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How the Bad Batch uses color to show the Empire’s rise

Wrecker and the rest of the Bad Batch meet Omega
Wrecker and the rest of the Bad Batch meet Omega. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for the first three episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

The Bad Batch shows how the Star Wars galaxy shifts to grey.

In a new interview, the producers of the new animated series detail how choices in color showcase the shift in the Star Wars galaxy from the Republic to the Empire and how that affects the clone characters…despite some controversy. 

The Dark Times

In A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi refers to the Empire’s rise as “the Dark Times.” The Bad Batch producers took that literally.

Talking to Den of Geek, showrunners Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau detailed how they approached this period, just as the Republic transforms into the Empire, with a new color scheme. 

As Rau explained, removing some of the color motifs shows how the Clone armies go from a bright force protecting the Republic to the oppressive force of the movies.

“Seeing the clone troopers now as the bad guys was really interesting. We started taking all the color off their uniforms, off their ships, off the tanks, and putting that Imperial cog in there. When you see an Imperial cog on gray, wow! That’s the Empire. We also tweaked the sound of their voices.”

Corbett added how this plays into the idea of many worlds happy to see the Clone Wars over and not grasping the Republic has been transformed into a dark dictatorship.

Suddenly the Jedi are gone, Emperor Palpatine is in power, and there’s a massive army at his disposal. Putting it in real-world terms, there’d be what the Empire would call insurgent groups, and of course, the Empire wants to extinguish that in order to expand their control in different systems. Of course, they’re trying not to seem evil in the very beginning, but it’s a slow progression to get the galactic dominance that we see in the Original Trilogy.”

The “New” Clones

The Bad Batch encounters some dining hall drama. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

Another striking part is how the personalities of the clones have also changed dramatically as the series begins.

As soon as Palpatine enacts Order 66, the inhibitor chips embedded in the clones make them turn on the Jedi. The Batch soon realizes this also turns the clones into obedient drones, rather than the individual personalities they had. 

Whereas many clone troopers went out of their way to be addressed by names, they now answer only to their serial numbers.

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Corbett noted this is a deliberate choice to show how these new clones pave the way for the Stormtroopers, who are also seen as nothing more than numbers to the Empire. 

The Republic allowed the clone troopers to have names and embraced them having opinions, where once Order 66 happens and the Empire comes over, as Brad was saying, their armor color is completely bleached and they’re a number. In worse cases, they’re less than a number. The wild card is the Batch. They never fit in with the Republic and definitely not with this Empire!”

The biggest turn is that Batch member Crosshair was affected by the chip himself and brainwashed to become a “good soldiers obey orders” type to the point he executes one of his own men who refuses to shoot unarmed civilians. 

The evolution of the clone armies into the Stormtroopers is another subtle subplot for the series.

The whitewashing controversy

Clone Force 99 in Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Clone Force 99 in Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Pic credit: Lucasfilm

As fun as the shifting colors for the show can be, it has created an unexpected backlash.

As all the clones are from the DNA of Jango Fett, they resemble actor Temuera Morrison, with dark skin. That has been true from the Clone Wars series to the appearance of aged clone Rex on Rebels

It makes sense for the Batch not to be exact physical copies as they are “defective” clones and thus differences from facial structure to Wrecker being a larger figure while Tech is thinner. 

However, it appears Wrecker and Hunter have darker skin tones than Tech and Crosshair, while young clone Omega appears purely Caucasian. Also, young Jedi Caleb Dune has a much lighter skin tone than his adult form of Kanan Jarrus

Lucasfilm has reportedly addressed these accusations of whitewashing with rumors that future episodes will adjust the lighting to restore the proper skin tones.

It’s yet another showcase for how such a simple thing as a color shade can showcase the darker tones this new Star Wars series takes.

The Bad Batch streaming new episodes Fridays on Disney+.

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