Fifteen years ago, the red carpet premiere for The Clone Wars was held at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. For the first time, fans were introduced to Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, and many characters we have come to know and love. The movie would have its US release on August 15, 2008.
It changed the course of my life because The Clone Wars movie made me a Star Wars fan.
I hear you. THAT Clone Wars movie made me a Star Wars fan? Not the Original Trilogy? Or the Prequels? The box office bomb is what did it? Are you ill?
No, I’m not ill. Fandom is a funny thing, isn’t it? We all have different journeys of getting here, but it doesn’t make us any less fans. The Clone Wars was exactly what I needed at that point in my life.
Growing up, I liked Star Wars but didn’t love it. My mom showed me the 1997 Special Edition Original Trilogy, my first franchise experience. A few years later, The Phantom Menace would be my first Star Wars film in a movie theater, so the nostalgia gives it a nice little shelf in my heart despite its flaws.
Still, I never connected with Star Wars. It was… fine. I was more obsessed with other stuff like Pokémon, Digimon, and Sailor Moon. Looking back on it, those things have one key in common that the Original Trilogy and the Prequels don’t, which is a big reason why I latched onto The Clone Wars.
Animation has always been my favorite medium to consume. I adore all of it, from the wide variety of anime, the emotional roller coaster of shows like The Owl House, the dry wit of series like King of the Hill, the indie powerhouse that’s Helluva Boss, and everything in between. Animation can pull off feats and tell unique stories that oftentimes live-action cannot. I love it, and when I saw The Clone Wars in a movie theater in 2008, it struck that chord with me that I finally found my Star Wars.
There was also my dear Ahsoka too. She found me when I needed her most. I liked Princess Leia and Padmé Amidala growing up, but they were intimidating. They could do no wrong. These women were intelligent, brave, and leaders of worlds and Rebellions. They were perfect, and I didn’t feel that way.
I was in college, passing back and forth between majors, having no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I kept messing up with no path and felt the weight of my flaws, which is precisely why Ahsoka resonated so strongly with me.
In The Clone Wars movie, she messes up repeatedly, at one point almost killing Anakin in the process. She was flawed out of the gate and struggling on her path. Like me, she wanted to impress her teachers, making her even mess up more. The pressure of trying to succeed and failing struck me in my core. The film also emphasized that it was okay to make mistakes because failure is the best teacher. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and Ahsoka was the one who showed me the path.
I had found her. Ahsoka Tano was my Leia.
That’s not to say that The Clone Wars isn’t a flawed movie. Despite the warts, it’s the most important piece of Star Wars on my journey. It’s what got me into the fandom for the first time. I had just started using this new thing called Twitter and sought out other fans of The Clone Wars to talk about weekly episodes. I joined a podcast, and from there, my career grew as I made more connections with other shows. Now I write and talk about Star Wars full time for my career, and it would have never been possible if not for The Clone Wars.
It’s not a perfect movie, but I owe everything I have now to that flawed, beautiful mess that came out fifteen years ago. Happy birthday, The Clone Wars.
Thanks for everything.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, Star Wars wouldn’t exist.