Have you guys seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars? It’s the CGI Star Wars series that began with a somewhat disappointing theatrical film in 2008, but has had four seasons air so far, with the fifth season scheduled to begin late this year. The series follows the events of the Clone Wars, in which the Galactic Republic battles against villainous Separatist forces who are fighting a war to break away from the Republic and to coerce others to do the same. The series chronologically fits in the years between the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Yes, this is another nerdy post.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the absolute best that I have ever seen of Star Wars. It avoids the awkwardness of some of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, the problematic elements of the original trilogy and the more recent trilogy, and Star Wars fans finally get to see a lot of the use of the Force and the interesting races and potential characters that the films usually overlook—because, well, this is more recent and because television shows and films are structured differently.
And if you think that I’m just talking about a show for children, you would be mistaken. Most of the people whom I know who watch it are in their twenties or thirties (though, admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot of people too much younger than college age). The show deals with some very adult concepts (oh by the way, it’s about a war, and it doesn’t fall into the censorship trap of the 1990s in which every weapon is set on stun and somehow soldiers can go through a war but no one ever dies), and it does so in an intelligent way. It’s a great show for your kids to watch, it’s a great show for you to watch—and it’s a great show for you to watch with your kids.
But, more importantly, Clone Wars really gives other characters a chance to shine. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, and Mace Windu are perfectly characterized. But this series (and its low-budget precursor from a decade ago, the styling of which inspired the stylized character designs of this series) introduces some amazing main characters who are now a part of the Star Wars canon, and a lot of these characters are female.
Star Wars has come a long way from metal bikinis and princesses in need of a daring rescue, and that is a wonderful thing.
The film that begins the series introduced Ahsoka Tahno, a young Togruta jedi padawan being trained by Anakin Skywalker. I was initially worried that she was going to be a “trusty female side-kick struggling to prove herself,” but I was wrong. I love Ahsoka. She is inventive and, despite being in her early teens, she makes a skilled military agent. She doesn’t shoot around corners with a tiny …
… blaster pistol; she kicks ass with a lightsaber, and I love it. Along with learning and maturing mentally, Ahsoka also ages physically during the show, as teenagers tend to do. And it’s fun to watch Ahsoka reflect some of Anakin’s behavior that is contrary to jedi teachings, while also questioning some of his actions and statements.
We see Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker’s secret wife, a Galactic senator and a former (elected) queen, as she works as a politician and when she investigates conspiracies and suspicions of corruption (which can turn into very dangerous activities). We see Padme’s friend Obi-Wan’s former temptation, Duchess Satine of Mandalore, who is a powerful and idealistic politician who is adamantly opposed to violence—to the point at which she would not even kill to save her own life. We see other female jedi who are not simply copies of one another, and that is so refreshing.
Perhaps more significantly, we see one of the primary antagonists of the series, Asajj Ventress, who is a powerful woman—an assassin and the apprentice of Count Dooku. Ventress is very skilled in combat, and we see her engage multiple jedi at once and emerge victorious. We also learn more about her character and her background as the series progresses. The end of season four, in particular, saw a very interesting twist regarding her character development—though I won’t spoil it for you.
Honestly, as nice as it is for me and my friends to see these compelling stories and female characters who are strong in many different ways, it’s more important for children and adolescents to see strong, complex, and capable female characters in fantasy action roles. Young girls can find inspirational characters, and younger generations of boys will see women in science fiction as serious characters rather than as rare, distressed princesses who sometimes have blasters.
You should check out Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Check it out for yourself, for your friends, and for any younger people whom you may know.