We’ve talked about the Star Wars prequel films several times since the inception of Puffin Zero. Not only is this because I am a long time Star Wars fan, but I think another reason I think about it quite a lot is because of some of the potential I try to see in those films. None of this excuses how much it was a let down of course, but there are many times when I look back at the films, and the other stories around said films and thought to myself, “what if they were better?”
So for Star Wars Day, (which I realise was a few days ago but Schedule!) I thought it would be fun to re-imagine the Star Wars prequels and see if that would improve the story somehow. For this purpose, I’m going to avoid general issues with the trilogy (overuse of CGI, the sub par acting and direction at certain points) and stick with the story and its characters.)
(I will also note that some of these ideas are inspired by other sources, so you may recognise certain points from other articles with a similar subject.)
I hope that you enjoy this and find something to take away from my thoughts.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
We open on Tatooine, with Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi Wan Kenobi arriving to find a potential Jedi. Following the will of the Force, he comes across a farmstead owned by a Cleigg Larrs. Larrs introduces Qui Gon to his adopted son Anakin Skywalker, at that point playing with his step brother Owen. Anakin was found as a child and left to Cleigg’s care by his mother with little explanation. Qui Gon offers to take Anakin with him to train as a Jedi but Anakin doesn’t want to go. Jinn stays the night when suddenly he is attacked by a hooded assassin. In the chaos, Cleigg and Qui Gon are killed. Owen decides to go to other family and offers to bring Anakin with him. But Anakin wanting “justice” decides to go with the Jedi.
Several years later (five or six) Anakin is a Padawan apprenticed to Obi Wan Kenobi.(now a Jedi Knight) No trace has appeared of the hooded assassin, with Anakin still coming to grips with what happened, using it as his moment to bring justice to the galaxy.
(At this point the film would follow the story of Phantom Menace proper, with some minor changes; its Anakin and Obi Wan who are sent to Naboo, Padme Amidala is a handmaiden rather than a queen, and the Gungans would be changed somehow. They don’t go to Tatooine; though perhaps a race scene of some description would be featured. Palpatine’s manipulations remain the same, but perhaps made more difficult by the queen’s stubbornness. Darth Maul (the hooded assassin) duels Anakin and Obi Wan in the climax and is defeated, but not killed. Romance between Padme and Anakin starts here, and hints are given of Anakin’s inevitable turn to the dark side.)
By the end of the film, the Trade Federation goes to Count Dooku’s growing Separatist Alliance for assistance, saying they were attacked by the Republic. Dooku uses this as an opportunity to declare war on the Republic.
What’s important is to end the film on a somewhat high note as for several viewers this would be their first exposure to the series.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of The Clones
We start the story with the Separatists launching a surprise attack on the Republic. On multiple worlds we see Separatists hound the Republic to the point where they plead the Jedi for help. The Jedi are reluctant to get involved since they are keepers of the peace and not soldiers. Anakin, naturally, wants to get involved but is held back. Instead, he is sent to protect Senator Padme Amidala from a potential assassination attempt. Like before, they go to Naboo and fall in love, but try to prevent it from happening. Obi Wan is sent to investigate an order for clone soldiers for the Republic. (since at this point they’re using actual soldiers) Again this would be similar to the actual film; it brings him to Geonosis where he is captured and Dooku reveals that he is working with Darth Maul and the Sith.
Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme have to go to Tatooine, since the Separatists find them on Naboo. Here, they stay with Owen where he tries to convince them to stay and have a family.
Anakin almost does, when he learns that Obi Wan has been captured, and Republic soldiers have been cornered there. Anakin asks the Council for help but they still refuse to get involved. Anakin, finally frustrated by this, decides to join the war. Gathering other like-minded Jedi, he launches an attack on Geonosis, freeing Obi Wan and battling Maul. This is where he loses his arm, after nearly losing himself in the dark side. The Jedi Council, along with the Clone Troopers arrive to provide support. Maul and Dooku escape and the Jedi join the Clone Wars. Palpatine personally commends Anakin and promotes him to General. As the Galaxy is engulfed in war the cracks begin to spread.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
When it comes to Revenge of the Sith, this is actually the film that I’d change the least. As for the changes I would have;
Years into the War, Coruscant (the capitol of the Republic) is under attack, with an assassination on Chancellor Palpatine being attempted by Darth Maul. Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan stop him and Anakin finally kills his old adversary in a merciless execution. The Republic wins the battle and the Separatists withdraw to Utapau.
