Attack of the Clones is not very many people’s favorite Star Wars movie. In fact, when the internet ranks the Star Wars live-action films, it invariably lands somewhere near the bottom. (If it is your favorite, then we don’t mean you. Love what you love). Now, we’re not going to get into the myriad reasons why George Lucas’ second prequel film has this perception. But as Maz Kanata told once told Rey, “that’s a story for another time.”
Regardless of what one thinks of AOTC, it has nevertheless yielded a metric ton of fantastic elements that added significantly to the greater Star Wars lore. It’s hard to deny that some of the best parts of later canon come directly from Star Wars: Episode II. Here are just five delicious glasses of lemonade made from the perceived lemon that was Attack of the Clones.
The Clone Troopers
Until AOTC, the Clone Wars were a big mystery. It was just one single throwaway line from Ben Kenobi in A New Hope. In AOTC, Star Wars fans receive a shock upon discovering the clones are the army led by the Jedi, and not an army of clones the Jedi fought against. We see their titular attack in the climax of the film, easily one of the coolest parts of the whole prequel trilogy.
But the Clone Army, better known as the Grand Army of the Republic, ultimately make story material for some of the best Star Wars tales ever told. Mainly in the animated Clone Wars series, and now in The Bad Batch. The Republic’s clones are, from the get-go, a much better fighting force than the future Imperial Stormtroopers. So stories of the exploits of clones like Captain Rex, Fives, Hevy, and so many others gave fans drama and excitement we never expected.
An Army of Jedi Knights
Most kids who grew up with the original trilogy imagined the days “before the Dark Times,” when there were thousands of Jedi Knights across the galaxy. We imagined them fighting together in some glorious battle against evil forces. Well, The Phantom Menace gave us two Jedi fighting one Sith Lord. Great scene, but fans always wanted to see the Jedi leading an army. AOTC finally gave us that, and it was glorious.
The Jedi fighting together as an organized force is something that Clone Wars animated series would milk for everything it was worth. Yes, we wouldn’t see that many Jedi fighting together at once on that series, but the idea of Jedi Generals leading the Clone Army into battle came from this film. Without it, we don’t get the Battle of Ryloth, or General Krell’s attack on the planet of Umbara. Inarguably, the Clone Wars battles topped anything in the film, but AOTC was their gestation point.
General Obi-Wan Kenobi
Ewan McGregor was perfect casting for Star Wars. Even the biggest prequel hater will admit that. But in The Phantom Menace, aside from the cool fight scene in the finale, he basically sits on board Queen Amidala’s ship and plays phone tag with Qui-Gon. It’s in AOTC that we really meet the Obi-Wan we’d been waiting so many years to see.
AOTC gives us a confident Jedi Knight, with a full Alec Guinness beard no less. We see him as a swashbuckler (the jump out of the window in Padme’s apartment), a space cop (the Coruscant nightclub), a PI (visiting Dexter’s Diner), and finally, as a Jedi General. This is the Obi-Wan we were waiting for from Ewan. It’s also the template for dozens of great Clone Wars episodes with this character, voiced by James Arnold Taylor. But the blueprint for this Obi-Wan starts in AOTC.
Temuera Morrison as a Bounty Hunter Named “Fett”
AOTC finally delivers on the promise of Boba Fett’s cool armor with the introduction of Jango Fett, played by Temuera Morrison. The Maori actor not only played Jango to perfection, but also all of his clones which make up the Republic army. When it came time for season two of The Mandalorian to cast the adult, post Return of the Jedi Boba, they naturally went to AOTC’s Temuera Morrison to play him. And it wound up giving us the best version ever of the bounty hunter, a version we’d been waiting to see since The Empire Strikes Back. A casting choice made possible thanks to AOTC.
Yoda: Lightsaber Master
When Yoda was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, we had a hard time imagining the tiny green Jedi ever brandishing a lightsaber in battle. In fact, when The Phantom Menace never shows him with one, we assume he just doesn’t use a laser sword. But when he whips one out in AOTC in battle with his former apprentice Dooku, we see that he is indeed the “great warrior” Luke believes he was. Yoda as saber master was put to better use against Emperor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, but also in many a Clone Wars episode. One more thing AOTC gave fans, later improved on in the larger Star Wars canon.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm