With all the acclaim given to Star Wars: The Clone Wars in recent years, it can be easy to overlook Dave Filoni’s other great animated Star Wars show, Star Wars Rebels. That makes some sense. For one, Rebels lacks the immediate proximity to a Star Wars property enjoyed by Clone Wars. While some familiar faces do appear, the show’s central cast is mostly populated with new characters. Many of the Rebels characters who are familiar originated in the earlier show, implying its higher importance. Furthermore, Clone Wars recently got a big injection of relevance by debuting a brand new (and final) season, which will also spin-off into another series, The Bad Batch, in the future. When one chooses which Star Wars animated show to jump into, Clone Wars seems an obvious choice.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to skip Rebels altogether. Not only does it continue some of Clone Wars’ best storylines in totally satisfying ways, it also developed its own great inner-mythology as well. Just look at the arc of Alexsandr Kallus, voiced by the great David Oyelowo.
Who Is This Character Again?
Rebels takes place during an era of Star Wars when the Empire is in full swing. It’s before A New Hope, so the Death Star is not yet operational, but Vader is definitely out there. And as we saw in Rogue One, it is a hard place to be if you oppose the Empire’s rule.
Alexsandr Kallus doesn’t have to worry about that because he’s an Empire man. Rebels enjoys its share of flashy villains – from the Inquisitors, to Thrawn, to Darth Vader himself – but Kallus starts as just another operative. As episodes progress, however, his shrewdness and allegiance to the Empire becomes more clear. It’s one of the things that awakens viewers to Rebels’ higher quality. By all accounts, Kallus should be a bland, almost throwaway character, another evil human just filling an Imperial uniform. You can easily imagine Vader choking him out as a punchline. But the more he appears, the more viewers learn to take him seriously. Rebels doesn’t whip out its big guns too often (until Thrawn shows up, anyway), so it’s good their Empire avatar is an effective one.
I’ll do my best to keep this free of spoilers for any potential Rebels viewers out there. Eventually Kallus experiences an event that sees him questioning the forces he so fervently serves. And from there, an already good character embarks on a journey that brings him to Star Wars greatness.
Does This Character Warrant a Toy?
Yes, Alexsandr Kallus deserves to be a toy, if only for having the biggest, boldest mutton chops in the galaxy. Rebels’ chronological era allows for glorious ‘70s haircuts and Kallus takes advantage of this perhaps more than any character. He’s just a human, sure, but facial hair like that deserves immortalization in plastic. Wrapped around multiple costumes to boot, as the character sports some great looks throughout the show.
And as a side note, it would be so great to one day get a live-action Kallus, who could also have a snazzy toy. It wouldn’t be hard. You just have to get the mutton chops right.
How Important Is This Character?
Kallus remains a side character throughout Star Wars Rebels, but he’s frequently utilized to great effect when he pops up. His journey is not as consequential as the arc enjoyed by the show’s Jedi, of course, but a ton of these various episodes would have gone differently without him around. Obviously, he is not such an effective a villain that all our heroes die. Still, the threat he poses is very real simply because the writing allows him to be smart, ruthless and filled with a kind of villainous integrity. If the Empire has middle-managers of this quality, their higher-ups must be really intense. (And on this show, they are.)
Is This a Secretly Great Star Wars Character?
Alexsandr Kallus is the quintessential secretly great Star Wars character. Rebels boasts many fans online, and its characters are beloved. You hear a lot about Ezra, Kanan and especially Chopper the droid. Kallus comes up less often. The guy gets overlooked.
And yet, he’s such a great character, one of the show’s absolute best. His transformation from “hey, it’s that guy with mutton chops again” to a villain you come to respect to…well, what he grows into later in the series is a hallmark of the kind of storytelling Dave Filoni brings to all these Star Wars series. You don’t have to make Kallus a three-dimensional character with a full story arc that invests audiences on a deeper level. The willingness to do so is what makes these shows so special.
There’s this lingering fantasy that we will someday see Rebels characters in a live-action Star Wars show. As I displayed above, I indulge in it as well. And why not? We got two animated characters in The Mandalorian, let’s get some more! But as much as I’d love to see the continuing adventures of Ezra Bridger, I’ll be sad if they don’t include at least an appearance by Kallus.
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