I have a 6-year-old son who asks lots of questions. We'll be walking to the subway when he'll drop a mission impossible on me: "Where is Jesus Christ buried, Daddy?" I'm fairly decent at answering questions involving religion, baseball, state capitals, and Earth science. (Pop quiz: Do you really know why it gets colder in the winter?) But there's one particular field of knowledge where I'm bereft. I don't know much about Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Separatists? Count Dooku? What the hell?
Like any mainstream American boy in the 1980s, I inhaled the original Star Wars trilogy. If you tell me that something "will be just like Beggar's Canyon back home," I'll bust out my best womp rat joke. I watched the new trilogy through a haze of disappointment. I can barely remember what happened in the last one, as I was still recovering from the blasphemy of a fast, Rambo Yoda. George Lucas' creation is unstoppable, of course, and the franchise continues to metastasize. My son craves Star Wars Legos and reads the excellent series of graphic novels that tells of the Clone Wars. Which is great, except I can't explain all of the subtleties to him.
Herewith, as a public service, a guide to the Clone Wars for parents of inquisitive children—plus a bonus section on R2-D2 for 3-year-olds.
For starters, forget about Luke. The Clone Wars are all about Anakin, who as we all know becomes Darth Vader (though I always fudge this detail so as not to ruin potential future surprise). Obi-Wan Kenobi is Anakin's teacher. Anakin has R2-D2 in his ship, plus he built C-3PO. He's the strongest and fastest Jedi, but he doesn't listen. His lightsaber is violet in color. Important note for parents of girls: Anakin will secretly marry Padmé Amidala (aka Natalie Portman) and give birth to Luke and Princess Leia. Best not to mention that Padmé dies during childbirth.
The most confusing aspect of the Clone Wars for original-trilogy (O.T.) parents is that the clones' body armor makes them look a lot like stormtroopers. (In fact, the clone troopers become the Imperial stormtroopers. More on that later.) Yet the clones are good guys whose blaster "bullets" are blue. The original DNA used to create them came from Boba Fett's dad. (Boba Fett had a rather tender home life, it turns out.) The Jedi lead the clones in battle against the droid armies. Here again, confusion. An O.T. parent hears "droid" and thinks R2 and C-3PO, but, no, the droids are tan, spindly robots, and their blaster color is orange. They are typically controlled by a droid mothership and can be dispatched by Anakin and Obi-Wan in large numbers since they are dumb. It's much sadder when clones die because of their human form. Lucas screwed up here.