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Ahsoka’s Opening Crawl Declares the Future of Star Wars

Photo: Disney+

Despite the ubiquity of Baby Yoda merchandise and the critical acclaim of Andor, the Star Wars franchise has been somewhat adrift in hyperspace since 2019’s crime against cinema The Rise of Skywalker. The franchise’s big-screen future is a constantly shuffling series of projects that may or may not ever actually get made, and while Disney+ has had some hits, it’s also had bantha poodoo like The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian’s third season. Increasingly, it looks like the next era of Star Wars will be driven by the cartoons, as shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels become bigger and more essential parts of the series’ lore, and nowhere is that more clear than with the premiere of Ahsoka.

The new series starring Rosario Dawson as the titular ex-Jedi, who made her debut and had an entire arc worthy of a Skywalker in those cartoons, has a lot riding on it. So, when faced with establishing the future of Star Wars, where does Ahsoka go crawling back to but, well, a crawl. For the first time since Episode IX — and for the first time in any Star Wars TV show — there’s an opening crawl that sets the stage for the eight episodes of Ahsoka to come, providing some necessary context for viewers who haven’t watched 200 episodes of the animated series. More than that, though, the presence of a crawl seems like a statement: This is the future of Star Wars.

Ahsoka’s crawl isn’t exactly the same as the ones that opened the nine core Star Wars movies. John Williams’s iconic theme music is absent, the text goes straight up instead of receding into the space-horizon, and the text is red rather than yellow. But it does the same basic job, briefly setting up the adventure to come and introducing the audience to some important proper nouns to keep track of, all of which have been helpfully CAPITALIZED:


and a NEW REPUBLIC has risen to take its place.

However, sinister agents are already at work

to undermine the fragile peace.

A plot is underway to find the lost


bring him out of exile. Once presumed dead,

rumors are spreading of Thrawn’s return which

would galvanize the IMPERIAL REMNANTS

and start another war

Former Jedi Knight AHSOKA TANO captured

one of Thrawn’s allies and leaned of a

secret map which is vital to the enemy’s plan.

Ahsoka now searches for the map as her prisoner,

MORGAN ELSBETH, is transported to the

New Republic for trial …”

As a TL;DR for casual Star Wars fans who haven’t been following the adventures of Ahsoka since 2008, the crawl delivers (even if they might be scratching their heads about who “Ezra” is and his whole deal later in the episode). It’s the aftermath of Return of the Jedi, Ahsoka Tano was a Jedi and now she’s not, and she needs to find this Imperial bad guy or else there will be another war. If you as a viewer are not familiar with everything mentioned in the crawl, that’s okay; here’s the gist and you’ll figure out the rest. The crawls from the movies operated the same way, frequently introducing brand-new concepts to audiences: A New Hope’s opening crawl hits the ground running, telling first-time viewers about a “DEATH STAR” just a paragraph after first mentioning the sides of the titular star war.

But Ahsoka’s opening crawl is more than mere recap. No prior Star Wars show began with a crawl. Not The Clone Wars, not Rebels, not The Mandalorian, not Andor, and not even Obi-Wan, a show whose core appeal seemed to have been “we got the movie stars back for this one.” Rogue One and Solo didn’t feature crawls, either. Opening with a crawl, albeit a slightly different one, places Ahsoka on rarified ground. This, after all, is the first time that a character who made their debut in one of the beloved animated series is headlining a live-action show. And although many fans will proselytize the cartoons’ greatness, and although animation as a medium should not inherently be considered lesser than live action, Ahsoka feels like a bigger deal. A semi-casual Star Wars fan can ignore hundreds of half-hours that are more explicitly geared to children; an eight-episode prestige series starring recognizable A-list talent like Dawson (taking on a role voiced in her animated form by Ashley Eckstein) is tougher to overlook.

It’s also a coronation, of a sort, for Dave Filoni, the writer and creator of Ahsoka (the show) who also is, along with George Lucas, the co-creator of Ahsoka (the character). In 2008, Filoni directed Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a theatrically released animated movie that was really just an extended pilot episode of the cartoon, and which first introduced Ahsoka as Anakin Skywalker’s heretofore-unmentioned padawan. In the more than a decade since, Filoni has had an increasingly large hand in shaping Star Wars, both in the cartoons he created and oversaw and in the live-action shows, many of which borrow liberally from the animated series. As Ahsoka has risen from animated padawan to the new center of the Star Wars universe, Filoni has made a similar progression.

By opening with the crawl, Ahsoka is positioning itself on the same level of significance as one of the Skywalker saga movies. Viewers might not have caught all of Rebels, but its core cast is now the focus of this important series — a series that may in turn become a movie, as one of the films (supposedly) on the horizon is a Filoni-directed one that’s directly connected to The Mandalorian, Boba Fett, and Ahsoka. The crawl, by virtue of what it is, does offer casual viewers the basic information they need in order to enjoy Ahsoka. But it’s also a means of meeting them halfway, because this — the characters and the lore from the cartoons — is what mainstream Star Wars is going to be from now on. The writing is on the wall, and so it’s only natural that it would be on the stars, too.  

Ahsoka’s Opening Crawl Declares the Future of Star Wars