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Prequel Problems: Jar Jar Binks and the Curate’s Egg

TR1996

Well-known member
Another criticism rarely made is raising inconsistency of content between the original films and the prequels, and the primary reason for this is that such inconsistencies, largely, do not exist. Again, I feel it is worth emphasising just how surprising this is considering how iconic and well-known (particularly by obsessive fans) the original Star Wars trilogy was. It helps that the original trilogy was typically small-scale in terms of following our protagonists around the edges of the galaxy, whereas the prequels dealt with grander-scale politics and war. This meant that the original trilogy only vaguely hinted about things such as galactic governance and the old Jedi Order, so there wasn’t much established for the prequels to contradict. Even with this advantage, it is still impressive considering how many other prequels manage to screw up established character backstories – even when they involve stories set in our own world, and do not need to make the ‘galaxy far, far away’ setting consistent as well.
IDK, there's some of that stuff, but its mostly character-based- the whole Obi-Wan and the droids thing; Leia's memories of her mother; Uncle Owen going from someone who was familiar enough with Anakin to darkly comment about Luke being too much like his father to... Anakin's step-brother who met him literally once. Some of which have their justifications, of course.

The big world-building thing is of course having the fall of the Jedi be only 19 years prior, and the consistency with their depiction in the OT (the ''how can Han Solo know nothing about the Jedi if they were a major galactic force only 19 years prior to the OT'' and the ''there were only 10 000 Jedi in a galaxy of quadrillions, it's perfectly reasonable for Han to know nothing about them'' justification), but that timeline is somewhat locked in by the OT with Anakin being a fallen Jedi, so the prequels can't really be too faulted.
 

Thande

Generic Nice and Savoy Things
Published by SLP
You can probably tell, but I started this article based on vague memories that the prequels had more references to the EU in them than they actually did in the end - partly misled by things like the Visual Dictionaries having stuff like those Holocron models that didn't appear in the end. Oh well.

IDK, there's some of that stuff, but its mostly character-based- the whole Obi-Wan and the droids thing; Leia's memories of her mother; Uncle Owen going from someone who was familiar enough with Anakin to darkly comment about Luke being too much like his father to... Anakin's step-brother who met him literally once. Some of which have their justifications, of course.
I know what you mean, but I wouldn't describe that as inconsistency of content because it's based on implication rather than outright statements like "That's Boba Fett the bounty hunter, he's definitely not a clone" or whatever.

The big world-building thing is of course having the fall of the Jedi be only 19 years prior, and the consistency with their depiction in the OT (the ''how can Han Solo know nothing about the Jedi if they were a major galactic force only 19 years prior to the OT'' and the ''there were only 10 000 Jedi in a galaxy of quadrillions, it's perfectly reasonable for Han to know nothing about them'' justification), but that timeline is somewhat locked in by the OT with Anakin being a fallen Jedi, so the prequels can't really be too faulted.
I used to think that thing about Han and the Jedi was a reasonable argument until I kept running into (for example) younger Germans who know nothing about the Berlin Wall or the Cold War.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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With the caveat that I've never actually read any of the EU stuff (old or new version) I think I both agree and disagree with you on this one Thande.

Agree because yes he prequel films don't actually have many continuity/story issues as prequels- the single biggest one is that Anakin is much younger than was originally implied from the dialogue in New Hope which really hurts a lot of things (make him a surly 17-year old who already thinks he's the Big Cheese and literally everything works better narratively).

But I think I disagree with your analysis of the EU stuff. There's a few bits of 'chrome' here or there, but the fundamentals about the nature of the Sith, the Jedi Temple in Coruscant, the ban on relationships and so forth are just so much larger elements that just sort of discount the EU altogether.

I can see a strong link between what you described as the old EU's backstory for Han and what we got in the Solo film- there's obviously influence there, but I just don't get it here.
 

Makemakean

Mr Makemean
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I'd say that the only reason continuity problem with the prequels that bug me is that exchange between Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru at the beginning of A New Hope:

"Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him."

"That's what I'm afraid of."

