There is perhaps no hotter commodity right now than the Star Wars franchise, and the upcoming release of big screen venture The Force Awakens has had film fans in a tizzy ever since the first teasers were released. Fortunately for fans of the Star Wars universe on the small screen, Disney XD has officially announced that the animated series Star Wars Rebels has been renewed for a third season.

Star Wars Rebels covers the years in the Star Wars universe spanning from the end of Revenge of the Sith and the beginning of A New Hope. The gap era betweens Episodes III and IV of the film franchise is one that was ripe for exploration. After all, the universe didn’t just stop developing while Luke Skywalker learned to bulls-eye womp rats and Leia learned to become more than just a princess, and civilized society had a lot of breaking down to do after Revenge of the Sith and before the events of A New Hope.

The Disney XD installment in the Star Wars canon has been a huge critical and popular hit for the network. Star Wars Rebels was renewed for a second season back before most viewers were even able to see the first. The plot of the second season was no doubt helped by the appearance of none other than Darth Vader himself. Unlike the heroes who quite literally still have a lot of growing up to do or are still languishing in exile in the chronology of Rebels, the villains of the original trilogy are fair game, and Vader had nearly two decades of nefarious deeds to do before he would encounter Obi Wan on the Death Star.

We may not get to see Luke or Leia or Han to represent the good guys on Rebels, but the original characters for Disney XD are more than compelling enough to carry the show. The adventures of Kanan and Co. are so thrilling and substantial on their own that there can be no doubt that Disney would have a hit even if not for the forthcoming premiere of the next Star Wars film. We can't say for sure whether or not The Force Awakens will fall closer to Phantom Menace than Empire Strikes Back in terms of quality, but Star Wars Rebels is an option for ongoing Star Wars action that is definitely worth watching. The franchise may be known for its films, but this show can stand on its own. The renewal for a third season is a good sign that Disney plans on keeping Star Wars going strong on television as well as film.

Star Wars Rebels airs on Wednesday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET on Disney XD.

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