Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, the second episode of creator George Lucas' prequel trilogy, released on May 16, 2002. Taking place ten years after the events of 1999's Episode I - The Phantom Menace, a now 19-year-old Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), the prophesied "chosen one," is under the tutelage of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), who uncovers the makings of a Clone army amid a galaxy in turmoil. Following an assassination attempt against the life of Republic Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), Jedi apprentice Anakin becomes her protector, igniting a forbidden romance at the onset of the Clone Wars...
Attack of the Clones went on to earn $645.2 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of 2002 behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ($926m), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($879m), and Spider-Man ($821m).
"The story was written 30 years ago, it's one big, long story," Lucas, who co-wrote Attack of the Clones with Jonathan Hales, said in a 2002 interview. "This one does have a love story, which is quite a bit different, and it's a necessary part of the plot that's being told of Anakin's journey. And that was challenging in its own way, because Star Wars films have a tendency to be very action-oriented. To be able to slow down a little bit and tell a love story in the middle of it was a challenge to be able to make that happen, but I think we pulled it off pretty well."
The middle chapter of the prequel trilogy also introduced Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) — a Separatist leader and a Jedi-turned-Sith who trained under Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) before coming to serve shadowy Sith Lord Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) — and armored bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), father of both the Clone army and son Boba Fett (Daniel Logan).
Because Lucas was "disappointed" he couldn't spend more time exploring the galaxy-spanning conflict in Attack of the Clones, he created a spinoff animated series — The Clone Wars — set before the events of what would be his final Star Wars movie, 2005's Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
"The Clone Wars are basically a footnote in the saga of Anakin Skywalker. And that's what the features are about," Lucas said in a past interview with ScreenSlam. "They're really about Anakin, they're about his son. It's very narrow-focused about his descent into the Dark Side. I wanted to do something when I was doing Episode III, I wanted to do something that involved the Clone Wars."
Both Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars are available to stream on Disney+.
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones released 18 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/NFYU99kGBI— Star Wars Stuff (@starwarstuff) May 16, 2020
attack of the clones is a great movie
pass it on pic.twitter.com/TrOx1EmSO2— 𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙤𝙧 🧨 (@trevorthesith) May 16, 2020
Attack of the Clones is visually beautiful and such an underrated movie, there’s so much more to it than just “I don’t like sand” pic.twitter.com/Jt6CAqxsfa— ✧*:･ﾟ| ceo of anidala quotes ✿ (@padmesanckin) May 16, 2020
in honor of it being 18 years since attack of the clones was released, let’s take a moment to appreciate how pretty anakin and padmé’s scenes are pic.twitter.com/M4eoh2zgCs— diana (@corucsant) May 16, 2020
Attack of The Clones turns 18 today?! OMFG HAPPY BIRTHDAY, & HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ANIDALA😭🤧🥳 pic.twitter.com/UogDP087bJ— Jessica ✿ ⁵⁰¹ | Ceo of Skywalker Academy💫 (@JessicaMSerna) May 16, 2020
18 years ago Attack Of The Clones delivered one of the best Star Wars battles ever.
Love this movie so much. pic.twitter.com/tcNbQlmAyJ— Noah Outlaw (@OutlawNoah) May 16, 2020
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.