We’re perhaps living in the Golden Age of Star Wars. Rebels is fantastic. The Clone Wars is one of Netflix’ crown jewels. The Force Awakens was good. Rogue One looks to be great. Episode VIII could be the best Star Wars ever.
With all this great Star Wars at our disposal, there’s one controversial stain: The Prequels. There’s a lot of fans who love the prequels. There are some who like the prequels. And there are many who were just downright disappointed with them. The stories were half-baked. Some characters resembled racist tropes. The CG look was pretty wonky even when they were released and certainly hasn’t held up. Every important scene took place sitting on a couch. It just didn’t feel like Star Wars.
So, in the age of movie remakes… should Lucasfilm remake the prequels? And I mean re-make – new scripts; new cast; new everything (not just a new CGI skin or whatever).
Why do it?
The prequels were/are a disappointment. There’s a lot to like in these films. Just not the overall plot or story telling. That’s hard to digest.
Why are they so… not good? In short, George Lucas had too much control over the process. Whereas he had several edits (over the course of 4 years) and reviewers for his script for A New Hope, he wrote Episode I by himself in a few months. Episode II started production before the script was even finished (that’s not hard when you do everything on green screen anyways).
Fans know this too. There are countless re-edits of the prequels that try to make them palatable.
But we wanted to love it. I’ve heard countless stories of fans who waited for months in front of theaters in order to get tickets. It’s that desire that makes me think we should at least consider an all-out remake.
Can these stories even be saved?
I think so. For the most part, the general story line of the prequels is sound: Political corruption enables a Sith Lord to take over the galactic senate, create an army, and destroy the Jedi Order. That’s a great overall story. Anakin falls in love with Padme while being chased by assassins hired by her political enemies (or friends). Obiwan investigates a Sith Lord who killed his master as a padowan. Anakin turns to the dark side out of fear and anger. These are all great themes. The specifics are going to matter.
Some things are clear. Jar Jar Binks probably needs to go. Though he was annoying and offensive, he didn’t really add anything to the story. The main characters in Star Wars are characters who are special and outstanding. Jar Jar was couldn’t speak in more than 6 Million forms of communication; He didn’t do the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs; he’s not a 19-yr old Galactic Senator; he’s not a Force user. So… he shouldn’t be there.
Other things aren’t so clear. Do you really need both Darth Maul and Count Dooku? Perhaps, but one of the worst parts of Episode I was that Darth Maul kinda died. Another thing: do you really need a Qui Gon Jin character? He had some merit to the overall story arc, but mostly he was a forced mentor character that had to die in the same way Obiwan died. A different character could fulfill this role in the same way Han Solo did in Ep7.
Should they be replaced with something totally different?
Maybe, but I don’t think so. In many ways, the prequels were defined by the vague references made to that era in the original trilogy. Most of them came from Obiwan Kenobi’s monologues. So it’s not clear that you could do something different that is still focused on Anakin Skywalker. It might be interesting to consider a story that specifically focuses away from Skywalker such that the audience doesn’t understand his personal struggle, but rather the personal/galactic impact of his downfall.
It’s a pretty strange thought, re-doing the prequels. At some point, we should probably just leave well enough alone. But as we all want Star Wars to be great, I think it merits at least considering it.