Live-action Star Wars stories are proving to be a huge success for the franchise, but where would they be without the success of The Clone Wars and Rebels?
Star Wars seemed destined to be a story too big to be relegated to movies from the beginning. Around the same time, the original film was released in 1977, Marvel Comics began publishing comics adapting the storyline of the films. A novelization of the film was also released by Alan Dean Foster, and Foster went on to tell a non-canon sequel story called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, in which Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa search for a Kaiburr crystal and fight Darth Vader. Soon, an entire expanded universe of Star Wars stories was created by a variety of authors, telling stories that take place both within and beyond the films.
Star Wars expands into animation
In 2008, the Star Wars universe expanded into animation with the television series The Clone Wars, led by Dave Filoni under the guidance and supervision of George Lucas. The series, which tells the story of the fabled Clone Wars that takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, was lauded by fans and introduced several new fan favorites. Ahsoka Tano, the young Togruta Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, was so popular with fans, in fact, that Filoni brought her into his second animated series Star Wars Rebels. Rebels takes place just a few years before the events of A New Hope and introduces us to a young Force-sensitive boy named Ezra Bridger who is befriended and trained by Order 66 survivor Jedi Kanan Jarrus. Ahsoka becomes a trusted ally, and we see her discovery that her former master became Darth Vader. In a lot of ways, Rebels was simply a continuation, albeit several years later, of The Clone Wars.
Further expansion into live-action television
With The Mandalorian, Star Wars has expanded again, this time to live-action television, and in the tradition of Star Wars television begun with The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian quickly became a fan favorite. Exploring a previously unexplored period of time in the Star Wars canon from a truly unique perspective, The Mandalorian shows us a galaxy in which the galaxy swings like a pendulum between the influences of the fallen Empire and the New Republic. With the upcoming season 2 of The Mandalorian including a live-action version of Ahsoka Tano, the lines between animation and live-action are clearly blurring. Star Wars is too big for any one medium, and the animated stories of The Clone Wars and Rebels have clearly influenced the popularity of The Mandalorian.
Animated and live-action series collide
Of course, Rebels finished with quite the open ending, leaving us wondering where Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn ended up in the galaxy and a promised future storyline about Ahsoka and Mandalorian Sabine Wren’s search for Ezra. With season 2 of The Mandalorian including Ahsoka and a rumored search for other Mandalorians in the galaxy, it’s the perfect time to begin exploring the story left open at the end of Rebels. After all, because of Rebels, Sabine is one of the most beloved Mandalorians in the franchise.
We know Ahsoka and Sabine went on their search for Ezra together at the end of Rebels, so Ahsoka’s introduction into The Mandalorian could mean that Sabine isn’t far away. And if they’re still searching for Ezra, it could be that the rumors of The Haunting of Bly Manor star Rahul Kohli’s possible future portrayal of a live-action Ezra Bridger could become a real possibility.
The future of Star Wars storytelling forged in animation
Star Wars live-action television seems to be the future of the franchise, with live-action series focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rogue One’s Cassian Andor, as well as a rumored Ahsoka series. But that future was forged by the exceptional storytelling first established in animation in The Clone Wars and Rebels. And fans can’t wait to see more.
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