The Clone Wars are a series of fictional intragalactic battles in George Lucas's science fiction saga Star Wars. The conflict is first mentioned in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), but not featured until the second and third episodes of the six-part Star Wars film series: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005). The animated microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-2005) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, released August 15th (2008) chronicle some of the war's major campaigns. Additional events and stories are detailed in a multimedia campaign consisting of Star Wars literature and video games. Many of the events featured have parallels in history, politics, and mythology from which Lucas and other writers drew inspiration. Critics and film historians debate which parallels are most prominent or consistent.
The Clone Wars begin during the Separatist Crisis when thousands of star systems seceded from the Galactic Republic to form the Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS). The first battle occurs on the CIS planet Geonosis where the Republic's new clone army, led by Jedi generals, combats the Separatists' battle droids. War quickly spreads across the galaxy and eventually reaches the Republic's capital, Coruscant. The Clone Wars end shortly after the Great Jedi Purge, the Separatist Massacre on Mustafar, and the establishment of the Galactic Empire. The events causing the war and those leading to its conclusion are orchestrated by the Republic's chief executive, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
The conflicts leading up to the Clone Wars begin 32 years before the events of A New Hope and during the second half of the film The Phantom Menace. The Trade Federation, a major galactic trade organization under the control of the Nemoideans, blockades the small planet Naboo and demands the capitulation of the world by its queen, Padmé Amidala, who refuses their demands and requests help from the Galactic Republic, the main governing body of the galaxy. The Republic responds by sending two Jedi ambassadors, Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to oversee the situation and negotiate with the Trade Federation. The Federation, wary of the Jedi and secretly taking orders from Darth Sidious, attempt to murder the Jedi, who escape to Naboo just as the Federation begins a full-scale invasion. Following a brief occupation, the Trade Federation are defeated by an alliance of the Naboo military and the indigenous Gungan Tribes, with the help of the Jedi.
Following these events, Jedi Master Dooku resigns from the Jedi Order and returns to his homeworld of Serenno. Unfortunately, the Jedi Council are unaware that Dooku has fallen under the control of Sith master Darth Sidious, who begins organizing a separatist coalition of planets and civilizations with the intention of seceding from the Republic. During this time, the Separatists begin forming their own armies, which primarily consist of battle droids constructed by the Trade Federation and their allies.
Ten years later, following the attempted assassination of Senator Padmé Amidala, Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker's investigation puts them on the trail of Jango Fett, an intergalactic bounty hunter. Tracking him to the world of Kamino, Obi-Wan discovers that the Kaminoans have used samples of Fett's DNA to clone a vast army of soldiers, called Clone Troopers. The order for the soldiers was submitted to the Kaminoans by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas (Who had been killed before making the order). Meanwhile, the Republic soon faces internal opposition as several thousand worlds publicly secede from the Galactic Republic and form the Confederacy of Independent Systems, or CIS. The Republic Senate deliberates the Military Creation Act, which calls for the formation of an army to serve the Republic in keeping order across Republic Star Systems and preventing further secession. As deliberations stall, Shadow Senator for Naboo, Jar Jar Binks proposes (after suggestion from Chancellor Palpatine) that the Chancellor be granted emergency powers in order to resolve the issue of the Clone Army awaiting approval on Kamino and take decisive action to put down the rebellion. This is greeted by applause from the majority of the Senate Chamber, and Chancellor Palpatine describes it as a 'purely temporary measure'.
The Clone Army of the Republic first saw battle engaging the Separatist forces on Geonosis, which had been discovered and reported by Obi-Wan Kenobi prior to his capture. The forces were commanded by Master Yoda. The Battle of Geonosis marks the end of Attack of the Clones and the beginning of the Clone War.
During the in-universe time period between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, conflict between the Republic and the Separatists increases and expands, which is chronicled in an extensive Multimedia campaign.
Three years after the Battle of Geonosis, the Confederacy attempts to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine from the Republic capital world of Coruscant under the command of the cyborg General Grievous. The Chancellor is rescued and Confederacy leader Count Dooku killed, thanks to the efforts of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker.
At this point in the Clone Wars timeline, the Outer Rim Sieges are in full swing, as well as numerous other battles across the galaxy. The Jedi are considered battle commanders, far outranking clones in terms of battle prowess, and are spread thin across the galaxy. One of the key battles of the Outer Rim Sieges is the Battle of Utapau, depicted in Revenge of the Sith; during the battle, Obi-Wan strikes a crippling blow to the Confederacy by killing one of their most prominent leaders, General Grievous.
