Why Star Wars Rebels Will Be Better than The Clone Wars

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars was an Emmy Award winning series which premiered in theaters on August 15, 2008 and subsequently on television on October 8, 2008. The series’ television run ended on March 2, 2013 with the conclusion to Season Five, before seeing a brief, 13 episode revival on Netflix on March 7, 2014.

The early story of The Clone Wars is one of highs and lows. Debuting in third place in its opening weekend, The Clone Wars brought in $14.6 million on its way to a domestic total of $35.2 million in its theatrical run. I remember walking out of the theater with my then roommate, and despite some high points we were rather disappointed in this new Star Wars movie. On the small screen The Clone Wars fared better premiering with 3.96 million viewers, a record for a series premiere on Cartoon Network at the time.

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At the beginning, with the very stylized animation design used in the series, the rather obnoxious banter between Anakin and Ahsoka, and the relative lack of music of John Williams, The Clone Wars’ early days were filled with hits and misses. As the show evolved over the seasons it continued to improve each year, with animation, sound, story and acting all deepening as the show grew.

The interesting thing about The Clone Wars is that it was really a massive R & D project for Lucasfilm as well as a labor of love for George Lucas.  Through The Clone Wars, Lucasfilm was able to develop a new branch of the company: Lucasfilm Animation. So without The Clone Wars a show like what we are to get in Star Wars Rebels wouldn’t be possible.

Having seen the premiere of Star Wars Rebels, I am confident in saying that we will get a show that is better than The Clone Wars in Star Wars Rebels.  Here are nine reasons why.

1. The Empire is back

Love or hate the Prequel films, the truth is that the Empire has a much more compelling set of villains than the Separatists. The return of various types of Stormtroopers, TIE fighters, AT walkers, speeder bikes, Star Destroyers, and arrogant and capricious Imperial officers has me incredibly excited, more so than seeing legions of clankers.

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This hearkening back to the Original Trilogy should also appeal to older fans like myself and help younger fans transition from The Clone Wars to the Original Trilogy, and then to Episode VII in 2015.

2. Chronological Order: “216, 116, T, 301, 303, 101…”

The Clone Wars was a show that was released in one order, but that order is not the same as the in-universe chronological order of the events in the show. For example, chronologically the series begins with Season 2 Episode 16, then Season 1 Episode 16, the film, Season 3 Episode 1, Season 3 Episode 3, and then Season 1 Episode 1.

Star Wars Rebels is beginning with the 1-hour premiere “Spark of Rebellion” and then continuing in order after that. This will make it much easier to follow the show, the character developments, and events in the world of Star Wars Rebels.

3. Everyman versus the Ruling Class

Much of the Prequels and The Clone Wars contained stories about the ruling elites of the galaxy far, far away. Sure, there were some episodes on remote planets and in the under levels on Coruscant, but for the most part we were dealing with the power players in the universe.

In Rebels we are focusing on a small group of outcasts in Hera, Kanan, Chopper, Zeb, Sabine, and Ezra. These are street level characters not dealing with the fate of the entire galaxy, but with the fates of their friends and neighbors. I can’t wait to see where they take the story of the population of Lothal as individuals oppose and support the Empire.

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4. Opening Misfire

As I mentioned in the opening, The Clone Wars theatrical premiere was hardly the strongest set of episodes in the series, and was a rather unimpressive debut overall. On the other hand, the premiere of Star Wars Rebels while not perfect is an immeasurably better beginning to a show. If this is the quality of the show at the beginning, I cannot wait to see where it goes as the creators develop these characters further.

5. Animation

The Clone Wars matured into a very beautiful animation style, but it took a long while to get there. It is visually difficult to watch some of those early episodes after being spoiled with the later seasons. Star Wars Rebels has some interesting influences from Ralph McQuarrie and Disney’s Tangled. While there are budgetary realities that will mean there are likely fewer resources available to the team creating Rebels than was available for The Clone Wars, the experience working on the previous show and the advances in technology give the current creative team some real advantages. The animation style for Rebels is more accessible and palatable for casual viewers.

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6. John Williams

On the musical front, Kevin Kiner who was responsible for the music in The Clone Wars returns, but his use and innovation based off of John Williams’ Star Wars scores is much more present in Rebels than it was in The Clone Wars. This tonal shift is important because it adds to the sense that Rebels feels more like Star Wars than The Clone Wars.

