An elite team of Republic clone troopers has graced our television screens (or more likely our laptops and phones). And the internet is once again abuzz with the prospect of weekly Star Wars content.
But how did this odd collection of special forces clones come to have their own show over so many other favorites after appearing for the first time in the final season of The Clone Wars just last year?
The history of The Bad Batch may be longer than you think.
The members of Clone Force 99 that we have now come to love and look forward to in their weekly exploits were originally meant to appear much earlier than 2020. They were first intended to appear in earlier episodes of The Clone Wars, which, after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, were never produced and eventually repurposed as some of the episodes of the final season last year. It goes without saying that the clone team came very close to not coming into existence at all.
These aren’t the clones you’re looking for
The Bad Batch are in fact products of the mind of the maker himself, George Lucas. The Star Wars creator wanted to explore clones that had traits separating them from the standard stock and devised a squadron of such soldiers whose genetic mutations gave them a strategic advantage.
Supervising director for The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni, even showed off some unfinished animation involving the Bad Batch as early as 2015, where the team was stationed on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. Sequences from these unreleased episodes would eventually be repurposed for the Bad Batch story arc of the final season of The Clone Wars.
But does the clone squadron have a history stretching back even further than that? As it turns out, they just might.
The Bad Batch video game connections
Older fans may remember a certain 2005 first-person shooter by the name of Star Wars: Republic Commando developed by LucasArts. The game follows the exploits of Delta Squad, an elite clone commando unit with personalities that deviated from their standard brothers. While these clones lacked any genetic abnormalities that gave them a lethal advantage, we can clearly see the semblance with our modern-day Clone Force 99.
So beloved was Delta Squad that they even made a brief appearance in a season 3 episode of The Clone Wars, once again making them part of the modern canon. It seems the concept of a specialized clone unit had made a galactic impact.
As for some of the individual members of the Bad Batch, we can see inspiration from all walks of media. Squad leader Hunter, sporting a mullet, camo-like facial tattoo and a headband that never comes off is partially based off of Billy Sole, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, from the 1987 film Predator. We also detect a bit of a Rambo vibe from the squad commander.
Echo, on the other hand, is born from entirely different stock. A more standard clone trooper to begin with, Echo now bears pale skin and Lobot-like cybernetic implants. But his overall appearance may be yet another video game call-back. The newest member of Clone Force 99 bears a striking resemblance to the Stalker enemy unit from 2004’s Half-Life 2. Pale, bald complexion? Check. Mechanical head plate? Check. Cybernetic Limbs? Check. Not a perfect reproduction, but close enough to warrant discussion.
It wouldn’t be the first Half-Life reference of late. A binary load lifter droid appearing in the final season of The Clone Wars shares remarkable design similarities and characteristics with the pet robot Dog from the same video game series.
The narrative history of our new favorite clone squad could probably be traced back even further if we wanted. For now, let’s be content that the recent past has been thoroughly documented for future reference.
Any other classic inspirations for the Bad Batch we should know about? Tell us in the comments below. And for all things Star Wars, be sure to keep up with Dork Side of the Force.