New 'Star Wars' Cartoon Shorts Debut Online, Bringing Female Heroes in Full Force

Marcus Errico
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

The latest Star Wars story has arrived. And you can watch it right here.

Today marks the debut of Star Wars Forces of Destiny, a series of original animated shorts set in that galaxy far, far away and focusing on the franchise’s roster of female heroes. The first installment, titled “Sands of Jakku,” covers a moment not seen in The Force Awakens: Rey (voiced by Daisy Ridley) and BB-8 must escape a ravenous, metal-craving Nightwatcher worm (which keen-eyed film viewers briefly spotted early on in the film) on their way to Niima Outpost — the place where they eventually meet Finn.

BB-8 in peril in “Sands of Jakku” (Credit: Lucasfilm)

Lucasfilm Animation has produced an initial run of 16 shorts. New shorts will arrive daily at YouTube.com/Disney ahead of their broadcast premiere on the Disney Channel on July 9. Future episodes will center on Princess Leia, Padmé Amidala, Rogue One‘s Jyn Erso, The Clone Wars fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, and Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, with each installment narrated by Maz Kanata and featuring John Williams’s seminal soundtrack.

In addition to Ridley, film stars John Boyega (Finn), Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Lupita Nyong’o (Maz) will reprise their roles, as will key talent from the TV series Clone Wars and Rebels, including Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), Tiya Sicar (Sabine), and Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla).

“The movies tell these epic heroes’ journeys, big pieces of mythology,” Carrie Beck, VP of Lucasfilm Story and Animation and a producer of Forces of Destiny, told Yahoo Movies earlier this year. “For this, we thought these stories could tell those moments of everyday heroism… the kind of stories that would be appropriate over two to three minutes.”

Beck says that new and casual fans will be able to enjoy the shorts, “but if you know anything about the Star Wars franchise, these stories are additive. They tell you a piece you don’t already know and give you additional expression of some of your favorite characters.” She also promises that the shorts will be “authentic.”

All of the episodes will be considered canonical to the Star Wars universe, with some riffing on story lines ultimately cut from the movies. For example, “Beasts of Echo Base” riffs on deleted scenes from The Empire Strikes Back and finds Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO trying to prevent a Wampa incursion at the Rebel headquarters on Hoth.

To complement the cartoons, Disney, Lucasfilm, and Hasbro have created a line of books, role-play toys (including Rey’s staff from The Force Awakens), and “Adventure Figures” — an 11-inch doll/action figure hybrid — arriving in stores Aug. 1.

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