Between the Lines
Throughout the weekend, fans were treated to a multitude of panels relating to the Lucasfilm animation division – giving equal focus to the former series The Clone Wars and the current, era-bridging series, Star Wars Rebels. Within these panels was a surprising narrative that revealed both the incredible challenges the team faced in starting up the new show, as well as how the series have mutually influenced the new canon of Star Wars.
Many who tuned out during the prequels might be surprised to know that since 2008 there’s been a canonical Star Wars show on TV. The CG animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, debuted with a feature film (the lowest-grossing Star Wars film of all time) that led into a television show on Cartoon Network. The series was set between Episodes II and III, chronicling the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano, aka Anakin’s young padawan trainee, never mentioned in any prior media. The series ran until 2013, when it was abruptly canceled along with many other Lucasfilm projects following the Disney purchase.
When The Clone Wars debuted, it was far more geared to kids than an all-ages audience, highlighting the groan-inducing characterization and childish comedy that turned longtime fans away from the newer films. This childishness was punctuated by Ahsoka, a 14 year-old Togruta with a spunky personality and a penchant for giving things nicknames (read: annoying). Over its six seasons the writing varied drastically – ranging from horrible to downright cool – and in many cases actually served to retroactively improve, Revenge of the Sith, by providing added significance to the people and places tied up in the Clone Wars conflict.
The series was essentially masterminded by Lucas whose concepts were then cobbled together by showrunner Dave Filoni. For all the strength that Filoni brought to the series, he still had to incorporate eye-rollers like Darth Maul’s brother Savage Opress and delicately decide how to navigate Lucas’ disregard of previously published Star Wars material. This proved to be a point of further contention for fans as well as authors working in Star Wars when, over its 100+ episodes, Clone Wars contradicted many aspects of the known Expanded Universe. This continuity upheaval made some authors quit their jobs and fans, who’d devotedly followed any and all Star Wars storytelling, become skeptical about the landscape of the world they loved.
By the time of the Disney purchase, Lucasfilm had six tiers of canon encompassing all Star Wars properties. Any kind of unification was virtually impossible … which is why it all had to be scrapped.