Gilroy feels that Lucas initially saw “The Clone Wars” as a cartoon first and “Star Wars” second. You can see that same attitude in how the first “Clone Wars” cartoon (aired from 2003 to 2005) was made. Just watching that series, you can tell it’s much more of a Genndy Tartakovsky production than a Lucas one. Tartakovsky and Lucas’ ideas actually wound up being quite different; take the former’s introduction of General Grievous as an unstoppable Jed-killer, totally incongruent with the coward Lucas would write in “Revenge of the Sith.”
Why, on the second “Clone Wars” cartoon, did Lucas decide to un-retire? According to Gilroy, it comes down to aspect ratios. Lucas saw episodes of “The Clone Wars” were being made with a widescreen 2:35:1 ratio and realized, “Oh, you guys are creating cinema.” Lucas was even the one who suggested turning the first four “Clone Wars” episodes into a movie (hey, I think it should be well-known by now that not all of Lucas’ ideas are winners).
From there, Gilroy says Lucas met with the “The Clone Wars” team once a week, 52 times more often than he’d been expecting to. There are photos of him hosting writers’ conferences for “The Clone Wars” at his private production house, Skywalker Ranch.
Rather than stooping to cartoon work to help keep the lights on, “The Clone Wars” wound up feeling like a missing piece in Lucas’ tapestry. His direct involvement is also a reason why, after Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm, “The Clone Wars” remained canon alongside the original and prequel trilogies while all other “Star Wars” stories were discounted. Only cinema survived the cut and, in Lucas’ view, that’s what “The Clone Wars” was.