'Clone Wars' still has life in the 'Star Wars' universe
Brian Truitt, USA TODAY12:52 p.m. EDT April 30, 2013
New Clone Wars Clip Here
Supervising director Dave Filoni is putting finishing touches on never-before-seen story arcs and also has some sage wisdom for J.J. Abrams.
There are still some battles to be fought in The Clone Wars.
The Star Wars animated series ended its run on Cartoon Network after five seasons of bringing new characters — and reintroducing some old favorites — into the franchise's expansive mythos.
But it's not done yet: Supervising director Dave Filoni is heading up the completion of a few story arcs that were slated for production before Lucasfilm announced in March that it was taking its animation slate in a new direction following its purchase by Disney.
"There are questions that are pretty big as far as it comes with the Clone Wars and things that people have wanted to know," Filoni says. "They're just these concepts just hanging out there, and finally we're going to deal with them."
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One of the arcs stars Jedi Master Plo Koon (voiced by James Arnold Taylor), who finds a lost lightsaber while on a mission on a sandstorm-laden planet with a platoon of clone troopers. It's the beginning of a mystery, and one that will make the Jedi question their role in the Clone Wars and the universe itself, according to Filoni.
"The Jedi have been fighting a war with an army that was commissioned by one of their own, Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas," he says. "But who was Sifo-Dyas, and what happened to him? The dark lord of the Sith has woven an intricate web to ensnare the Jedi, but it is not full-proof and sometimes a small clue, and a bit of chance, can lead to the unraveling of the best-laid plans."
While it's yet to be announced when and where these Clone Wars episodes will air, Filoni's team is coming close to putting final touches on the animation.
"It's bittersweet in some ways for the members of the team but we're all pretty excited about what we have coming back," he says. "They are easily some of the best things we were able to do, and I think we're all glad we were able to finish them."
The last set of episodes that aired on Cartoon Network were also some of Filoni's favorites, which ended with Anakin Skywalker's apprentice, young Ahsoka Tano, stepping away from the Jedi order completely and walking off into the sunset after being framed for a crime she didn't commit.
The last season finale of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" ended with young Ahsoka Tano walking away from the Jedi order.(Photo: Lucasfilm)
"One of the goals I always had for her was to have her become the one that walks away," Filoni explains, "the one that realizes that you have the left and the right of things, you have the Separatists, you have the Republic, and at the end of the day you can make a decision to say, 'This is ridiculous. I'm not for this. Both sides are wrong and I see it.'
"That's a pretty brave choice for her to make, and that's a statement about how Anakin trained her and even Obi-Wan's influence on her that she takes this middle path as a way to giving people another option."
Her departure is a huge disappointment for Anakin, and his "padawan" not even reaching the status of Jedi Knight is "problematic," Filoni says, "especially when it comes to a lot of details we later learn about Anakin as far as he's not a part of the council (and) he's not a master himself."
Even though she was created for a TV series, Ahsoka (voiced by Ashley Eckstein) was always meant to fit in the overall saga that George Lucas. Filoni found that she had her critics at first, yet what he was really proud of is how she earned her place and was a favorite for the younger generation of Star Wars fans.
Because Ahsoka never appeared in the original Star Wars movie trilogy or even in the last prequel Episode III: Revenge of the Sith — Clone Wars takes place between the movies Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III, which sees Anakin turn into Darth Vader — fans wondered what her ultimate fate would be and if they'd ever see it in the cartoon. (Now, it's even possible that she could show up in director J.J. Abrams' Episode VII if she wasn't wiped out with the rest of the Jedi when "Order 66" came down.)
"A lot of people want more closure with her, and that's always been curious to me since we aired that episode. It seems to imply that, I hate to say it, but short of her dying they don't feel like there's going to be any kind of closure for that character," Filoni says with a laugh.
"Just the fact that people want to know, frankly, is pretty exciting. I'm sure some people out there are like, 'Well, the kid's gone. Fine.' But there are a lot of people who I've talked to who are just like, 'What happens next? I have to know!' And I'm like, 'Well, I wanted to know a lot of things, too, growing up, and I had to wait.' It's a fun thing at this point."
While the future of Clone Wars is a bit hazy, it's less so for Filoni: He will be continuing on at Lucasfilm "for the foreseeable future" with responsibilities primarily in the animation realm, he says. Filoni is also respected outside of the company because of his respect for the stories he loved as a child raised on the original trilogy.
"I'm able to give a lot back to fans because I'm a big fan myself and I know how important it is to feel that the people behind these things really care about it, and I do. The fans have realized that about me," Filoni says.
And at Lucasfilm, he adds, "what I'd like to do is take whatever I learned and, like you're supposed to, pass on your experiences and knowledge you've gained. You want to help more generations of people as they come to this and it's a heavy burden. I know as well as anybody what it's like to work in the universe of Star Wars."
As far as the movies go, Abrams will be carrying the creative weight next, and while he might not need Filoni's advice, the Star Trek Into Darkness director would be best served by embracing the fact that he knows what makes Star Wars tick and taking the opportunity to do innovative stuff with the galaxy and its characters.
"That's kind of what we have that's special, because we grew up with it," Filoni says, "and if there's one thing I learned from George it's that you take that and you channel it forward into new exciting things the audience didn't know possible, because that's what Star Wars always did — it always moved forward."
Whether or not he becomes involved with the slate of Star Wars movies that Lucasfilm and Disney are planning, Filoni is just excited they're coming back to the big screen, although the small screen for him hasn't been too bad either.
"The idea that I'll get to go to a Star Wars movie and sit down and be like, 'Wow, here it is again,' that's pretty exciting for me personally," he says. "I can't wait to see what everybody dreams up."