How Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars Was Forward of Its Time

When Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky was first approached by Lucasfilm to provide an animated Star Wars collection, it was on the request of the corporate’s motion determine producer Hasbro. Assault of the Clones had simply debuted in theaters in Could 2002, and Hasbro was eager to reap the entire merchandising potential of the “Clone Wars,” hinted at within the unique Star Wars, within the advertising lead-up to Revenge of the Sith. Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars wasn’t alleged to be something greater than an prolonged toy business.

It grew to become a lot extra. Clone Wars didn’t simply bridge the hole between two different motion pictures, however fleshed out the universe via an thrilling new medium. Clone Wars made the prequel period thrilling even for these unimpressed with George Lucas’s new trilogy, and it proved a Star Wars tv present may work lengthy earlier than the numerous initiatives at present in improvement. Though it has been wiped from the official Star Wars canon and solely simply been made accessible on Disney+, Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars was forward of its time.

Star Wars had by no means had a powerful tv presence earlier than, however Tartakovsky had seen the potential within the transient animated phase of The Star Wars Vacation Particular and the early Droids and Ewoks cartoons. With out the plot necessities of a movie, an animated present may reinvent the iconography and inform a extra expansive story. Tartakovsky’s animation places extra emphasis on visuals than dialogue, and it higher utilized the environments, planets, and tech designs from the prequels. Pc-generated armies of faceless clones and droids felt awkward positioned alongside live-action characters within the movie, however the widespread conflicts have been creatively staged within the fast-paced animated format.

Picture by way of Lucasfilm

Whereas the connection between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is on the coronary heart of Clone Wars, it isn’t the singular focus, as different heroes and villains took turns within the highlight. Tartakovsky structured the collection into bite-sized adventures, with the primary two seasons launched as 3-5 minute installments and a 3rd season prolonged to longer 12-15 minute episodes. The method confirmed snapshots of occasions all through the intergalactic battle between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Unbiased Techniques. The universe felt extra expansive; if Assault of the Clones implied that the galaxy was thrust into chaos throughout senate committee debates, Clone Wars confirmed the devastating impacts that they really have.

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The anthology method benefited aspect characters higher fitted to a short journey. The present didn’t must flesh out a personality like Package Fisto past the truth that he can breathe underwater and has a cool smile; all it wanted was an uncommon character to steer an creative underwater motion sequence. A personality like Common Grievous felt oddly inserted as one other last-minute antagonist in Revenge of the Sith, and he’s higher utilized as a slasher-like relentless pressure.

Clone Wars additionally gave underserved characters one thing to do, even when they have been (paradoxically) two-dimensional within the movies. Rely Dooku was by no means a very distinguishable menace regardless of Christopher Lee’s charismatic efficiency, however Clone Wars depicted him as a extra theatrical swindler that pitted potential acolytes towards one another in a merciless battle royale. Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu was spotlighted in a single episode that confirmed why he was worthy of sitting at Yoda’s aspect, as he bare-knuckle boxed droid invaders. The exaggerated pressure skills (Windu dispatches with numerous combatants) would’ve felt misplaced in a live-action movie, however they’re efficient within the area of interest animation of Clone Wars.

The Star Wars prequels had proven Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace, however Clone Wars really detailed the tragedy with out dashing between plot factors. In Assault of the Clones, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a stern teacher who ceaselessly scolds his youthful apprentice, but by the point of Revenge of the Sith’s opening sequence they’re assumed to be greatest mates. Clone Wars confirmed how the dynamic shifted as the 2 develop nearer within the warmth of fight and Kenobi takes pleasure in his pupil’s ascension to Jedi Knighthood. There’s additionally time away from the motion for the 2 to converse and eat bizarre meals, an intimate second of connection the prequels had largely lacked.

The liberty of animation captured Anakin’s descent into darkness vividly. Anakin’s duel with Sith novitiate Asajj Ventress is instructed throughout the 4 concluding chapters of season two in one of many saga’s longer prolonged duels. Because the blue and crimson sparks fly, Anakin’s fight turns into extra brutal, ending with a haunting shot of Anakin holding a crimson lightsaber and screaming in primal rage. The third season grew much more experimental, with a haunting dream sequence wherein primitive cave sketches foreshadow the rise of Darth Vader, impressed by Luke’s cave imaginative and prescient in The Empire Strikes Again.

Picture by way of Lucasfilm

Clone Wars actually laid the groundwork for Dave Filoni’s The Clone Wars movie and tv collection in 2008, as The Clone Wars additionally benefited from exploring completely different corners of the universe. Tartakovsky had proven that the prequel period had compelling parts worthy of one other interpretation. The 2 initiatives are complimentary, however distinguished; Filoni’s The Clone Wars had over 100 22-minute episodes to developed ongoing storylines specializing in the return of Darth Maul, the event of the clone troopers, and Anakin’s fractured relationship along with his padawan Ashoka Tano. Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars is a digestible spotlight reel that is three seasons add as much as nearly two hours. Each exhibits lead completely into Revenge of the Sith; Filoni wrapped up with a storyline that runs concurrently with the movie’s occasions with unique characters, and Tartakovsky concluded following Anakin and Obi-Wan proper into the opening shot.

Clone Wars is a hanging piece of standalone animation that doesn’t require complete information of the universe. Much less involved with plot than it was with characters and theme, it is important viewing even when it is not a part of any “official” timeline. As Star Wars content material continues to stack up throughout the Disney+ archives, Tartakovsky deserves credit score for taking what was pitched as a advertising ploy and making a groundbreaking murals.

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