Left behind by Obi-Wan on Coruscant, Anakin discovers that Palpatine is also Darth Sidious, Sith leader of the Confederacy. He informs Mace Windu, who promptly comes with a posse of Jedi Knights to detain the corrupt Chancellor. A furious duel ensues in Palpatine's personal chambers, until only Windu and Palpatine are left standing. Skywalker arrives at the Chancellor's quarters to find Palpatine at the mercy of Windu's lightsaber. Anakin, promised by Palpatine enough power to save his wife Padmé from death, cuts Windu's lightsaber hand off, allowing Palpatine to kill Windu. Palpatine/Sidious takes Anakin as his new Sith Apprentice, after losing Dooku, and gives him the Sith name Darth Vader. Anakin has now completely fallen under the sway of the Dark Side.
Utilizing the attack by Mace Windu as a pretext, Palpatine issues Order 66, a pre-arranged military command ordering all Clone Troopers to execute their Jedi commanders. Darth Vader leads the Knightfall with the 501st Clone Trooper Legion and kills all the Jedi in the Temple, including Jedi younglings living in the Temple. The handful of survivors of the Great Jedi Purge include Yoda and Obi-Wan.
With the extermination of the Jedi complete, Palpatine marks an end to the Galactic Republic, naming himself ruler of the Galactic Empire. During this time, Emperor Palpatine dispatches Vader to Mustafar to kill the rest of the Separatist leaders. With the elimination of the Confederacy leadership, Palpatine (as Darth Sidious) orders all battle droids to be shut down immediately, effectively ending the war.
In Attack of the Clones, Palpatine orchestrates the Separatist movement (and the Clone Wars that followed) to worry the citizens of the Republic, thus forcing the Senate to grant him emergency powers. According to character Obi-Wan Kenobi, these powers increase as the Clone Wars extend into a search for General Grievous, who replaces Count Dooku as Separatist leader. During Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine declares himself Emperor by blaming the Jedi for the Republic's problems, resulting in a Jedi purge via Order 66.
Comparisons have been made between the political aspects of the Clone Wars and the events leading up to World War II. Radio host Clyde Lewis' article on historical similarities in Star Wars claims that Palpatine's tactics parallel those of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany; both leaders used wars and scapegoats to manipulate society's emotional state, thus providing the leadership with support and power. This viewpoint was also expressed in an editorial on the Clone Wars Unofficial Website. Another writer compares the Clone Wars with World War II in general, basing his argument on the fact that Lucas was born during the baby boomer generation, and the dark times featured in the original trilogy rival the dark, uncertain Cold War. Lucas, however, cited in multiple interviews that one of his primary influences for the political backdrop behind the Clone Wars (and all of Star Wars) was the Vietnam/Watergate era, when leaders embraced corruption for what they thought was the best course of action.
There is a variety of opinions on the historical parallels between the political aspects of the Clone Wars and the War in Iraq. In claiming that the Star Wars galaxy under the deceitful Palpatine parallels the modern issues of the United States, an editorial on Antiwar.com states that "[Star Wars] establishes first the generally agreeable premise that it's right to overthrow oppressive government, before bringing into focus something more discomforting – that the corrupt tyranny referred to is our own". Additionally, an article from Wiretap claims that "like Palpatine, the Bush administration has been able to feed on people's fears to gain more power". However, in an interview with Kiro 7 News, Star Wars producer Rick McCallum explained:
Lucas claims, however, that "The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable." Nevertheless, he states that "When I wrote [the backstory/Clone Wars], Iraq didn't exist".
In the original trilogy, the Clone Wars are only referenced in A New Hope. Lucas stated that he first designed a backstory which preceded the original film trilogy — the events surrounding the Clone Wars era.
The videogame Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released in 2002 for PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. It is set immediately after the final events of Attack of the Clones, and spans many new worlds and settings not mentioned in the films or novelizations. Additionally, Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Republic Commando, and Star Wars: Battlefront II expand the scenarios of the conflict and add new angles to previously covered battles.
The cartoon microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars started airing in November 2003 on Cartoon Network. It was a series of 20 episodes, each three to five minutes long, showing several of the battles of the war not mentioned in any of the films.
Another TV series, of more than one hundred episodes, unrelated to but an expansion of the previous one, is also in production by Lucasfilms Animation and Lucasfilms Animation Singapore. It is scheduled to become a 3D animated television series.
The comic series Star Wars: Republic has also shed light on this era of the Star Wars universe, focusing in particular on the exploits of the Jedi characters Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Quinlan Vos, and Aayla Secura. Multiple series of novels based on all aspects of the Clone Wars have been published, as well.
An animated feature film based on the Clone Wars, titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars, was released on August 15, 2008. It will introduce the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series, which will begin airing in Fall 2008.