Click to viewOf course you're nervous about the new Star Wars: Clone Wars movie, and the 100-episode Clone Wars TV series that will begin airing on Cartoon Network this fall. Maybe you feel a little burned by episodes I-III, or the idea of an animated series gives you burning visions of Jar Jar. But have no fear, young Padawans. We've carefully weighed all the evidence, watched all the clips, and studied the Clone Wars back story carefully by combing through the comic books and "expanded universe" novels. And we bring good news. Clone Wars is going to be awesome — here are ten reasons why.
1. Dooku vs. Palpatine
In the movies, the Sithy Separatist leader Count Dooku is in league with Palpatine (Darth Sidious), and there are very few hints that he's much more than a very competent henchman. But in fact, he has his own agenda and has a whole future planned for the Separatists, a group that includes most of the galaxy's free traders and techie types. Clone Wars will focus on how Dooku's Separatists push for their agenda against Palpatine's power-grabbing imperialists. I like the idea of free traders vs. fascists. It's an interesting clash, with our Jedi heroes right in the middle.
2. Female ninjas
No offense to Leia and Padme, but on the scale of princess to ninja they were pretty far to the princess end of things. In Clone Wars, we're going to get some seriously kickass female ninjas mixing it up with the Jedi Knights. Anakin's padawan Ahsoka is fearless and strong, and Obi Wan Kenobi will meet his nemesis, the powerful assassin Asajj Ventress.
3. Clone rights
At the heart of this series will be a biology vs. technology theme, with the Jedi-led clone army fighting the Separatist-led droid armies. Will biotech soldiers prove better than techtech ones? More important, though, is that we'll watch as the clones begin to overcome their programming and become individuals. Will there be clone rights? Clone romance? These are the kinds of weird questions that make me excited about this series.
4. Clone Wars is new-school YA fiction
Perhaps influenced by a new generation of YA fiction with more adult themes, Clone Wars will be aimed at young people but will shed the kiddie comic relief of the Star Wars movies. Instead of identifying with Jar Jar or C3P0, kids watching Clone Wars can put themselves in the boots of the brave, wisecracking Ahsoka.
5. The Jedi come in shades of grey
We've seen a few Jedi in the movies, and we know they can be either good Knights or evil Sith. But we haven't seen the full range of Jedi powers (many Jedi have unique powers that go beyond telekinesis), nor have we seen them when they stop being polite and start going badass on the battlefield. I'm excited to find out about Luminara's powers, and what Kit Fisto can do with all those tentacles. The point is, it's not just Sith vs. Jedi — it's the many shades of Jedi.
6. War dramas are instant win
While every episode of the Star Wars movies has dealt with a decisive battle or coup, none of the movies could be classified as a "war film" proper. They are epics, character studies, political melodramas, and space operas — but none has focused on the lives of soldiers and officers waging a several-year campaign. It's about time we learned about the lives of grunts in the army of the Republic, and got some good soldier banter going.
7. More droids
The Separatist forces are packed with trade associations and tech guilds, so they have the latest droids with all the most up-to-date service packs installed. Expect serious coolness in the droid department: Those rolling shielded guys from Attack of the Clones are just the beginning. The fact that the series is animated will only add to the awesomeness of these droids, who look best in a stylized, CGI environment anyway.
8. Dooku backstory
He was once a Jedi, and he semi-trained his assassin Ventress in the ways of the Dark Side even though she was never Jedi material. What other weirdness lurks in Dooku's past? Why did he turn to the Dark Side? Why did he start the Separatist rebellion in the first place? We've got 100 episodes to find out.
9. Anakin as ironic hero
Knowing what we do about how Anakin turns out, it's a strange and intriguing irony that he's going to be our hero in this series. Even as we see him being a good mentor to a sympathetic young woman (Ahsoka), we know he has a dark side — and we know that he's lying to the Jedi every day since his secret marriage to Padme. Anakin has acquired a lot of creepy depth during the Star Wars series, and the Clone Wars were probably the time in his life when he could have turned it all around and told the Dark Side to stick it. And yet we know he won't: That each act of kindness and bravery is going to go sour one day soon. That makes for a pretty dark war tale, and I'm down with it.
10. Second-generation Star Wars sensibility
Filoni and Winder have both been associated with contemporary game-changing animated series: Filoni with Avatar and Winder with Powerpuff Girls. If they can successfully infuse the sweep of the Star Wars universe with a contemporary burst of anime sensibility and good humor, Star Wars will reach a new generation. And reawaken the first generation's love for a franchise that once felt like the most amazing new thing any of us had ever seen.