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If you’re hungry for new Star Wars canon before The Last Jedi comes out, you don’t have long to wait. Forces of Destiny is a new series of animated shorts, aimed at younger viewers but still satisfying for old-school fans.
Screenwriter Jennifer Muro (Lego DC Super Hero Girls) created the series with the Lucasfilm Story Group, featuring voice work from Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones, and Lupita Nyong’o. It expands on Star Wars canon with bite-size stories, beginning with an adventure starring Rey and BB-8 during The Force Awakens. Daily episodes will explore unseen moments with popular characters from the franchise, ranging from TV characters like Hera Syndulla to A-listers like Leia.
In advance of the first episode, we spoke with Jennifer Muro about her vision for the series and what it was like to work on new Star Wars canon.
What was the creative process like for devising the individual episodes? Did Lucasfilm suggest ideas for each character, or did you pitch to them?
I pitched some to them, and some we figured out together. It was kind of a mixed bag with the Lucasfilm Story Group, which was fantastic; it was a really great creative process between the both of us. Sometimes we just have an idea and then build on it, and sometimes I come in with the whole thing.
Would you say there are overall themes that tie the series together?
Basically I think everyday heroism is the theme. Heroic moments both big and small that shape the characters. I’d say that’s probably the biggest theme.
Young girls aren’t always catered to by geek media. How did that play into your writing process?
I guess female-driven heroism is a theme of mine in general. I always bring that kind of show of strength and try to bring that to the character. I always try to have a little bit of humor in there, so we remember that they’re human, and that they make mistakes, and they make choices. That’s definitely a theme in a lot of the stuff I write.
The characters range from really famous examples like Leia, to some of the lesser-known characters from the animated shows. Do you have any particular favorites?
It was a thrill for me personally to write for Leia in the original trilogy. I think that’s always a dream come true for anyone who’s a huge fan, especially an original fan. So that was thrilling, just to be able to kind of tell stories in that world, in those movies that we love so much.
But just as important to me personally were Rey and Jyn. It was a thrill to write for all of them, but it’s really hard to beat Leia, for me.
They’re quite short episodes. How did you approach writing these two-, three-minute self-contained stories?
It was a challenge, but not too difficult a one. I think it’s just showing a moment in the characters’ lives and how they handle their own challenge. Obviously as a writer I always write more than we ended up needing, but then you boil it down to the core of what we’re trying to say. But I think it’s enough of a taste of each of these moments to really enjoy them.
One of the big draws of this series is they brought back Daisy Ridley and other Star Wars actresses. Did you work with any of them in person?
Some of the bigger actors, they’re so busy doing all their movies that they’re patched in. I’m in Los Angeles, so sometimes people aren’t around. Obviously I work more with Tiya [Sircar] and Ashley [Eckstein] and those guys a little bit more, which is great. I’ve known them a little bit. It was fun to be in the studio with a lot of the animated guys.
You’ve written shows for other existing properties like DC and Marvel. How does Star Wars compare to that?
I think anything that’s really high-profile like that, that fans really… there’s always a pressure that comes with that. Star Wars is a little more than that, because Star Wars is a category on its own, and I have a deeper hand in that than the other projects. They’re each an honor in their own way, to be able to write for these guys.
Forces of Destiny premieres on YouTube on July 3 and on the Disney Channel on July 9.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor