The Clone Trooper known as Captain Rex may end up fighting alongside Han Solo on the forest moon of Endor, but he’d have to switch skin colors to do it. Because the actor who played the original Star Wars Clone —Temuera Morrison — is of Māori descent, some fans are concerned that he might retroactively become a white guy in Return of the Jedi. Here’s what’s going on with this dust-up, and why Captain Rex may not be on Endor after all.
It all began back on April 14, during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida. During a panel about Star Wars Rebels, concept art was shared that showed Captain Rex rocking a uniform reminiscent of the kind worn by Rebel Commandos on Endor in Return of the Jedi. This led fans to believe Rex and the background character named “Nik Sant” are the same person. This wasn’t confirmed completely as being real Star Wars canon at that moment, but, according to those in attendance, it was heavily implied to be true.
Then, on August 5, the news of the concept art picked up again. Steven Melching, one of the writers on Star Wars Rebels seemed to directly tweet the confirmation that Nik Sant and Captain Rex are retroactively the same person. Melching has since deleted his tweet, but the original message read: “This is happening. #OldCaptainRex #StarWarsRebels.”
Some prominent fans, notably the comedian Steele Saunders, openly worried that this tiny bit of retcon could be read as ethnically insensitive. If Captain Rex is basically a clone of Jango Fett, then it stands to reason that he has the same skin tone as Jango. But the background character Nik Sant is clearly white. For Saunders, someone having a “tan” wasn’t the same as their original heritage.
By August 6, Melching admitted that the notion of Rex and Sant being the same character isn’t canon, and deleted his earlier tweet that implied as much.
Melching didn’t mention whitewashing in his apology, but it seems, for now, the Star Wars galaxy doesn’t include people who have the ability to change their skin tones over the course of several decades, and become totally different characters.
Star Wars Rebels returns for its fourth, and final season sometime this fall on Disney XD.