How Star Wars Shows Can Rescue The Sequel Trilogy | Screen Rant

The stories and characters from the Star Wars prequel trilogy were given new life thanks to the TV shows which followed the movies, so it follows that the sequel trilogy could be helped in much the same way. In particular, the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars added such depth to the Star Wars prequel-era that the live-action TV shows are still drawing inspiration from it. The shows have begun exploring the time period following the Star Wars original trilogy, but the sequels still feel like an elephant in the room.

The original Clone Wars series aired in 2003, as a mostly-2D animation series, showing events that happened shortly after Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones. Including a few quiet homages to earlier animations like Star Wars: DroidsClone Wars showed Anakin Skywalker’s promotion from Padawan to Jedi Knight and introduced the Sith Acolyte Asajj Ventress. The Emmy-winning series led to the more familiar, fully 3D animated series of Clone Wars which featured acclaimed writer Dave Filoni, hired because of his work on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Clone Wars would go on to run for 7 seasons and is widely regarded as among the best storytelling in Star Wars' history. The show introduced characters and storylines which have featured heavily in recent live-action shows, The Mandalorian and The Book Of Boba Fett, but the best thing Clone Wars did was to flesh out the characters and world of prequel-era Star Wars.

Related: Sequels vs. Prequels: Which Star Wars Trilogy Is Better

After Clone Wars took the much-maligned Star Wars prequel trilogy, with its extensive backlash, and turned it into something far greater than the movies ever managed, it’s easy to imagine a similar animated series doing the same thing for the sequel trilogy. Both trilogies contain a host of interesting additions to Star Wars canon, which the movies themselves had neither time nor reason to elaborate on, while also suffering from deep flaws which ultimately prevented them from recapturing the magic of the Star Wars original trilogy. The Star Wars TV shows have shown themselves to be the perfect medium to repair many of these flaws.

The Star Wars prequel trilogy is supposed to be the story of Anakin Skywalker's inexorable fall to the dark side. The three films follow one of the Jedi’s greatest proteges, who’s ultimately a victim of his own impulses. The trouble is that the movies themselves don’t show this particularly well. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace adds so little to the overall story that it can easily be skipped altogether, while Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones doesn’t show Anakin as being particularly heroic. Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith begins with Anakin being a hero, but this characterization feels too little too late.

Clone Wars adds a world of detail into the events between Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, and elaborates on all of the things that the movies failed to deliver on. Anakin is shown as an actual hero from the outset, and his characterization is given enough depth that the tragedy of him becoming the villainous Darth Vader feels much more believable. It builds on the concept introduced in the movies, that Anakin will do anything to protect the people he cares about. This means he can and does throw himself into harm's way, without thinking twice, if it’ll save his friends. Clone Wars shows his early brushes with the dark side in the exact same light. It’s all the same to him, as a means to an end.

Anakin is the strongest example, but Clone Wars gives every prequel character the same treatment. The greatest flaws in the Star Wars prequel trilogy movies are weak characterization and poorly written dialogue, and the result is that viewers don’t develop a strong emotional connection to the characters. This robs the story of the weight it should carry. Clone Wars retroactively adds this in. The characters become more developed, making them feel more real. Watching the Star Wars prequel movies while knowing the events which were shown in Clone Wars gives a different experience. The high points feel brighter and the low points sting more. In many ways, Clone Wars actually feels like a better prequel story than the movie trilogy ever was.

Related: Every Reference To The Star Wars Prequels In The Rise Of Skywalker

The Star Wars sequel trilogy has the opposite problem to the prequel trilogy in many ways. Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduces a fascinating lineup of characters, all of whom are completely unlike any from previous Star Wars stories, but it embroils them in a nonsensical story which ultimately feels completely at odds with itself. It’s easy to see why the movies left so many viewers feeling frustrated. There’s such potential for these characters to tell a complex and meaningful story, but they’re all ultimately wasted in a finale that chooses spectacle over substance.

Finn, a stormtrooper who rebels and escapes from the military he grew up in, could have been the basis for a powerful story about choice and free will. Kylo Ren, a dark side force user who struggles with the pull of the light side, is a fascinating inversion of the same internal conflict faced by his grandfather, Anakin. Rey, an apparent nobody scavenger from a backwater planet, contains an inherent contradiction in the fact that she’s spent her whole life waiting for others, only to learn that it’s actually the entire galaxy that has been waiting for her. These characters still have complex and brand-new stories to tell, but these are stories that neither characters nor audiences have been given a chance to enjoy.

