With a Clone Wars revival on the horizon, we got together to share our thoughts on this news that has been 10 years in the making.
Drew: I am not here to tell you should not be excited for the return of Clone Wars. I am not here to convince you this is not going to be any good. I am not the naysayer that thinks Disney is trying to kill Star Wars.
But we must think critically about the announcement that, after being cancelled in 2013 and efforts moved into Rebels, The Clone Wars is returning to its original episodic production for 12 episodes to be made available on Disney’s forthcoming streaming service. Dave Filoni was announced as the show’s supervising director to much accolade. After having piloted Clone Wars I and Rebels so successfully, and then getting Resistance into production, having anyone other than Filoni would have been unconscionable. So while the rest of Clashing Sabers got you their thoughts on the above podcast entry, yours truly was busy trying to put kids to bed and getting his evening run completed.
And because SOMEBODY has to be the “clashing” part of Clashing Sabers, I offer my cautious optimism mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism.
What are the positive things from this announcement?
- A short 12 episode release tends towards a sharply focused effort at story-telling, rather than falling into the monster-of-the-week that the average television program falls into;
- Star Wars animation has been a trajectory of increased quality ever since it began, which, should it continue here, indicates quality animation, writing, direction, and production; it is going to look slick;
- Fans who have longed for a bit more completion to the Clone Wars saga may finally get what they’ve waited for (despite having the Dark Disciple novel, the season 6 lost episodes, the unfinished animatics for season 7, etc.).
What are the negative things from this announcement?
- There can be little-to-no surprise in the overall stakes of whatever adventure they tell. We know the fates of Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Rex, etc. outside of this 12 episode season regardless of anything that can happen. Similarly, any new characters introduced at the beginning of this story have a 98% rate of not surviving simply because they don’t exist anywhere else. Honestly, if the prequels have taught us anything about storytelling, then perhaps we should not seek to bear witness to the events that have gone before us but rather live in the tension of not knowing everything.
- The audience continues to root for the organization and characters who should know better than how they actually behave. The issue most fans suffer from related to the prequels is the reversal of the good nature of the Jedi Order. Once we got the prequels, we realized that they are at fault for dereliction of duty just as much as the Sith are responsible for the dissemination of the Dark Side. So, back into the adventures of the “you should know better” crew without hope for redemption (since we know the complete failure of the Order from Revenge of the Sith), opportunity for course-correction, and more foreshadowing of the darkness to be wrought upon the galaxy;
- This is probably the last nail in the coffin of trying to get a more mature-themed entry in the universe. The Last Jedi is likely to be the last entry to force audiences to think outside of more than simply what is occurring on the screen to understand the larger themes and intricacies that the creative minds want us to be focused on. Disney is squarely focused on the 9-14 year old age bracket with this return to form. And while that is not inherently negative or worthy of bemoaning, it does portent that we should give up hopes of anything outside of that focus.
Overall, Clone Wars II: How Anakin Got His Groove Back seems predictable: it will be of decent quality and could even exceed Rebels (I can hear Brandon scream “BLASPHEMY”) in terms. However, it seems to be more of the same formula which, as much as it is indeed working for the company, puts the future of branching out to other types of stories into much doubt. We are not likely to get the hard-R Logan-inspired Boba Fett film. No deep dives into the political world in terms of a Ken Burns’ Coruscant. In fact, this feels more like a double-down on the Rise of the Empire era that has been host to Clone Wars, Rebels, the new Thrawn-focused novels, Solo, and Rogue One rather than broadening out the storytelling timeline (Resistance excepted).
New Star Wars is usually better than no Star Wars, so we should not herald this announcement as the end of anything. It should surprise no one when they announce a sequel to even these 12 episodes. However, it does lend additional credence to the suspicion that we should not expect anything aimed at an audience different than middle schoolers.
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