Connect that with Obi-Wan later reminicing about Anakin (who by this point doesn't even have a name, he's just Luke's father), and, to me at least, this paints this picture of Anakin as having been a bit of a restless young man who had grown up along with Owen and Beru (I don't know which one of them was supposed to be Anakin's sibling), similarly been uninteresting in taking up the, err-... family business (?) of moisture farming, then getting out there in space out of a desire for adventure, fighting in the Clone Wars, being made a Jedi, before (in as far as Owen and Beru knew) dying in battle.

It might well have been that they didn't know he was a Jedi, or if they did, they neglected to tell this to Luke simply because they were worried that that might just make Luke far more eager to get out there.

Now, what with Episode II, like, they only ever met Anakin once, for like two or three days, and during that time, Anakin killed an entire village of sand people, men, women, children, and went on megalomaniacal rants about conquering death and stuff.

So what exactly is it that Aunt Beru sees in Luke that makes her think of Anakin?

Well, I suppose he does like bull-eyeing those Womp rats, and you know, serial killers usually start out with small animals, so...
 

Makemakean

Mr Makemean
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That's another one of those things that just screams 'Anakin should be introduced in Phantom Menace as a surly full of himself 16-18 year old' as the logical solution. Then he could be well known as the local hot shot pod racer.
I also very much enjoyed Plinkett's suggestion that it should be Obi-Wan who discovers Anakin and is the one who takes the initiative to take him to Coruscant and train him and everything. Would make sense when it comes to the conversation Obi-Wan's ghost has with Luke on Dagobah in Episode VI:

"When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the force what with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong."

In the original script, Obi-Wan actually goes on to say "My pride has had terrible consequences for the galaxy", very much indicating that Obi-Wan was the driving force and rather enthusiastic about Anakin's potential, rather than it simply being a case of "Well, Qui Gon said I should train him, so, err-... well, I suppose I'll train him then".

So yeah, have him be a fairly full of himself 16-18 year old, kind of a reckless pilot. Have Owen actually be there too, thinking that Anakin has no clear idea about his future, spends his days hanging out with the infamous scum and villainy in Mos Eisley. In my opinion, I'd say have Owen be Anakin's older (step- or half-)brother, and leave out the whole slavery angle completely.

Have Anakin be a smart kid, he figures out that Obi-Wan (who is the one to go to Mos Eisley, not Qui Gon) and company clearly are more important people than they try to pretend to be. He follows them back to their space ship confronts them, leaving both Obi-Wan and Qui Gon dumbfounded that they couldn't sense that he was there (clearly the force must be strong with this kid if we couldn't sense him if he didn't want to be sensed), and personally volunteers to enter the race on their behalf. He wins (of course), and Obi-Wan (having seen further hints that Anakin is force sensitive during this part of the movie) invites him to come with them, which Anakin accepts immediately. Owen thinks this is insane, since, there's still their mother who is getting on in years, and they need another pair of hands on the farm, but Anakin goes with them anyway.

You could still have everything in Episode II about Anakin having dreams about his mother, going back to Tatooine to find she's been kidnapped etc., but actually now the loss of her will be more poignant to Anakin, because now he will blame himself for having abandoned her to go chase his dreams.

But, oh well, this is Prequel Problems, not Makemakean Rewrites Star Wars...
 
I actually found the first film rather disappointing, largely because I had seen many of the derivative films and TV series that took inspiration from it before I saw the original (e.g. Battle Beyond the Stars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) and it seemed generic as a consequence.
This is kind of the story with John Carter for me, though in that case everybody and their uncle borrowed from the book series rather than the eventual film.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Teen Anakin does make a lot more sense of the plot, but I can see why Lucas wants Anakin to start off as the same age as a significant target demographic & to be whisked away to the amazing fantasy stuff like they'd dream about, but hanging over is "it will all go wrong." Unfortunately, turbo-revving young punk Anakin makes more sense for the later films! (Also "rhymes" with Luke, also a restless teen)

I am gobsmacked to learn Sith and Darth aren't EU things, I always assumed that's where they'd started! It's bloody obvious too in Star Wars that Darth is meant to be the man's actual first name
 

Makemakean

Mr Makemean
Pronouns
Logical, unlike those in German
I am gobsmacked to learn Sith and Darth aren't EU things, I always assumed that's where they'd started! It's bloody obvious too in Star Wars that Darth is meant to be the man's actual first name
”Only a master of evil, Darth.”

