Words and Pictures by Bleeding Cool's Erin Wilhelm:
Ten years ago, in August 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted first as an animated film and then as an animated series later in 2008, introducing Dave Filoni as the genius of Star Wars Animation that we know him to be today. Over six seasons, Filoni told compelling stories about the effects of war and showed a fantastic five-season character arc for Ahsoka Tano (voice acted by Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein), transforming her from a slightly annoying character many fans were wary of to a beloved, permanent fixture of Star Wars canon. In addition the the show itself, however, The Clone Wars really paved the way for The Force Awakens and our current Star Wars renaissance.
Today at San Diego Comic-Con, Filoni brought along producer Athena Portillo, Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lander (the voice of Anakin Skywalker), and composer Kevin Kiner to celebrate the characters and stories that fans loved and the lasting influence The Clone Wars has had on the Star Wars universe. And, of course, to drop the bomb that The Clones Wars is coming back via Disney Direct, Disney's new streaming service.
Along with the members of his team, Filoni brought along a host of his own original drawings, created during his story meetings at George Lucas's famous ranch. Athena and Dave recounted these yearly two-week sessions, where they would work with Lucas to map out the direction of the season. Due to limited time with Lucas, they would have to plan out up to three whole episodes a day, plotting story arcs (even the dreaded droid arcs). Filoni also brought along drawings of future story arcs from what would have been the seventh season of the show, had it not been cancelled in 2014. He discussed new plans for Ventress as a bounty hunter, and new adventures for Ahsoka and the clone troopers.
Eckstein and Kiner then took the opportunity to praise Filoni as a director. Eckstein called him the best producer she had ever worked for and explained that he had a knack for addressing each actor differently, tailoring his technique to get the best out of the actors. Kiner said that after 5000 or so episodes of television, Filoni was the best director he had ever worked with. They managed to embarrass Filoni into hiding behind his sizeable cowboy hat.
Kiner then talked about the process of writing the music that played when Ahsoka walked away from the Jedi Temple in that fateful fifth season episode. They played the episode clip, showcasing the melancholy and contemplative music Kiner wrote to emphasize Ahsoka's loss of faith. The clip brought Eckstein to tears, showing how much she still connects with the character.
At the end of the panel Dave Filoni said that he still gets people tweeting at him to #saveclonewars, and Matt and Ashley said the same. Then, Dave said he wanted to bring something to Comic-Con that was worthy of the fans. And he did. They played a trailer for a new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, seemingly picking up several years after the final episode, and showcasing the first time Ahsoka Tano sees her master after that fateful day at the Temple.
Needless to say the crowd went completely insane. They announced to a room full of fans that their show was coming back, complete with #clonewarssaved hashtag. The audience was so thrilled, they re-played the trailer as I frantically tried to get the news and pictures to our Bleeding Cool staff in the office.
I can think of no better way to honor the influence that The Clone Wars had on Star Wars, the fandom, and the furthering of the brand then for The Clone Wars to return to anchor Disney's new streaming service Disney Direct. I have to admit, I went from reporter, to fangirl, to reporter and back again all in 60 minutes. Long Live Clone Wars.