Star Wars: The Bad Batch was one of the few Disney Investor features we were already aware of prior to December's event, having been announced earlier this year. The series is set after season seven of The Clone Wars (which was broadcast at the beginning of last year on Disney+) and acts as a spin-off sequel, featuring the eponymous Clone Force 99 a.k.a. the Bad Batch, a group of clones who had genetic mutations which gave them unique abilities and thus acted as a special force group.
We first saw the Bad Batch as part of The Clone Wars Legacy in 2015. Unfinished episodes were shown at Celebration Anaheim and then later released for free on the Star Wars website. When The Clone Wars was revived for a final season, the four "The Bad Batch' episodes retained their place as the season opener, with completed graphics and animation and minor scene alterations or additions.
I wasn't particularly impressed by the Bad Batch as characters
While I enjoyed the four-episode arc as a pretty standard episode of The Clone Wars, I wasn't particularly impressed by the Bad Batch as characters. They seemed as noteworthy as a vast majority of original characters to the series, but by far were they the stand-out elements or the most rememberable characters from the show, compared to characters like Cad Bane. That's not to say I didn't think they were a bad addition to the Star Wars lore, but just one of many. Maybe I was turned off by their stereotypes and tropes. You had the dumb brute, the quiet sniper, the awkward hacker, and the action hero leader. Tropes in Star Wars isn't a bad thing (in fact, as people often forget, Star Wars at its heart is essentially retellings and homages to cinematic tropes) - but it still excels where it puts its own twist and spin on them. None of that was present in here, and the Bad Batch were barely the focus of their own arc. Wrecker - the 'dumb brute' - was perhaps the most tiring aspect.
So for me, learning they had earned themselves a spin-off seemed surprising. The series retains the animation style and quality of the final season of The Clone Wars. People have been heavily critical of the early style and quality used in the series, but have also noted that as it continued, it improved significantly. The trailer is fast-paced and cuts through a variety of scenes. One of the elements I noticed was several prominent shots of Clone Force 99's ship approaching several planets; the shots are all very similar except for the planet in question, which seems to suggest to me that the trailer is implying the show will involve following the Bad Batch across several planets. Likely, it will follow the episodic-arc structure of The Clone Wars where several episodes focused on one story and then we move onto another.
We will see something of the evolution between the Grand Army of the Republic into the Imperial Army
I also noticed droids with a close resemblance to the Dark Troopers featured in the recent season of The Mandalorian; several scenes featuring battle droids and Grand Army of the Republic armaments may suggest some episodes flashback to events during the Clone Wars. Finally, we are introduced to a character who it has recently been announced is Fennec Shand, voiced by Ming-Na Wen reprising her role originated in The Mandalorian. While the character has been well received during her live-action appearances, this character's involvement was likely written in before her season two episodes were broadcast. It's unclear if she is a recurring character or limited to one of the arcs.
But for me, the most interesting element is the implication we will see something of the evolution between the Grand Army of the Republic into the Imperial Army. This transition has been portrayed in Legends EU, but in terms of the on-screen output of this franchise, our exploration of events between Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope often focuses more on the Rebellion side than the Empire, and almost always after the Imperial Army has formed its new identity. I am very curious to know about the early days of the clones finding their new role as enforcers of an empire, as that was presumably a change within a certain period of time. Of course, it's not clear how much of the series will focus on this, but the trailer implied there would be some, and this was enough to overturn my initial reservations. Hopefully, it will also make up for the very tropey appearance of the Bad Batch and develop better characters.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is due to premiere on Disney+ some time this year.