Bad Batch continues Star Wars’ cartoon legacy, which started in 1977

The history of animation in the Star Wars universe is … checkered. For each transcendent program like The Clone Wars or the brand-new series The Bad Batch, there’s a sensibly forgotten pockmark on the franchise like Star Wars: Ewoks. Sure, you can see Ewoks and its simultaneous cousin, Androids, on Disney Plus, however you might likewise strike yourself in the face with a hammer tonight. Options, options.

Regardless of how horrible some Star Wars animations are, the modern-day versions are generally great. The Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series, the 2008-2020 CG Clone Wars, and Rebels are probably as cherished, if not more so, than half the real live-action Star Wars movies. They’re significant, well-written, and truly amazing where the prequels, to be blunt, weren’t. This remains in spite of the truth that the prequels were borderline animations themselves. George Lucas avoided genuine places whenever possible, developing alien landscapes and huge area fights through computer-generated images.

Versus this tableau of artificiality, the flesh-and-blood stars in the prequels looked lost and detached from the technological fantasia that surrounded them. The animated Star Wars series, led by Lucas protege Dave Filoni, took the magnificence and style visual of the prequels and provided life, to the point where the Clone Wars age is one that Disney is more than delighted to mine for material. However are these animations really much better than their IRL equivalents?

In a new episode of Galaxy Brains, Jonah Ray and I are joined by comedian, writer, actor, and big-brained cinema expert Patton Oswalt to discuss his new Hulu series, MODOK, out on May 21, the discrete pleasures of animation, and once and for all decide if the best Star Wars is live-action or the animations. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation (which has been edited for clarity):

Dave: I do think that in Star Wars, in the DNA of this franchise, there is an animator’s sensibility of unbridled imagination. How do you feel about that?

Patton: I mean, yeah, I guess it depends on the project. Are you going to say that The Clone Wars is much better than Empire Strikes Back. No, but you also can’t say that Attack of the Clones is better than, you know, the end of The Clone Wars. It just depends on the project. Mandalorian is the best Star Wars story that’s been done in years. Why couldn’t you just tell that story in the movies? You don’t need to keep telling us that “the Skywalker saga finally comes to an end.” It came to an end in Return of the Jedi. That was the saga. That was those three movies. I don’t need to see the other stuff. Just think of all new characters.

Dave: I wonder if Dave Filoni being a part of The Mandalorian and asserting himself in the live-action franchise is part of why these shows are really starting to click, because of that animator’s sensibility and that understanding of the universe.

Patton: We’re definitely understanding that it’s got to be characters first and then they roam around this universe. You care about the Mandalorian character, you care about the people that he meets. OK, there’s a friggin’ Ugnaught voiced by Nick Nolte. And when he died, oh my God, my heart’s breaking. And then also what I love about The Mandalorian was that Star Wars has real aliens. It isn’t just people in masks. That each of those represents a different culture. No one is all good or all bad. They just are in conflict. The Jawas just have different aims. Luke was probably trespassing on their area, you see, and in Mandalorian, if you know how to talk to them [they leave you alone]. But it’s like, yeah, we’re just out here trying to kind of live, you know, same with the other night. Same with the Jawas.

Dave: There’s a basic humanity to all of the characters that is primary. If you’re listening to this and you are on the fence about what you want to do with your life, but you maybe want to be a author or director or something, look to the humanity of the characters that you’re making first and foremost, and that will inform everything else. I hope that that is what we’re getting across to you as a listener. That these characters matter more than the fantasy and the fantastical situations and space and all that things. It’s about characters.

For a larger deep dive into The Bad Batch and the Star Wars universe, or to hear our episodes on Mortal Kombat, Justice League, and Godzilla vs. Kong, have a look at the Galaxy Brains feed, any place you get your podcasts.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.