Then again, when George Lucas wrote that line, he still hadn’t had the idea that Vader was actually Luke’s father.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Then again, when George Lucas wrote that line, he still hadn’t had the idea that Vader was actually Luke’s father.
I still remember "Lucas has this big plan of nine films" being a thing in articles about the upcoming exciting event Episode One (and it's funny how it's remembered when it was an event).
 

Redolegna

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As regards The Phantom Menace, I was indeed not disappointed, as it was my first Star Wars movie and I was ten when I saw it. It had things that went pew pew. It had swords made of light! there was a kid doing some sweet racing. I came out of the cinema and demanded books about it. My mother knowing next to nothing, we ended up acquiring the Corellian trilogy which I enjoyed even if I knew none of the characters in it except those droids.

Most important of all, it had a sense of wonder which the following two did not have and which The Force Awakens managed to connect back with and which the other two of the sequels sometimes find and when they do, they work, and when they don't, they plod.
 

Avian Overlord

Mystical American Freedom Bird
Teen Anakin does make a lot more sense of the plot, but I can see why Lucas wants Anakin to start off as the same age as a significant target demographic & to be whisked away to the amazing fantasy stuff like they'd dream about, but hanging over is "it will all go wrong."
Actually, Lucas did it because he wanted to have the scene where Anakin says goodbye to his mother, but didn't want to break out of his documentary style. So they did an entire movie with kid Anakin for the sake of that one scene. Lucas has an ability to indulge his OCD the rest of us can only dream of.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Actually, Lucas did it because he wanted to have the scene where Anakin says goodbye to his mother, but didn't want to break out of his documentary style. So they did an entire movie with kid Anakin for the sake of that one scene.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??? Why couldn't he do that with a teen Anakin?????
 

Thande

Generic Nice and Savoy Things
Published by SLP
This is kind of the story with John Carter for me, though in that case everybody and their uncle borrowed from the book series rather than the eventual film.
My impression of the John Carter film was that, stylistically, it echoed the Star Wars prequels a lot, but done better. (In terms of content, as you say it was Star Wars and many others who borrowed from John Carter of Mars).
 

Thande

Generic Nice and Savoy Things
Published by SLP
As regards The Phantom Menace, I was indeed not disappointed, as it was my first Star Wars movie and I was ten when I saw it. It had things that went pew pew. It had swords made of light! there was a kid doing some sweet racing. I came out of the cinema and demanded books about it. My mother knowing next to nothing, we ended up acquiring the Corellian trilogy which I enjoyed even if I knew none of the characters in it except those droids.

Most important of all, it had a sense of wonder which the following two did not have and which The Force Awakens managed to connect back with and which the other two of the sequels sometimes find and when they do, they work, and when they don't, they plod.
I didn't discuss it in the article, but my immediate response to seeing The Phantom Menace was to go back home and start designing new starships inspired by the ones in it.

It also achieves the impressive feat of having music in it that has become as iconic as any of the Star Wars music from the original trilogy - which is sadly one area where the Disney sequels have become more derivative.
 

Ciclavex

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I didn't discuss it in the article, but my immediate response to seeing The Phantom Menace was to go back home and start designing new starships inspired by the ones in it.

It also achieves the impressive feat of having music in it that has become as iconic as any of the Star Wars music from the original trilogy - which is sadly one area where the Disney sequels have become more derivative.
This is true. When I think "Star Wars music" in my head, the first three tracks that come into my head are "Binary Sunset" from the original, "The Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back and then "Duel of the Fates" from The Phantom Menace, which was not my first Star Wars but was my first Star Wars in theatre, as I saw it during its initial run.

I could name more than one (at least to me and some others) iconic track that I can immediately call to mind originating from any of the Lucas films, even if not on the same level -- "The Emperor Arrives" from Return of the Jedi, "Anakin's Betrayal" from Revenge of the Sith and "Across the Stars" from Attack of the Clones (one place where John Williams' music, no matter how brilliant, really only can do so much; "Across the Stars" literally played across a total lack of dialogue and imagery is better than what actually exists in terms of portraying Anakin and Padmé's tragic love in the films) to name the first that I can call to mind. There is no such for me for the sequels. That may be because even the most recent of the old films came out half my lifetime ago and they've had time to percolate with me while the sequels are all fairly recent, but I'm not sure I buy that -- certainly not with the top ones.
 
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