We owe modern Star Wars to Dave Filoni and The Clone Wars

Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 710 “The Phantom Apprentice” - Image Courtesy Disney+
Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 710 “The Phantom Apprentice” - Image Courtesy Disney+ /

As the Star Wars franchise continues to deliver exciting new content, we need to recognize how much is owed to Dave Filoni and The Clone Wars.

With season 2 of The Mandalorian coming to a powerful conclusion, it put a cap on yet another series of great Star Wars moments that many fans never expected to see come to life in such a way. While the universe of Star Wars has always been vast, there’s one show and an instrumental figure that has paved the way for everything we’re seeing today.

When Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith premiered in 2005, it seemed to be the perfect final piece in an epic saga. While not universally praised, as the years have passed Revenge of the Sith is recognized by many as the highlight of the prequel trilogy.

In hindsight, especially when considering the controversial nature of the prequel trilogy to many parts of the fandom, it seems possible that a few missteps after Revenge of the Sith could’ve seen the beginning of the end for Star Wars. At least, the beginning of the end it in that medium.

The expanded universe likely would’ve always continued with the comics and novels, but it seems impossible to have foreseen a landscape like we have today. The Mandalorian has wrapped two seasons now which have been beloved by fans and critics alike.

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Key art for Ahsoka series coming to Disney+. Photo: Walt Disney Studios. /

The future of Star Wars

After the reveals in December of 2020, we’ve got no less than seven different live-action Star Wars series to expect in the coming years and two animated ones. On top of that, there are several film projects in the works, but Rogue Squadron is the only one we really have much information on.

Several of them can be directly linked to the influence that Dave Filoni had on the franchise with the film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the subsequent television series, The Clone Wars. The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka, and The Bad Batch are the most closely tied to the events of The Clone Wars.

Now, this isn’t intended to overlook the long-term influence of George Lucas. None of this could’ve ever been imagined (much less actualized) if George Lucas didn’t give us Star Wars. However, in recent years he has been far from the biggest influence.

From 2005 to 2015, the only film of television property in all of Star Wars was The Clone Wars. Despite the critical failure of the movie, it delivered enough promise for the television series to go forward.

Most of the Star Wars content we can look forward to today will air on Disney+, and the movies we get to see will also be Disney properties. The fingerprints of Disney are all over modern Star Wars, but that likely would never have happened without The Clone Wars.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 13: Dave Filoni arrives for the Premiere Of Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” held at El Capitan Theatre on November 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 13: Dave Filoni arrives for the Premiere Of Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” held at El Capitan Theatre on November 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images) /

The Disney influence

When Revenge of the Sith burst onto the scene, or in the years before it, few may have predicted that the entire franchise would end up in the hands of media giant Disney. While there had been some connection between the companies over the years and collaboration on theme park attractions, it was never enough to indicate Disney eventually acquiring Lucasfilm and Star Wars.

The talks for the deal itself began in 2011, and it came to fruition in 2012. From 2005 to the beginnings of those discussions in 2011, the franchise’s core product was The Clone Wars. It doesn’t feel like a stretch to imagine things may have been different without that.

While Disney may have still seen value in the intellectual property of Star Wars and the opportunity to use it at theme parks, they may not have been as forward about producing new content without the success of The Clone Wars.

The film Star Wars: The Clone Wars today only holds an 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a meager 35 on Metacritic. However, despite the reviews, it made $68.3 million in the worldwide box office from a budget of only $8.5 million.

It’s fortunate that things were good enough for the television series to become a reality because things only improved from there. The first season more than tripled the acclaim of the movie, managing a 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While seasons 2 and 4 don’t have an official score on Rotten Tomatoes, seasons 3, 5, 6, and 7 all have 100 percent scores and average the series out to an impressive 93 percent as a whole.

The show managed a few award nominations, including a 2010 Teen Choice Award, but saw more success after the property was under the umbrella of Disney. The Clone Wars earned seven Emmy nominations and two wins in 2013, four Emmy nominations and one win in 2014, and seven more Emmy nominations in 2015.

Once The Clone Wars came to an end, Dave Filoni had the opportunity to take on a new project entirely under the Disney umbrella which would air on Disney XD. Star Wars Rebels was born, and Filoni continued to mold the Star Wars universe with great success.

Star Wars: Rebels introduced entirely new characters while bringing others from the past like Grand Admiral Thrawn into the mix, and even continuing the story of Ahsoka Tano that began with The Clone Wars. The series still holds an impressive 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and the further influence of Rebels will continue to be felt in the coming years.

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Pedro Pascal is The Mandalorian, Temuera Morrison is Boba Fett and Ming-Na Wen is Fennec in The Mandalorian season 2. Photo: Disney+. /

The Mandalorian and more

Following his success with The Clone Wars and Rebels, Dave Filoni had the opportunity to do something entirely new for Star Wars. While we’d had the chance to witness live-action movies and animated television, Star Wars had never committed to a live-action series.

While The Mandalorian was created and largely written by Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni’s influence can be felt at every turn. While eight different people have gotten to direct an episode of The Mandalorian, Dave Filoni is tied with Rick Famuyiwa with the most as they’ve each directed three episodes.

Filoni and Famuyiwa have also each written two of the three episodes they got to direct, but Filoni has also served as an executive producer for the entire series. Filoni directed the very first episode of season one, and he also wrote and directed the return of Ahsoka Tano in season 2.

While there are undoubtedly many other names who remain a powerful and positive influence on the Star Wars franchise today, few seem to reach the level of Dave Filoni. Again, that all goes back to The Clone Wars and the way it still shapes things moving forward from here.

We can directly link Dave Filoni and The Clone Wars to the upcoming season 3 of The Mandalorian and the new series The Book of Boba Fett, Kenobi, Ahsoka, and The Bad Batch. It’s also not much of a stretch to think we’d never get to see Lando, The Acolyte, Andor, or Rangers of the New Republic without Filoni and The Clone Wars pushing the franchise forward to the movies that helped make them a reality.

Whether you’ve watched and loved The Clone Wars or not, the thanks it is owed for the state of the Star Wars franchise today is undeniable. There may be no better time to be a Star Wars fan than today, and it’s important to remember the past that helped bring these exciting properties into reality.

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