7. An Experienced Crew With Some Great Additions

A good portion of the crew that is working on Star Wars Rebels are, as Dave Filoni says, “veterans of The Clone Wars.” The experience of telling Star Wars stories from The Clone Wars seems to have given Filoni and his crew a greater mastery of not only the mythology of Star Wars, but also a better sense of what feels like Star Wars. Of course, the additions of Greg Weisman and Simon Kinberg as well as the work of folks from the Lucasfilm Story Group provides great quality storytelling experience.

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8. Fewer Limits

The Clone Wars was set in a narrower period of time than Star Wars Rebels. Taking place between Episodes II and III, The Clone Wars dealt with some major and minor film characters from the Prequel Trilogy, a number of whom had fates that were fixed by those movies. While characters like Captain Rex, Ahsoka, Asajj, Cad Bane, and the resurrected Darth Maul evolved into major characters in the show with unanswered fates , we know the fate of many more of the characters seeing frequent screen time. There are also limitations on how characters can interact, for example Anakin and General Grievous based on dialogue from Episode III.

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As Rebels begins we are dealing with an almost entirely new cast of characters. There are some first season cameos that were revealed in a trailer for the show, but the characters we are following around are all new, and we do not have any sense of what their fates will be before the events of Episode IV. I am very excited by what creative freedom this is providing for the writers of Star Wars Rebels .

9. A Core Group of Characters

One of the beauties of The Clone Wars was that we got to see a lot of different characters take the spotlight. If a certain character was not your favorite in a few episodes you wouldn’t be seeing them again. This allowed us to meet and get to know a number of really interesting characters, and I particularly enjoyed spending time with the Clones, Asajj, and Ahsoka. Of course this does make it harder for casual fans to jump on board to the show midstream, or to follow a particular characters story.

In Rebels we will be on the Ghost with Hera, Kanan, Chopper, Zeb, Sabine and Ezra and these will be the characters that we get to know and follow around. This will allow us to get to know these characters more deeply and quickly than we were able to do with many on The Clone Wars.

What are you looking forward to in Star Wars Rebels?

~ Peter Morrison writes at his blog Lightsaber Rattling, as well as here on the Star Wars Report. He also co-hosts a podcast about Star Wars Rebels called Rebels Report.

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  • Daniel Savard

    While I absolutely love the Separatist war machine from a design point of view, I agree that the Empire is much more imposing (I believe that is partly due to the fact that the CIS was just another pawn in Sidious’ game).

    I grew up with The Clone Wars and it will forever have a special place in my heart. That said, I can’t wait for the Rebels premiere in October.

  • wayde

    I love clones and the clone wars. I grew up with it all but I think they will do good we will see I have Hope tho.

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  • Disagreed

    Just watched episode 1 of Rebels, and it was laughably bad. Nice try, but Clone Wars will always have better characters, stories, and atmosphere.

  • Izzy

    I think the Empire has more potential than the CIS ever had! I want to see the various types of Stormtrooper blasters, I want to see Sandtroopers, Scoutroopers, Snowtroopers, ect. I want to see the DLT-19, DLT-20, T-21, ect, I hope they eventually have large scale Rebels vs Empire battles like Hoth in Episode V. I hope we might see Han Solo, maybe young Luke and Leia. We already saw Chewy, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Bei Organa. I feel this show has a lot of potential, I want to see a more polished Empire than the one we first saw in the 70s, and 80s. I want to see the rebellion get started, the empire expanding its iron first across the galaxy. We should all see the Imperial Perspective too, see what life is like for an average Stormtrooper, and those senators who really believe, and support the empire. I want to see Anakin Skywalker *cough* I mean Darth Vader duel against some of our heroes. Hopefully we will get to see Obi-Wan, Yoda, and many more survivors of Order 66. I have high hopes for Star Wars Rebels lets see if it meets my expectations.

    • Fastman

      I agree.
      Clone Wars was fun, but in Star Wars the time of the Empire is better.
      Stormtroopers Sandtroopers Xwing. Tiefighters.

      And finally no more Separatist droid enemies.
      Darth Vader will return yes.the actor who voiced Darth Vader, James Earl Jones is also back as Darth Vader.
      Young Han Solo,Luke and Leia would be awesome.
      I actually hope to see the team goeing to Dagobah to meet Yoda.

      • Mc Coop

        None of those characters besides Vader will appear

  • StarWarsFan

    I absolutely disagree with about everything in this article. It smells like propoganda because it is so not true. More palpable animation? Fewer limits? Really? in this time frame with virtually no Jedi around anymore ? the Empire is Back? WHere did it go? CLone Wars was the story of the Empire and the manipulation it took to creat that Empire. It actually had the Emperor and Vader (Aniken) in it. I stood in line for the original Star Wars and have seen everything that has come out including spoofs and out takes. The Star Wars Clone Wars blows even the original Star Wars trilogy away and makes Rebels look like child’s play so far. And Frankly where the hell is The Emperor and Darth Vader? There’s a Jedi out there wreaking havoc in the Galaxy and the Dark Lord of the Sith and his Evil apprentice, who is charged with their elimination, haven’t even been mentioned? Please.

