Even the biggest fans of the Star Wars prequels are willing to admit that General Grievous was a disappointing character. After all, a robot guy with more arms than personality who has emphysema can’t exactly stand tall next to iconic Star Wars villains like Darth Vader. However, when the character was introduced to audiences in Genndy Tartakovsky’s two-dimensional Clone Wars cartoon well before Revenge of the Sith came out, General Grievous was a much better (and much, much scarier) villain than we’d ever seen in live-action.
The Introduction Of Grievous
In the Clone Wars episode “Chapter 20,” our heroes first hear the tale of a frightening new droid general who is ruthlessly hunting down Jedi. Pretty soon, we see a group of Jedi (including fan-favorite characters Ki-Adi Mundi, Shaak Ti, and Aayla Secura) fight with General Grievous on the planet Hypori. Of course, calling it a fight is a bit generous: the vicious droid effortlessly defeats everyone, and we get a cliffhanger ending with General Grievous leaping at Ki-Adi Mundi, ready and willing to slice him up with the three lightsabers he is wielding.
More Terrifying In Silence
Speaking of slicing, let’s cut to the chase: what makes this portrayal of General Grievous scarier than anything we’d see in Revenge of the Sith? For one thing, the character doesn’t have any dialogue in this scene. That was almost certainly because Tartakovsky had no idea at the time who would eventually be the voice actor for Greivous, but the simple fact is that removing his goofy voice (complete with all its trademark wheezing and coughing) is already enough to make this villain seem much more intimidating.
Star Wars Meets Aliens
Another aspect of this animated General Grievous that makes him scarier than his live-action counterpart is how much more overtly physical his attacks are. We don’t get a proper look at the villain until he lands on and effectively squishes a Padawan (one who looks a lot like Scooby-Doo’s pal Shaggy, incidentally), and the character uses his robo toes to hang from the ceiling while he stalks his prey. This helps the whole scene feel like something out of a horror film, and it’s cool to see General Grievous attacking Jedi from the same unexpected angles that a xenomorph might attack a Colonial Marine in aliens.
A More Skilled Foe
When you watch the fight, you can also see that the animated General Grievous uses multiple lightsabers in a much smarter way than he did in Revenge of the Sith. In that movie, he couldn’t even handle Obi-Wan despite having four sabers: here, the droid’s speedy attacks are able to help him hold off five Jedi at once with complete ease. Towards the end of the fight, he uses his feet to toss Jedi to their doom and even uses his robotic toes to hold a lightsaber after his two extra arms get cut off.
Live-Action Has More Hurdles Than Animation
In all fairness to George Lucas and the creative team behind Revenge of the Sith, it’s much easier to create such a killer fight scene in animation than in live-action. That doesn’t change the fact, though, that live-action General Grievous was a disappointing character, and the only thing worse than his voice was his fight scenes. We’ll take Genndy Tartakovsky’s version any day, and we can’t help but hope that he eventually brings his animated talents back to a galaxy far, far away.