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Star Wars Fans Just Got Seriously Exciting News

Star Wars: The Clone Wars may have ended, but that doesn't mean everything's over. Big news just landed from the galaxy far, far away: a spin-off animated series has been confirmed to be in development. Its focus will be the infamous Bad Batch, a group of specialized clone soldiers featured in the series' final season. It couldn't be more exciting or encouraging news — Dave Filoni, original executive producer of Clone Wars and The Mandalorian, will be returning to storyboard duty once more, along with several other Clone Wars alumni. There's no hard release date beyond some point in 2021, but that's hardly ever slowed the roll of any Star Wars fan before.

The napkin pitch from Lucasfilm Animation is intriguing right out of the gate: "The series follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War... In the post-Clone War era, they will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose." Let's get into just who these bad boys are, what this means for the continued expansion of the post-prequel canon, and why even the uninitiated can get excited about new, more niche Star Wars content.

Who are the Bad Batch and what's their place in the Star Wars canon?

If you haven't finished binging Clone Wars, let's get caught up on who and what this is all about. The Bad Batch as a concept represents one of the last direct contributions to Star Wars canon from George Lucas himself. Lucas, given his lifelong interest in military history and specifically World War II, thought it appropriate that the clone army have its own Marine-esque special force of uniquely-trained men for performing extremely high-risk missions.

They're a group of elite clone soldiers, but unlike their Kaminoan kin, each of these clones has received genetic modification to specialize in one combat trait — and this also means they each look a little different from the other and the rest of the clones, who they refer to as "regs." Their nicknames denote their specialties: Wrecker for strength, Tech for superlative computer knowledge, Crosshairs for sniping, and Hunter for all-around enhanced sensory ability. The four-episode arc in which they are featured also adds a fifth member to their team in Echo, a clone trooper that was turned into a cyborg after being held prisoner by Separatists, and there's every reason to believe he'll still be there come the full series.

Some speculation has been made before now about the fate of these clones. Their arc ended before the infamous Order 66 — the Emperor's final betrayal of the Republic wherein he activated embedded control chips in all clones' brains to execute the Jedi — was given. A few other clone troopers have since been shown in Star Wars: Rebels to have either removed or otherwise deactivated their chips, so it seems like we'll learn how the Bad Batch also somehow avoided being used as genocidal pawns as well.

A very long time coming indeed

The Bad Batch earning a full series order is an impressive culmination of years' worth of development. Lucas originally conceived of these special lads with Clone Wars executive producer Dave Filoni; the episodes in which they are featured were greenlit for the premiere of the then-planned seventh season, and had even reached the previsual development stage in 2013 when the original run of Clone Wars was canceled in the wake of Disney's acquisition of Star Wars from Lucas. The pre-vis story reels for each of those four episodes were eventually shown at a convention in 2015. That seemed to be the end of not just the Bad Batch, but Clone Wars as a whole for five long years, despite some stirring of hopes when Clone Wars was announced as part of official Disney reboot canon in 2014.

Tireless fan lobbying over those years eventually granted Clone Wars a final seventh season in 2019 — and, it appears, that revival performed so successfully that Disney has granted the Bad Batch their spin-off. It's unclear if the creation of these characters was originally intended as a kind of backdoor pilot, but even if that had been the case, it wouldn't have happened in that time and place. It has been a long, long time coming, but Clone Wars and its characters are finding the acclaim and wider audience for which fans have long hoped, and Filoni et al's take on prequel-era Star Wars history will continue to expand.