My Top 10 Changes To The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

Don’t get me wrong–despite the outrage of other fans, I actually rather like the prequel trilogy.  Some of my favorite things about those films include the duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones, and seeing Vader being put into his iconic armor and helmet at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

But there’s a lot I’d still change if I had my way, such as…

10. Replace Gungans With Another Alien Species

My Issue: I don’t hate Jar Jar Binks.  I just think we can do better.  The Gungans are to Episode I what the Ewoks are to Episode VI: a bunch of comical aliens who have to be convinced to use their warrior strength and ally with the heroes.  Basically Jar Jar isn’t any different from the Ewok Wicket, just that he’s a CG alien and has a peculiar (and possibly offensive) accent.

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: The Togruta, as pictured above.  A race of born hunters with a very interesting appearance and an affinity for becoming Jedi Knights.  Rather than going for wacky accents, we could have had a proud race with a code of honor and good relations with the Republic.  Cut the wacky flavor (trust me, the kids won’t miss it much) and give these guys a chance to shine.

They’d be an excellent contrast to the new villains…

9. Use The Mandalorians As The Bad Guys

My Issue: In the prequels, the Separatists were the most visible antagonists, with the Sith staying in the background.  The “Clone Wars” was pretty much set between an endless army of battle droids versus an endless army of clones.  Now the Jedi Knights were the wild card in the Republic’s favor, Force-sensitive warriors with lightsabers who could coordinate their clone troopers effectively.  But who do they have to counter that image on the Separatists’ side except more battle droids?

Copyright © 2003 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: The Mandalorians.  They may not have the Force, but they’ve got tons of armor and weapons to be an effective match for any Jedi.  And being a fiercely independent group, the Mandalorians would naturally break away from the Republic and become a good icon for the Separatists.  It also would tie in to the iconic character of Boba Fett, whose armor is the only thing that remains of their legacy in the original trilogy.

The high-tech, non-supernatural Mandalorians would also be a sign of another trend that would help set things up for the original trilogy…

8. Show Rising Distrust Of The Jedi Knights

My Issue: When we get to the original trilogy, we see that the Jedi Knights have been reduced to a mere legend and the Force has become nothing more than a superstition.  Yet the prequel films don’t really give us any clue as to how that happened other than showing us a bunch of Jedi being wiped out and declared outlaws.  How did the public react to that?  What were they to make of the publicized image of Jedi war heroes using the Force to defend worlds from the Separatists?

Copyright © 2006 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Palpatine publicly demonstrates his lack of faith in the Jedi.  It wouldn’t be hard.  They clearly failed to protect him when General Grievous kidnaps him at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith and they clearly aren’t up to being front-line soldiers like the brave clone troopers.  It’d be a simple matter of offering a choice to the average citizen: which would you trust to defend your homeworld?  An antiquated monk with a lot of flashy moves and a glowing sword or a modern military force that was literally bred without fear?

Speaking of which…

7. Introduce The Clone Army In The First Film

My Issue: One of the things that bugged me about Attack of the Clones is that the Republic doesn’t seem to question the existence of a clone army when things go from bad to worse during the climax on Geonosis.  Neither do the Jedi, who were investigating ties between a known assassin (Jango Fett) and this clone army that someone ordered without the Republic’s approval.  I know it adds more mystery, but it also seems a bit lazy.

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Have the Republic approve the use of clone troopers openly and from the very beginning.  If the Separatists are geared for war with endless battle droids, then how else can the Republic counter them except with their own endless supply of clones?  Not to mention, it would be interesting to see Jedi Knights throughout the trilogy working alongside the very soldiers that we know become the infamous Imperial Stormtroopers.  It builds up a strong bond that will ultimately be broken by the end of the final prequel film, which will really create an emotional impact.

Speaking of having an impact…

6. Redesign Count Dooku And General Grievous As Villains

My Issue: I actually like Count Dooku as a villain.  He’s sophisticated, graceful, and deliciously arrogant.  And while the cyborg General Grievous was an intimidating warrior and effective commander in the original Clone Wars cartoons, he’s treated more like a cartoon character in the actual third film with his ridiculous voice and peculiar fighting style.  Dooku was sadly cut short and Grievous doesn’t do much except run away and later get blown apart by Obi-Wan.

