Star Wars: Is The Bad Batch better than The Clone Wars?

Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 702 “A Distant Echo” .. Image Courtesy Disney+
Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 702 “A Distant Echo” .. Image Courtesy Disney+ /

With The Bad Batch wrapping up its first season on Disney+ and a promised second season on the way, there are bound to be comparisons to the show’s animated predecessor The Clone Wars. Both shows use a similar animation style and have Dave Filoni as the lead creative behind them. Clone Force 99, the lead characters in The Bad Batch, were introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars. And of course, both shows explore a specific section of the Star Wars timeline. Fan perception of The Bad Batch has been mostly positive, especially for fans of The Clone Wars, which raises the question, is The Bad Batch better than The Clone Wars?

It’s probably too early to tell, given that The Clone Wars was a seven-season exploration of a legendary war in Star Wars history, a war first mentioned as a past event in the galaxy in 1977’s A New Hope. The Clone Wars was wide in scope, whereas The Bad Batch focused more on a smaller scale in the galaxy. That is, however, probably where The Bad Batch’s strength lies in comparison to The Clone Wars.

Over the course of its seven seasons, The Clone Wars told an overarching story about the galaxy-wide conflict that was orchestrated to spread out, weaken, and eventually destroy the Jedi Order, but the 133 episodes didn’t always feel focused on this overarching plot. Many episodes were standalone filler episodes, and from one week to the next, you might watch an episode focused on Anakin or Obi-Wan or Asajj Ventress or a variety of other characters. It was fun, for sure, but not every episode felt like it truly mattered.

What makes The Bad Batch great

The Bad Batch, because it’s focused on telling the story of the immediate aftermath of the Clone Wars for this specific squad of modified clone troopers, feels more contained. Each episode follows the adventures of Hunter, Tech, Wrecker, Echo, and Omega as they’re being chased by either the Empire and their former friend Crosshair or bounty hunters searching for Omega. The story is focused on diving deep into these characters, so we see beautiful character moments through the relationships between Hunter and Omega, and Wrecker and Omega, that reveal an almost parent/child dynamic, humanizing these characters who were built to only be soldiers.

The Bad Batch feels like what it is: a closer look at a smaller group of the myriad of characters we encounter in The Clone Wars. But even more than that, it’s a closer look at the earliest days of the Empire through the eyes of the Bad Batch. Other than a glimpse through Charles Soule’s comic Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith from Marvel Comics, this period of Star Wars history has been largely unexplored. The Bad Batch shows us how a peace-loving Republic transforms into an oppressive Empire with tragic consequences, especially for worlds largely unknown by most of the galaxy, such as Kamino.

Through a 16-episode first season, The Bad Batch both answered questions Star Wars fans have had for years and raised a host of new questions. What is Omega’s significance to the Star Wars story? What will happen to all of the decommissioned clones? How will Kamino’s chief scientist Nala Se be utilized in Palpatine’s cloning plans?  We can look forward to more answers in upcoming seasons.

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The Bad Batch was certainly a satisfying sequel to The Clone Wars, but whether it’s better than The Clone Wars is really up to each fan to decide.