On Friday, May 27, Lucasfilm and ReedPop made an interesting choice for the featured panel of the day, held on the Celebration Stage and simulcast to the Galaxy and Twin Suns stages. Alongside the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase (Thursday), Mando+: A Conversation with Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni (Saturday), and The Bad Batch (Sunday), they selected Light & Magic, an eponymously named panel discussing the upcoming Disney+ documentary series from Lawrence Kasdan and Ron Howard about origins and rise of ILM. While it is undeniable that Star Wars and its fandom have a long fascination with behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the Lucas films, Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022 nonetheless essentially demoted the panel about an actual Star Wars movie – the Attack of the Clones 20th Anniversary Celebration – by holding it on the Celebration Stage in the 2:00 p.m. slot with simulcasting only on one additional stage. Perhaps unintentionally, the franchise once again sent the message that honoring older fans’ nostalgia for the Original Trilogy is more important than respecting younger fans’ love for the Prequel Trilogy.
The Attack of the Clones panel was hosted by Ashley Eckstein, voice actor for Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and a vocal supporter of the Prequel films and their younger generation of fans. Unsurprisingly, George Lucas did not attend Celebration this year, but he recorded a brief video message thanking the fans and, true to form, noting that Episode II was the first movie shot entirely in a digital format – and that “everybody is doing it now.” He’s correct, of course, and Lucas is rightly proud of all of the technical contributions he made to the industry as well as the commercial success of the franchise he created.
The panel discussion continued these two themes. Eckstein was perfectly suited to the light-hearted and fun, sometimes hilarious, conversations with Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett), and Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett) about their experiences making Attack of the Clones as actors. Likewise, she elicited insightful perspectives from Doug Chiang (art design), John Knoll (visual effects), and Matt Wood (sound design) about the process of creating the look, feel, and sound of Episode II. Consistently throughout, all of the panelists emphasized not only how working on Attack of the Clones remains an unforgettable experience in their careers, but also their enduring appreciation for Lucas as both a storyteller and a filmmaker. The fact that all of the panelists could have so much fun, over twenty years later, talking about their work on Attack of the Clones is another example of the positive legacy the film carries for the franchise two decades after its release.
As expected, though not officially announced beforehand, Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) took the stage for about the last ten minutes of the hour-long panel. The standing ovation from audience in the Celebration Stage thundered through the arena. Reunited for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, which had held its red-carpet world premiere in the same room eighteen hours earlier, both men were visibly moved by the reception they received. In recent interviews promoting the new series, McGregor and Christensen have commented on how the negative reactions to the Prequels weighed on them at the time of their release, and long afterward. At the panel, they expressed their appreciation at feeling the genuine affection of the fans for Attack of the Clones and their characters. For too long they had carried a burden of defensiveness or regret about the Prequels. In an arena full of cheering Star Wars fans – who actively chose to attend this particular panel – they were reminded that their fond memories of making the films and their pride in their performances is nothing at all to be ashamed of. Whether McGregor or Christensen will appear in future Star Wars storytelling after Obi-Wan Kenobi remains to be seen. Based on their joyfulness at Anaheim 2022, however, it’s safe to predict we will see them at Star Wars Celebration conventions in the future.