“Star Wars Resistance”: Diversity Shines Through in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Star Wars Resistance

What if a spy became a mechanic as “cover” for his espionage, but he was terrible at both jobs? Star Wars Resistance answers that question. This series follows the adventures of Kaz, the friends he meets along the way, and the challenges he and his friends face. Whether people are out to get them or they’re facing rough and tumble situations, it’s an animated series like no other- not even other Star Wars series.

Star Wars Resistance is the creation of Dave Filoni, a director, screenwriter, actor, producer, and animator, best known for his work on animated series in the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars Resistance is a 3D animated action and sci-fi comedy that pulls you in from the first episode. It lasted for two seasons, with relatable characters and exciting adventures.

As a warning, this recommendation discusses some spoilers for Star Wars Resistance

Star Wars Resistance
Yeager, Kaz, and Neeku on the Colossus

Star Wars Resistance centers around a pilot named Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono (voiced by Christopher Sean), who is recruited by Resistance commander Poe Dameron (voiced by Oscar Issac) to spy on the villainous First Order. He is taken in by Jarek Yaeger (voiced by Scott Lawrence), the owner of Yeager’s Repairs, a mechanics shop on the refueling station Colossus. While there, he meets a talented technician named Neeku Vozo (voiced by Josh Brener) and an aspiring pilot Tamara ‘Tam’ Ryvora (voiced by Suzie McGrath), who are part of the same shop.

While staying on the Colossus, Kaz meets a variety of interesting characters. One is Hype Fazon (voiced by Donald Faison). Hype is the leader of Ace Squadron, the fighter unit protecting the station. There’s also a pilot named Torra Doza (voiced by Myrna Velasco), Station Captain Imanuel Doza (voiced by Jason Hightower), and a space pirate spy named Synara San (voiced by Nazneen Contractor).

With the help of these new friends, he faces a high-ranking First Order officer, Commander Pyre (voiced by Liam McIntyre), and the First Order Security Bureau agent Tierny (voiced by Sumalee Montano). Over the course of the series, Kaz changes from an awkward kid to someone more confident in himself- and a somewhat more skilled mechanic.

Other recurring characters include Orka (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) and Flix (voiced by Jim Rash) who run the Office of Acquisitions aboard the station, tavern keeper Aunt Z (voiced by Tovah Feldshuh), pilot Freya Fenris (voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn), space pirate captain Kragan Gorr (voiced by Gary Anthony Williams), space pirate Drell (voiced by David Shaughnessy), and pilot Jace Rucklin (voiced by Elijah Wood). Astromech droids like R1-J5 and BB-8 help characters when needed, whether fighting enemies, receiving messages, unlocking doors, assisting in piloting ships, or gathering information. Others such as 4D-M1N help in a command capacity.

Star Wars Resistance stands out due to its diverse cast in contrast to the overwhelming Whiteness of Star Wars films, apart from well-known characters like Lando Calrissian, who was first voiced by Billy Dee Williams and later by Donald Glover, Samuel J. Jackson’s Mace Windu, and John Boyega‘s Finn. McGrath is a British actress with Jamaican and British roots, with her British accent strongly shining through in her voice acting as Tam. Faison and Lawrence are Black men. Montano has Filipino, Thai, Chinese, and German ancestry. Velasco comes from a big Mexican family and Contractor is of Indian descent. Sean, on the other hand, has Japanese, Irish, Spanish and German roots.

In an April 2019 interview, Velasco described herself as a “Mexican girl from L.A.” She was amazed by the fandom’s reaction to Torra, noting that unlike other series, Star Wars Resistance shows what characters do in day-to-day life. The series itself is set before the newest trilogy of Star Wars films. Torra could be argued to be Mexican-inspired or Mexican-code as Velasco voiced a Latine character named Carla Delgado in Elena of Avalor and Jessica Cruz in DC Super Hero Girls, who is of Mexican and Honduran descent.

Many of the voice actors have experience in the field, especially in all-ages animated series, but Star Wars Resistance is the first animated role for McGrath. She has said that in voicing Tam, she felt like she was in London’s East End, due to the melting pot on the Colossus. She also described Tam as fun to play and said there is an “element of a young urban, Londoner” in the character.

In this anime-inspired animated series, Tam is more than a “feisty mechanic“. She’s a hard worker who wants to become a racer, a rule-follower who has a strong moral compass. This is challenged in the second season of Star Wars Resistance when the Colossus is revealed to be a space ship and Tam, feeling betrayed by Yeager and Kaz for not disclosing their ties to the Resistance, decides to join the First Order.

