How Disney’s takeover of Lucasfilm facilitated the end of The Clone Wars and the uprising of Rebels
Being a passionate supporter of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series, I was utterly astounded when Disney brought its remarkable adventures to a close at the very height of its popularity.
The fact that the series was curtailed whilst still in the developmental stage for its sixth season was a blow I was unprepared for. There was an unprecedented volume of resentment directed toward Disney in the aftermath of their purchase of Lucasfilm and the sudden cancellation of The Clone Wars did little to appease the dubious fan base. The sense that Disney were in the process of dismantling the well-established Star Wars franchise was difficult to ignore and many of us needed confirmation that they, were indeed the right people to take our beloved saga forward.
The sudden cancellation left many a story line unfinished, ranging from the climax of the Darth Maul Mandalore plot to the cloning of the infamous Zillo Beast, these awesome storylines were left to fade into the ether leaving many questions unanswered in the process. The aftermath of Obi-Wan’s tragic loss of Duchess Satine had been left unresolved and I yearned to see the story unfold leading to the opening moments of Revenge of the Sith.
From a fans perspective, it was a bizarre move from Disney, one that had its fair share of backlash in the many fan forums adorning the internet, but in light of its controversial cancellation, we were promised an all new series set in a time period previously unmapped in Star Wars lore.
Star Wars Rebels was born…
Set against the backdrop of the galactic civil war, the new series would take place in the lead up to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and feature an all new animated cast detailing their struggle against the agents of the Empire.
With characters like the Jedi come Rebel, Kanan Jarrus, Jedi in training Ezra Bridger, Mandalorian warrior come artist Sabine Wren, a disgruntled and battered Astro droid known as Chopper, a heroic female Twi’lek pilot named Hera Syndulla and a Lassat, the last of his kind named Zeb, whom incidentally is based on the Ralph McQuarrie concept art for our beloved Chewbacca making up the team, we were set for a very different adventure amongst the stars.
The rest as they say is history, and now three seasons in, the show is just as popular as The Clone Wars ever was, if not more so with a devoted fan following most shows would kill for. With classic Star Wars characters like Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, Princess Leia and Lando Calrissian making epic returns to the new series, producer Dave Filoni began to treat the fans to an amazing story that not only provided us with a new group of characters to cheer for, but also elaborated and built upon the legacy of George Lucas’ greatest characters.
The animation boasted by the new show was both vibrant and fresh but sadly lacked the depth and intensity of The Clone Wars palette. This design change could have been considered a major detraction for the show but the unfolding stories were as intriguing as they were nostalgic for the Original Trilogy and more than made up for the more simplistic animation.
In the greatest tradition of the Star Wars universe, Filoni and his fantastic team behind the show went above and beyond the call of duty to provide us with a series worthy of replacing The Clone Wars and in stunning fashion, began to answer the unsolved mysteries left unanswered in the upshot of the series’ cancellation. By the time the first season came to its gripping climax, vintage Clone Wars character and firm fan favourite Ahsoka Tano made her epic return to elaborate upon her unfinished story arc and help fill in the gaps between her Revenge of the Sith timeline.
With the commencement of series’ second season, our struggling band of Rebels had begun to strike at the very heart of the Empire and had won many a hard earned victory, but their success came with a cost. The infuriated Emperor swiftly dispatched the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader to cripple the insurgency in its infancy and in doing so exposed Ahsoka to the truth behind the fall of her one-time master come Sith Anakin Skywalker.
In the aftermath of his devastating attack upon the Rebel fleet, Vader returned to the more rudimentary duties of his position whilst Ahsoka recruited her long-time friend and veteran of the Clone Wars, Clone Captain Rex to the rebel cause from his self-imposed exile on the planet Seelos.
But The Clone Wars resurrection did not end there.
With the climax of the second season, the sinister and twisted Darth Maul returned to extract his revenge upon his oppressors from the finale of the incomplete episodes of Clone Wars. Maul’s quest for ultimate power, one capable of destroying his former master and his Sith apprentice had consumed his every thought and had inadvertently set him on a collision course with our new Rebel heroes.
Fast forward to Star Wars Celebration Europe in London’s Excel Centre and series producer Dave Filoni announced to the world that a cult character from the expanded universe would finally make his official debut in Star Wars canon during season three. Grand Admiral Thrawn…the sinister commandant from the Timothy Zahn expanded universe novels had been resurrected from the periphery of the Star Wars timeline to hinder the Rebels every move and bring an end to their strengthening uprising.
With the onset of season three, the bitterness of the Clone Wars’ cancellation is finally fading into the ether as the unanswered questions of our beloved series are being addressed in such stunning form. The long awaited answers are finally being revealed and better yet, the legacy of Star Wars Rebels is moving past the loss of Clone Wars and carving out its own, well deserved niche in Star Wars folklore.
One thing is for sure, Star Wars Rebels is here and it’s here to stay…
My bitterness for the loss of the Clone Wars has been replaced by a clear and wholehearted respect for Dave Filoni and his amazing team at Lucasfilm animation, despite the recent episode named “The Last Battle” emphasising the loss of the much beloved series. My love for Star Wars Rebels has not been diminished by this episode, however it has served to refresh the feeling of loss for The Clone Wars which, I still regard to be the better of the two series. I am, like most fans fully invested in the Rebels and cannot wait for the stories to unfold for years to come.
In true Clone Wars tradition “the best confidence builder is experience” and in Dave Filoni, we have the best possible custodian for the future of the force and despite my initial concerns, my faith in Disney has been restored.
Bravo Disney, the force is truly strong with you once again…
Be sure to embrace Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD and get your hands on the season one and two Blu-Rays available now.
May The Force Be With You