This week, to celebrate the annual Star Wars Day, Lucasfilm released a blockbuster-length premiere episode for the new The Bad Batch animated series. The Clone Wars sequel centers around Clone Force 99, a defective group of clones with unique powers such as super-strength, increased intelligence, or enhanced marksmanship.
Unlike most of the Republic's military force, this group doesn't exactly resemble the original template of Jango Fett, who debuted in Attack of the Clones played by Temuera Morrison. As a New Zealander with Scottish, Irish, and Polynesian roots, Morrison has a darker skin color that is represented in the troopers featured through the seven seasons of The Clone Wars.
However, since the premiere of The Bad Batch as well as their debut in The Clone Wars, some fans have noted that Clone Force 99 features a much lighter skin tone than most clones and the bounty hunter that inspired them all.
Within the team itself, there is some variation in their skin tone. Both Wrecker and Hunter feature more accurate, darker complexions, while Crosshair and Tech have much lighter skin and hair than the average clone.
Out of the series' clones, which are voiced by veteran voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, Echo is the only standard trooper who vaguely resembles others. However, he has also been given much lighter skin as a result of his capture and torture in The Clone Wars.
But these weren't the only cases of skin tone alterations shown within the episode. The animated adventure featured a brief cameo from a younger Rebels Jedi Kanan Jarrus, who similarly was shown to be almost white, a major change from his darker adult version.
Additionally, the episode saw the surprise introduction of Omega, a female child clone who originated from the same clone batch as the titular character. Once again, the genetically modified clone was white within this episode.
The “whitewashing” that was spotted by many fans has led to fans making viral calls for Lucasfilm to comment on the issue and to resolve it in existing and future episodes of the Disney+ series.
While Lucasfilm has yet to comment on the ongoing The Bad Batch controversy, a recent report has indicated they are aware of and are internally addressing the issue.
LUCASFILM TO ADDRESS THE BAD BATCH WHITEWASHING
According to a report from io9, their Lucasfilm sources have told them that prior to this week's premiere of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, changes were made to the animation team's lighting tools to mitigate their effects in the episode's brighter-lit settings.
Additionally, the report went on to reveal that these changes will also be made to future episodes of the animated series' planned 16 installments.
WILL THESE CHANGES END THE CONTROVERSY?
Naturally, racial representation and diversity have become major issues in the modern era of film and TV. As the world becomes increasingly more progressive, studios are being encouraged to include characters and actors from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Lucasfilm has faced criticism over their handling of minority characters as Asian actress Kelly Marie Tran and Black actor John Boyega have both been outspoken in the past regarding their lackluster roles as Rose and Finn in the sequel trilogy. Since their Star Wars debut, the two actors have both faced a great amount of racist and sexist abuse online, something the studio failed to take a stand against.
Given the genetic mutations of the Bad Batch, the major differences in their appearances do have a logical canonical explanation. However, many fans have still branded the modified appearance of the clones as a racist and ignorant decision.
With the series already underway, it's hard to imagine Lucasfilm making any substantial enough changes to the lead characters' appearance to totally satisfy those calling for a change. However, the lighting changes already being made do seem to suggest they are aware of the issue and are trying to mitigate it as much as possible.
The Bad Batch will release its second episode tomorrow, exclusively on Disney+.