John Morton, who played Dak in The Empire Strikes Back, apparently had a few things to say
about Lucasfilm’s grand plan for Star Wars:
Rebels is the key. Rebels will provide the link to bring in the continuity from Clone Wars, the original trilogy and the prequels to enable LucasFilm and Disney to tee-up Episode VII. If you want my informed opinion, it will enable Episode VII to leapfrog over the whole trilogy… The key that is going to make this work is Rebels. Rebels will set up and point the direction for Episode VII… The characters they are creating in Rebels will be around in Episode VII.
I wouldn’t take all of this literally, but I think there’s more than a grain of truth to this.
I don’t think Max von Sydow will be playing Kanan, but the overall point, I think, is sound. Lucasfilm need to reboot the universe outside of the core canon (i.e. episodes I-VI and The Clone Wars) in order to set-up a framework for long-term multimedia storytelling possibilities. The placement of Rebels in the timeline is surely no coincidence: it allows the team to introduce themes that hook into the existing canon across all eras and foreshadow events in upcoming movies.
We’ve heard whisperings about this use of Rebels throughout past casting rumours for Episode VII. Frankly, it all fits. Again, I don’t think Hera will show up in Episode VII. Most likely we’ll see concepts in Rebels reappear in Episode VII, not charcters per se.