Palpatine appoints him to the Council, but they refuse to make Anakin a Master. He is frustrated, but even more so at the fact that the Council expect him to spy on Palpatine as he gains more executive power. Padme reveals that she is pregnant, Anakin sees visions of her death from what he assumes is an illness contracted on Geonosis (from a virus of some sort). Anakin tries to find a cure but is constantly rebuffed by the Jedi. Palpatine, revealing that he is a Sith Lord, offers his knowledge who Anakin, secretly, accepts.
Obi Wan is sent to Utapau to defeat Dooku, who upon being defeated, reveals that they are all being used by his Sith Master, Palpatine (AKA Darth Sidious)
The Jedi, learning about this from Kenobi, attempt to assassinate Palpatine. Anakin, intervenes but fails to stop them from trying to kill him. The Jedi are killed and Anakin genuinely believes that the Jedi are evil. (their desire to distance themselves from conflict seeming like an attempt to manipulate the war to their own ends) He swears fealty to Darth Sidious who names him Vader. Vader attacks the Jedi Temple but hesitates when coming across Jedi children. He lets them go and doesn’t tell Palpatine. He tells Padme that he will soon be able to save her. (seeking to grow stronger in the Dark Side through killing the Jedi and the Separatists)
While he goes to Mustafar to destroy the Separatist leadership, Kenobi returns to Coruscant where he and Yoda send a message warning the Jedi away. They find out Anakin killed the Jedi and resolve to stop him and Sidious.
Palpatine declares himself Emperor and duels Yoda in the Senate building.
Meanwhile, Kenobi tells Padme what Anakin did and asks for her help to save Anakin. They go to Mustafar where the scene (more or less) plays out the same. (Anakin throttles Padme when he thinks she betrayed him, he and Obi Wan duel and Anakin is immolated)
Kenobi takes Padme to Alderaan where his old friend Bail Organa tries to help him save her. However, while they save her children, Luke and Leia, she dies due to being attacked by Anakin.
Meanwhile Anakin is interred in the Vader suit, where he is told that he killed his wife. Losing any semblance of his identity as Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader is shown going on a killing spree in vengeance. (including – it is implied – the children he spared before)
Palpatine gloats in the success of all his planning, while the Death Star is being built. Organa takes in Leia while Luke is taken to Owen and Beru.
The film closes with the Binary Sunset, signalling a new hope for the galaxy.
So, in essence, the things that I would change take some cues from other materials (the hero’s journey from the original; attempting to mirror Luke’s story initially but then taking a more divergent path. I even looked to the back story of Knights of the Old Republic (Revan in the Mandalorian Wars) for inspiration.
I also felt that having Anakin and Obi Wan be older would allow us to believe the changes that they went through better. Changes in motivations come very quickly in the Prequel trilogy, and so what I would like to see is for that to be built up over the course of several years.
I think that Yoda should have a more separated role in the films. I liked his lightsaber duel scenes but having him use the force in battle would have been a greater spectacle, I feel.
I think another important thing to note is how important it is to balance out action scenes with the quieter ones. One problem I had with my least favourite Star Wars film (Attack of the Clones) is that so much of it was dialogue (done fairly poorly) and bad pacing. I think those quieter moments are important, you’ll never hear me say otherwise, but having a middle ground is equally important. I’d want the highlight of my redone Attack of the Clones to be Anakin’s talk with Owen Larrs as he thinks about staying with his step brother. With the greater focus on action in the Clone Wars, I’d want those smaller moments to be all the more poignant, especially with Anakin’s character development.
I like watching the prequels, but would certainly have enjoyed them more if they were better films. What I hope I’ve shown here is an idea of how the story could have been improved, after years of thinking about this.
You may, of course, have your own ideas about how the prequels could have been done (not changed, completely different, not at all) and I would love to hear your point of view.
Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you.
Oh and the Emperor? Keep him exactly the same. See you next time.