The history of animation in the war of stars The universe is … checkered. For any transcendent show like The Clone Wars or the new series The bad batchLike, there’s a wise forgotten pockmark on the franchise Star Wars: Ewoks. Sure, you can watch Ewoks and its contemporary cousin. Droids, on Disney Plus, but you might as well hit your face with a hammer tonight. Decisions, decisions.
Despite the horror of some Star Wars cartoons, modern incarnations are generally fantastic. Genndy Tartakovsky Clone wars Series, the 2008-2020 CG Clone wars, and Rebels are arguably just as popular, if not more than half, of actual live-action Star Wars films. They’re dramatic, well-written, and really exciting where the prequels weren’t, to be honest. This despite the fact that the prequels were borderline cartoons themselves. George Lucas avoided real places wherever possible and created strange landscapes and massive space battles through computer-generated images.
Against this tableau of artificiality, the flesh and blood actors in the prequels looked lost and disconnected from the technological fantasy that surrounded them. The animated Star Wars series, directed by Lucas protégé Dave Filoni, took the size and design aesthetic of the prequels and gave them life to the point where the Clone Wars era is one that Disney likes to tear down for content. But are these cartoons actually better than their IRL counterparts?
In one new episode of Galaxy BrainsJonah Ray and I are joined by comedian, writer, actor and great cinema expert Patton Oswalt to discuss his new Hulu series. MODOKOn May 21st, the discreet joys of animation will decide once and for all whether the best Star Wars is live action or the cartoons. Here is an excerpt from our conversation (which was edited for the sake of clarity):
Dave: I think that in Star Wars, in the DNA of this franchise, is an animator’s sensitivity to unbridled imagination. How do you feel about it
Patton: I mean, yeah, I think it depends on the project. Will you say that The Clone Wars is better than Reich strikes back. No, but you can’t say that either Attack of the clones is better than the end of The Clone Wars. It just depends on the project. Mandalorians is the best Star Wars story made in years. Why can’t you just tell this story in the film? You don’t have to keep telling us that “the Skywalker saga is finally coming to an end”. It came to an end in Return of the Jedi.That was the saga. Those were those three films. I don’t have to see the other things. Just think of all the new characters.
Dave: I wonder if Dave Filoni is a part of it The Mandalorian and asserting themselves in the live action franchise is part of why these shows are really starting to click due to this animator’s sensitivity and understanding of the universe.
Patton: We definitely understand that it has to be characters first and then roam this universe. You care about the Mandalorian character, you care about the people he meets. OK, there’s a damn Ugnaught voiced by Nick Nolte. And when he died, oh my god, my heart breaks. And then also what I love The Mandalorianwas that Star Wars has real aliens. It’s not just people in masks. That each of them represents a different culture. Nobody is all good or all bad. You are just in conflict. The Jawas just have different goals. Luke has probably entered their territory, you see, and in Mandaloriansif you know how to talk to them [they leave you alone]. But it’s like, yeah, we’re out here right now trying to live somehow, you know, just like the other night. The same goes for the jawas.
Dave: All characters have a basic humanity that is primary. If you hear this and you are on the fence about what to do with your life but maybe want to be a writer or a director or something, pay attention to the humanity of the characters, who you do first and foremost, and that will inform everything else. I hope that is what we are conveying to you as a listener. That these characters are more important than the imagination and the fantastic situations and the space and all that stuff. It’s about characters.
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