2002 was a big year for the movie industry. The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises saw to that in and of themselves. May of that year, however, also brought us Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Sadly, the middle entry of the Star Wars prequel trilogy is widely regarded as one of the worst films of the entire franchise. George Lucas’s overuse of CGI and cheesy dialogue (ask any Star Wars fan how Anakin Skywalker feels about sand) were the primary culprits for that designation. Still, regardless of how you rank the film, there’s no denying the fact that it was also one of the most important films of the entire Skywalker saga.

Attack of the clones
Anakin Skywalker about to commit mass-murder in Attack of the Clones. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Attack of the Clones, first and foremost, began Anakin’s true descent to the Dark Side. Impetuous and impatient, Anakin Skywalker let his emotions control him throughout the film. Between his growing, forbidden love for Padmé and the innate anger and fear he harbored, the Jedi padawan spiraled downward quickly in Episode II. Making matters worse was Padmé’s complacency with, and even influence over, the impressionable young Skywalker. Let’s not forget: Anakin became a mass murderer in the film (for the first time) in this film. And yet when he confessed the act to Padmé, she kept the heinous crime a secret. The Dark Side, with Padmé’s enabling, had already taken hold of he-who-would-be- Vader, and there was no going back.

Attack of the Clones, 19 years later

Jango Fett
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

The film’s impact goes far beyond Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, though. It also introduced us to Jango Fett. The Mandalorian foundling bounty hunter would serve as the genetic basis for the entire clone army of the Republic. Jango’s ultimate death at the hands of Mace Windu would not diminish the bounty hunter’s role in changing the galaxy. It would additionally propel his son, Boba, forward into his father’s footsteps. From a sheer cinematic perspective, Attack of the Clones further gave us one of the most iconic scenes and sounds in all of Star Wars. I trust you know what I mean.

Anakin and Jango Fett’s respective legacies would last for decades or more. Darth Vader, as we know, was a central element of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Likewise, Boba Fett’s return in The Mandalorian confirmed that the son of Jango lives on. Make fun of the film all you want, but the fact remains that the events of Attack of the Clones had lasting and far-reaching effect on the galaxy far, far away.

Happy nineteenth birthday, Episode II.