How Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Long Hiatus, and The Mandalorian, Made It Even Better

We spoke to producer Dave Filoni about the return of The Clone Wars.
We spoke to producer Dave Filoni about the return of The Clone Wars.
Image: Lucasfilm

There’s no way producer Dave Filoni ever thought Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be back. If he thought for a second that might happen, he certainly wouldn’t have spent the last six years telling fans what he had planned to do. He also probably wouldn’t have resurrected several of the show’s major characters in another show either. But Filoni thinks that all the time that’s passed, and all the other Star Wars stories that have been told, have made the final 12 episodes of The Clone Wars better than ever.

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“Sitting down to make The Clone Wars again so many years later...we looked at how do we make the show better,” Filoni told io9. “Not just in terms of surprises in the story itself, but in terms of the way the show looks, the way the show moves, the design of the characters, the visual effects rendered in the episode, everything has to be looked at and [asked] ‘Can we make it better?’ And what does it mean if we make it better as far as how it fits with the rest of the show?”

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The Clone Wars debuted in 2008 and ran for five seasons before being unceremoniously taken off the air in 2013 after the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm. Netflix then aired the sixth season in 2014, and that’s where it “ended.” Since then, Filoni created and concluded two more Star Wars animated shows, Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, and moved into live-action as an executive producer, writer, and director on The Mandalorian. Now, he’s bringing all of that into finishing the show that brought him into a galaxy far, far, away.

“I tried to make this Clone Wars the summary of everything I’ve learned about telling these types of stories,” Filoni said. “It’s been very fulfilling taking an episode [of The Mandalorian] through the whole process of visual effects and everything and then coming back to animation and applying some of those things I saw as far as performance goes, as far as editing goes, back into Clone Wars...I feel that the cut of the episodes is much sharper. The pace is better. Mandalorian definitely taught me a lot about the filmmaking process that I’ve taken back to Clone Wars now.”

We’ll learn more about Ahsoka Tano.
We’ll learn more about Ahsoka Tano.
Image: Lucasfilm

What, exactly, Clone Wars is now will be no surprise to fans of the show because Filoni never stopped talking about it. In the years since the series aired, story reels have been online, he’s done detailed interviews as well as full convention panels on the storylines he was going to cover in a final season. He also brought major characters, such as Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex, back in Star Wars Rebels, as a way to bring closure to their story.

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So when he finally got the okay to finish The Clone Wars as he saw fit, there were a lot of building blocks to use. Ultimately, Filoni decided on three major arcs. First is the Bad Batch, about an enhanced group of Clone Troopers. Next is what happened to Ahsoka after leaving the Jedi Order (but before you she showed up on Star Wars Rebels), and finally the Siege of Mandalore, an event hinted at on The Mandalorian.

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“I really took [those three stories] apart and looked at it as ‘This is the end of the show now’” he said. “And ‘how do all 12 of these episodes tell that story of the end of The Clone Wars in a significant and satisfying way?’”

In doing that, Filoni realized he’d never be able to answer every question about every character or, in just 12 episodes, do all of the storylines he’d teased over the years. (And there were a lot.) Instead, he’d have to focus on the core of the show.

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“Looking at Clone Wars, it’s pretty clear to me to say that Rex and Ahsoka are kind of the backbone of it,” Filoni said. “Yes, there are characters like [Asajj] Ventress that, in the end, play a significant role and have an arc. But I wouldn’t say that this series was fundamentally about her. She’s one of the storylines. But in the stories that we were able to choose, I knew Ahsoka needed to be a significant part of that story and so did Captain Rex. So the arcs really work out to be a portion about Rex, a portion about Ahsoka and a portion that brings them together. And that kind of flows in a nice way.

What’s that you say, Dave, about mixing Rex and Ahsoka’s stories?
What’s that you say, Dave, about mixing Rex and Ahsoka’s stories?
Photo: Lucasfilm
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A nice bonus for Star Wars fans of any level is that Filoni and his team designed these final episodes to be consumed by anyone.

“If you start with just these last 12, I want you to feel like you’ve got a complete journey,” he said. “Yes, you can go back and watch them all and I think that’s great. And if you’ve seen them all, there’s definitely more you will pick up on than if you’ve just seen the 12...So it’s tailored to your experience level and hopefully will be enjoyable for all, which is one of the things I think Star Wars does so well in any form.”

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That’s true, in large part, due to the work of Dave Filoni. And you can bet after finally getting a shot to end the show he’s best known for, he’s going to leave everything on the screen.

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The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is now on Disney+


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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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“I tried to make this Clone Wars the summary of everything I’ve learned about telling these types of stories,” Filoni said. “It’s been very fulfilling taking an episode [of The Mandalorian] through the whole process of visual effects and everything and then coming back to animation and applying some of those things I saw as far as performance goes, as far as editing goes, back into Clone Wars...I feel that the cut of the episodes is much sharper. The pace is better. Mandalorian definitely taught me a lot about the filmmaking process that I’ve taken back to Clone Wars now.”

Returning to my pet tinfoil that part of the intent for Mandalorian is allowing a bunch of Disney’s successful MCU directors to teach Filoni how to do live-action before letting him take over the whole Star Wars franchise....