Fans received a welcome surprise on Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego during the 10th-anniversary panel for Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The beloved animated series will at long last receive a proper conclusion with 12 new episodes, destined for Disney's upcoming streaming service.
Airing from 2008 to 2013, The Clone Wars defined an era of the Star Wars saga, recounting events that unfolded in the three years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The series ended prematurely, leaving creator Dave Filoni to pick up dangling threads -- most notably, the fate of the beloved character Ahsoka Tano -- in its animated successor, Star Wars Rebels. With Thursday's announcement, teased with the hashtag #CloneWarsSaved, the franchise faithful will finally will finally get what they've wanted for the past five years.
Filoni was joined for the Comic-Con panel by series producer Athena Portillo, voice actors Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) and Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), and series composer Kevin Kiner.
The panel began appropriately, with the audience getting a rare look at the first trailer ever shown for The Clone Wars. "It was hard to find at Lucasfilm," Filoni said. "We had to go through, I couldn't tell you how many drives to find that thing."
But of course, Filoni had more than an old trailer to bring to the anniversary celebration. As the panelists reminisced, Filoni's sketches and concept art were displayed for the audience, showing how some characters and storylines originally looked before tempered by the realities of television animation.
A key figure in keeping Filoni's ambitions in check was Portillo, who was working on another series before Filoni convinced her to join him on the Dark Side. "Your license plate said 'Jedi96,'" Filoni recalled. "So I Palpatined you away. We needed your help. There was no doubt we needed you."
Some of the concept art revealed Filoni's thoughts during early production, which included a set of characters strikingly familiar to the cast of Star Wars Rebels. Filoni initially assumed that film characters like Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi would be off-limits, but instead George Lucas intended the show to expand upon their big-screen adventures.
Lucas himself would work with the writers to develop an entire season's worth of scripts in a matter of weeks. "It was really fun," Filoni said. "And I think it was fun for him to be teaching Star Wars to us every day."
Naturally, in order to tell the further adventures of Anakin Skywalker, the series needed to find the right actor to give him voice. Lanter wasn't the original actor, but when he was brought in, his interactions with the rest of the cast helped him to secure the role.