Let me start off by saying I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan. Always have been and I always will be. Those movies and everything associated with them will always have a special place in my heart. By association I’m a huge fan of George Lucas and the galaxy far far away that he created. That said, on the 10 year anniversary of The Phantom Menace, this geek is done defending him.
Ever since the final scene of Return of the Jedi in 1983 I wanted more. I wanted to find out where Darth Vader came from. I wanted to find out what made this guy such a bad ass and of course I wanted to know how he became not only so powerful but also part machine. I wanted to know why Luke didn’t know his sister when he kissed her in Empire. I wanted to know why Obi-Wan was sitting in the desert just hanging out and I wanted to know why Yoda was sitting in isolation on a planet devoid of sunlight. I wanted to know the back story of the Empire, I wanted to know where Han Solo came from, I wanted to know it all. And I got most of it… sort of.
As I said before, this entire universe is the creation of George Lucas. He can do with it what he wants. Who am I to tell him if he’s right or wrong? Years after Jedi we were treated to an announcement that the long rumored prequels would indeed be made. Fanboys everywhere rejoiced. Fans came out of the closets. Toys started flying off the shelves. There was a marketing tie-in on every corner (literally). Then came the movie. Eh. It was OK. It gave us a story of little Anakin Skywalker. It told us where he came from (sort of). It gave us Jar Jar. It gave us some new Jedi that we’d never heard of and it gave us a bad ass Sith named Darth Maul. It gave us some insight to the Emperor that we knew from the first films. The movie made a shit ton of money. Star Wars fans were pleased to be given new content after all this time and best of all… we had TWO MORE MOVIES coming!!!
A couple of years later we were treated to Attack Of The Clones. ALL RIGHT! Now we’re talking. This is what we had in mind! No more winy Anakin. Just a bunch of Jedi kicking ass and taking names. Quite a bit less Jar Jar to deal with but we’re moving the story along. We’re seeing a little bit of how Anakin is going to be a “bad guy” but we still just don’t get it. We get to see Obi-Wan with a mullet which (let’s be honest) is super cool. We get to see the genesis of the super cool Boba Fett. All this time we’re saying, “Don’t worry, we’ve got one more movie. All our prayers will be answered there.”
And then it comes… Revenge Of The Sith. Finally. We can all go to our graves knowing how the story ends. We know what was so bad that turned Anakin to the Dark Side. We know what happened to all the Jedi. We completely understand how the Empire was formed. It all makes perfect sense. Sort of. Revenge Of The Sith was by FAR the best of the prequels in my opinion. In fact it’s really the only one worth watching. Sure there’s some cool stuff in the first two films but this is the only one that matters. It’s the only one that really ties in with the originals and it’s the only one that a “casual” fan would care about.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been defending these prequels. I’ve been asked by my non Star Wars friends why they were so great. I’ve tried to explain to them that they were part of the Star Wars universe and to truly appreciate them you had to understand where they fit in. I was wrong. They’re a completely different story. But they’re not Star Wars… at least not my Star Wars. MY Star Wars is Luke, Han, Chewie & Leia. MY Star Wars is Yoda, Cloud City and Tauntauns. MY Star Wars is about the toys that were affordable and you played with… not that you bought for what they were going to be worth in the future.
But like I said before, this isn’t MY Star Wars… nor should it be. This is what Lucas wants it to be. Personally I think these days he’s in it for the money… that’s the only explanation (to this nerd) for some of the crap that’s been put out. Don’t even get me started on that stuff on Cartoon Network… that’s NOT Star Wars. But again, it doesn’t have to be.
It may sound like I’m bitter… I’m not. I’m actually sad. As I look back on my childhood I have very fond memories of Star Wars. I had hoped that my children would have something similar but I doubt they will. That’s probably more of a function of there being a blockbuster per week these days rather than one per year. Nothing can help that. Lucas is a very smart business man and if I were in his position I’d probably be doing the exact same thing. He’s capitalizing on his vision… more power to him. To me it seems that the films and the cartoon is all about merchandising. There are so many toys out there I don’t know how people keep up (let alone have the cash for it all). If you want to listen to an OUTSTANDING podcast check out Star Wars Action News – it’s all about Star Wars collecting. The folks that run that podcast are passionate about their collections… as they should be. The entire Star Wars collecting industry is here today because of Lucas’ vision… we’ve got a lot to be thankful for. That said, I’ll stick to my vintage figures and look at them on the shelf with a yearning toward the past.
So I’m done. I’m done defending the property blindly. I love Star Wars and what it meant. I’ll still watch the movies and when my boys are old enough I’ll share the universe with them. I’m not saying the prequels are bad movies… they just don’t fit in with my vision of the Star Wars universe.
I’ll leave you with this… thank you George. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for my childhood.
I’m going to go watch A New Hope now… May the Force be with you!