Star Wars Rebels is nearing the end of its second season, which has been pretty fun to watch so far. It was around this time though, that its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, evolved from just another kids action cartoon to an important part of Star Wars canon. How did it become so good? How did it draw in adults as well as children? Here are six reasons why we all loved The Clone Wars and how Rebels can learn from these and become just as good.
Part of what made The Clone Wars so great was the time it devoted to its stories. Devoting more than one episode to a story gave more time to character development. That strengthened the characters of Anakin and Padme, which made watching the prequels much more enjoyable. The settings benefited from more screen time as well. Because of the multi-episode arcs, we became more familiar with locals such as Onderaan, Ryloth, and Mandalore. This really helped to fill out the concept of inter-galactic war. We got to see individual planets' struggles and strife. The biggest advantage of the arcs, though, was the addiction factor they brought. Having a cliffhanger each week drew the audience in as well, and raised the stakes for all of the characters involved. If Rebels was to do more arcs like these, they could really make the show appeal to more than just kids.
During The Clone Wars, we met MANY clone troopers. However, the show devoted entire arcs to certain ones. Having this look at the front lines of the war made the gravity of the war feel more earned. We were lead into caring about clones such as 5s and Domino Squad, which made their deaths at the hands of the separatists and the sith carry weight. Because we knew the soldiers, it made us cringe a little every time one died in a battle. Letting us get to know the rebel soldiers would make scenes in the movies such as the very beginning of A New Hope even better. As we see Vader and his stormtroopers kill all of the rebels defenders, we'll think of the similar defenders we've been introduced to in Rebels. The same could be said for the fighter pilots. I would like to get to know the members of Hera's squadron. It would give deeper feeling to the two Death Star attacks as well as the losses they've been facing on the show.
Remember when 5s gave his life, uncovering the secret of Order 66? What about the death of Duchess Satine after Darth Maul's takeover of Mandalore? The Clone Wars loved to get you attached to characters and then kill them off. As an audience member, it makes you feel sadness and pain, which translates to anger against whatever foe killed them. 5s's death added to Palpatine's list of deceptions and evil acts. Though we all already disliked Palpatine, his deceptive way of getting rid of 5s made us hate him for more specific reasons. This only enhances your next viewing of the prequels because it makes every bad thing he does seem worse. Tarkin's appearance in the first season lead me to believe Rebels was beginning to follow in its predecessor's footsteps. However, since then, we haven't seen much along these lines. If Rebels was to build up a few minor characters and then have them die at Darth Vader's hands, Vader's eventual redemption would carry even more weight and would make his acts in the movies seem even more sinister.
The Clone Wars was not afraid of losing battles. When the clones lost the battle on Ryloth and gave their lives so the Twi-Leks could escape, it was heartbreaking. When Ahsoka was removed from the Jedi order (though she was asked back later) because she failed to clear her own name, we were all sad and angry. We NEEDED to know what happened with her. The heroes seem to always win in the end on Rebels. The great thing about The Clone Wars was that nothing was guaranteed. Only the characters seen in Revenge of the Sith were guaranteed to live let alone win. This kept all of us on the edge of our seats. The rebels always win, which lowers or even removes the stakes. It's not surprising when a character lives on Rebels because all of the characters always live. I want to be worried for these characters in every single episode, like I was during Clone Wars.
The Clone Wars didn't just focus on the battle between the Republic and Separatists. We were also shown the lives of characters like bounty hunters and crime lords. The Star Wars galaxy is filled with crime, and Rebels has touched on characters like Lando Calrissian and Hondo Onaka, but only as people involved in the fight against the empire. I want to see some of the inner workings of Lando's mining company or Jabba's crime syndicate. It would be cool to see Han make the Kessel Run or see Lando lose the Falcon. These shows are intended to fill in the gaps in the story and show us the state of the galaxy in-between the movies. The criminal underworld is a big part of the galaxy and deserves more screen time.
The biggest difference between Rebels and Clone Wars is the characters. Clone Wars featured the main characters of the prequel trilogy on a regular basis. Rebels does not. Main characters occasionally visit Rebels but none of them appear regularly. Even veteran characters like Ahsoka and Rex appear on a varied basis. This disconnects Rebels from the canon. After seeing The Clone Wars, you feel like you have to watch it between episode's 2 and 3 to really understand the story. In comparison, Rebels feels unnecessary. Watching Rebels is like playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's nice, but it really has nothing to do with the movies which drive the franchise. If Rebels was to bring in Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, Wedge Antilles or any other Trilogy characters on a regular basis, it would feel more connected and crucial to the Star Wars story as a whole.
Rebels is great no matter what. I'm glad that after Disney's purchase of Star Wars, they decided to continue making Star Wars television. Hopefully, Rebels will get even better though as time goes on. I hope when it ends I can look back on it fondly as I do with The Clone Wars. Whatever happens, I'm happy.
What do you love about Rebels? What do you miss about Clone Wars? Tell us below in the comments!