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Producer And Head Writer Lays Down The Surprising Inspiration Behind Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Despite the title, most "Star Wars" movies aren't really war stories. Sure, the conflicts between the Republic and the Separatists, the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, and the Resistance and the First Order provide background, but the action rarely focuses on the everyday men and women on the front lines. In the films, our attention is on the big-name heroes. The Jedi, the Sith, the infamous smugglers, the other big players, and the sprawling mythology that ties them all together is the real draw. In the "Star Wars" cartoons, however, it's different. "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" split its time evenly between the larger-than-life Jedi and the grunts fighting down in the trenches, becoming one of the most beloved "Star Wars" stories ever in the process. The latest animated series, "Star Wars: Bad Batch," doubles down on this approach. While you'll catch a lightsaber or two in passing, "The Bad Batch" is about a group of clone commandos who find themselves caught up in the transition from the Republic to the Galactic Empire, suddenly robbing them of their place in the galaxy.

As producer Brad Rau explained at a press conference, spotlighting the life of everyday people opened up a whole new side of the "Star Wars" universe that hasn't really been explored. "None of them are really equipped to go out into the world," Rau says. "How do they eat? They don't have a mess hall to go to. How do they get their gear fixed? How do they get fuel for their ship? These are all things that, wait a minute, oh yeah, we didn't have to deal with that last week."

For producer and lead writer Jennifer Corbett, the emphasis on a soldier's experience struck a more personal chord. Before she became a writer on the naval-themed "NCIS" and "Star Wars Resistance," Corbett was an officer in the United States Navy, and her time in the military was one of the things that immediately drew her to the show.

Why the relationship between the members of the Bad Batch is a lot like a real military unit

The Bad Batch aren't your run-of-the-mill clones, of course. They're defective units — hence the name — and, while they've been able to turn those flaws into strengths, it does isolate them from their fellow Republic soldiers. As such, they've found solace in each other, and they've grown very close as they've accompanied one another on missions throughout the galaxy. That bond resonated with Corbett immediately. "I understand how people in the military become like brothers and sisters very closely when you're sent on missions together," she says, "when you're in close quarters and the camaraderie and also the banter that comes with living with people so closely in high stress situations."

In that way, Corbett says, the relationship between the members of the Bad Batch echoes that of actual soldiers. "I think that speaks to the military," she explains. "No one comes from the same background and everybody has their different reasons for doing what they're doing. And it is a family dynamic in real life." In terms of writing the show, that's where Corbett's military experience pays off the most. "I think that's what I try to bring to it is how this squad, even though they are these elite soldiers, they are this family, but they don't have to agree all the time," she says, "because they're also very different."

"Star Wars: The Bad Batch" premieres on Disney+ on May 4, 2021. Subsequent episodes drop every Friday.