In 2008 George Lucas introduced a new chapter in the Star Wars Saga, the animated show The Clone Wars. From 2008-2013 the further adventures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi aired on Friday evenings on Cartoon Network, later moving to Saturday mornings. Following the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm there was speculation whether the show would either be cancelled or moved to one of the Disney cable channels. Unfortunately, Disney chose the former, and on March 2nd, 2013 after five successful seasons the final episode of the series aired. Disney later announced a truncated sixth season, dubbed the Lost Missions, which streamed on Netflix and other video on demand services.
Over the course of one theatrical film and 121 half hour episodes, George Lucas and series Supervising Director, Dave Filoni were able to expand on themes only hinted about in the Prequel Trilogy, and had the creative freedom to take the Saga in new directions, and experiment stylistically , stretching the show’s boundaries. The Clone Wars demonstrated that the Star Wars universe was capable of of being a vehicle for telling a wide range of stories in various genres.
The show’s second season saw Clone Wars reimagine Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Nortorius, in the episode Senate Spy. Bounty Hunters retold Akira Kirosawa’s classic, The Seven Samurai, in 22 minutes. The Clone Wars also visited the classic Japanese giant monster movie in the two part Zillo Beast arc. The Clone Wars even managed to fuse The Third Man and the Harrison Ford thriller, The Fugitive, into the brilliant episode, The Jedi Who Knew Too Much. Many of the show’s finest moments could be found in these homages to film history.
The show told a wide array of stories, from mirthful, light children’s stories like Bombad Jedi, or Nomad Droids, to dark and violent episodes like the Umbara arc. The quality of many of these stories was nothing short of amazing, and I would put many of the show’s episodes up against any of the six films. For example, the two part Ahsoka Tano adventure found in Padawan Lost and Wookiee Hunt is one of the best Star Wars stories ever put to screen, as is the Season 5 Mandalore arc, and Wrong Jedi arc. The Lost Mission’s Order 66 arc and the final Yoda/Force arc are two of the most important stories in the entire Star Wars lore. The Clone Wars was able to tell stories on a grand scale, thanks to the vision of George Lucas and his willingness to spare no expense on the show’s budget.
The Clone Wars also introduced us to a host of memorable Star Wars characters who were equally as interesting and rich as their film counterparts. Of course, the most important of these new characters is Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. She’s tough, feisty, a little quick to action, but always strives to do right… hmmm sounds like Anakin. Actually that’s the reason Anakin is given a student, to help teach him patience, and he certainly has his hands full with the young Togruta Jedi. Over the course of five seasons they grow an extremely close bond, and as an audience we watch her grow from bratty teenage girl, to a smart, resourceful, and dependable young woman. She’s one of my favorite Star Wars characters to ever grace the screen, and is equally as memorable as characters from the Original and Prequel trilogies.
The Clone Wars introduced a whole host of classic Star Wars characters like the ever dangerous, Spaghetti Western inspired bounty hunter, Cade Bane. Bane is an incredibly rich villain with a sardonic wit, and a cool demeanor. Honestly, he makes Boba Fett look like an amateur. And speaking of Boba, we are given some additional backstory and hints of what’s to come from this Original Trilogy villain in a number of outstanding episodes.
But my two favorite minor characters from The Clone Wars have to be that audacious space pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, and Sith apprentice-wannabe, Asajj Ventress. Hondo is just a treat every time he shows up, and always good for a laugh or two. Sure, he’s dangerous, but he’s not really that bad of a guy, he’s just out to make a buck. Ventress, on the other hand, is incredibly dangerous, dark, and sexy in a cat like way. For most of the show she is a thorn in the side of our heroes, but she always comes up a little short. Eventually her Master, Count Dokuu, turns on her and she’s forced into hiding. While on the run her character really gets to shine and we learn a good deal about her past, and come to realize she’s not a bad person, her circumstances are such that she has made bad choices. She eventually turns away from her dark path and begins a new life as a bounty hunter in a couple a great appearances. Her character will be further explored in the upcoming novel, Dark Disciple. Can’t wait.
Recently, the Official Star Wars Site announced plans for further Clone Wars releases and posted a retrospective video examining the impact that The Clone Wars has had on the Star Wars Saga, and laying the immediate future for Clone Wars releases. You can check it out below:
It’s exciting to know there is still a future for the show. Although these stories may not take shape in traditional animated form, these are still worthwhile tales to share with Star Wars fandom. Recently the Official Site released the unfinished four part Crystal Crisis on Utapau arc. It’s a great story, and a good old fashioned buddy cop story with some wonderful moments between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Just be forewarned the animation was not finished and it is in a pre-visualization state. But it just goes to show that The Clone Wars was firing on all cylinders before the plug was pulled by Disney. I do hope, that at some later date, Disney might revisit some of the episodes that were near completion, finish them, and release them as direct to video productions. But whatever happens down the road, it has been a fun ride.
While I appreciated The Clone Wars for taking me on so many great adventures and expanding the Star Wars universe through the introduction of memorable characters, I have a much more personal reason for my love of The Clone Wars… it was a Star Wars experience I could share with my daughter. Sure, my youngest daughter, Kiersten, would watch the Original Trilogy with me on laser disc, and I must have taken here to the Prequel Trilogy a few dozen times, but something about The Clone Wars really resonated with the both of us.
It finally dawned on me during the series finale, The Wrong Jedi, as Ahsoka walks down the steps of the Jedi Temple, turning her back on the Jedi Order that had given up on her, and had branded her a traitor. She was now free to make her own way in this huge universe. but her future was uncertain. And then it hit me… I was watching this final episode (we didn’t know about the Lost Missions yet) with my 18 year old daughter who was only two months away from graduating high school. Tears began to flow. This wasn’t just a character I had grown fond of over five seasons on a show I loved; metaphorically this was my daughter preparing to take on the challenges of adulthood.
In many ways Ahsoka’s journey was mirroring my relationship with my daughter. As her father, I was trying my best to raise Kiersten to be ethical, be willing to help those less fortunate than her, and to put others before herself. Sometimes the results were mixed, but Kiersten was always striving to do the right thing. Now it all made sense to me; thematically there was a strong parallel between the relationship of Master-Padawan and Parent-Child.
Ultimately that’s why The Clone Wars resonated so much with Kiersten and myself; we saw each other in the character’s of Anakin and Ahsoka. To Kiersten, I was Anakin Skywalker, her Master, trying my best to protect her from the world, while preparing her for it. And Kiersten was Ahsoka Tano, young, brash Padawan learner, who was at time too impulsive, but whose heart was always in the right place.
So, while others will remember the legacy of classic characters and adventures The Clone Wars added to the Star Wars universe, for me, The Clone Wars is an Evans family legacy…
May the Force Be With You