Anakin Skywalker, <EM>Star Wars: The Clone Wars</EM> Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The news that George Lucas has decided to go back to the Star Wars well not once but two more times — in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated film (in theaters Aug. 15), and in a new animated series of the same name debuting this fall on the Cartoon Network — sent the Force-a-verse into a tailspin. We had some burning questions about these new Clone Wars-set stories, and we knew you would, too. So we went straight to the powers-that-be for some answers. (Don't worry, so far it appears to be a Jar Jar-free zone.)

What exactly are the Clone Wars?
First alluded to in 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, the Clone Wars are a conflict between the Galactic Republic — led by the Jedi Knights and their clone army — and Count Dooku’s Confederacy of Independent Systems. Not previously seen in any of the saga's six films, the Clone Wars take place between the events of 2002's Episode II and 2005's Episode III. "I felt there were a lot more Star Wars stories left to tell," says Lucas, who is executive-producing this project. "I was eager to start telling some of them through animation and, at the same time, push the art of animation forward."

So it's both a movie and a TV series?
Yes. "The movie is an original full-length story that brings this new look and new energy to the Star Wars galaxy," according to Lucasfilm spokesman John Singh. "It has a full and self-contained story." Then, in the fall, Cartoon Network will begin airing 30-minute episodes that continue the saga. At a still-to-be-determined point after that, TNT will reair the episodes. "It is serialized, but Lucas did it in such a way that they also can stand on their own," says Turner Animation president Stuart Snyder. More than 30 episodes have already been produced, and the show will be broken down into 22-episode seasons. Snyder says "a multiseasonal agreement" is in place. Both the movie and the TV show will utilize 3-D computer-generated animation from Lucasfilm.

Wait, wasn't there already a Cartoon Network series about the Clone Wars?
Yep. In 2003, Star Wars: Clone Wars premiered on Cartoon Network. Produced by Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky, the 25-part, traditionally 2-D animated "micro series" of five- to 12-minute episodes concluded just prior to Episode III's theatrical release and won the 2005 Emmy for outstanding animated program. The new version won't supersede the events and continuity of that show, but will instead delve more deeply into the story of the Clone Wars.

Which Star Wars characters show up in The Clone Wars?
Anakin Skywalker (the future Darth Vader), Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padmé Amidala are front and center, leading the Republic's army. The separatist movement — which will become the evil Galactic Empire of the original movie trilogy — is led by Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, the creepy, Jedi-hunting alien-robot hybrid introduced in the original cartoon and Episode III. New characters will include Anakin's Padawan apprentice Ahsoka, a teenage female Togruta, which is a race of red-skinned, horned aliens. Singh promises that Ahsoka's role will be "really important."

Is this a show for kids? Adults? Both?
While Lucas had previously said this wouldn't be "kiddie stuff," Turner's Snyder emphasizes that "this show is for everyone." Adds Singh, "Being an animated project there is perhaps an even greater appeal to a younger audience than the movies had."

Check out full episodes of the original Clone Wars animated series in our Online Video Guide.

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