If You’re Looking For the Heroic Anakin Skywalker

If you’re like me, the film version of Anakin Skywalker never quite lived up to his legendary status referred to in the original Star Wars movies.  He was supposedly a leader of men, a great Jedi, and a cunning warrior.  The three prequel movies failed to give us an opportunity to know the character in that regard as he aged significantly from movie to movie to movie.  Perhaps due to necessity, the three prequels rushed his entire story from boyhood to fallen hero, and most of us couldn’t connect enough with him at an emotional level to care.

However, that’s not to say the version of Anakin Skywalker we need does not exist.  Look no further than the entire cartoon series entitled The Clone Wars.   This series ran from 2008 to 2015 for a total of six seasons.  Not only does it allow you to understand the full scope of the epic Clone Wars, but it also dives deeply into Anakin’s journey.  Time after time, Anakin saves the day through cleverness, bravery, recklessness, and yes, sometimes even anger.  This is a charismatic, lovable Anakin that we truly believe could inspire legends.  It’s funny, because I just completed the entire series and it has retroactively made me think higher of the prequels!  I’m pretty sure that’s now how it’s supposed to work!

Part of what allows us to identify and adore Anakin is his relationship to Obi-Wan Kenobi.  No longer does it feel as though Obi-Wan is putting up with a spoiled child.  In The Clone Wars cartoon series, these two men are partners — even brothers.

Also, we get to know several of the actual Clone Troopers and bond with them in a way that the movies never even attempted.  Their turn is all the more tragic because in the carton series, they are the epitome of loyalty, courageousness, and respect.  Again, the cartoon has made me change my mind about the quality of the prequels, even thought the prequels came before the cartoon!  Anakin’s endearing relationship to these troopers is also part of his appeal.  He loves his soldiers, and they love him in return.  Both would sacrifice in an instant for the other. and often do.

Finally, perhaps the greatest boon to Anakin’s character is the instantly likable Ahsoka Tano.  Ahsoka is Anakin’s Padawan.  Yes, there is a reason she is not mentioned in any of the movies, and yes, they do a wonderful job addressing it.  Trust me when I tell you by the end of the series she will be one of your favorite Star Wars characters.  Her story and Anakin’s story are obviously intertwined, and what happens to them plays a tremendous role in Anakin’s downfall.  We don’t realize in Revenge of the Sith how much Anakin hurts, we don’t realize how much disillusionment he has with the Jedi Order, nor do we realize how angry he is.  Ahsoka’s fate is instrumental to all three of these details.

This cartoon features an Anakin who is commanding, caring, funny, bold, and smart.  This is an Anakin you believe may be the greatest of the Jedi.  It’s an Anakin who makes you feel inspired.  It’s an Anakin that is all the more tragic, for you know he will fall, yet you hope somehow he will avoid an inescapable fate.

Thanks to this cartoon, I no longer think of Anakin Skywalker as a wooden, whiny character.  It delivered the Anakin Skywalker of legend.

Concerning Star Wars: Rebels

Before I begin, it should be noted I’m thirty-eight years old – born in 1977.  I grew up watching the original Star Wars movies.  I clearly remember seeing Return Of the Jedi in the movie theater.  My older brother, best friend, and I loved the action figures, vehicles, and sets.  I had lunch boxes, masks, we’d make our own lightsabers out of wrapping paper rolls … you get the idea.

When Lucas unveiled the second set of films with The Phantom Menace, I was in my early twenties and, well, it just didn’t quite feel the same.  Maybe it was because I was older, maybe it’s because the films lacked some of the magic … it was probably a combination of the two.

I thought The Clone Wars cartoons were neat, but they didn’t really capture my interest and demand my loyalty.  Again, perhaps it was because of my ever-increasing age, but I think it also had to do with the fact that Anakin Skywalker didnt’ really interest me.  Darth Vader interests me – does even to this day – but not Anakin.  In my mind, Anakin was backstory, and it wasn’t until he began to turn in Revenge Of the Sith that he really started to grow on me.  I knew The Clone Wars cartoons dealt primarily with Anakin before the turn, so I wasn’t all that into it.

So here we are.  I started seeing commercials for Star Wars: Rebels during my own kids’ cartoons and I thought they looked interesting, mainly because of the astro droid, Chopper.  He cracked me up in the little commercials.  Unfortunately, I never made the time to check an episode out.

Until last week.

I decided to watch the first episode last week, and it hooked me right off the bat.  I can absolutely tell you why – it all looks familiar.  For better or worse, this is my Star Wars.  I see the creatures from my Star Wars, I see the vehicle designs, I see my Stormtroopers, I see the retro/funky hairstyles and facial hair, I see the weird tattered clothing mixed with armor and technology, I see the weapons, the architecture.  It’s amazing.

And though the main characters are new, they are extremely likable and charismatic.  Ezra is our orphan runaway, Kanan is our space cowboy, Zeb is our rough monster with the heart of gold, Sabine is our graffiti and explosives artist with the Boba Fett helmet, Hera is our cool-under-pressure pilot, and Chopper is our malcontent, possibly demented, droid.  When we learn that Kanan is a surviving Jedi, and Ezra has potential as his apprentice, it ups the coolness even more.  For example, I grinned from ear to ear the episode Ezra earned his lightsaber.

Plus, though the stories focus on this group of rebels, we get plenty of cameos from old favorites such as Lando, C-P30, R2-D2, wookies, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Senator Organa.

There’s also a new Sith known as the Inquisitor, and he’s awesome.  It’s like they combined Darth Vader and Darth Maul to come up with him.  I’m not complaining – I love the guy.  I hope he lasts a long while.

The story takes place five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, and even though it’s a cartoon, if you’re an old fan like me, you’ll love it.  It’s just flat-out fun.

I hope you’ll give it a try, especially because if you stick it out to the last episode, you will be handsomely rewarded with the greatest Star Wars character of all time.