Acclaimed animation-and-comics writer Paul Dini (the â€œJustice League,â€ â€œSuperman,â€ â€œBatmanâ€ animated series) amps up the action for Jedi heroines Luminara Unduli and Ahsoka Tano in â€œCloak of Darkness,â€ an all-new episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Dec. 5, on Cartoon Network.
In â€œCloak of Darkness,â€ Ahsoka and Jedi Master Luminara escort captured Viceroy Nute Gunray to trial â€“ but theyâ€™re unaware that Count Dooku has dispatched his deadly assassin Asajj Ventress to free the prisoner and eliminate the Jedi.
Supervising director Dave Filoni, who also directed â€œCloak of Darkness,â€ and story editor Henry Gilroy have made concerted efforts to grow the seriesâ€™ expansive universe of characters throughout the first season. When the focus turned to the strong female fighters of the Star Wars galaxy â€“ both heroes and villains â€“ they felt writer Paul Dini was a perfect choice to create the scenario.
Diniâ€™s work in animation and comic books have built him a strong following among enthusiasts, and he is noted for creating stunning, memorable female characters. Dini, who has taken time away from the animation realm to be a story editor on ABCâ€™s â€œLost,â€ said he didnâ€™t hesitate to take the assignment from Lucasfilm Animation.
â€œIt was interesting to take Ahsoka, who plays by her own rules, and put her under the tutelage of a more established Jedi,â€ Dini says. â€œShe canâ€™t get around Luminara the way she plays with Anakin and Obi-Wan. Itâ€™s not just their generational difference, itâ€™s a difference in methods â€“ Luminara is very much by the book, and expects any padawan to follow the rules. Ahsoka grabs a lightsaber and runs into battle, whereas Luminara wants to take a moment and assess the situation through her mastery of the Force. Throw in the wildcard of Ventress and youâ€™ve got a very interesting mix.â€
Filoni says the Star Wars galaxy is filled with compelling female characters, but many of them have not had major roles â€“ so far. â€œThis series gives us an opportunity to use them in a much larger capacity,â€ he says. â€œIn this episode, the focus is on how Luminara, an old-school Jedi master, would work with a young padawan like Ahsoka. Putting Luminara and Ahsoka together offers a real contrast in learning for both characters.â€
In both comics and action-driven animation, Dini says, a preponderance of male characters provides a challenge to develop their underappreciated female counterparts with equal complexity and motivations.
â€œA lot of times, female characters â€“ particularly the villains â€“ come off as very one-dimensional,â€ Dini says. â€œThey get the short shrift in that theyâ€™re only given the snappy comeback, or theyâ€™re relegated to a very stereotypical role. I want to know whatâ€™s driving them â€“ thatâ€™s whatâ€™s really interesting. If you can find that human moment, then attach a human element of motivation, the character becomes more relatable and, even if sheâ€™s a villain, more sympathetic.â€
But Dini says viewers wonâ€™t find much sympathy for Ventress â€“ and not because she lacks crystal clear motives.
â€œVentress has a savage desire to prove herself,â€ he explains. â€œShe really wants to be the next Sith Lord, and sheâ€™ll do anything to achieve her goal. Sheâ€™s as ruthless, cunning and merciless as any character in the series, and that intense, loose rage makes her a wild card. When she unleashes it, she becomes a berserker. When she fights, sheâ€™s like a snake, almost reptilian in some ways. If she kept her rage in check, she might win. But she gives in to that rage, and that is her undoing, her weakness.â€
Cloak of Darkness