At San Diego Comicon, taking place this week, Dave Filoni and some of his cohorts are leading a panel to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Clone Wars series. It can feel weird saying this, but if you look at the prequels, the Clone Wars Series, Rebels, the new movies, The Clone Wars series may be the brightest part of the newer Star Wars age. Strange given the way the series started.
In 2008, Dave Filoni, with heavy influence from George Lucas, kicked off an era we have been wondering about since Obi-Wan first mentioned the war back in 1977. I remember seeing it at Gencon that year with a bunch of Star Wars miniatures players. We were all excited to go……We walked out wondering what we just saw. The best reviews were that it was tolerable. The worst reviews were total disgust. The movie, the first couple episodes of the series, debuted to a whopping $14.6 million. It would manage only $35 million domestically and $68 million with the worldwide box office added in.
The series would debut later that year and reviews were not a whole lot better. Given it had a season run instead of 1 hour, 40 minutes, it helped that it could broaden the story, but the animation was very jagged and rough with its movement (swing, swing, stop. Swing, swing, stop.). There was too much Jar Jar, and people were not fond of Anakin’s new young Padawan. She not only didn’t fit what we thought we knew of Anakin or his story, but Snips was annoying as hell!
Fast foreword to the end of the series in 2015. The animation improved not only in texture but in movement as well. The stories over the life of the series were broad and diverse. Several characters had been developed over the years and were huge fan favorites (Cad Bane, Hondo Ohnaka, various clones). Who would have thought that the young, annoying brat that rivaled Jar Jar as the most annoying character in Star Wars was now a young, but greatly experienced, Ahsoka Tano, most beloved of characters.
Over the multiple seasons of the Clone Wars, we saw arcs greatly develop a multitude of clone troopers, many of which would not make it through the show, much less the episode. The show was not afraid to kill characters. It told in depth stories with clones, bounty hunters, lesser Jedi, an entire universe of characters.
How Does This Guide the Future?
We are wrapping up the Skywalker Saga in 18 months. Where we go from here can be guided by what the Clone Wars series did.
One thing Star Wars has always don is take no ones and turned then into some ones. Anakin was a no one from nowhere. Luke wasn’t quite a no one as he was the son of one of the most powerful force users, but Han was. Rey, as far as we know right no is a no one. The Clone Wars series took a great many clones that were either one of a million clones or even rejects. In the season 1 episode Rookies, it took a set of clones that were below average and started a journey through out the show for many of them that would be wonderful to watch and follow. The future needs to keep this going. Keep the “Hero’s Journey” alive and well in future episodes and movies.
Star Wars has always been diverse in species. The Clone Wars series did a fantastic job of using different species in their story telling, both on a small scale and large scale. Future stories need to keep this diversity alive. Create new creatures, but also remember the old. One thing I have felt missing from the current run of shows and movies, is that while we are seeing lots of new and creative species, we are not seeing any of the old species we have loved for nearly 40 years. So far I’ve noticed 1 rodian and a couple of Twi’lek. Mix the old and new. Not only that, but lets feature some of these characters. I do not care if its the streaming shows or future movies, but let’s dehumanize the cast a bit.
I think one of the greatest lessons the Clone Wars series can teach us is patience. The Clone Wars started as a disaster, but it grew to one of the most loved new age titles. I am glad we are moving away from the Skywalkers finally. Expectations can finally be left behind. We will no longer hear what things SHOULD be like because everything will be new and in its own time and place. Give storytellers time to tell their stories and evolve their characters. Not all will be great, but I guarantee some will surprise you as they grow. Sonny Jurgensen Authentic Jersey