Comic-Con: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Panel Recap: How Lucas Requested Darth Maul’s Return, Why Space Battles Are Hard To Pull Off and More

     July 20, 2012


While the prequels have a poor reputation among many Star Wars fans, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has proven that there are worthy stories to be told within that time period.  The cartoon show has introduced new characters and shown many more die.  While it certainly follows Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the side characters are put in constant mortal peril and it creates a thrilling journey.  Darth Maul has been revived in the series despite missing half of his torso (he’s a little stir-crazy when we first meet him), and the panel talked quite a bit about the upcoming season while also explaining the tremendous Umbara story arc that was one of the highlights of Season Four.

Instead of having the voice cast twiddle their thumbs as they rarely make creative decisions, last Saturday’s panel featured the talents of supervising director David Filoni and head writer Matt Michnovetz moderated by Star Wars author Pablo Hidalgo.  Hit the jump for the full recap of one of the most lively and interesting panels at Comic-Con this year.

star-wars-the-clone-wars-comic-conThe panel quickly began with the trio coming out with four different Clone Troopers to racuous applause.  While they were certainly game, I hope someone informed all of them that they would be standing for over 45 minutes.  The best part is that they did a remarkable job of staying still and weren’t moving around a lot or fidgeting.  We were also shown many clips from the last season to catch people back up.  Darth Maul’s return got a lot of applause and then the real revelations began as the lights came back up.  I should warn you now that what I learned may or may not be deemed a spoiler for the next season and beyond.  These are things that will happen down the line, so for your sake I have moved all talk of the previous seasons to the front, with increasingly vague hints at spoilers after a designated point.  I’m a big fan and I didn’t find anything too spoilery, but I want to give y’all the benefit of that separation.

  • Darth Maul’s return was actually requested from George Lucas himself, and Filoni mentioned how he was against this at first because it made things very difficult, not only as a repercussion but just the logistics and making it work.  He conceded that having the Night Sisters bring him back worked quite well and that he would be a big part of Season Five.
  • Star Wars Celebration VI (Aug. 23rd-26th) will have the season premiere on the big screen because that’s the way it was meant to be seen, according to Filoni and Michnovetz.
  • On the Umbara storyline: “George came into the writer’s room and pitched us the story,” Michnovetz said. “Everyone got giddy. It was a great moment. We were telling him, ‘You’re nerding out, George!’”
  • Lucas requested that they take inspiration from the films The Longest Day, What Price Glory?, and The Caine Mutiny for the Umbara story and battles.  Michnovetz, who wrote the Umbara story line, said he was inspired by a MASH episode where the troops weren’t being treated as individuals but instead just a means for victory by a new commander.
  • They talked about how the writers grab arcs.  There’s definitely competition for them, and sometimes when they divy it up they joked that there are back-alley deals to grab a story arc.
  • The fate of Rex was discussed and how it seemed like he really wouldn’t survive in Umbara.  Additionally, Rex originally killed General Krell but they just didn’t go through with that idea.
  • They don’t do storyboards.  They have virtual sets, which Lucas originally created for the prequel trilogy.  This made them more efficient, time-wise and cost-wise, when beginning to actually create sequences in full CGI.  The proxy sequences are what they “shoot” on.  They also said the best part is that they get a sense of motion from this method instead of simple storyboards.
  • the-clone-wars-star-warsThey were really limited in the first few seasons as far as the diversity of the ships and characters because of how expensive the models they use can be.  However, as the series has progressed, they’ve been able to add more and more.
  • This season will see a lot of writers with a live-action TV background including Chris Collins and Christian Taylor.  Why these writers?  “Well, it makes you step up your game,” Michnovetz said.  “[Lucas] wanted a lot of drama writers.  I think it’s the best season yet.”
  • “It’s very simple why Bo-Katan exists,” announced Filoni.  “Let’s give the ladies some cool armor.”
  • Another attendee bravely took to the microphone to say that he wasn’t an actual fan of the show, which was met with a littany of boos.  He then mentioned how he was really there for the Halo 4 panel that was afterwards (such is life at Comic-Con; get there early or don’t bother).  However, he got the crowd back in his favor when he praised the footage shown and simply said that he would be purchasing the previous seasons and cathing up right away.
  • A fan wanted to know why it takes so long for the seasons to come out on home video.  Filoni said that they really don’t have any control over that.
  • star-wars-the-clone-warsOne fan eagerly asked if we could look forward to any big space battles.  They certainly want to, but find it incredibly difficult to pull off.  Filoni mentioned that they would love to do a huge, Battle of Midway sort of episode.  However, they have to figure out the logistics, especially in the software they use.  So they won’t have one this season, but he did say we would see some new flyers.

