Twenty years in the past in the present day, the sight of a diminutive cartoon Yoda—shrouded in a hooded cloak, his inexperienced lightsaber ignited and held excessive—driving atop a goatlike mount remodeled Star Wars as we knew it. A yr earlier than on the climax of Assault of the Clones, he’d advised us that begun, the Clone Wars had: now they honestly had, and Star Wars would never be the same.
Throughout two years and 25 chapters, Star Wars: Clone Wars—made for Cartoon Community by the seminal director behind Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and extra, Genndy Tartakovsky—introduced audiences to the entrance traces of its titular idea in a method solely teased by Assault of the Clones the yr earlier than. In doing so, Star Wars unleased a possible it had, at that time, not tapped into in many years: how the facility of animation may very well be used to develop its galaxy, and never simply achieve this cinematically and by way of its lore, however stylistically as nicely.
Clone Wars was not essentially a story sequence—its third season would carry extra outlined plots and construction that performed out over its expanded runtime, however for probably the most half it was a sequence of free vignettes, home windows into completely different fronts of the struggle. The dialogue was spartan, its stage setting restricted. Clone Wars advised its story by way of the beats of its motion, the rise and fall of fight. The quiet moments in between the frenzied flurries of blaster bolts and lightsaber swings had been precisely that: silence, a pressure that sustained every thing from elite ARC Troopers slinking by way of town streets of Muunilist to the rain-slicked forests of Yavin 4, enjoying host to a darkish duel between Anakin Skywalker and Asaaj Ventress, all the way in which to the barren wastelands of Hypori as Normal Grievous made his horrifying debut.
It’s fascinating that Clone Wars—which was, for probably the most half, virtually a stylistic tone piece greater than it was a Star Wars story—went on to set the stage for a lot of what would comply with within the subsequent 20 years of the franchise and past. Its direct affect on the 3DCG animated sequence The Clone Wars is, after all, apparent: not simply in how the latter present infused the previous’s concepts with greater narrative targets, however in its personal influences and stylization, and the views it needed to inform. The Clone Wars’ highlight on the persona of the Clone Military can draw a line on to Clone Wars’ personal fascination with the masked legions of the Republic by way of figures like Captain Fordo, and past that in its exploration of a world of Pressure customers exterior simply the characters of the flicks—from Package Fisto to Luminara Unduli and Bariss Offee, even to its villains within the likes of Asaaj Ventress and Rely Dooku.
However maybe above all Clone Wars’ legacy exterior of its direct affect on The Clone Wars—and the way that present has gone on to essentially reshape a lot of latest Star Wars fiction by way of characters like Ahsoka Tano—is the way it formed its viewers to be ready for a world of Star Wars that seemed nothing like the flicks. That wasn’t the flicks. Tartakovsky’s bold-lined, exaggerated artwork type on Samurai Jack and his different works translated to Star Wars in a unbelievable method, giving Clone Wars a feeling that pushed the aesthetic of the Prequel Trilogy even additional into its traditional, mid-Twentieth-century sci-fi influences, a legacy that we see within the animated tasks that got here after it even past simply The Clone Wars, like Rebels and even Star Wars Visions.
That exaggerated aesthetic didn’t simply apply visually, however cinematically as nicely. Clone Wars gave us feats of motion the flicks by no means may, Jedi on the apex of their energy dismantling swaths of foes in single strikes or mere gestures of their palms—it pushed the boundary of what we may see as acceptably Star Wars-ian to a sort of folkloric mythos. It introduced exaggerated tales of how Mace Windu alone may cease the siege of Dantooine, how simply 10 Clone Troopers may flip the tide of the Battle of Muunilist, of how only a single cybernetic Separatist Normal may make a squad of Jedi tremble in worry. Clone Wars’ stylistic presentation lends itself to a blurring between the actual and the surreal in methods few Star Wars tales—so obsessive about the inflexible definition of what’s and isn’t a part of a prescribed canon because the franchise will be lately—have since, embracing that concept that there’s at all times somewhat fact in legends that might come to outline the transition from one period of the Expanded Universe to the subsequent.
Clone Wars arrived on the apex of the Star Wars prequel period, a end result of concepts George Lucas had had about his story for many years beforehand. However in such a small, impactful method—even supposedly “supplanted” as it will be by a second sequence to bear its battle’s title years later—it will go on to affect a lot of Star Wars for the many years to return, and hold doing in order the franchise enters an much more culturally saturated period.
Star Wars: Clone Wars is streaming on Disney+.
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