A big part of this comes down to how these movies were made. The Star Wars sequel trilogy had no underlying plan for its story, meaning it wasn’t so much written as bolted together from disparate ideas, and this really shows in the final product. While this makes the story ultimately disappointing, it doesn’t need to stay that way. As Clone Wars showed, filling in the empty spaces has the potential to make the whole story much better.

A Star Wars show set between the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker could do wonders for the characters, and retcon enough into the story to make the sequel trilogy actually make sense. A daunting task, perhaps, but certainly not an impossible one. The big caveat is, of course, that a show like this would need to be carefully planned and well written, balancing a good plot with Star Wars canon connections. Writing, in particular, is key, as demonstrated by the fact that Star Wars: Rebels has failed to fully emerge from the shadow of Clone Wars’ earlier success.

Related: Star Wars Sequels Have The Opposite Problem To The Prequels

Following the success of Star Wars: Resistance, a sequel trilogy show could put the spotlight on the main characters of the movies, the same way Clone Wars did with the prequels. The sequel movies, particularly Rise Of Skywalker, throw a lot of disjointed events into the story which ultimately go unexplained, while also failing to explore the storylines they set up. The movie trilogy is full of plot holes and dangling story threads which could and should be developed into full storylines in their own right. If stormtroopers like Finn and Jannah can break their conditioning and desert the First Order, are there others like them? Why did General Hux become a spy for the Resistance and what did he hope to accomplish? When did Finn realize he was Force-sensitive? How exactly did Palpatine survive exploding at the end of Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi? These are all major parts of the story which deserve elaboration.

The biggest impact a Star Wars sequel show can make is to better develop the characters and their relationships. Finn and Rey, for instance, are both characters who have seemingly never had actual friends who they could trust before. Their relationship leads to some of the most emotionally charged moments in the entire sequel trilogy. Finn’s relationship with Poe also needs much more attention, considering Finn spends two of the movies wearing Poe’s jacket. A sequel show could also give more of the spotlight to characters who feel terribly underused, particularly Rose Tico who ends up unceremoniously dropped from the main cast in The Rise Of Skywalker.

Ahead of the release of Obi-Wan Kenobilive-action Star Wars shows have all been set in the time period between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens, and have started to paint a picture of what the galaxy is like after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Logically, while the ending of the original trilogy saw victory celebrations, the aftermath clearly isn’t so tidy. After all, in a saga like Star Wars, one story’s ending is always another story’s beginning.

From its very first episode, The Mandalorian shows that there are still groups of stormtroopers in the galaxy, unwilling to give up their old ways or even their armor. This lays the groundwork for how the First Order appears at the beginning of The Force Awakens with new battalions of stormtroopers. This major part of the story is never adequately explained in the sequel movies. The Mandalorian also explains beskar, the metal alloy used to make Din Djarin’s Mandalorian armor, with the ability to deflect blaster bolts. This gives the potential to give backstory to the First Order’s Captain Phasma, who wears similarly shiny armor which can also deflect blaster bolts — this would be a minor retcon, because Phasma’s armor is canonically made from a different metal, but it would be a logical and believable change to make.

Related: Disney's Star Wars Is Salvaging The Best Parts Of The Prequel Trilogy

While Star Wars seems to be avoiding the sequel trilogy era at the moment, it can’t run from it forever. Eventually, the story will have to catch up with the sequel trilogy, and the writers are clearly aware of this fact. For example, the new Jedi Temple being constructed by Luke Skywalker in The Book Of Boba Fett is the same one shown in ruins during The Last Jedi. As the live-action shows continue to progress, there will no doubt be similar inclusions in the coming stories. Whether these will meaningfully set up the sequel trilogy or continue to simply be visual references, however, remains to be seen.

Using Star Wars: The Clone Wars as a model for a show to repair the sequel trilogy also carries one other important point. Following the outright harassment campaign waged by a toxic side of the Star Wars fanbase, sequel trilogy actors will understandably be unwilling to return to the franchise. Kelly Marie Tran, in particular, suffered such a torrent of utterly undeserved abuse that she remains unsure whether she could return as Rose Tico. An animated series will release her and the others from any obligation to return to Star Wars. After all, the cast of voice actors in Clone Wars features nearly none of the actors from the movies. It’s undeniable that some of the most enjoyable moments in the Star Wars sequel trilogy are when the main characters are shown interacting with each other as friends and comrades. Showing more of that kind of character interaction would certainly be the biggest benefit to a sequel-era Star Wars show.

Next: The Obi-Wan Kenobi TV Show Can Follow The Mandalorian To Save The Prequels

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