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I Love the Dave Filoni Cartoons... But the Character Design is Pretty Bad


Maybe I’m the only one to see it this way, but I really think that the characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels look nothing like they belong in the Star Wars universe.

Okay, most of the guys from the Clone War era look fine. It matches the prequel aesthetic, if a little cartoony - which I guess was the point. The clones themselves are kinda weird sometimes with their hair styles, but they keep their helmets on most of the time so no big deal. My main issue is with the crew of the Ghost. Zeb is pretty unapealing, even for a character who is supposed to be ugly, and Ezra’s and Kanan’s models make them look like they’re wearing body paint instead of clothes. Man, the artstyle switch really did this guys dirty.

But truly the worst one is Sabine. She’s got dyed hair and custom Mandalorian armor with graffiti and her skin looks so unnatural and weird. How am I supposed to believe that this character exists in the same galaxy and at the same as someone like Han Solo?

You know? I feel like I’m being too mean. Like I said, I truly like the stories and the characters from these two shows, but I just can’t get over how the styles seem to not even try to match the aesthetics from the original movies. You may say “Well, it’s a big galaxy, people look different” but these are just movies and shows - there should be a cohesive artstyle that ties them together and makes them feel like one big story instead of a multitude of smaller fragments written forty years apart… Which I mean, that’s what they are but… Let us pretend.

There’s a few other examples of this. Everything in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Han Solo movie looks a little too modern and videogame-like for me. And there’s some comic books where imperial characters are going around rocking fade cuts and stuff. But what do you think?

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I’m surprised you don’t like how the characters look in Rogue One - they were all designed to fit with the original trilogy aesthetic as much as possible. Actors for the Rebel pilots (or at least, the male ones) were even told to grow sideburns and moustaches to make it seem like a 70s movie. I personally think the film’s costume design nails the A New Hope vibe on the head.

I kind of get what you mean about the animated series character design though. It’s not that I dislike some of the more modern haircuts for characters - think of Howzer from The Bad Batch, for example - but can’t see them fitting in the original trilogy much either. Some clones do have some pretty silly haircuts which I dislike, but by and large I think TCW does alright at the costume design - although it’s hard to translate animated designs over to live action in your head sometimes. Rebels is a different matter. Although I’m a Rebels fan, particularly in the past I’ve thought that the colourful designs for characters such as Ezra and Kanan were too garish and cartoony (now I don’t mind it, I’ve gotten very used to the show’s own aesthetic). I do however disagree about Sabine’s design: she actually has my favourite character design out of all the Ghost crew. I’ve always loved the season 3 hairstyle in particular, although you’re right in saying that’s much more modern and again, doesn’t really carry across well to the original movies’ design sensibilities.

I think it can be agreed that many character designs look like they don’t belong in the universe as depicted by the OT. But I think the real question is whether it matters or not. Most characters from the movies in 1977 and the early 80s have haircuts that would have been commonplace around that time, because while Star Wars is set in a fictional galaxy, it definitely reflects the real world and the time in which it’s made. The same goes for modern star wars content, just fashion and design sensibilities have changed somewhat. I don’t mind that.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”