If you caught the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels, “Droids in Distress,” then you know already about the pretty awesome cameo in the last few seconds. Spoilers under the cut:
The crew of the Ghost needs money, so they take a job to steal illegal weapons for Vizago. Along the way they meet up with Artoo and Threepio, who are working for the minister who’s supposed to receive these crates. Turns out Artoo is under orders from his master to make sure the weapons don’t get into the hands of the Empire.
The episode ends with the Ghost returning the two droids to the Tantive IV and their rightful owner, Bail Organa. Threepio reassures Bail he never used his real name, only referring to him as their master, and Bail in turn asks to see the footage Artoo recorded of these Rebels.
The implications of this are pretty awesome: if Bail Organa is observing rebel cells, that means he’ll eventually be looking to unify them, which jives with what we already know about the formation of the Rebel Alliance. Second, it means we might get a bunch more awesome cameos and guest roles throughout the show.
Like, for example, ace pilot and all around awesome character Wedge Antilles.
Why Wedge, you ask? What makes this character who only has a handful of lines throughout the Original Trilogy the perfect candidate for a Rebels appearance?
Wedge is a Popular Movie Character
Before the X-Wing series of novels and comics, most people knew of Wedge as that guy who survived all three movies and helped blow up the second Death Star. That’s a pretty huge accomplishment when almost every pilot died in the Battle of Yavin. Sure, he had to pull out of the trench run, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great pilot. That means he knows the art of self-preservation, as well as how to take orders. His cool calm during the Battle of Endor is a further demonstration of how awesome he is.
Most Star Wars fans, even the ones unfamiliar with the Expanded Universe, know who Wedge Antilles is. Timothy Zahn included him in the Thrawn Trilogy novels not only because Wedge had survived all three movies, but also because fans had already showed a fondness for him. Imagine the field day Disney could have promoting Wedge’s appearance, just like Cartoon Network did with the appearances of Ackbar and Chewbacca in The Clone Wars.
He Has a Strong Expanded Universe Following
One of the reasons why the X-Wing series is so popular, other than the fun plot and good writing, is the characters. And one character in particular rocketed those books up the chart: Wedge Antilles. Mike Stackpole has said that Bantam was not expecting the X-Wing books to sell as well as they did, but so many readers wanted to learn more about the continuing adventures of Wedge Antilles that they became bestsellers.
Wedge had a lead role in the first nine X-Wing novels, Starfighters of Adumar being told entirely from his point of view, and he appeared in many other novels throughout both the Bantam and Del Rey timeline. He starred in the X-Wing comics, also written by Stackpole, where we learned even more about his backstory.
Using a character like Wedge, with such crossover movie and Expanded Universe fan appeal, would be a great move. Especially when so many fans are looking to see what parts of Legends will become canon under the Story Group. Wedge as a character might be canon, but his backstory isn’t.
And speaking of backstory…
The Writers Can Disregard or Use His Backstory as They See Fit
One of the great things about Wedge Antilles is that his backstory fits the atmosphere and story Rebels is trying to tell. He was an orphan who worked with smugglers before joining up with the Rebel Alliance. That sounds very similar to a lot of the Ghost‘s crewmembers. The writers wouldn’t even need to include specifics; just saying he’s an orphan is enough to garner sympathy, and leads the viewer to assume the Empire was involved in his family’s death.
But Filoni and company could also explain utilize the backstory Wedge already had (his parents were killed in an attack on the Gus Treta station). They could even tweak the backstory a bit so that the Empire is responsible for his family’s death instead of pirates, giving him an even greater connection to the crew of the Ghost. Changing who killed Wedge’s parents doesn’t kill the spirit of his character.
If the creators wanted to go even farther, the crew could first meet Wedge in the company of smugglers, one of whom could be named Booster. It’s just a suggestion!
Point is, it doesn’t really matter how they incorporate Wedge’s backstory. They could ignore all of it without explicitly contradicting anything, or they could throw a bone to EU fans and mention a few little things, like Booster. Either way, it’ll be perfect for the show.
No Retcons Needed
Wedge first shows up during the briefing on Yavin as an established part of the Rebel Alliance. Him having met the crew of the Ghost wouldn’t contradict anything from the films–he wouldn’t even have to know that Kanan and Ezra are Force sensitive. That way when he gets to be friends with Luke, people wouldn’t wonder why Wedge didn’t talk to him about those other Jedi he once knew.
Also, Wedge joining up with the Ghost a mission or two would be the perfect opportunity for him to jump ship to the Alliance proper. Since we now know that Bail Organa is keeping an eye on these local resistance cells, wouldn’t it make sense for him to somehow find out about Wedge and get him recruited? Maybe whoever’s in charge of recruitment doesn’t think the crew is ready yet, or maybe they don’t want to join up. Either way, Wedge leaving to join the Rebellion would be the perfect foreshadowing for the crew of Ghost eventually joining the Alliance. (Because in my headcanon Kanan and Ezra die, while Hera, Zeb, and Sabine end up smuggling supplies.)
And while Denis Lawson has said he’s not interested in playing Wedge in Episode VII, that doesn’t mean the character can’t show up. He’s not the only actor to portray Wedge Antilles, after all. (Remenber “Fake Wedge” from the briefing scene of A New Hope?) They could always recast he character, or even use Wedge’s son or daughter as a pilot for the Antilles name recognition. And what a better what to introduce Wedge to a younger generation than through Rebels?
(Especially if you want to have a Rogue Squadron tv show or spinoff film in the future. Just saying.)
He’s the Right Age for the Target Demographic
If they use his current backstory, Wedge would be around 15 or 16 at the start of the show (he’s a few years older than Luke). If they decide to use him later on in the series, so he can join the Alliance directly after his appearance, he’d be about 17 or 18. He’d fit right in with Ezra and Sabine, and younger fans would enjoy seeing another ace pilot in the show, especially one proficient in flying starfighters.
Speaking of ace pilots, how amazing would it be to see Hera giving him a few pointers? Or maybe even he and Hera flying together? MAKE IT HAPPEN, DAVE FILONI.
He is the Everyman
Wedge Antilles is so popular because he’s a normal guy. He doesn’t have the Force, he doesn’t come from royalty, he doesn’t have a cool ship or a Wookiee best friend. He’s just Wedge, a normal guy who can fly really, really, really well. Anyone can see themselves in him, and he becomes a vessel through which the audience experiences the saga. We need more of those kinds of people in Star Wars, because without them it makes the Luke Skywalkers way less interesting.
But then, as the story goes on and we learn more about him, we realize that Wedge is special, that he is incredibly awesome and just as cool as Luke, Han, or Leia. And that makes us like him even more. Because it makes us believe that we, too, can do great things. Just like Wedge.
Wedge Antilles is the embodiment of the idea that any person, no matter what their talents or their background, can make a difference to a larger cause. And that is why he needs to be in Rebels.