Star Wars: the Clone Wars and Disney’s Problem with Storytelling
The highest quality piece of media in the Star Wars universe is one that was primarily produced before the Disney purchase in 2012. One that was abruptly cancelled, but still plays a huge role in the universe: Star Wars: the Clone Wars.
On February 21, Disney + released the first episode of the last season of Star Wars: the Clone Wars. The series originally aired between 2008 and 2014, getting cancelled shortly after the Disney purchase. Despite the cancellation, many fans started campaigns online to convince producers to finish the show.
As a huge Star Wars fan, I feel qualified to say this: Disney has really dropped the ball on the franchise. Everyone has their own opinion and is entitled to the way they feel, but I personally feel like the original objective was quantity over quality. This last trilogy was all over the place and felt disorganized while a coworker of mine made a very good point about the best movie Disney has released since they bought Lucasfilm.
“Was Rogue One actually good or were we just excited to see Darth Vader?”
At first, it didn’t look like a reboot was possible. The only things that the showrunners were able to release were unfinished episodes and concept art they had before Disney cancelled the series. In fact, the first few episodes of this last season, known as the bad batch arc, were some of the unfinished episodes.
Despite the fact that I watched the original unfinished episodes beforehand, I was still excited for these episodes to air. “The Bad Batch” was a great way to start off the last season. As a clone-centered episode, it was bound to receive a lot of praise. Clone-centered storylines always tended to be fan favorites and with this last season possibly taking place during the events of Revenge of the Sith; fans are both excited but terrified.
“The Bad Batch” starts off with clones Commander Cody and Captain Rex talking to Jedi generals Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker about the Separatists possibly stealing an algorithm that the Rex uses to win battles. Cody and Rex go on a mission to a Separatist post to see if they can figure out where and how they got this algorithm. With the help of the bad batch, a group of clones who have genetic differences from the rest of clones, they go searching for the algorithm. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Echo, a clone who died three seasons ago, is alive and Separatists got the algorithm from him.
I knew this would happen. This didn’t stop me from gasping and clutching my chest like a shocked Victorian mother. The drama, the animation, the battles, the heartbreak in Rex’s voice when he found out his brother was being held captive; it got to me.
That is a huge strength from the show as a whole; it does a great job at telling compelling stories and knowing spoilers won’t ruin the tension set up in the narrative. The whole show basically has one big spoiler attached to it; that Anakin Skywalker will turn to the dark side after the clone wars ends.
That strength is something that not many post-purchase movies and T.V. shows have been able to do well. Solo revealed Darth Maul at the end of it, making it out to be the big reveal for that movie. They thought for sure that there would be a whole movie series following young Solo as he fights against Darth Maul. He was a major enemy in Clone Wars and was killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Rebels. Solo brought nothing new to the table and decided to rely on shock value alone.
Cohesive story-telling has never been a strong point in the original and prequel trilogies. George Lucas made up fifty new terms for Phantom Menace that left fans confused. But I give him a pass on that because he was trying to build a world by himself. As a franchise with multiple directors and writers, Disney needs to step up their writing game.
That is why I feel like they brought Clone Wars back. Because fans love it so much and most Disney related projects haven’t lived up to the hype. In my opinion, the only piece of Star Wars media that has lived up to a similar hype has been The Mandolorian. It’s a fun but dramatic story with a cohesive narrative. It also has something in common with Clone Wars; Dave Filoni.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also worked on Avatar: The Last Airbender. He was the creative director for Clone Wars, and Rebels, and now Disney has been giving him live-action projects because he knows how to make a cohesive story.
This has been only part of what Disney is trying to do to clean up their act. A lot of projects, like the Kenobi series, have been put on hold because they’re starting to realize that Star Wars can’t survive on hype alone. The Last Jedi didn’t get as good of reviews as the studio hoped for, making them put a hold on the Skywalker storyline altogether.
I hope the conclusion of the Clone Wars marks a change in Disney’s plan for the Star Wars universe. It’s setting itself up to be a heartbreaking and chaotic finale, but it’s a finale that I feel like was gained through years of good story-telling rather than on hype alone.