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I’m not someone who really grew up with Star Wars — my parents were never big fans — and I was really into Harry Potter for the majority of my childhood. However, before the sequels started to come out in high school, I decided that I’d watch the original trilogy for the first time. I did, admittedly, think the movies were a bit cheesy at times, but something sucked me in. I liked this universe, and I liked how it differed from Harry Potter.
While the originals were cool, I actually was way more interested in the prequels, which felt wrong, given all of the hate I had heard about the quality of those three films. I loved learning about Vader’s background as Anakin and thought that Episode I had a very different feel than the originals. For some reason—maybe evidence that I was a casual fan—despite my strong interest in Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme’s lives, I totally stopped watching the prequels after Episode I.
A couple years later, my partner (a devout Star Wars fan with a May 4th birthday to prove it) reintroduced me to the prequels. After watching all three films, I became so invested in the plot — The Clone Wars, Sidious and Dooku, the backstory to the originals, you name it. I just wanted to keep rewatching it, until I learned that there was a whole animated show called “The Clone Wars” on Disney+.
Before we watched that show, we had to do it “the right way” and start with these mini episodes that inspired the show. Together, “Star Wars: Clone Wars” formed an hour-long episode on YouTube. While I wasn’t so sure if I would like the animation, I ended up really enjoying it. We then moved on to The Clone Wars movie, which blew me away; Ahsoka instantly became my favorite character and I liked Anakin even more.
When the pandemic split us apart, my partner and I finally decided to watch the entirety of The Clone Wars until the pandemic finally ended. (Spoiler: we finished watching it last summer, and here we are…) It ended up being one of my favorite TV shows ever. I love the theme music, the little quotes at the beginning of each episode, Ahsoka, Rex and all of the other clones and even Ventress. I love the plots and even the episode arcs, which could get a little annoying when I didn’t like the planet they were on—the Mandalore episodes especially, oops. It really helped that the series centered around some of my favorite characters in Star Wars: Ahsoka, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, Cad Bane, Hondo, Ventress, the clones… The TV show really made it official to me: animated Star Wars was just as good as — and maybe even better than — the live-action movies.
That might be controversial, but who cares? Star Wars can be such a “gate-kept” franchise, especially for younger fans and female-identifying people. I might be new to Star Wars, but I am a genuine fan of it, even if I prefer the prequels and The Clone Wars over *gasp* the originals. But this is my point: if Star Wars wants to continue to be relevant (and of course, Disney wants that), these new animated series need to get developed, and fans need to like what is being added to the new canon.
Even though the last season of The Clone Wars ripped my heart out (over seven seasons and 133 total episodes, consumed so quickly together, I grew very attached), I think that they did such an awesome job bringing us from the Anakin era to the Vader era. I don’t know if I can really explain how much that last season built up, or how much the series as a whole shifted from lightheartedness to utter gloom around the meta episodes (when the family of “force-wielders” tests Anakin as “Chosen One” in season three). But honestly, I never felt the same way during the plots of the originals or sequels; they just didn’t move me like that.
The new spin-off show The Bad Batch moves me as well. It starts immediately after Order 66 and thus right after The Clone Wars comes to a chilling ending. I believe that The Bad Batch is everything that fans of The Clone Wars wanted, as the legendary Dave Filoni has played a huge role in both series. While it starts off just as sad and confused as the ending of the The Clone Wars, the Clone Force 99 (Wrecker, Hunter, Tech and technically Crosshair, Omega and Echo) makes up for it. They are successful, entertaining and immune to Order 66. While this new series is developing constantly, I do think it’s safe to say that it will be just as monumental for me — and perhaps Star Wars as a whole — as The Clone Wars had been since 2008.
Though I have focused on the prequel era and animated Star Wars creations, I don’t want to leave out the impact that The Mandalorian has had recently as well. Since this show was coming out around the time my partner and I started to watch the aforementioned programs, I didn’t want to watch it because I thought it would be too confusing to jump timelines. Once we finished The Clone Wars, we tried watching it while apart — but we had too many technology issues. This was fine by me, because I decided that I would not like any live-action shows and I did not enjoy the Mandalore episodes in The Clone Wars. Finally, we started The Mandalorian a week ago. I do like it! It has a very cinematic feel to it, and I love the Child, whom I call “baby.” I will have a stronger opinion of it later, but I know that it has had a big impact in creating the new era of Star Wars as well.
I feel like Disney will inevitably drain the Star Wars franchise for all of the shows, ideas and money it can get, just like the Harry Potter franchise has exhaustingly done. While it really shows the annoying greed of capitalism, I don’t actually mind it if we are going to keep on getting shows that explore moments in between the established trilogies. And it’s cool, isn’t it, that they are listening to fans?
Please watch The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch and maybe even The Mandalorian if you have not already (and are able to get Disney+). They might be so much more interesting to you than the movies, and I believe that they are very promising to the future of Star Wars as a whole!