Even though it canceled the Clone Wars TV series soon after acquiring the franchise, Disney has rightly recognized the special place it holds in fans’ hearts and used that to its advantage. It’s arguably the only major Star Wars property set in the prequel era that still has a strong following, so Disney is being careful to stay associated with the series whenever it has to dip its toe into that timeline.
Take, for example, the upcoming Disney Infinity 3.0 game. Star Wars had to be integrated into the next installment, and Clone Wars, with its cartoonish animation and appeal to children, provided the perfect avenue to achieve that. There are very few playable characters taken from the prequels.
In fact, besides the main stalwarts like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda and Darth Maul, the only characters from the prequel era are Ahsoka Tano and Cad Bane, both of whom were introduced in Clone Wars.
But even though the show was canceled, Disney is still using its influence to assist one of its own contributions to the Star Wars universe: Star Wars Rebels. The show functions as both a graceful salute to the prequel era and a shift in focus to this new dynasty of Star Wars.
It’s a mix of the best parts of Clone Wars, with fan-favorite characters from the series returning for Rebels‘ upcoming second season, and the aesthetic of the original trilogy, being heavily based on Ralph McQuarrie’s drawings.
It’s an elegant solution to the unique problem Disney encountered when it first took over the galaxy far, far away: How do you bridge the appeal of two generations of Star Wars fans without pushing either group away? Disney was smart enough to recognize the inherent value in the maligned prequels and not completely disregard them. Instead of shunning the work of those who came before, it found a way to bring balance to the Force.