Star Wars TV is returning to animation with The Clone Wars' seventh and final season on Disney+. This last batch of episodes promises to finish the story that George Lucas started years ago before the show was cancelled. Star Wars TV did continue after Clone Wars, with Star Wars Rebels jumping ahead in the timeline to cover the final years before A New Hope. According to one star, the end of Rebels had an impact on Clone Wars' final season, despite Rebels ending nearly 20 years after Clone Wars Season 7 in the Star Wars timeline.
Dee Bradley Baker is a key part of The Clone Wars as the voice of all the clones, and he was able to reprise some of those roles years later to play older versions of Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor on Rebels. Against all odds, Rex and Ahsoka of Clone Wars fame both survived all the way through the events of the original trilogy. Baker spoke with CinemaBlend about all things Star Wars, and said this when asked about transitioning from Clone Wars to Rebels the Clone Wars again:
First of all, Clone Wars finished and I thought that was it. It was just kind of, 'Well, that was a once-in-a-lifetime project and I'm sad that we could not finish it. I'm sad that a lot of what we produced would never see the light of day, but that's how it goes. It's showbiz.' But I harbored the wish that if the genie could appear [laughs] and offer me one Hollywood wish, it would have been to go back in and finish The Clone Wars. Not just for myself, but also for the fans…. And then to hear that we were going to go back in and finish that after they had brought back the clones, the old clones in Rebels for a while there, and then we learned that Rex at least made it all the way to Endor. That was the icing on the cake.
Thanks to Star Wars Rebels ending with the reveal that Rex survived to the end of the Battle of Endor, Dee Bradley Baker had some "icing on the cake" along with the eventual news that Clone Wars was getting a revival. Considering the final season of Rebels also delivered some heartbreak and at least one shocker, Rex's survival was definitely positive news for many fans as well.
Although The Clone Wars (which was originally a lot more like Rebels) has 12 episodes to finish telling Rex's story before the rise of the Empire, it's safe to say that he counts as a hero of the Clone Wars, and not just because he has his chip removed before he can be forced to participate in Order 66. Rex manages to be a hero in two major galactic wars on two Star Wars shows, and that's no mean feat.
As a longtime Star Wars fan himself, Dee Bradley Baker elaborated on the transition as Rex between Clone Wars and Rebels:
I don't know that I will ever be happier with an assignment as a voice actor or if I'll ever be on a better show. I certainly don't think I'll ever see anything like this again. It's so unique and such a creative and interesting challenge, and one that connects back into my life as a kid. I was a big Star Wars fan when it originally came out. I'm old enough to admit that. What could be better than to go back in after finally affirming that at least a few clones grew old and made it through? And at least one made it to Endor.
News of the Clone Wars revival didn't break until after Rebels wrapped, and Dave Filoni (who has been instrumental to both series) spoke with CinemaBlend in 2018 about connections between the two shows. Filoni shared that he had to "look at [Clone Wars] in reverse" and "look at all the things I did with Ahsoka and Rex" in Rebels" when it came to crafting the final season of those characters' original series.
When I asked Dee Bradley Baker if he felt Rex's Clone Wars arc was guided by Rex's Rebels future, as Dave Filoni said after the revival news broke, Baker gave this response:
Well, I always keep that personally in mind of who's going to make it out of this! [laughs] Because I'm on board with these clones and I want them to get the job done and I want them to survive and to make it through and it just breaks my heart when you lose one or many of them, because they're each individuals. They are to me, and I think they are to the fans too. So yeah, it's always nice to show up to a gig and know that your character is not going to die. [laughs]
Are some clones going to die during the final season of The Clone Wars? Almost certainly! Is Rex going to be one of those clones to die? Definitely not! Good old Captain Rex has at least another two-and-a-half decades to go fighting the good fight. Is anybody else crossing their fingers for Rex on The Mandalorian?
Dee Bradley Baker continued sharing his feelings about going into The Clone Wars secure in the knowledge that at least Rex wasn't going to die in the final season:
That was kind of a new feeling, that framed my sessions for The Clone Wars, the final season. Because always before in the old days when we did The Clone Wars, there was never any promise that anybody was going to survive except for, you know, Obi-Wan and Anakin and such. But the clones, that was never a given, not even for Rex. So I never knew. Now coming into it, I know at the very least, 'Well, we're not going to finish The Clone Wars by killing off Rex.' That was at least of some comfort to me.
Many of the characters in The Clone Wars' final season are doomed to fans who have seen Revenge of the Sith or learned Depa Billaba's fate courtesy of Star Wars Rebels, with the obvious exceptions of characters like (as Dee Bradley Baker noted) Anakin and Obi-Wan. Without Rex's ending in Rebels, Baker would have had to go in to Clone Wars Season 7 without necessarily knowing that any of the clones would survive in the long run!
As for what it means to Dee Bradley Baker to contribute to the finished product of The Clone Wars and what's in store with the final episodes, he shared what fans can look forward to:
To go back in and then finish what George [Lucas] and Dave [Filoni] started with The Clone Wars in a really spectacular fashion, that is above and beyond what they were able to produce before. It really looks outstanding and the production of it is lush and more sophisticated than ever before. And it's just great story. It's great storytelling and it's great fun. It's great. I mean, it's very exciting.
No matter if The Clone Wars ends ahead of Revenge of the Sith, during Revenge of the Sith, or with an epilogue like Rebels did, the end won't kill off Rex, and the final run will look spectacular. Fans can still worry about pretty much everybody else, but not Rex and not that the animation and storytelling will be subpar! All things considered, fans should get plenty of Rex in the final season thanks to the "Bad Batch" arc that kicks off Season 7.
The Clone Wars' seventh and final season premieres Friday, February 21 on Disney+. You can catch the first six seasons streaming on Disney+ as well, along with the entire run of Star Wars Rebels, the Star Wars prequel and original trilogies, and much more.