The Clone Wars are over… or they almost are. Disney has announced they’re ending the Clone Wars cartoon, and are beginning work on a new Star Wars cartoon set in a new timeframe. Whatever the end up picking, there’s only one man for the job of directing this thing: Genndy Tartakovsky.
Okay, Genndy Tartakovsky might not be the only man for the job, but he’s definitely the best person for it. If you don’t remember Tartakovsky, you probably know his work; he created, wrote, directed and produced cartoons like Samurai Jack, Sym-Bionic Titan, Dexter’s Laboratory, oh, and a little thing called Clone Wars.
Obviously I’m not referring to the CG cartoon that began in 2008 and is on its way to wrapping up; I’m referring to the much-loved, much too brief and completely awesome 25-episode microseries that ran on Cartoon Network from 2003-05, and whose 3-minute episodes blew anything seen in the later Clone Wars cartoon — or all three prequel movies, for that matter — out of the water.
Despite their incredibly short run time, these episodes managed to make Star Wars exciting again, even after the middling Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. They were full of indelible images, many of them used in Lucasfilm’s later Clone Wars cartoon: Obi-Wan kicking ass while in Clone Trooper armor. Asajj Ventress. A lightsaber being ignited underwater. ARC troopers being silent, badass commandoes? Genndy’s Clone Wars did it first.
And they were also full of awesomeness we’ve never seen in any other Star Wars story, before or since — like Mace Windu taking on dozens of Super Battle Droids… with his bare hands (watch it above; it'll change your life). A lightsaber being ignited in the rain — then hearing the rain sizzle when it hits the blade. And most impressively, General Grievous being an actual badass. Really! Since he was forced to introduce General Grievous into the series in preparation for Episode III, Tartakovsky presented Grievous as the nightmare he never came close to being in the films — a lightsaber-wielding terror who could climb the walls like an Alien, take on several Jedi at once, and kill them all without breaking a sweat. It created a bar for the villain that his appearance in Revenge of the Sith paled in comparison to.
That actually sums up Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars pretty well, actually; he used the same pieces that George Lucas had, and created a product that was infinitely more satisfying and entertaining that what ended up on movie screens. Seriously, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars shorts were so good that a rumor started George Lucas refused to let Cartoon Network do any more, because he was jealous of how great they were, and decided to make his own Clone Wars cartoon at Lucasfilm. Now, that’s probably untrue — more likely George wanted to produce the show himself and sell it to CN, rather than produce with CN, to maximize his profits — but the fact that this rumor ever seemed viable is a testament to just how talented Genndy is when portraying the Star Wars universe.
Even if you ignore Genndy’s own amazing Clone Wars cartoon, all you have to do is look at his creations Samurai Jack and Sym-Bionic Titan to know that the man is a master of serialized animated entertainment. These shows mixed action, comedy, drama, and even horror — they could be anything, really, and that’s exactly the sort of freedom you’d want a Star Wars cartoon and its wide-open universe to have. But more importantly, these cartoons had heart — characters that were interesting, relatable and human… even if they weren’t strictly speaking human. Look at Octus, the sentient bio-cybernetic robot of Sym-Bionic Titan; he’s just as compelling as any of the human characters, and in a galaxy packed with droids that’s exactly what Star Wars needs, and the wide variety of aliens that Jack encounters in Samurai Jack are just as rich and understandable.
Now admittedly, Sym-Bionic Titan was more a re-examination of the giant robot anime of the ‘70s than something specifically Star Wars (although I really wouldn’t mind a giant Star Wars robot or two, frankly). But Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack is practically a Star Wars cartoon already. Replace Jack’s katana with a lightsaber, call him a Jedi instead of a samurai, and instead of wandering on foot between adventures, enemies, and craziness, have him fly a spaceship and boom, it’s a Star Wars cartoon.
Look, the man’s resume clearly shows he has the talent, he has the storytelling skills, he has the directing ability, he has the imagination, and most importantly, the man has proven what magic he can bring to the Star Wars universe because he’s done it already. Right now, Tartakovsky is wasting his talents making generic CG kids flicks like Hotel Transylvania for Sony (and he’s already working on a sequel, sigh). Disney, you grab this man, you write him a very large check, and you give him this show. And he’ll give you an awesome cartoon that will propel the popularity of Star Wars for another decade. And he'll also give you the one thing George Lucas couldn’t get in the last 14 years: happy Star Wars fans.