Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What?! REBELS?! I thought you were more mature than that, Titus!” Okay, okay, okay. I’ll admit: the animation that surrounds the TV show Star Wars: Rebels is pretty cartoony and childish.
Still, however, you’d only judge the show on that if you haven’t watched it. I started to watch it just because I was a Star Wars fan and hadn’t, but I was surprised to see some of the mature issues and moral dilemmas that were presented in the show.
But I’m not here to talk about the show, just the character. And to elaborate, I don’t think Ezra is the best character in the show, but there is less to be inferred in his character and more to be known for certain (*cough cough* Kanan *cough cough*) So I decided to talk about him for a more clear example.
Before I start the critique, it’s worth saying that most modern writers can’t write very well, whether on the screen or in a book. Ezra is a product of modern storytelling, but I was surprised to see a more original character in him.
Some background on this character: Ezra is a streetwise orphan on the Imperially-occupied planet of Lothal. His parents were imprisoned for speaking out against the Empire, and so he lives by his wits. Eventually, he is found by a rouge Jedi and his rebel friends. He then proceeds to become the rogue Jedi’s Padawan, and from there goes on a series of adventures that span the width of the show.
First of all, I think most of the content that made Ezra’s character good was his relationship with his crewmates and with his master, Kanan Jarrus. His relationship with Zeb brought out a “big brother” feeling between the two, where Zeb was usually hostile and reclusive. He’s able to sympathize with Sabine’s estrangement from her family, because he is no stranger to loss.
But I think the most important relationship that he had was his friendship with Kanan. On multiple accounts, Ezra was stubborn to instruction and assumed a pretty well-know “I know better than you” attitude. This was all it was in the beginning, but later in the season (Spoiler alert!) when Ezra starts to dabble in the dark side, it began to become a seed of hate, a seedling of a little more than just childish rebellion.
This is merely an extrapolation, but a very artistic one. After all, in some of the oldest histories ever told, all the great rebellions started with one person who thought they knew better than another. Lucifer was cast out of heaven because he thought he knew better than God.
This extrapolation, this shift from childish rebellion to proud overconfidence can be used to further a story very well. It can turn good guys into bad guys, and very naturally, too. Humility is a desirable character trait, and the further a character wanders from it the closer they get to evil. Try taking a small thing (like a kid cheating at a baseball game) and magnifying it into a bigger problem (like someone breaking the code of war and using the “forbidden magic”).
This is a more obvious one, but Ezra is an orphan. Not a very unique thing in of itself, but it allows him to be empathetic with others who have lost things. If you notice, the entire crew of the Ghost has lost something: Sabine her family’s trust and social standing, Zeb his people, Hera her brother, and Kanan his courage and master (even Chopper is a post-Clone Wars-era droid who lost his pilot…Ahh, the nerdiness!)
The writers of Rebels were wise to fit that in there. The story revolves around a boy who has lost so much, and now he has found a home with others that have also lost loved ones. It’s almost as if the characters around Ezra are a reflection of him. You may want to try this: make the story, including the other characters, revolve around your main hero. That way, you can have greater insights into all your characters’ personalities.
Good luck, and happy writing!