Oh, it's happening: Star Wars: The Clone Wars will return for a seventh season when Disney launches its streaming service Disney+. In anticipation of the revival, showrunner Dave Filoni and stars Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker and Sam Witwer appeared at Star Wars Celebration Chicago to share a sneak peek at what's to come when the series returns after five long years.
Warwick Davis entered the stage to kick off the panel. "I didn't think it was going to happen... It's a very challenging show to make... All of us at Lucasfilm had moved on," Filoni explained. "They came to me and said, 'Would you like to do it?' and I said, 'Yeah, but I don't know if I could do it again.' It's challenging... I had to make sure if we did it, it had to be the right way... We sat down and here we go."
"The scale of it's huge. With Star Wars Rebels, we were dealing with a smaller group," he said. "With Clone Wars, you'll have hundreds of clones battling thousands of battle droids." He said he was fortunate that many members of the original animation team were able to return for Season 7.
"As a cast, we're very close. We're like a family and we are iron clad," Eckstein shared, then explained how she found out about Clone Wars' return. "I'm actually at Disney World, in line on a ride, and I get a text from Dee Bradley Baker."
"I said, you won't be believe what Dave just told me," Baker responded, and they proceeded to read their text exchange. Baker was the one to tell her the news, though Filoni was with him at the time.
"Do you remember when we were doing Malacore and Maul is calling Ahsoka 'Lady Tano?'" Witwer asked. He recalled how both he and Eckstein asked Filoni what that was about. "So one day I was having a nice lunch with Dave and his lovely wife Anne... It's just that Anne said one thing. She said, 'Dave, can I tell him?' And Dave told her, 'No.'" However, they ended up telling him anyway, and he had to keep that secret for some time. "It felt like a year... It hurt to keep that [secret] inside," he added.
"This is why you don't know the end of the show, which is all I've got at this point," Filoni joked.
"We revamped the look of the show a tiny bit," Filoni revealed. "How do we make it better now that we have ? We redid some of the facial features... There are just subtle differences in the nose and the brow." He explained that this allows the characters to become more expressive.
Season 7 will explore the Bad Batch. "They're the group of clones that are genetically engineered specialists," he added. According to Filoni, this was George Lucas' idea: "What if there are batch of clones that had some weird traits?" The arc will play with the idea of enhancing these "weird traits" to create super soldiers. This will be an extension of the Kaminoan arc.
"They really good, and they just hum as a team," Baker shared.
Filoni explained that Ahsoka's arc will explore how she adapts to life after growing up in such a structured, organized place like the Jedi Temple. "She meets two new characters, two sisters," he revealed. They live in the underworld of 1313. "What their lives are like contrast heavily with what her life was like," he said.
"I have to say that these stories far surpass all of my expectations," Eckstein shared. "I love these characters... These episodes, I think I could say went through some changes. So these are two new characters and they're fantastic. I think Ahsoka... She's just going wherever the wind takes her."
Ahsoka will still be a teenager in Clone Wars Season 7. "She definitely has a world view that might be challenging for other people sometimes," Filoni explained.
"She kind of just had to act her age in these episodes," Eckstein added. "Here she is with her two peers. It was weird!"
As to the Siege of Mandalore, Filoni said, "It's the story I've thought most about over the last decade... It's a very challenging episode... but the arc of it is probably the most important... It's been something fulfilled that I never got to do. I feel really good about this one in particular."
"When I got the script for this stuff and finally could read what the Siege of Mandalore was about, I was shocked... I was shocked. I'm glad I was sitting down... It's my favorite stuff that we've ever done as the character, and Dave wrote it personally. What was so fascinating to me about picking up this character...you go back to the earlier version of the character... Freddie Prinze Jr. once likening Maul to Sisyphus... Maul has been in this cycle, where he's been obsessed with the same things...What I found most interesting about this arc is for once he tries to think his way out of it... and we see how that goes."
Katie Sackoff will return as Bo Katan in The Clone Wars Season 7.
Season 7 will feature a major battle between Ahsoka and Darth Maul. "I wanted this fight to be big. I wanted this to be an epic lightsaber fight... This one had to be among the best, if not the best we did," Filoni teased. "I went and I know Ray Park and I said, 'Ray, wouldn't it be great... why don't we suit you up in mo-cap suit and be Darth Maul?' So when you see Maul fighting, it's going to be really Maul fighting... There's just something unique about how Ray moves... It was a great moment having him perform it."
Matt Lanter, Tom Kane, James Arnold Taylor, Matthew Wood and Catherine Taber entered the stage to join their castmates.
Asked why Clone Wars has resonated with fans, Filoni credited his time with Lucas. "The reason why it works is because I was taught by the master," he said. "I had to sit with him on a regular basis and he explained these stories to me, and I listened."
Star Wars: The Clone Wars will return for a seventh season on Disney+.