The 10 Best Moments from Genndy Tartakovsky's 'Clone Wars'

With its arrival on Disney+, we look at the forgotten 'Star Wars' cartoon and find a micro-masterpiece.

Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars
Lucasfilm

5. When in Doubt, Get Gross

Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars Durge

Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars delighted in squeamish sounds and ideas. Anakin isn’t afraid to make bugs his breakfast. Grievous boldly hocks loogies. The director leans into the repulsive, and there is no better example of such behavior than the explosive reveal found within “Chapter 9.”

For much of the first season, General Kenobi crossed swords with the droid commander known as Durge. He’s a gargantuan mass, covered from head to toe in battle armor. He seemed about as lively as the robots who took his orders, but as we find out in Clone Wars “Chapter 9,” the titan is a beast.

Making his last stand against Kenobi, Durge erupts from his battlesuit. He’s a hurling heap of tendrils, lunging to wrap his slippery mess around the Jedi. Durge succeeds, pulling Kenobi inside. It’s almost lights out until a Clone Trooper fires an electric shock through the tentacles. Durge explodes a second time, but there’s no recovering from it. As Kenobi huffs and puffs his wet self, Durge’s remains slide down the walls. It’s gross. So gross.


4. Bridging the Episodes

Star Wars Emperor and General Grievous

Revenge of the Sith opens amid the final Clone Wars battle above Coruscant. It’s a whizz-bang sequence meant to drop you right into the heart of the action. General Grievous has kidnapped Palpatine, using the Republic figurehead to bait a clash between Dooku and Anakin. “Chapter 25” of Clone Wars sets the stage for Star Wars: Episode III‘s dashing introduction.

Tartakovsky ends his run by once again reveling in Grievous’ savage supremacy. A new group of Jedi Knights clashes with him, but once again, they fall. Clone Wars leaves you itching to see the cyborg finally smash against Anakin and Obi-Wan. It’s an anticipation that does not come unless you’ve watched these chapters. Revenge of the Sith presents a mean robot warrior, but the rivalry only exists within the animated arena.


3. That New Ship Smell

Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars Zero G Jump

In “Chapter 23” of Clone Wars, high above Coruscant, the final siege beings. Jedi Master Saesee Tiin docks his fighter inside his command ship, but as he steps from the cockpit, a Clone Trooper explains that their ship will soon destruct. Without missing a beat, Tiin declares, “It’s time to get a new one.”

The Jedi and his Clone Troopers don their spacesuits and leap into zero gravity. They propel themselves toward the nearest enemy vessel, land on its haul, and blast their way inward. The sequence is riveting, narrowing the focus on a few soldiers to highlight the colossal war that rages in every shot’s background. Tiin takes the Separatist ship, but one victory is merely a pause until the next one. He turns the enemy’s guns upon another enemy ship, and the fight continues.


2. The Mace Windu You Wanted

cartoon Mace Windu

By 1999, Samuel L. Jackson mania was in full swing: Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Jackie Brown, The Long Kiss Goodnight… When we heard Jackson was to be a part of Star Wars, our senses couldn’t handle it. The imagination went berzerk, and our fantasies could never be matched. Then, The Phantom Menace dropped, and Jackson’s Mace Windu barely stood from his chair. In Attack of the Clones, he at least gets to decapitate a guy, but even that showdown failed astronomically to what we were thirsting to witness.

Chapter 12″ of Clone Wars delivers the Mace Windu we wanted. It’s an incredible introduction. War rages across a massive battlefield. Clone Troopers fire left and right. Battle Droids match their attack. Then, we see the purple blade. It slashes across the screen, and explosions follow. Through the red smoke emerges Mace Windu. If the Battle Droids could fill their drawers, they would.

One Jedi against thousands. It matters not. Mace Windu doesn’t say a word. He strikes with the confidence and the passion of the actor not voicing him (the job of imitation is Terrence C. Carson’s). Up until this point, you’ve seen several lightsaber battles, but you’ve never seen one better, and you never will again. Jackson failing to go this hard in the films is a crushing disappointment. Let’s hope for that Disney+ spin-off…


1. Fists of Fury

Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars Mace Windu

“Chapter 13” is why you must watch Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars. We’re sticking with Master Mace Windu. He’s lost his saber in battle, but a Jedi without his tools is still a Jedi. With his bare fists, Windu tears through the Battle Droids. His punches fire like machine-gun bullets, and the droids go down. He doesn’t tire; he gets bored. Windu uses the Force to dismantle the leftover robots, and they fly apart with the speed of thought.

Above him, a Seismic Tank fires a battering ram at the earth below. The pounding doesn’t budge Windu, but the Clone Troopers around him turn to putty. Windu moves his attention from the nats to the hive above. He collects his saber and slices into the tank so that the droids within can feel their brethren’s terror. Windu destroys the ship from the inside out.

On a nearby hillside, a young boy watches the battle in amazement. When the tank explodes, Windu flies free from the wreckage and lands next to the kid. The kid offers him a drink, and Windu kindly obliges. We are the boy, dumbstruck and in awe. Tartakovsky takes a mildly interesting character from the films and uncovers the badass we knew him to be. Like everything else in Clone Wars, it ups the ante and dares the storytellers that come after to follow boldly in return.

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, Curator for One Perfect Shot, & co-host of the Comic Book Couples Counseling podcast.