  • Pringles

    So far Star Wars Rebels has been well below par. At least in the Clone Wars we were shown multiple star wars planets and aliens, not just stuck on Lothal with a 90% to 10% alien ratio. Clone Wars showed us emotional struggles, beautiful battle sequences, etc. Disney cheeped it out with Rebels, using one planet and crew for the whole show isnt very original. They focus too much on the original movies, they forget that the kids watching these episodes (or adults) still grew up with the prequel trilogy whether or not the very old generation liked them. Im not saying to praise the prequels but to at least recognize that they exist and will always exist. And that there are still Jedi out there, they didnt all vanish in the purge, story arcs around this would be great. Actually any story arc would be great, something lasting more than the 22 mins. Also the Clone Wars animation was amazing and Rebels falls short here as well.

    • SpyWing

      Completely agree and for God sack if I see those two empirial officers again (the really skinny one and the fat one) I swear like are they the only freakin to officers on the hole planet??? Atleast the Clone Wars had different characters like more then just copy.. Paste… Copy.. Paste

  • Pringles

    I get it. Everyone who is an Empire fan is overwhelmed about Rebels, but everything in the Empire is so overdone. No one cares what kind of storm trooper they are they are all the same thing, Storm Troopers. The vehicle are basically the same too. Please rebels instead of coping the original trilogy and very old ideas, SHOW US SOMETHING NEW!

    • William

      That’s why I really liked the clone troopers in Clone Wars, there was some variety between the clones, also ARC troopers, super cool.

  • SpyWing

    In some respects sure Star Wars Rebels in very impressive and I’m glad that in a way the series is still going

    But I know the Clone Wars Had to end I get that

    But personally, I wish that they made Rebels in the same animation as CW, I just feel like theirs no connection anymore, like I’m still missing the CW and can’t really re-connect with rebels, for example that episode with Luminaras Ghost I think emotionally would have been 100 times more intense if it was the same animation as CW, because seeing Her in that episode felt as if it wasn’t her, didn’t even look like her, so their wasn’t that connection… And saying that if they bring in other CW characters I feel like that’s not going to have the same impact as it would if it was the same animation, like Bail Organa looked like and no offence to anyone but he looked Asian in Rebels again if they haven’t have said who it was I probably wouldn’t have recognised him and their we have it, that bond we’ve made with the characters for what… 7 yrs is gone, theirs no follow on, so when and if Ahsoka or Rex pops up, it’ll be as if their new, aka emotional attachment gone -100

  • DarthMordreius

    Star Wars Rebels falls very short of The Clone Wars to my opinion. I grew up with the original trilogy. My mom waited in line for 4 hours to see The Empire Strikes Back when she was pregnant with me. But i practically waited my whole life to see Anakin turn into Darth Vader. The prequels are more interesting and have a far more thoughtout story and The Clone Wars falls insinc with that. But Star Wars Rebels is even more simplistic then the original trilogy but it lacks it’s classicness. The main characters on Rebels aren’t that interesting to me and the lack of massive action and complex stories that CW specialized in will always make Rebels fall short. It’s fun to see new stories where you see the Emipire and Stormtroopers, TIE fighters and even the Inquisitor (who’s the series’ only interesting character) CW also had better animation and diversity of humans, aliens and locations. The lack of familiar characters will hurt Rebels. Hopefully we’ll see Ashoka and Asajj as well as other original trilogy and prequel characters. If i wasn’t a big Star Wars fan and curious about future story arcs that relate to the movies i wouldn’t give Rebels a second thought

  • R Rivers

    There is no way Rebels will ever be better than Clones. The stories in Rebels are targeted for a younger audience and are designed to be consumed by Disney family type crowd. In Clones the amount of deaths overall amounts to hundreds maybe thousands, I doubt we will see that kind of violence in a Disney cartoon. The character of Zeb Orrelios is too cartoonish, immature and cannot compete with Ahsoka that at 14 was a skilled military strategist and warrior. Lastly, Clone Wars was dealt by troubles that we can relate in the real world: abuse of power, deregulation of banks, racism, slavery, political corruption, people finding that the path they are following might not be the right one, and nobody is fully light or dark, we are all in the middle, a shade of gray. No character in Rebels will ever breakthrough like Ahsoka beloved by children and adults alike. Disney people missed an opportunity of having a final season tying all the knots. Maybe is for the better a good author can write a novel about Ahsoka missing years and Ventress final destiny. Rebels better than Clones? Never! Its only a show for little kids………..

