Why ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ holds the future of the new film series

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The Walt Disney Company's highly publicized $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. poses an even better question than what George Lucas will do next. How about this: What will Walt Disney do with the franchise, and will it include television?

In addition to this announcement, a seventh installment of the "Star Wars" saga is due to hit theaters in 2015 with Lucas serving as creative consultant. Sounds a whole lot like "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (in terms of executive structure), and if the new film follows just a portion of the template set by this excellent 3D-animated series, then audiences are in for a treat.

Let's take a look at how the cartoon series lays the blueprint for a Galaxy not so far, far away.

1) "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" utilizes Lucas as a creative consultant -- This really can't be overemphasized. While most of the hand-wringing involving the failings of the movie prequels was almost universal, so too was praise for the TV series. Its fresh approach to character and tighter storytelling made fans young and old excited that "Star Wars" was back, even if it was just on television. With the TV series, Lucas placed the "Star Wars" universe in the capable hands of the geeks who grew up loving the series.

2) An expanded, expanded universe -- With more than a 30-year history to draw from, the "Star Wars" universe is rich in narrative and visual material. "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" has introduced us to such characters as Cad Bane, Ahsoka, and a host of other "minor" characters, who may find their way onto the big screen. The TV series has explored bounty hunters, Senate relations, the complexities of war, and the nature of the Force.

3) More humor -- "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" is notable not only for its gorgeous visual presentation, but it has the right balance of light and dark (pun intended) that many fans complained the prequel films lacked. Jar Jar Binks might not have found anything resembling popularity in "Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace," but the character seems right at home on the TV series. It's doubtful Jar Jar will be featured in the new films, but one thing is certain -- the movies are going to be more in line with the first trilogy. Translation: Funnier. And more fun.

4) That live action TV series -- Way back in 2005, after the release of "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," Lucas had announced "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (then called "an animated 3D series") and a live action "Star Wars" TV series taking place between episodes three and four. Reportedly, scripts were written for a full season, but it was too expensive to meet the high quality Mr. Lucas wanted. You can assume that the decision isn't really his at this point, and it's more likely with an "Avengers" TV series in the works that the Walt Disney Company will succeed where Mr. Lucas failed. In an ironic turn of events, maybe it won't be Lucas, but Mickey giving us "a new hope."


"Lucas announces more 'Star Wars' Clones"


"Disney to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd."


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