Midi-chlorians. To many Star Wars fans it's a dirty word. Used for the first time in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, midi-chlorians were a genetic and biological component to a character's affinity with and ability to use the Force. Tiny organisms that lived in a person's bloodstream, the mid-chlorians tuned sensitives like the Jedi and the Sith to the Force. The high midi-chlorian count in Anakin Skywalker's bloodstream was said to indicate he was the "chosen one."
But since, that "dirty word" has been mostly ignored. It got a bit of a mention in Revenge of the Sith and a cursory mention on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the first animated series showrun by Dave Filoni, who is now exploring the Force in new ways on Star Wars Rebels. When sitting down with Comicbook.com at Star Wars Celebration Europe, Filoni told us about the Force, and tried to explain what midi-chlorians really mean, and why they're not a bad thing.
"To me, when you talk about the Force, the Force is in everything that's alive; that's what Obi-Wan says originally. That's true, even in the days of midi-chlorians, which everybody is afraid to talk about, but I'm not," Filoni told Comicbook.com at a press roundtable. "What that tells you is – when I was a kid, I believed that everybody probably had the Force, and they just didn't believe – midi-chlorians actually prove that theory out. We all have them, just to differing degrees.
"For a long time I've used someone like Bruce Lee as an example. He has, if you like, a lot of talent for martial arts – or a very high midi-chlorian count. If I train in martial arts, can I learn martial arts? Yes, I can improve my midi-chlorian count in that discipline. Will I be as good as Bruce Lee? No, that's not my talent. We were always able to find real-world equivalencies to Star Wars to make comparisons that make it feel like it's a real thing. When I talk about Force sensing, I talk about when you are standing somewhere and you don't know but you feel someone standing behind you. It's all extensions of those things on a much broader level. The Jedi and Sith have one way of interpreting that."
Essentially, Filoni says, midi-chlorians are a physical manifestation of a meta-physical concept. He went on to explain that natural talent, combined with training and discipline, create the best Force users, just like it does the best athletes, or musicians, or anything else that requires talent.
Star Wars Rebels returns Fall 2016.