The original Clone Wars series, which premiered in 2003 and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, has arrived on Disney+!
The series was among a host of content that was released on the streaming platform last Friday, under the “Vintage Collection” label. I have long loved this series, and there’s so much great stuff in it. Though not considered canon, it’s very enjoyable. So I’ve collected my ten favorite moments from the series in this article!
The series begins with a short, yet epic, prologue. We see Yoda riding alone, but then igniting his lightsaber and a massive battle breaking out. We then hear a voiceover from Yoda that plays throughout the prologue, as we see Jedi like Saesee Tiin, Kit Fisto, Mace Windu, Luminara Unduli, Barriss Offee, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywlker; Clone Troopers battling on different fronts; and the villainous Count Dooku. All the while, we hear Yoda setting the stage for what we are seeing and about to see:
“Like fire across the galaxy, the Clone Wars spread. In league with the wicked Count Dooku, more and more planets slip. Against this threat, upon the Jedi Knights falls the duty to lead the newly formed army of the Republic. And as the heat of war grows, so too grows the prowess of one most gifted student of the Force.”
From there, we cut to a more specific context: Obi-Wan Kenobi is sent by Yoda and Chancellor Palpatine to Muunilist. Obi-Wan oversees his army preparing to leave, thinking that not even Qui-Gon could have prepared a Jedi for this, while Anakin says goodbye to Padmé as she watches the fleet leave Coruscant. In all, this short prologue does a fantastic job of setting the stage for the rest of the series. This is the Clone Wars. It’s raging across the galaxy. And we’re thrown right into it.
9. Asajj Ventress
This series is also our introduction to a brand new villain, Asajj Ventress, who makes her debut in the show in an arena fighting various creatures. It’s a gladiatorial-like environment, with the contestants all fighting to the death. But this mysterious figure, Asajj Ventress, makes quick work of them – all while Count Dooku looks on, in search of a new apprentice. Eventually, Asajj pulls out twin lightsabers – we don’t learn where she got them from – and continues the fight with them.
Dooku applauds her skills and takes her for his new apprentice, where he continues her training – and gifts her twin red lightsabers instead. She is then sent by Dooku and his master, Darth Sidious, to hunt down Anakin Skywalker. But this introduction to her really establishes the new character as a formidable fighter, one who isn’t prone to many words but who can make quick work of enemies in combat.
8. Anakin vs. Asajj
Speaking of Asajj, she does track down Anakin and lures him (against Obi-Wan Kenobi’s orders) to Yavin 4. Kenobi sends some clones after Skywalker, but the clones are quickly killed by the mysterious assassin – who finally reveals herself to Anakin. The two then engage in a lengthy duel that is without question the major lightsaber duel of the entire series. There are a few brief encounters elsewhere, but this is the one time that the lightsaber fight is given full attention and allowed to keep going.
The fight gives both Skywalker and Ventress moments to shine, but in the end Anakin gets the upper hand – but only by tapping into the dark side, which is visually reflected by the fact that he begins fighting with one of Asajj’s red lightsabers. He defeats Ventress by pushing her off a cliff, presumably to her death, but somehow she survived.
7. Anakin knighted
One of the more significant moments of the series, from a larger Star Wars universe perspective, comes when Anakin Skywalker is knighted. It begins with Anakin having a vision of him as a kid with Qui-Gon Jinn on Dagobah, and we then get some moments between Anakin and Padmé. Before long Anakin is needed by the Jedi Council, but he doesn’t expect what comes next: he walks into a dark room, where the Council – including his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi – ignite their lightsabers and encircle him. Grand Master Yoda dubs Anakin a Knight of the Republic.
