good reasons when you do things and work it out, and you hope things work out as you imagined them and designed them."
Ultimately, though, it wasn't Ben Kenobi he had to specifically be wary of changing or affecting - he's a guest in this story, and the people it genuinely affects need to be the central characters, like Ezra.
"Certainly these characters aren't foreign to me having worked here so long. So, I'm pretty confident when going into them what they're about, but you do tread carefully because you can't do it just because you're trying to add something [to the guest star's past]. I've always said, it's the same thing with Ahsoka. It has to be valuable to Ezra. This experience, whatever it is, whatever form it takes, has to be valuable to the characters that are the center of Star Wars Rebels."
What Filoni and the Rebels team don't want to do is make this into fan service for fan service's sake.
"There are a lot of things that I could do in Star Wars, and I try to do things that work with the story group to be true to the characters and where they need to go. It's surprising sometimes where they go. I would say it's surprising at the end of the day, and I don't want to give anything away, if we wind up in the presence of an old wizard, that would be a surprising thing to pull off," he said, at first dancing around actually saying Kenobi's name despite his presence in the trailer. "It's not the most surprising thing to attempt to include Obi-Wan, and we've been, I think, pretty good. The way we included him in the pilot of Rebels, I really liked because it was a way to have him without really interfering, and it spoke to a moment in time for the characters. So, obviously I've been very fortunate over the years when we do do these Legacy characters. James Arnold Taylor was playing him in Clone Wars brilliantly and did a fantastic job, and then brought that back in Rebels when he's playing the Clone Wars era Obi-Wan. I have Stephen Stanton now, who's portraying this particular, if that's Obi-Wan (laughs), whoever it is."
So while using a character like that requires a little extra "care and respect" than even the average character, "you're cautious when you do it, but if it makes sense for the story, it's fine."
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD.
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