The film aired internationally on October 3, 2014, on Disney Channel, unlike its forthcoming series, which aired on Disney XD on October 13, 2014. However, the film was released early for Disney XD WATCH members, who had the option to view the film an entire week before its release. The film was released on DVD on October 14.
The film is set between the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, detailing the galaxy's oppression at the hands of the Galactic Empire, and the rise of the Rebellion.
Fourteen years after the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi and the Republic had fallen with the rise of the Galactic Empire. However the Emperor had foreseen and new threat rising against him: The Children of The Force. Fear of them becoming Jedi, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader tasked the Empire's Inquisitor to hunt down this new enemy and eliminate them along with any surviving Jedi who may attempt to train them. Among these children who were one with the Force, was an orphan boy named Ezra Bridger who lived on the planet Lothal.
One day in the Capital City, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint were harassing a local merchant to show his identification. When the merchant openly expressed his disagreement with the Empire, saying that the Imperials ruined Lothal and the rest of the galaxy, Aresko placed him under arrest for treason. Ezra casually bumped into the Imperials and swiped Aresko's communicator, which he used to impersonate as an Imperial officer and lure Aresko and Grint towards a supposed emergency in the city's main square. The merchant was thankful for Ezra's help, and Ezra helped himself to some jogan fruits so he could have something to eat.
Ezra climbed onto the rooftops where he found his way towards the square and overlooked Aresko and Grint, who learn that there was no emergency after all. While watching the Imperials, Ezra unknowingly through the Force sensed the presence of Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi Padawan who survived the destruction of the Jedi Order. He stayed hidden as he watched him and two others known as Garazeb Orrelios, a Lasat, and Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian, attack and steal a small supply of Imperial crates. But most their stolen goods got stolen by Ezra who jumped onto a speeder and sped away through the streets with Kanan and Zeb in pursuit. The chase led to a roadway outside the city, where Ezra and the two Rebels are spotted and chased by Imperial troops. The Rebels fought off the troops and Kanan intercepted Ezra. However before Kanan could regain possession of the crates, a TIE Fighter fired on their position, destroying his speeder. Ezra continued to speed back towards his tower with the TIE Fighter on his tail. The Fighter fired on him and destroyed his speeder, leaving him defenseless until the Fighter is shot down by a ship known as the Ghost. The Rebels helped him aboard with the crate he stole and headed for space with additional TIE fighters in pursuit.
Kanan made his way to the cockpit, where the Twi'lek Hera Syndulla was piloting the ship. While explaining what happened, Zeb and Sabine keep an eye on Ezra and after making a complaint about Zeb's smell, he threw Ezra into a small, closet-sized room, but managed to escape through the air vents and made his way through the bowels of the ship. Hera, meanwhile, was impressed by what she's heard from Kanan, and thinks Ezra could be a useful member of the crew which Kanan, at first, disagrees with. Ezra fell through the ventilation shafts and into one of the ship's gun turrets, where he realized that for the first time in his life he was in space, and in a battle. Kanan and Sabine manned the two gun turrets, and held off the TIE Fighters, giving Hera a chance to jump the Ghost into hyperspace.
Back on Lothal, the incident had brought the attention of ISB Agent Kallus who was not at all surprised as this was not the first time the Empire's operations have been attacked by these Rebels. He explained to Aresko when their operations are targeted in a ongoing basis it could signify the start of a full-scale rebellion against the Empire. Kallus intended to find these Rebels and ensure that the Spark of Rebellion doesn't get the possible chance to spread.
The Rebels return from hyperspace and with the use of the Ghost's ability scramble its signal, they safely landed on Lothal, near a small town known as Tarkintown, named after Grand Moff Tarkin and homed to many farmers who had their farmlands taken away by the Empire. While Zeb, Sabine and Ezra deliver the food they stole for the locals, Kanan and Hera deliver the blasters to criminal-lord Cikatro Vizago who gave them some information on Wookiee prisoners who were enslaved by the Empire. Ezra returned to the Ghost where through the Force, found his way to Kanan's quarters where he discovered a Holocron and a Lightsaber. Kanan and Hera caught him with the weapon, having been alerted by Chopper. Ezra handed over the Lightsaber but Kanan allowed him keep the Holocron, knowing that if he could open it, then the boy could use the Force and could be trained as a Jedi.