We get to see a little bit of the Council’s thinking about this decision, including some hesitance – but Obi-Wan’s confidence. In the wake of General Grievous’s slaughtering of Jedi, the Council needs more Knights. Obi-Wan suggests Anakin forgo the Trials, but this is met by debate. Ki-Adi Mundi asks why they’re holding back the Chosen One during this crisis, but others aren’t as convinced – about Anakin’s promotion and about his status as the Chosen One. Yoda finally speaks up and declares that Anakin shall be a Knight. It’s cool to see the Council debating this, and to see Obi-Wan express such confidence and stand up for his padawan. This is an important moment, too, as Anakin is promoted to Knight – something we actually haven’t seen in any other Star Wars material besides this. In the wake of the decision, Anakin gifts Padmé his padawan braid, and she in turns gifts him with R2-D2 – both really cool gestures.
6. Kit Fisto
Ever since I first watched this series when it originally aired on TV, the episode where Kit Fisto led a fight underwater on Mon Cala has stood out as a favorite of mine. This story was actually adapted and translated to the later The Clone Wars series, and while I enjoyed that one too, this one still holds a special place for me.
The premise is simple: there is trouble on Mon Cala, as the Mon Calamari and the Quarren are at war. Kit Fisto leads Republic forces to the planet, jumping into the water and leading a thrilling battle sequence in the waters of the planet. There is very little exposition in this episode, as it almost exclusively takes place underwater, but it’s very cool, very unique, and very aesthetically pleasing.
5. Mace Windu
Let me just start off by saying this: I love this episode. It’s fantastic. And I have to begin with that, otherwise my next statement will be viewed as more critical than I intend it: I really think that this episode highlights not just how great this series is, but also why it’s really hard to want it to be canon (it’s not). In this episode, Mace Windu takes out an entire legion of droid forces on Dantooine, and he does most of it without even using a lightsaber.
So on the one hand, it’s an epic display by one of the most powerful Jedi of his time – and it’s thrilling to watch. It’s just flat out cool to see. But on the other hand, it highlights (probably more than any other episode) how this series portrays the Jedi as truly larger-than-life figures who are almost invincible. Sure, we’ll later see General Grievous eliminate some Jedi, but that only goes to highlight how powerful Grievous is. Here, Windu is literally surrounded by B2 Battle Droids, with a massive droid ship hovering nearby, and having lost his lightsaber. And he manages to defeat them all. It feels a bit strange saying something in Star Wars is too unrealistic, but I’m mainly referring to all the in-universe Star Wars stuff that we know. I like to think of this episode this way: at the end, there’s a kid who has been watching it all – and I like to think that this is maybe the way he would later tell the story to others, playing up the glory of the Jedi. Because that’s what this episode does.
That’s why I think it’s hard to truly argue this series should be totally canon. But it’s undeniably very fun and cool to watch, and so to borrow the words of Rey, “the galaxy may need a legend.” This episode gives it to us.
4. ARC Troopers
Similar to the episode with Kit Fisto, this episode is one that I might rank higher than others – from the moment I saw it, I was hooked. It’s one of the earliest episodes of the series, at the very beginning of the Battle of Muunilist. As Obi-Wan Kenobi leads Republic forces, the fleet arrives over the planet – and several gunships break away from the space battle and head toward the planet. Kenobi and clone forces land outside the city, but a lone gunship is sent ahead into the city by Kenobi. The ship is carrying a squad of ARC Troopers – elite clone troopers whom we are introduced to. Like several of these episodes this one doesn’t feature much dialogue, but we see the ARC Troopers stealthily making their way through the city, taking out any opposition they encounter, and working their way toward the massive gun firing at their forces. They disable it and pave the way for Kenobi’s forces to advance.
The ARC Troopers are awesome, and I just love how this episode shows them infiltrating the city, behind enemy lines, and forging along nonetheless. As many have often said, the strength of the later The Clone Wars series was how it truly humanized the clones. This original Clone Wars series doesn’t really do that – but in this one clone-centric episode, we actually get to focus on the clones almost exclusively, and I think it’s great.
