Yesterday’s somewhat surprising announcement of a new post-Clone Wars animated series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, brings back a popular group of clone troopers, Clone Force 99, for a new series of adventures on Disney+ in 2021. But who are the Bad Batch? If you glossed over the beginning of The Clone Wars Season 7, or just watched the “Siege of Mandalore” arc, you missed one of the best stories the series had to offer. Here’s a primer on the next group of Star Wars heroes jumping into the spotlight.
Clone Force 99
The Bad Batch is the nickname of Clone Force 99, a black-ops team of clones introduced in Season 7 of The Clone Wars. The four episodes were originally released as unfinished animatics on the Season 6 home video release as well as online. The episodes were still in production when the series was initially canceled by Disney, but were far enough along that it made sense to revive their story for the final season.
Clone Force 99 is made up of five members: Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, Tech, and Echo. Each clone, save for Echo, experienced a unique mutation or alteration during the cloning process that gave them specialized combat abilities. Echo joined the team following the end of their Season 7 arc, having been rescued in part by the squad and feeling a deeper connection to Clone Force 99 beyond his “normal” brothers.
The founding members of The Bad Batch feature designs seemingly pulled right out of 1980s military and action films. Hunter, the leader, wears a Rambo-style red bandana. The glasses-wearing nerd clone takes his look even further with his name – the tech guy is literally named Tech. In their first scene, Hunter greets Commander Cody with a handshake ripped straight out of Predator. All of this was intentional, as the designers and directors wanted the personalities of Clone Force 99 to be easily recognizable without having to delve deeper into the characters. The focus was on moving forward with the larger war and narrative. This new series will give viewers the chance to learn more about these unique clones.
The Clones of The Bad Batch
Hunter, The Leader
The Bad Batch is led by Clone Commando Sergent Hunter. Hunter has heightened senses, including the ability to sense electromagnetic pulses. He doesn’t speak often, but leads by example. His leadership style allows his troops to be themselves and do what they do best, but knows how to take the reins when necessary.
Crosshair, The Sniper
Elite marksman Crosshair was gifted with extraordinary eyesight, making him the ideal sniper. He also displays a natural ingenuity and creativity with tactics, setting traps and using precise shots to take out over a dozen droid soldiers with one shot during Echo’s rescue.
Wrecker, The Muscle
Wrecker is the loose cannon of Clone Force 99. He speaks plainly, sounding like a brain-damaged NFL linebacker caricature, but it belies his courage. His heightened strengthen and durability helps him charge forward into danger with confidence. He also has an on-going rivalry with Crosshair over who can take out the most droids.
Tech, The Tech Guy
Yes, they named the tech guy the most generic option available. Tech has higher than natural ability to manipulate tech, perfect for fighting droids. He also wears a specialized helmet that helps him translate nearly any language in his visor’s heads-up display.
Echo, The Cyborg
Echo joins the Bad Batch following his rescue by the group. Having been experimented on by the Separatists, Echo is part droid and can connect to computer terminals the same way a droid would. His brain may still be affected by the Separatist experiments. That element could provide a lot of interesting stories throughout the series.
The 99 in Clone Force 99 refers to Clone 99, a clone who suffered from several defects and was relegated to maintenance duty on Kamino as a result. 99 befriended future Bad Batch member Echo during his training. 99 famously helped defend his brothers when the Separatist Army attacked the cloning facilities on Kamino. He died in the attack but was granted his life-long wish of fighting alongside his brothers as he was bred to do. The Bad Batch named their squad after him given their similar genetic abnormalities and to honor his sacrifice.
This honor does not go unnoticed by their fellow clones, most notably Captain Rex. While viewing themselves as outsiders and often seen as such, it is clear their dedication to their brothers and the war effort has earned them great respect amongst the clone troops.
For more on the Bad Batch, check out episodes 1 through 4 of The Clone Wars Season 7, now streaming on Disney+. The new animated series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, will air on Disney+ sometime in 2021.