McGrath described Tam’s decision as giving her the ability to be a pilot. There are challenges as she goes from being a mechanic to a soldier. Even so, she keeps her morality and her heart. Tierney, another brown-skinned character, is able to manipulate Tam to stay in the First Order by playing to her insecurities, using her as an asset to try and take down the Colossus.

Slowly over the second season Tam begins to change her mind about the First Order, even helping out Kaz and Neeku when they didn’t realize it, even as both still have hope in her. Rucklin, who is still angry at Kaz for destroying his star fighter, tries to tell Tam to stay the course. Related to this is Griff Halloran explaining why he left the Empire, under which Doza was his commanding officer, in the episode “The New World”. To him, fighting for the Empire wasn’t worth it in the end.

As for Kaz and Neeku, they generally believe in Tam, while Yeager sees her as turning her back on them and joining the other side. Kaz even agrees with Yeager that they would have to take her out. In the first part of the Season 2 finale, she is horrified to see the destroyers firing on the people of Aeos while Rucklin remains loyal. In the second part, she tells Tierney that Yeager gave her a family, unlike the First Order,  and she wants to be with her chosen family instead of space Nazis.

While the first season of Star Wars Resistance takes place on Colossus where the characters have to face off the Warbirds, a gang of space pirates, the First Order and its military occupation of the platform, the second season raises the stakes. The Colossus is on the run from the First Order, barely escaping space battles before jumping to hyperspace. The platform remains a home for a gaggle of people and a found family for others, like the stowaways Kel (voiced by Antony Del Rio) and Eila (voiced by Nikki Soohoo) and Torra, the daughter of Captain Doza. In the process, they right off mutinous space pirates, save Resistance recruits, and Tam continues to have doubts about her role in the First Order, even after moving up the ranks.

The villains of Star Wars Resistance are starkly painted as evil without reproach. Stormtroopers are shown saluting the destruction of Kaz’s homeworld and nearby planets, killing “countless innocents who called the system home.” The First Order itself is clearly depicted as a fascist military junta. They were based on the idea of Nazis who fled to Argentina after World War II reforming into a group, admiring the work of the Galactic Empire. The First Order have been described as fascist but smarter than one would expect, ruling through fear rather than love. They’re the equivalent of neo-Nazis or what some have called “space Nazis.” General Hux, leader of the First Order, is modeled after Hitler.

There is an interesting contrast between the individuality emphasized on the Colossus and in the Resistance, and the First Order’s mentality that the individual does not matter. Tam herself tries to mix those ideologies together, although it makes her superiors angry. While Pyre isn’t happy when Tam literally saves those on the bridge of the Star Destroyer from being hit by a bomb fired by Kaz, she is promoted to second squadron commander by Tierny, to which she smiles and salutes. However, she shows doubts in firing on unarmed transport shuttles, while Tierny continues to have faith in Tam.

This makes it no surprise that Tam disagrees with Rucklin, a clear toady of the First Order, who shoots down a shuttle full of Resistance recruits. We even see Kylo Ren demanding that all Resistance cells be crushed, getting annoyed at Tierny for her “failures” and saying they don’t “tolerate the weak.” He is the only character to be shown using the Force in the whole series, in contrast to other Filoni productions which feature Jedi or Sith. There is no sympathy for these characters. After a Star Destroyer explodes in the final episode, with countless First Order troops aboard, including Rucklin, not one person bats an eye about the deaths of these soldiers.

The music of Star Wars Resistance is composed by Michael Tavera, a Latine composer who did music for Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, The Awesomes, and many other shows. The series music is based on themes by John Williams. Every episode begins with an uplifting instrumental opening track. The series features other music set to the mood of the animation. However, the show’s comedy is more prevalent than the music at times. It is mostly manifested by Kaz, often a goofball, and Neeku, who is very nerdy and has good chemistry with Kaz.

Unlike other Star Wars series such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars, romance is not a big part of the series apart from Captain Doza trying to protect his daughter, and his attempts to meet his wife, Venisa (voiced by Tasia Velenza). Kaz seems to have a crush on two women, Torra and Synara, and they may have crushes on him, especially in the case of Torra. However, they never kiss and their relationships never move beyond them being friends. In some ways, this allows the series to avoid falling into predictable romantic themes and plotlines that too many animations embody, often in a heterosexual manner rather than a queer one.

There are even recurring LGBTQ characters: Orka and Flix. Both are gay and are in a romantic relationship. This is only hinted throughout the series, but was confirmed by Justin Ridge, an executive producer of Star Wars Resistance who said they are “absolutely a gay couple and we’re proud of that.” Moynihan, who voices Orka, also said that Orka and Flix “love each other” and are his “favorite little couple” and hoped the characters return in the future. However, some criticize this portrayal as being too subtle and say it should be more overt.

