This week, the Clone War begins...again! But we’re not returning to the 3DCG battlefields of Lucasfilm’s beloved, iconic animated series (not until Bad Batch, at least). Instead, Disney+ is finally taking us back a long, long time ago—to 2003, to re-experience our first animated taste of one of Star Wars’ most legendary conflicts: Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars.
Ever since A New Hope—where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Leia Organa whispered of a legendary conflict, of guardians of peace and daring pilots—fans wondered just what the Clone War was. In 2002, we got a glimpse of it in prequel film Attack of the Clones, as a new Republic army rose alongside the Jedi Order to combat the returned Sith threat. But we saw a single battle, and masses of soldiers and fleets ready to depart Coruscant and wage war across a galaxy—what of the war itself?
We’d wait a year to see, and it wouldn’t be on the big screen but Cartoon Network, through the eyes of beloved animator Genndy Tartakovsky. Then known for series like Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack, Tartakovsky led the charge on Star Wars: Clone Wars, a short-form, mostly dialogue-less anthology series that told the stories of Jedi and Clones on the front lines of conflict; daring duels, epic sieges, the rise and fall of new heroes and new villains. Across three seasons, leading all the way up to (literally) the beginning of Revenge of the Sith, Clone Wars provided one of the most unique windows into the Star Wars galaxy as we’d seen it.
Now that it’s finally streaming on Disney+, the entire thing is worth a watch—it’s only about two hours total, after all. But if you want to dive in and get a taste of what Clone Wars could really shine with, here’s a select sampling of its highlights.
On the planet Muunilinst, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s force of elite ARC Troopers battles their way through the city streets to capture a key outpost.
The Mon Calamari have petitioned the Republic for aid, and Jedi Master Kit Fisto has answered. While shirtless.
A shady gladiatorial arena on Rattatak draws the attention of Count Dooku when an all-out brawl leaves a surprising young woman standing as the victor.
Back on Muunilist, the battle rages, as Obi-Wan decides that the only way to counter the Banking Clan’s army of speeder-bike-riding lancer droids is with...well, speeder-bike-riding clone troopers.
On Dantooine, Mace Windu loses his lightsaber in a challenging skirmish with the Separatist’s earth-smashing seismic tanks, only to quickly prove that an unarmed Jedi is infinitely as dangerous as an armed one.
Anakin Skywalker has been drawn to the rain-soaked jungles of Yavin IV in pursuit of an ace enemy pilot who turns out to be none other than Asaaj Ventress, Dooku’s new assassin—engaging in a battle that will test his body and spirit unlike anything has before.
On the planet Hypori, Ki-Adi Mundi attempts to bolster the resolve of a group of sole surviving Jedi. But something stalks them in the shadows, and there’s talk of a new Separatist commander...a cyborg trained to be the ultimate Jedi killer.
The two final episodes of the series are set at the climax of the war on the planet Nelvaan, as Anakin uncovers a chilling vision of the future while he attempts to uncover a mystery behind disappeared Nelvaanian tribesmen. Meanwhile, on Coruscant, the war hits home: General Grievous’ fleets have invaded the capital, and Jedi Master Shaak Ti finds herself in a horrifying race for survival, where the safety of the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is at stake!
(Spoilers: it doesn’t go well.)
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