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The Bad Batch and Disability Representation

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Art Credit Keegan Hunt

Warning: Spoilers ahead! 

Disney has released their newest installment of the Star Wars series, The Bad Batch, which premiered on May 4, 2021. The show is currently set to have 16 episodes and will only be available on Disney+. The show follows 5 enhanced clone commandos who survived Order 66, and is set after the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The Bad Batch is the continuation of a concept created in The Clone Wars, which ran for 7 seasons and ended in 2020. In The Clone Wars, clones were created by the Republic to help fight in the intergalactic war ravaging the galaxy. Their purpose was to quickly and efficiently end the war without risking citizen’s lives. In episodes 45 and 46 of the Clone Wars, we meet 99 the clone, a ‘failed’ clone trooper that has become crippled due to experimentation. The Clone Wars also has a couple of appearances of a clone named Heavy. Heavy was also possibly ‘damaged’ in the cloning process, making him impulsive and displaying several characteristics similar to ADHD. The Bad Batch will follow a group of these ‘imperfect’ soldiers, all of whom will have some form of disability and power. 

Watching the trailer made me feel a level of emotion that I was not expecting. As someone with ADHD, I feel like this is the first disability-based show I’ve experienced that captures both sides of being disabled, whether physically or mentally. The clones portrayed so far are capable, witty, and full of personality. At the same time, I feel like The Bad Batch has done a surprisingly decent job of not romanticizing people with disabilities. Star Wars has struggled with this in the past, with one of their blind characters being a magical ninja. Ignoring the real-world consequences that people with disabilities face is misleading, negligent, and just as harmful as not including them at all. 

On the other hand, The Bad Batch, has been pretty good about acknowledging the downfalls of being in a disabled team, while still having capable characters. The characters are layered, and the disabilities are not painted as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and show that people with disabilities are multifaceted and complex. Hunter, the leader of the squadron, has heightened senses, but can struggle with sensory overload, something that many neurodivergent also deal with. There is also Echo, who is physically disabled from the Clone Wars and has several cybernetic limbs. Including these characters and showing them as heroes will help many young disabled kids who watch Star Wars learn to accept themselves as they are, while simultaneously not romanticizing disabilities.  

Besides the Bad Batch, Disney+ will be adding several more Star Wars shows and movies. Star Wars fans should expect to keep an eye out for Obi-Wan Kenobi (2021), The Book of Boba Fett (2021), Andor (2022), Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (2023), Ashoka (TBA), and Rangers of the New Republic (TBA). The shows and movies will continue to be done in a range of different media, and may be exclusive to Disney+.

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