  • Otirik

    It makes me sick how much hate disney is getting when its so painfully obvious THAT THEY ARE DOING WAYYYY BETTER WITH STAR WARS THAN GEORGE LOOGY HAS DONE IN YEARS!!! YALL NEED TO FRICKING STOP BEING LITTLE SPOILED PISSANTS!!!

    Q: Want to know why rebels is better?

    A: Im sorry I cant answer that question. Because if I did…it wouldnt be a fact. Just my opinion! Which is why all hate comments are completely irrelevent! Because they are ALL just some whiny bigots opinion.

    • LoL@U

      I don’t think you know what a bigot is… Nor the fact that even though these are opinions, they are not irrelevant.

      • Otirik

        They are irrelevant :)

        But it don’t matter because your opinion doesn’t matter either.

        • Mc Coop

          You are a retarded douche. Go die in a hole

  • William

    I personally find Clone Wars to be leaps and bounds better than rebels mostly due to how important each episode was to the actually war. Pretty much each episode in Clone Wars involved a huge battle that would effect the war in someway or a diplomatic mission like the one with Obi-Wan and Satine. Also Clone Wars brought back one of the most coolest Sith of all time back into the Star Wars Universe, DARTH MAUL. They were like fucked it, who cares if he was chopped in half lets give him badass spider legs and make him crazy. The Clone Wars also gave weight to the Clone’s existence with a couple of episodes going in depth to how a clone feels and acts, each time a random clone would die I kinda felt bad. So far Rebels has yet to make me feel anything towards any of the main characters. Final point why Clone Wars is better than Rebels, ARC TROOPERS, they are the baddest mofos around.

  • Warriorcat666 .

    I completely disagree with everything in this article.

    Clone Wars, first off, was for a wide range of audiences. Rebels is made for children – that much is obvious from the animation, the dialogue, the action, and the characterization and plotline. Clone Wars, while it started off sort of for children, matured with the audience and became much darker and, therefore, reached a wide range of audiences. Teenagers and young adults could enjoy it just as much as kids. And, what I love about Clone Wars, is that while all of the show was for a broad age range, some of it was specially targeted for the older audiences – they didn’t go wimpy with the deaths or the dramatics, it was all very real, very gritty, and very intense (i.e ‘Landing at Point Rain’ or ‘Revenge’). It showed the intensity of their struggles and made the characters extremely believable and realistic through its realism.

    The animation style, in Clone Wars, was FAR superior to that of Rebels. Of COURSE it took them a while to catch stride with the animation – it started in 2007/8 when animation wasn’t 100% and they didn’t have a huge budget. The Rebels’ style animation is thick and blocky, whereas the animation style of Clone Wars, eventually (especially in season 3 and on) is fluid and believable. Characters have complex expressions in the Clone Wars, where you can really see every emotion that is within them at the moment (i.e during ‘Overlords’, you can see, when Anakin is being tested by the Son and the Daughter, Obi-Wan is conflicted, and Anakin is enraged). Clone Wars is far superior as far as realism in the animation, and therefore in the characters.

    And I’m not going to rant much longer, but the dialogue and voice acting of Clone Wars is much better than Rebels. Rebels is child-like where, in the face of death, the characters say something like “I need to train more” or “Oops!” when in Clone Wars, when in the face of death, characters say, “When I cut you in half, I should have aimed for your neck instead” or “I like your new legs, they make you look taller”. The characters used real “tactics” when in danger to stave off their fear and the intensity of the moment, instead of using childish words and lingo like Rebels.

    Overall, Clone Wars saved the prequels, revived the characters (especially Obi-Wan and Anakin), and made us truly care for every character we were supposed to. We felt emotion when they did, felt happiness when they did, and felt the intensity of the war bearing down on them at all times as the seasons pushed forward and the conflict escalated. It’s an epic and awesome story that cannot be surpassed.
    With Rebels, I don’t feel any of that. It bores me. There’s nothing to relate to or love or feel. Rebels reminds me of that crappy pod-racing scene in A Phantom Menace – drawn out, annoying, childish, and unnecessary.

    And with that, I am done roasting Rebels. Have a wonderful day.

  • Jay

    3 years later and I am happily to say, Rebels never beat Clone wars

  • Xavier Lucky

    You were wrong, what a suprise.

    OR NOT