In a galaxy where fans are divided over the quality and originality of nearly every Star Wars movie, there is one shining star that unites them. Make that two stars. The team up of Dave Filoni and Athena Yvette Portillo. Dave Filoni already made a name for himself with the success of the Avatar: The Last Airbender television series before tackling the Star Wars universe. When he became the director for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he added Portillo to his team as an Executive Producer. The two managed the Clone Wars television series that ran from 2008-2013, and the Rebels television series that ran from 2014-2018. It’s recently been announced that the Clone Wars will return to finish the story of the famous war in 2019. Another announcement quickly followed that a new series, Star Wars: Resistance, will air soon in 2018.
This is a very quick production of one incredible series after another. When Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005, it certainly felt like that would be the end of seeing this story on the screen. It still lived on through its Expanded Universe of books, comics, and video games. But a mere three years later The Clone Wars soared onto tv, changing the path of the Star Wars universe forever. This series explored the gap between episodes II and III, where the destructive wars that ravaged the galaxy and made it easy for the Empire to take control. The show lasted seven spectacular seasons, but it was during the production of the sixth season that Disney purchased Lucasfilm and canceled the show. Filoni has stated he was unhappy with having to wrap up storylines in a way that didn’t satisfy him.
But by the will of the Force, The Clone Wars has been saved! Allowing Filoni and Portillo to finish off the series in the way they see fit starting in 2019. Reaction to this news was overwhelmingly positive. Not only because of the success of the series, but also the success of the series that followed from 2014-2018, Star Wars: Rebels. Rebels took place 15 years after the Galactic Empire was created, spanning part of the gap between episodes III and IV. It took a much different approach than the Clone Wars. Instead of relying on well-established characters, a new band of original characters was created to carry the show. And they did so beautifully. It’s a testament to the creativity and writing of Filoni and Portillo that the best parts of all of their series are the original characters.
These original characters created a new way to see the Star Wars universe and explore it more deeply. It was in the steadfast loyalty of Clone Captain Rex, the good heart of the lost Jedi Kanan Jarrus, and the fearlessness of the apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Some of these characters found their way onto the big screen. General Hera Syndulla of Rebels and her ship, the Ghost, make a cameo in Rogue One. Another character that has a more impactful role in Rogue One is the radical Saw Gerrera. Saw was a character originally created in The Clone Wars. He also made a few appearances in Rebels.
In addition to the love put into the original characters, many others from the Star Wars movies and Expanded Universe make appearances. These enhance the already established story. We get to see what happened to Boba Fett and his journey to become a fierce bounty hunter. We see Tarkin’s rise in status and power. And we see Mon Mothma’s role in stepping into the leadership of the Rebel Alliance. It is interesting that such a pivotal character as Mothma is rarely seen in the movies. Only Rogue One truly did her position justice. These tv series also answer questions, such as what happened to the Separatist and Clone Army after Order 66.
To put it simply, these television series make the movies better. By spanning the gaps, filling in the plotlines, following characters through decades of their lives, and tying any loose ends together.
The success of Filoni and Portillo has not gone unnoticed by the critic community. The Clone Wars has won 23 awards and been nominated another 68 times. Some of these wins include IGN’s award for Best TV Animated Series in 2013 and 2014, Daytime Emmy’s award in Outstanding Individual Animation, and the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing. The voice artists have also gotten plenty of recognition. Winners for their performance include Nika Futterman for Asajj Ventress, Ian Abercrombie as Darth Sidious, Sam Witwer as Darth Maul, David Tennant as Huyang, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, and the entire cast winning for the best vocal ensemble.
Despite Star Wars: Rebels finishing up in March of this year and so there is more time for awards, it’s already had 7 wins and 24 nominations. It won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Series or Film on TV two years in a row, and it won the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing. The voice artists also have gotten attention, with James Earl Jones as Vader, Jason Isaacs as the Inquisitor, and Stephen Stanton as Ben Kenobi winning individual awards. The entire cast was also nominated for best vocal ensemble.
These series are included in the Canon of the Star Wars universe. They’ve already inspired other spin-off stories, such as comics following Kanan Jarrus’ transition from apprentice to rebel after Order 66 when Jedi were being hunted down. Soon Star Wars: Resistance will follow characters before the events of The Force Awakens when The First Order was on the rise. If it’s anything like the last two series, it’s something to be excited about. And the long-awaited ending to The Clone Wars starting in 2019 will definitely be appointment tv.
During a time when fans argue over whether The Last Jedi was too different, whether Han Solo needs his own movie, and whether Jar Jar Binks was funny or not, Dave Filoni and Athena Yvette Portillo have consistently weaved stories that delight. Stories that bring us from the sweeping wars that rage throughout the planets to the deeply personal struggles of each character trying to find their place in an ever-changing galaxy. And if there is at least one thing all fans can agree on, is that we would never like to see the end of the magic Filoni and Portillo can produce.