In A New Hope, we learn about the clone wars, though what that actually means is never specified. It ties together Leia (via her adoptive father Bail), Obi-Wan and Luke (through his father, Anakin).
Which features one of the series’ iconic lines.
LEIA General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.
Prior to that scene, Obi-Wan tells Luke that he fought in the Clone Wars with Luke’s father.
LUKE You fought in the Clone Wars? BEN Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father.
And that’s all we hear mentioned about the Clone Wars in the original trilogy. Given Obi-Wan and Anakin fight together during the Clone Wars, this seems like a good candidate for a mystery that gets solved during the prequels, and it definitely does. The mystery gets solved in Attack of the Clones. Given the title, you may have believed, like I did, that the Clone Wars involved the Jedi Knights fighting against various clones. As Empire Strikes Back had an interesting twist, I thought the twist in AotC was interesting – though IP said that he saw it coming, so maybe I’m the only one who was surprised.
A failed assassination attempt leads Obi-Wan to Kamino, where he discovers that Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas had previously put in an order for an army of warriors cloned from the DNA of bounty Hunter Jango Fett (who is the “father” of Boba Fett, seen in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi).
Fun fact: Sifo-Dyas’ name was originally Sido-Dyas (as you can see in the script), but there was a typo calling him Sifo-Dyas and George Lucas preferred that name, so he changed it.
LAMA SUAnd now to business. You will be delighted to hear we are on schedule. Two hundred thousand units are ready, with another million more well on the way. OBI-WAN (improvising) That is... good news. LAMA SU Please tell your Master Sifo-Dyas that his order will be met on time. OBI-WAN I'm sorry Master - ? LAMA SU Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas is still a leading member of the Jedi Council, is he not? OBI-WAN Master Sifo-Dyas was killed almost tenyears ago. LAMA SU Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.But I'm sure he would have been proudof the army we've built for him.
OBI-WAN The army?
LAMA SU Yes. A clone army, and I must say, one
of the finest we've ever created.
OBI-WAN Tell me, Prime Minister, when my master
first contacted you about the army, did
he say who it was for?
LAMA SU Of course he did. The army is for the
(rising) But you must be anxious to inspect the units for yourself. OBI-WAN That's why I'm here.
Obi-Wan is lead to a giant lab, filled with tons of clones at various stages of life, from embryos, to young children, to adults. The fully kitted out ones look like this:
He meets with Jango Fett who says he has never heard of Sifo-Dyas, and was hired by someone called Tyranus. Obi-Wan informs the Jedi Council about the army of clone troopers, and Yoda and Mace Windu confirm that this wasn’t something the Jedi Council wanted.
They inform Obi-Wan to bring Jango in for questioning, but Obi-Wan catches him and Boba Fett trying to flee from Kamino. They get away, but not before Obi-Wan attaches a tracking beacon to their ship. Not looking like the clone army is on the side of good. Obi-Wan tracks them to Geonosis, where the Trade Federation is manufacturing a massive droid army for the Seperatists’ war against the Republic. The Jedi make their way to the planet to stop the Seperatists, and it looks good at first, but they soon become outnumbered.
Fortunately, Yoda does a Gandalf and arrives with the clone army to save the day!
The battle once again turns in favour of the Jedi and we get to see Yoda in action in what was one of the most exciting parts of the prequels for me (I am starting to take back what I said about AotC being the worst of the three).
So the surprise twist was that the clones were on the side of the Jedi, not the Sith. Or so we think, until… Revenge of the Sith.
It seems all the clone troopers had a secret code programmed into them: order 66. From then, they turn on the Jedi and start murdering them in cold blood. So begins the most heartbreaking scenes in the series, as Jedi get picked off one-by-one. All that’s left (that we know of) are Yoda, Obi-Wan and Anakin (though by this point, Anakin has well and truly turned to the dark side as he goes to murder a bunch of kids).
Attack of the Clones answered the question of what the Clone Wars were, with Anakin fighting alongside Obi-Wan, as was mentioned in the prequels, and Bail Organa being involved on the political side (he wasn’t really involved much in this movie, but he was there when the Jedi Council and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine discussed using the clone troopers to fight the Seperatists.
This also happens to be when the wheels start moving for the bid to grant Palpatine emergency powers – powers that we know from the original trilogy that he never really gives up (although that’s only with extra knowledge that isn’t in the movies, as Palpatine’s name isn’t actually mentioned – he’s just referred to as the Emperor (I think – another thing that Pyro is going to catch me on, I bet)).
Revenge of the Sith answered the question of where all the Jedi disappeared to, and why it was only Obi-Wan and Yoda left (until Luke / Leia).
One thing that I think was a stroke of genius (though whether it was intended is questionable), is that this little niggling fact is covered. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan mentions that the blaster shots are too precise to be sandpeople, so it must be the work of stormtroopers.
A statement that has raised a lot of questions, seeing as in the rest of the series, it’s evident that stormtroopers are actually rubbish at shooting anything.
Can’t hit these slow-moving droids as they waddle across the battlefield.
Come on, he’s practically point blank range.
Luke and Leia can’t even run forward, as the bridge hasn’t extended, so they’re trapped.
It has become a bit of a meme.
But the prequels explain it!
OBI-WAN You mentioned growth acceleration... LAMA SU Oh yes, it's essential. Otherwise, a mature clone would take a lifetime to grow. Now, we can do it in half the time. Those items you saw on the parade ground were started ten years ago, when Sifo-dyas first placed the order, and they're already mature...
As we noticed earlier, the clones look awfully a lot like stormtroopers, so I think it’s safe to assume that they were the precursor to the stormtrooper army. Now this is purely speculation, but with Jango Fett dead (at the hands of Mace Windu), and Boba Fett nowhere to be found (he fled), the DNA needed for the clones is no longer available.
This was in the original script, but the latter part of Lama Su’s last part didn’t make it into the movie.
OBI-WANWho was the original host? LAMA SU A bounty hunter called Jango Fett. We felt a Jedi would be the perfect choice, but Sifo-Dyas hand- picked Jango Fett himself. OBI-WAN Where is this bounty hunter now? LAMA SU Oh, we keep him here. After a few hundred thousand clones, the genetic pattern starts to fade, so we take a fresh supply. He lives here, but he's free to come and go as he pleases.
His statement about needing half a lifetime to grow also stands, and it’s unlikely that the Emperor had them brewing another batch in the background, as they never showed it to Obi-Wan. Since we can assume there’s roughly 16 years between RotS and ANH (since Luke and Leia are born in RotS and are roughly sixteen), that isn’t enough time to brew up a whole new batch of clones. So even without the Jango Fett theory holding, it seems the clones will slowly die off due to their accelerated ageing, as well as just natural attrition that happens through war. To keep the army alive, they will need new recruits. New recruits who don’t have this superior DNA, and who have undergone army training, but not the rigorous clone army training that the clone troopers underwent.
Which explains why some of them are such bad shots! The Empire probably kept the original armour since people would associate that with the feared clone troopers. Obi-Wan, who had been hiding on Tatooine for so long probably didn’t know that they suck now, so he still thinks they’re the top-notch clones he fought against in the Clone Wars. Plus, a bunch of them did wipe out most of the Jedi Order, which is probably why he holds them in such high regard.
Overall, in relation to the Clone Wars, and stormtroopers in general, the prequels actually tackled this one well.