**Vague hints at things to come from here on out**

  • The writer’s didn’t want Darth Maul to just be a beast.  You never see any side of him in The Phantom Menace besides just his raw abilities as a fighter.  In season five, we will see his intellect and how wicked he is.  Filoni: “What we reveal about Maul is that he’s quite sinister, tactical, and has great knowledge about why Sidious is successful as a Sith Lord. I think he’s more intelligent than people assume.”
  • Savage Oppress and Maul have some things to work out.  Maul may not give his brother the easiest time, as the writers hinted that we will really see how demented Maul is.
  • Are Maul’s “raptor legs” here to stay?  “You’ll see,” Filoni says.  A half second later he shook his head and added, “I’m a terrible liar.  I blew it.  So, yea.”
  • star-wars-clone-wars-darth-maulA fan wondered whether Daul Maul would gain any armor or if he would just be shirtless from here on.  Michnovetz joked about how he was the Matthew McConaughey of Star Wars.  Filoni said that they couldn’t have him running around the whole time without a shirt.
  • On Ahsoka’s future: Filoni jokes he might kill her off because voice actress Ashley Eckstein threw snakes on him earlier that week.  When he threatened that, he laughed that he saw the blood drain from her face.  Getting more serious, he added that this season, “Pretty big things will happen to her.”
  • On Anakin and Padme: They will no longer be in the honeymoon phase of their relationship.  They mention how this won’t be a picnic on Naboo like in the second film.  There will be conflict, and they also mentioned that we will see just how much Obi-Wan knows.
  • A fan pondered the Sith’s rule of two.  Filoni: “We wanted to show how and why there is a rule of two. What’s the Siths’ problem? They can’t get together and agree to share power. That’s not in their nature.”
  • clone-wars-season-5“Darth Sidious won’t just be a hologram,” mentioned Filoni of this season.
  • Bo-Katan talk: “She’s going to do more this season than Boba Fett ever did,” says Filoni.
  • “Trilogy of episodes of the Commandos?”  Not this season.  But down the line.  You will see a Republic Commando this season.
  • I mentioned how much I loved the character Riff Tamson and how he was so different from the series’ elegant way of battle with clean deaths.  I then asked if we could expect to see more Karkarodons in the upcoming seasons despite them being mainly water based.  They mentioned how during the episode “Deception” of the fourth season you briefly see a Karkarodon in the prison with Rako Hardeen with some feet-like appendages added but didn’t indicate they would have any major roles in the future.
  • One fan asked why Boba Fett wouldn’t appear in the upcoming season, and Filoni mentioned how it just wasn’t his turn and how they were going to focus on Bo-Katan.  However, he added, “When you’re a little bit older, if you’re still into us…it’ll be awesome.  But I don’t know.  You may be into girls.”
  • star_wars_the_clone_warsWe will definitely see new armors for the Clones in the new season.
  • A fan mentioned how we had seen so many clones go through bootcamp and training.  Would we see some of the training of the superior officers?  The writers simply said yes with big smiles on their faces.
  • One woman told the story of how when she was growing up, she got a lot of flack for loving the original Star Wars and wanting to play with the action figures instead of Barbies.  She praised the panelists for creating Ahsoka Tano because now, with an 11-year-old daughter, it was “cool” to be a Star Wars fan.  The panelists asked if the young girl was there with her, and the mother had her stand up.  Sure enough, she was decked out in Star Wars cosplay and gave a brief, happy wave.  She then mentioned how she truly loves watching the show with her daughter, then paused.  “I know where this is going,” Filoni muttered with head in hands.  The mother went on to say that the young girl would be “devastated” if something happened to Ahsoka.  She conceded that when the show began she had to make sure her daughter knew that Ahsoka’s ultimate fate was sealed, but she wanted to know if she would have to start screening the episodes.  Filoni seemed to take it really hard, saying, “I take that very seriously.  I wouldn’t want to upset your kid at all.”  He then searched for words and talked about how important the character was to him and the young fans, ultimately adding, “I don’t make the decision to kill characters lightly.”

To catch up on all of our Comic-Con 2012 coverage, click here.