After leaving Kanan's quarters, Ezra met up with Sabine where she told him about their crew and how they came together after losing everything to the Empire. Just then Zeb interrupted their conversation to tell Sabine that Kanan wanted them all together for a meeting and left Chopper to watch Ezra. In the common room, Kanan briefed the crew on their next mission to rescue a group of Wookiee prisoners who were being transported to a unknown slave labor camp.
The Rebels came out of hyperspace where they met up with the Imperial Transport Ship carrying the wookiees. Hera contacted the transport saying they had an additional Wookiee prisoner to hand over, under orders from Governor Tarkin. The commander of the transport allowed them to dock and Kanan and Sabine boarded the ship with Zeb pretending to be a "Hairless Wookiee". Unfortunately the Imperials didn't buy it, only because Zeb didn't give them a chance and took out two Stormtroopers with a single punch against their helmets. Once aboard, the Rebels began their search for the Wookiees but began to notice that the whole thing appeared too easy. The security aboard the ship was soft and there was no sign of any more troopers. Suddenly, the Lawbringer dropped out of hyperspace and captured both the transport and the Ghost in its docking bay, springing a trap set by Agent Kallus to capture the Rebels. Knowing the others were in danger, Hera told Ezra to board the transport and warn them since the comlinks were jammed. At first Ezra refused to risk his life for others but with some encouragement, he boarded the transport just in time to warn Kanan and Zeb as Agent Kallus and a squadron of Stormtroopers came aboard. They made a run for it back to the Ghost and manage to escape but, thanks to Zeb, Ezra was captured by Agent Kallus and left behind.
While imprisoned on the Star Destroyer, Ezra was stripped of his gear with only the Holocron he stole from Kanan's quarters. Through the force he unexpectedly opened it, revealing a holographic message from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, warning any surviving Jedi about the rise of the Empire.
Ezra managed to escape from his prison by tricking the Stormtroopers guarding him to enter the cell, giving him the opportunity to slip out and lock them inside. He made his way to a storage room, where he picked up his gear and an Imperial helmet, which he used to listen to communications throughout the ship. He also learned the Wookiee prisoners were being taken to the spice mines of Kessel and the Rebels had come back for him. He met up with them in the docking bay and the group headed back to the Ghost and escaped leaving behind an explosion that nearly sucked Kallus into the vacuum of space.
After jumping to hyperspace, Ezra shared his findings with the Rebels on where the Wookiees were being taken. Knowing very well that they would not survive in the harsh mining environment, the Rebels, including Ezra, set course for Kessel to rescue them.
The Rebels arrived at the Spice Mines of Kessel and opened fire on the Imperials giving them a chance to land. Kanan, Zeb and Sabine moved in and fought off the Stormtroopers giving Ezra the opportunity to sneak past them and release the Wookiees from captivity. With the Wookiees free, they fought alongside against their captors just as three TIE Fighters emerged and fired on the Ghost. The Ghost led the Fighters away while Kallus' led more Stormtroopers into battle, forcing the Rebels and the Wookiees to take cover. With the Rebels surrounded and pinned down under heavy fire, Kanan told Hera to lure the TIE Fighters away and then come back to perform a 22 pickup, a maneuver where the crew and the Wookiees would hide inside a cargo container and be picked up by the Ghost. In order to give them more time, Kanan came out from cover and ignited his Lightsaber, revealing his Jedi identity to Ezra, the Wookiees and the Imperials. While fighting off the Stormtroopers, Ezra went after a young Wookiee named Kitwarr, who fled from the firefight and was being chased by a Stormtrooper. He managed to rescue him and remove his binders. But they are cornered by Agent Kallus, until the Rebels showed up just in time to rescue them and escape.
