‘Clone Wars’ spans generations of fans

'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' 100th Episode

Young fans who first encountered “Star Wars” through the Cartoon Network’s series have bonded with new characters like Ahsoka Tano, left, and see Anakin Skywalker, right, the future Darth Vader, only as a hero. But the show’s creators have had to balance the tastes of new fans with those of sometimes-skeptical baby boomers who loved the movies first.

“Star Wars” became a global entertainment franchise on the strength of a movie trilogy that told the story of young Luke Skywalker’s battle against the evil Galactic Empire and its champion, Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. The stories captivated baby boomers and Gen Xers. But that was decades ago.

Over the past few years, a fresh generation of enthusiasts have discovered the saga’s canon through “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Cartoon Network — and they see the franchise very differently, since Anakin Skywalker, who is fated to become the malevolent Vader, is the show’s hero.

“These kids grew up watching Anakin, not Luke,” says the skein’s supervising director, Dave Filoni. “They have a different reaction to the movies that I know very well. When they watch ‘A New Hope’ (Episode IV, the original ‘Star Wars’) and hear Darth Vader kills Anakin, they’re like ‘No way! This guy sucks!’ ”

Filoni has had to juggle this bifurcated demographic, ostensibly catering to young boys while still offering older “Star Wars” fans content that expands upon a universe they dove into decades ago, through 100 episodes of “Clone Wars” — and counting.

Cartoon Network moved “Clone Wars” from Friday night to 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays for the program’s fifth season. The series has been a solid performer for Cartoon Network, and while the Saturday morning transition for the show has shown a dip in overall live viewership, “Clone Wars” still at times ranks as the top telecast of the day among boys 9-14. Lucasfilm did not comment on rumors the skein will transition to Disney XD in the wake of Disney acquiring Lucasfilm.

Young or old, fans of the saga can often approach “Clone Wars” with their personal misgivings.

“You can’t always please them,” Filoni says. “But I grew up with all of these fanboys, so I’m aware of all of the arguments.”

The wrath of the fanboy factored into the casting process for “Clone Wars,” particularly when it came to Anakin Skywalker’s protege, Ahsoka Tano, a character that wasn’t in preexisting “Star Wars” mythology.

“I sat down with Ashley Eckstein, who plays Ahsoka,” Filoni says. “And I told her that a lot of people won’t like this character and it’s not your fault! We needed someone who could smile against any angry fan bashing her and say, ‘I appreciate your concerns and I’m doing the best I can.’ ”

As “Clone Wars” is set between “Episodes II: Attack of the Clones” and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” the series must inevitably end, and many of its characters — perhaps including Ahsoka — probably won’t survive. Filoni says confidently that he and George Lucas “have an endgame in mind.”

“We used to joke about it: Who do we kill? Who do we not kill? We have an ending to the whole thing, but I can’t say how far out that is in terms of episodes. … We’re in a wait-and-see mode.”

It is possible, though, that characters who do survive “Clone Wars'” finale could eventually seed forthcoming “Star Wars” movies, now that Disney and Lucasfilm are committed to doing as many as three pics a year.

“These characters are meant to go along with these movies … who knows if it will show up in future movies,” Filoni says. “It’s all just a part of the ‘Star Wars’ world you’re watching. … I don’t think that in 1977 that even Yoda could look into the future and see how exciting it was going to be.”

‘Clone Wars’ spans generations of fans | ‘Clone Wars’ made galaxy fun again | Moody look of ‘Clone Wars’ inspired by ’70s classics | ‘Clone Wars’ guest stars galore

More Digital

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

  • Crypt-TV-Facebook

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content