Flix and Orka are among the small number of LGBTQ characters in Star Wars animated series. Cassie Cryar and Ione Marcy, who appeared in one episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, were revealed by Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo as “written as a couple in a relationship.” Some accounts like Star Wars Queer Watch on Twitter track LGBTQ content in Star Wars. The latter noted the lack of LGBTQ characters in animated series, like Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which Filoni is also creator of, although they have a headcanon that Omega is trans or intersex.

Star Wars Resistance
Tam and Tierney on a First Order ship

Filoni has been involved with many other series besides Star Wars Resistance. He co-created Star Wars Rebels, storyboarded Star Wars Forces of Destiny, was a development artist, supervising director, writer, and producer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and is an executive producer, director and writer of The MandalorianHe was also a storyboarder on countless series and voiced various Star Wars characters in the aforementioned series, like Bo Keevil in Star Wars Resistance.

Star Wars Resistance was well received by critics, some calling it “primed with potential,” having a “brighter, more colorful palette” than other series, and an animation style which stands out among the traditionally computer generated animations for other Star Wars series. As a result, the series was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards in 2019 and 2020 in the Outstanding Children’s Program category, and won the Saturn Awards prize for the Best Animated Series category in 2019. 

The second season plotline of Star Wars Resistance which has Tam joining the First Order reminded me, in some ways, of Cassandra being manipulated by the Enchanted Blue Fairy in the third season of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, also known as Tangled: The Series. I wish that Star Wars Resistance had been extended into another season and had an order of 60 episodes like Tangled, instead of 40 episodes spread across two seasons (21 episodes in the first season and 19 episodes in the second).

Specifically, I would have liked to see Tam’s struggle to find a place in the First Order expanded. Maybe she could have become totally be immersed in the ideology to the shock of the protagonists, like having her oversee the destruction of a system of planets by the Starkiller Base, a la Ash turning evil in Final Space. Maybe Tam wouldn’t be redeemed in the end, as this series did or as Tangled did with Cassandra. Or perhaps they could have stuck with the existing storyline and had another season about Tam readjusting to the Colossus and having to face the First Order.

Even though it would have required some reworking, it could have been interesting to have Kaz as a female character instead a male character, as many of the Star Wars series have male leads while female characters are relegated to supporting or secondary roles, and at certain points, this series played into that, unfortunately.

Although we do not know all the behind the scenes of Star Wars Resistance, Filoni and other executive producers, Athena Portillo, Justin Ridge, and Brandon Auman, told CBR that they had always planned to tell a story that was was two seasons long, developing a roadmap from the beginning for the series. Even so, Portillo and Ridge confirmed that they are willing to revisit the series in the future. This means that Star Wars Resistance is not like Final Space which was unceremoniously cancelled by Warner executives. It also means that anger from some fans and split opinions on the show had nothing to do with the show’s length, which is a positive. In the end, the series aired from October 7, 2018 to January 26, 2020, with both seasons available on Disney+ after February 2020.

Personally, I enjoyed Star Wars Resistance more than Filoni’s other productions like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which often seems like it comes out of the pages of a military history book or the war stories of soldiers in a battlefield, apart from the final episodes of the series, or even Star Wars Bad Batch. It was much more enjoyable than The Mandalorian, a series for which I sat through the first episode and was thoroughly unsatisfied with what I saw. It seemed like a shoot-em-up western that resembled a tired, boring Clint Eastwood film at times.

Star Wars Resistance also has more diversity in its cast than recent shows like Masters of the Universe: Revelation or Tangled. The latter series has a brown-skinned characters like Andra, voiced by Tiffany Smith, a multiracial actress, and features Black actors like Kevin Michael Richardson, Tony Todd, Phil LaMarr, Cree Summer, Dennis Haysbert, and Method Man, and a Latine man of Mexican descent, Danny Trejo. The former series has dark-skinned characters like Lance Strongbow (voiced by James Monroe Iglehart) and Adira (voiced by Kelly Hu). However, both of those series have White-majority casts.

With Star Wars Resistance currently at the end of its series order, now is the time to watch it on Disney+, Disney Now, or elsewhere. It’s a great choice for a weekend binge session.

Author: Burkely Hermann

Burkely is an indexer of declassified documents by day and a fan fic writer by night. He recently earned a MLIS with a concentration in Digital Curation from the University of Maryland. He currently voraciously watches animated series and reads too many webcomics to count on Webtoon. He loves swimming, hiking, and searching his family roots in his spare time.


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