They departed from Kessel and after sending the Wookiees on their way, they headed back to Lothal and returned Ezra home. Upon returning to his tower, Kanan told Ezra about the Force and offered him a choice to join their crew and be trained in the ways of the force and become a Jedi.
Meanwhile, Agent Kallus contacted the Inquisitor via Hologram and reported his findings about Kanan and Ezra, which the Inquisitor was pleased to hear about.
An early screening of the film was held at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. Less than a week before its official debut, the film was made available to WATCHDisneyXD.com members on September 26, 2014, after being moved up from its original date of September 20, 2014.
On September 27, a premiere screening of the film took place at Century City, CA. The event featured life-size replicas of the rebels, as well as several Rebels-themed characters.
The film officially aired on Disney Channel on October 3, 2014, before debuting on Disney XD on October 6, 2014. On October 26, 2014, the film aired on ABC, featuring an exclusive clip of Darth Vader.
The film was released exclusively at Walmart on October 3, 2014, in DVD format, and was released digitally on October 4, 2014.
The film has received mostly positive reception from critics, and currently holds an average of 8/10 on IMDb. The first review came from IGN's Eric Goldman, who published his thoughts on the film a week prior to its Disney Channel debut. Goldman gave the film an 8.7/10, praising it for "expertly capturing the classic Star Wars vibe", including "fun, engaging characters", and for its "well done action sequences". However, Goldman also criticized the film for its sometimes lacking CGI, particularly in the Wookiee effects.
- During the sequence where Kanan and Zeb board the Imperial Freighter, the two eventually reach a door which they believe contains the Wookiees. On the door, a strange sign can be seen. This sign is a reference to a deleted scene from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, in which the same sign appears on a door.
- The film follows the tradition of its predecessor, The Clone Wars, which also aired a film prior to the release of its series.
- While Spark of Rebellion is officially a film, it also serves as the first two episodes in the Rebels series.
- The film doesn't open with the typical Star Wars opening crawl. Instead, the Star Wars Rebels logo is shown almost a minute into the film.
- Kanan's description of the Force to Ezra pays homage to the original speech made by Ben Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.
- In the scene where Ezra warns Kanan and Zeb aboard the Imperial Freighter, he yells out Admiral Gial Ackbar's famous line "It's a trap!".
- The working titles for Spark of Rebellion were Ezra, Part One and Ezra, Part Two.
- The original draft for the beginning of the film included a foot-chase, as seen in some early concept footage.
- In the first draft of the script, the beginning of the film is significantly different. In the initial draft, Ezra is chased off by Imperials after faking the code red emergency, and steals a speeder bike. Returning to his tower roost, Ezra opens a stolen crate, only to discover that it is full of electronic leaflets of Imperial propaganda. He would not meet Kanan until the next day.
- When Grint and Aresko meet up with Lyste, they are standing in front of an Imperial billboard, first revealed on the Sienar Flight Systems website.
- In the scene where Ezra sees Kanan for the first time, a high-pitched mysterious tone is heard. This was added in to create a benevolent feeling of the Force, in contrast to a dark rumble usually associated with the Dark Side.
- While the planet Kessel was first mentioned in Episode IV, its first appearance was in Spark of Rebellion. George Lucas also added some points he wanted for the look of the planet.
- The name of Tarkintown is a reference to the real-world Hoovervilles, which were created during the Great Depression.
- Hera refers to the Wookiee cargo as an oversized "monong". The first draft script called it an ape. It was Star Wars-ified to "momong", a Trandoshan monkey, before evolving into a "monong", a new creature.
- The Stormtrooper Ezra zaps over the railing on Kessel lets out a Wilhelm scream, an Easter egg found in a variety of films, TV shows, and video games.
- The design of the Wookiee gunship seen at the end of the film is based on the same ones used during the Battle of Kashyyyk in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
- Steven Blum, who voices Zeb, also did some voicework for several Stormtroopers.