by Landon Spoth
With May the 4th having only just passed and with it the release of the first episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, I wanted to take a look back at one of Star Wars’most influential directors and writers. He currently writes for The Mandalorianand The Bad Batch, and upon Disney’s acquisition of Star Warswas one of the few writers and directors to not have his work de-canonized. This writer is none other than Dave Filoni, and his stories have brought more depth to Star Warsthan many of the films.
Filoni is experienced in the animation world. One of his earliest directing gigs was for Avatar: The Last Airbender, and when you write for a show that big, you’re bound to find success in other places. Filoni left Nickelodeon after receiving an offer from George Lucas to work for Lucasfilm Animation. Filoni started out as a fan of Star Wars and the job must’ve been a dream come true. His first endeavor with working for Lucasfilm was directing the Star Wars: The Clone Warsanimated film. Although the film was met with mixed reception, he was given the chance to direct an animated series set during the time of the Clone Wars following the events of the film, and it quickly became a hit among Star Wars fans.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars attracted millions of viewers each week on Cartoon Network. If it wasn’t for Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars, the show may not have been canceled after its 5th season in 2013. Filoni wrote a powerful sci-fi story that gave so much more depth to the events and characters of the prequels, with the relationship between the Jedi and the clones being explored in greater detail. Clone Wars was also where many fan-favorite characters were introduced, such as Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Cad Bane, Saw Gerrera, and Bo-Katan Kryze. Clone Warsgives fans a slew of new stories from an event in Star Wars’sstory that is referenced as far back as A New Hope. Clone Warswas popular enough that it was not only still canon upon Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars, but it had its final season and proper conclusion premiere on Disney+ just last year.
Although Clone Warsis easily the most popular Star Warsseries Filoni has worked on, it can’t be ignored that his other series have given depth to the events of the trilogies they take place in. After Clone Wars, Filoni would work on two more Star Warsanimated series. Star Wars: Rebelsis a series Filoni wrote which is set before the events of the original trilogy. Its story serves as an origin story for the Rebellion and describes in much greater detail the iron grip the Empire held on the galaxy. Its main cast of characters is charming and memorable, with Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and Zeb Orrelios, all becoming popular among fans. Despite Rebels’story lacking in comparison to Clone Wars, it made up for it in the heart and charm of its characters, and of course returning characters like Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, and Darth Maul certainly helped too. Some of Rebels’stories certainly shine though, with the exploration of Ahsoka and Vader’s relationship and the return of the previously de-canonized character Grand Admiral Thrawn being great examples. Rebelsfeels like its own story, but also plays off the stories that come before it well.
Star Wars: Resistanceis the second of the two big series Filoni would work on after Clone Wars. Although not as long as Clone Warsand Rebels, and certainly not as strong in storytelling, I can’t deny that Resistancegave me a new respect for the sequel trilogy. Easily the trilogy with the most mixed reception, Resistanceexplains the story of the sequels, in some ways, better than the sequels did. Its story follows Kazuda Xiono, a new, young member of the Resistance who quickly realizes the distrust most planets have for the New Republic. It does its best to highlight that the reason planets join the First Order is desperation. If the New Republic isn’t going to help them, their only option is the First Order. It even explores how the Resistance is not seen as the “freedom fighters” the Rebellion once was, but as terrorists that even the New Republic cannot control. And I absolutely love Resistance’sview of the First Order. They aren’t this “new empire” trying to do the exact same things as the previous, but the remnants of the Empire that want vengeance against the Republic that took their vast power away from them. Although its two short seasons didn’t allow for many characters to develop and become more interesting, Resistanceis still a solid series that gives more personality to the story of the sequels.
Of course, the most recognizable Star Wars series Filoni is currently working on isThe Mandalorian. The Mandalorian follows the story of a bounty hunter simply known as the Mandalorian and his endeavors in the galaxy following the defeat of the Empire. Its plot is both simple and insanely detailed at the same time. For new viewers, it offers a great Western story that just so happens to be set in the Star Wars universe. For the biggest of Star Wars fans, it offers a complex story and sequel to many of the plots still not resolved in previous films and series. The return of characters like Ahsoka and Bo-Katan gives new viewers incredible new characters to meet and gives excitement to fans wondering what became of these characters after Rebels. It’s a show that knows its source material well and plays off it, but also explains it well enough that newer, less seasoned viewers aren’t lost by the introduction of these characters. The Mandalorian is truly one of the greatest Star Wars series, and the end of its second season offers ends to old conflicts and beginnings to new ones.
As you can tell, Dave Filoni is one of the greatest things that could’ve happened to Star Wars. Even with all the shortcomings of the films, Filoni’s writing and directing of Clone Wars, Rebels, Resistance, and The Mandalorianadds so much more depth to all of them. These stories are good on their own, but they also make me appreciate the films more. Filoni understands the themes of the source material he’s working with so well that his works make Star Warsas a franchise better. He’s introduced one of the most popular Star Warscharacters of all time in Ahsoka Tano and has written works with quality that rival that of the films. I’m excited to see what Filoni has in store for fans like me with The Bad Batch, as he’s proven time and time again the greatness of his storytelling. Without Dave Filoni, Star Warswould simply not be the franchise it is today.