Star Wars fandom recently learned that Rosario Dawson will appear in The Mandalorian season 2. While some began to push back on the casting news, many fans are excited to learn the Daredevil actress will be playing Ahsoka Tano, a fan-favorite character previously only seen in the Star Wars animated productions. Ahsoka Tano was Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi padawan apprentice who appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. This would be the character’s first appearance in live-action.
Ahsoka Tano is the protagonist of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and TV series. The character was co-created by Dave Filoni (a producer, writer, and director on Disney+’s The Mandalorian) and George Lucas. She may not have initially accepted by Star Wars fandom, but as the Clone Wars series progressed, the complexity of her character increased, she soon became considered one of the fan favorite new characters. Ahsoka has since appeared in comics, her own novel, video games, and was even a voice Rey hears at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Her reappearance in the DisneyXD series Star Wars Rebels showed that she was an instrumental part of the birth of the Rebellion. In that series, she had an epic confrontation with her old master Anakin Skywalker (now Darth Vader) inside a Sith temple on Malachor, where she was left for dead.
These stories alone should show any Star Wars fan that it’s worth examining the animated material. Josh Shepherd, a writer at The Federalist is one such fan, and he’s all aboard the Mandalorian Season 2 hype train. He explains the value of the animated material here.
Resurrecting ‘Star Wars’ After the Prequels
When George Lucas’ prequel trilogy was at its height, his team hired a popular anime-style director who created short vignettes for Cartoon Network. However, it veered from the Lucas vision of Star Wars and needed more narrative substance.
At the time, Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” presented a new paradigm for TV animation. Its season one appeared at first to be a typical Saturday morning kids cartoon, albeit with greater aesthetic style. Then, a few episodes in, viewers realize the characters’ journey has evolved into a much grander-scale story.
One of that show’s emerging behind-the-scenes talents, Filoni, happened to be a rabid Star Wars fan—the kind who dressed up in Jedi robes to attend opening-night premieres. Lucas soon hired Filoni to collaborate on a “soft reboot” of “The Clone Wars” concept.
Premiering in 2008, it expanded on events between Episodes II and III of his theatrical films. Developing the master-padawan relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, it introduced a trainee for young Skywalker: Ahsoka Tano, soon elevated as the show’s protagonist.
Add to Watchlist: 12 Years of Animated ‘Star Wars’
No one could’ve predicted that Filoni would sustain “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” for 126 half-hour episodes over seven seasons. Winner of multiple Emmy Awards, the series veers from high-concept fantasy tales to emotional interpersonal conflicts, from war stories heavy on strategic military tactics to moral dilemmas.
Without question, it borrows countless elements and characters from the two preceding Star Wars film trilogies: iconic music themes by composer John Williams, ship designs, locations, and much more. Lucas drew on his love of “Flash Gordon” serials, setting up each episode with a 1930s-style sci-fi narration, which Filoni kept even when Lucas’s involvement faded.
“The Clone Wars” became more than the sum of its parts. Every script was designed to be consistent with the complex Star Wars universe in the films, while pushing the boundaries of its storytelling tropes. Once fans followed for multiple seasons, the series altered perceptions of the prequel trilogy. Gradually those big-screen stories, even with noticeable flaws, took on new meaning. At the center of it all was Ahsoka, a lowly apprentice transformed into a cunning warrior.
When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they promptly cancelled “The Clone Wars” series. Seeing the value of the property and its rabid fan base, Netflix brought it back for a sixth season in 2014. Concurrently Disney Channel premiered “Star Wars: Rebels” co-created by Filoni. Set five years before 1977’s original “Star Wars,” the four-season animated show introduced a young crew of misfits seeking to thwart the Empire by helping to organize the Rebel Alliance.
Clearly geared to a younger audience. “Rebels” has less focus on battle tactics and more on tween-friendly self-discovery. Still, again following the model of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” it has a lot going on beneath the surface once viewers get past introductory stories. Upon showing up at the end of season one, Ahsoka Tano drives much of the plot forward.
She faces her old master, now Darth Vader, in a story arc widely praised for its dramatic depth. In the closing moments of season four, which leaps forward in time to the end of the original Star Wars trilogy, Ahsoka heads out on a search for a missing ally. This post-“Return of the Jedi” era is also when “The Mandalorian” is set.
Starting on February 21, Disney Plus began releasing the seventh and final season of “The Clone Wars,” which concludes in May. (It’s currently the third most in-demand streaming series.) Showrunner Filoni, now head of Lucasfilm’s animation division, is finally getting the opportunity to finish storylines he began 12 years ago.
So are you a fan of the animated shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels? Are you excited and on the “hype train” for season two of The Mandalorian on Disney+? Sound off in the comments below!