We’ve already highlighted a new character introduced in the series (Asajj Ventress), as well as the Battle of Muunilist (ARC Troopers), but there’s a new character introduced as part of the Battle: Durge. As Kenobi’s forces take more and more of the city, the Banking Clan hides away in fear – and San Hill threatens a menacing new figure, wondering why Dooku sent him at all if he’s just going to stand there. Durge says nothing (in the whole series!) but strikes Hill, then rides out to the battle on a speeder bike, followed by forces of IG droids. They quickly eliminate the Republic forces… but are then met by a counter-attack by Kenobi and the clones, also riding bikes. Kenobi and Durge wind up fighting in one-on-one combat, and it’s there that the Jedi learns that Durge is very hard to kill – when Kenobi stabs him with a lightsaber and is just met by a laugh. Obi-Wan eventually does ‘kill’ Durge, but we are shown that the bounty hunter isn’t really dead.
He soon returns, now unconfined by his armor, and takes out clones and swallows up Kenobi – until the Jedi destroys him from the inside. It doesn’t kill Durge, but it’s the last we see of him in the series. And he’s an awesome new villain, a bounty hunter aligned with the Separatists, who is nearly impossible to kill. As such, he presents a very real threat to the Republic and the Jedi, and Obi-Wan learns that the hard way. Durge almost instantly became popular among Star Wars fans.
Without a doubt, however, both the biggest character introduced, and the coolest introduction, belongs to General Grievous. He appears for the first time at the very end of season two (aka the very end of Volume One), and he was introduced as part of the lead-up to Revenge of the Sith. We see a group of Jedi – which includes Jedi Masters Ki-Adi Mundi and Shaak Ti, as well as a Jedi who looks a lot like Shaggy from Scooby Doo – trapped and fearful. But of what? We soon learn, as Sha’a Gi is driven insane and killed by this frightening villain, Grievous. He takes out several Jedi and engages all of them in a duel, displaying just how powerful he is and just how adequately he can wield numerous lightsabers. Eventually, Republic reinforcements drive Grievous away enough to escape. But Grievous’s introduction has taught us just how powerful he is.
To many people, Grievous has never been as menacing in any subsequent material as he was in this show. And his introduction certainly shows us how dangerous he is, as the first glimpse (literally) that we get of him is killing Jedi. Even Jedi Masters like Ki-Adi Mundi and Shaak Ti have trouble fending him off. Grievous is enough to strike fear into Jedi, which probably is all that really needs to be said.
1. The Battle of Coruscant
Without question, when I think of the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series, the first thing I think of is the Battle of Coruscant, depicted at the end of the show and leading directly into Revenge of the Sith. It has never since been depicted like this, and in my opinion, this remains the definitive account of what happened at the Battle of Coruscant. The Separatists launch a surprise attack on Coruscant, and a number of Jedi – including Jedi High Council members Yoda, Mace Windu, Saesee Tiin, and Shaak Ti – spring into action. Tiin leads an attack in space, both from his ship and by venturing into space outside of it. Windu flies through the skies but then fights on the streets as well, alongside Yoda – where they come to realize that the attack must be a diversion. That’s where Ti comes in – she is among a group of Jedi sent to secure Chancellor Palpatine, but General Grievous arrives, attempting to kidnap the Chancellor. The Jedi wind up taking Palpatine all across the city as they attempt to flee Grievous, but eventually he manages to capture the Chancellor. Windu rushes in at the last moment trying to intervene, but he cannot stop Grievous – he only manages to crush his ribs, leaving the General with a lingering cough. As Grievous attempts to flee the capitol, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are called in to help. And that’s where ROTS begins.
Everything about the Battle of Coruscant is fantastic. Saesee Tiin leading attacks in space is thrilling, and it gives us something we’ve rarely seen – a battle atop a Separatist cruiser in space! Mace Windu and Yoda fight on the city’s surface, which is cool to see these two prominent Jedi – the two highest ranking members of the Order – fighting alongside each other in defense of the very heart of the Republic. And then of course everything with Grievous pursuing the Chancellor is fantastic. Much of that – like Shaak Ti being sent to protect Palpatine – is indeed canon, and it seems that this entire account is with a few exceptions viewed as accurate (or at least that’s how storytellers are operating).
Seeing the Battle of Coruscant was a dream come true, and it was done tremendously well. The entire series is great, but in my opinion, this is without question the best moment.