Copyright © 2007 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Merge Grievous and Dooku into the same character.  Or to be more specific, keep the distinctive image of Grievous, but give him Count Dooku’s Sith powers and Christopher Lee’s wonderfully deep voice.  I think this would have been interesting because it would establish that Palpatine knew what he was doing when he recreated Anakin as Darth Vader.  He would have already had a prototype: his apprentice Darth Tyranus–or “General Tyranus” to the rest of the galaxy.  Not to mention that the cyborg image seems to fit the Sith’s obsession with cheating death and becoming stronger through violence.

5. Replace Naboo With Alderaan

My Issue: The planet Naboo really only exists to look pretty and be imperiled in the prequels.  It has humans and silly Gungans coexisting and is mostly used in Attack of the Clones as a backdrop for Anakin and Padme’s awkward courtship.  Beyond the first film, it really doesn’t influence the rest of the trilogy other than being the homeworld for both Padme and the future Emperor Palpatine.

Copyright © 2011 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Replace Naboo with Alderaan.  You may remember Alderaan for being the planet that gets blown up by the Death Star in the very first Star Wars film.  But the more I think about it, a lot of Alderaan is also Earth-like and seems to share a lot of qualities with Naboo.  Essentially, putting it up in the first film would be giving it some history before its destruction.  It would also be a more effective homeworld for Padme, which ties her to its Viceroy, Bail Organa, who later adopts her daughter Leia as his own.

Bail Organa is someone we might want to get to know a little better, too…

4. Establish Bail Organa As The Founder Of The Rebellion Earlier

My Issue: The first time we meet Bail Organa–Princess Leia’s adopted father–is halfway through the second prequel film.  Then we get more of him after the halfway mark in Revenge of the Sith, where he has a slightly more active role as a covert ally of the now-fugitive Jedi.  He’s really only in the film to be a supporting hero and to take the infant Leia to be raised on Alderaan after Padme dies.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Give Senator Organa a bigger role like founding the Rebellion.  I know that there are, in fact, deleted scenes from Revenge of the Sith showing him conspiring with Padme and other Senators about asking Palpatine to step down from power when the war ends, but even those scenes aren’t as strong as they ought to be.  I think, if Alderaan is the first battlefield for the Clone Wars, then Bail Organa should want to help other worlds defend themselves from the Separatists–like sending out agents to train resistance fighters and militias, who would later be useful in the Rebellion.

Which brings us to a far more crucial character revision…

3. Let Padme Amidala Be More Than A Queen Or A Senator

My Issue: I think we’ve all heard this one before: Padme is a letdown.  She’s interesting in the first film when she decides that the Senate can’t be trusted and leads the rescue of her people herself.  But this active Queen gets downgraded to an idealistic and lovesick Senator, who eventually just becomes a teary-eyed housewife and dying mother of the next generation’s heroes.

Copyright © 1999 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Make Padme into a fighter that would make the future Rebels proud.  I get that her daughter Leia is eventually a Princess and Senator for Alderaan, but why does her mother have to have the exact same occupation?  I envision Padme as being an agent for Senator Bail Organa, someone with an official cover as a Senatorial aide who gets sent on all kinds of important assignments… like helping a pair of Jedi Knights liberate Alderaan from the Separatists or organizing planetary militias throughout the Clone Wars.  This not only keeps her involved in the central conflict, but also justifies why she and Anakin spend so much time together and eventually fall in love.  It would also make it obvious which parent Leia gets all of her courage and tenacity from.

But there’s an even more important factor than Padme’s characterization…

2. Introduce Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker As Partners From The Start

My Issue: I feel like we were a bit shortchanged when it came to Anakin and Obi-Wan’s onscreen friendship.  Sure, they’re good in combat, but they keep getting split up and we don’t even have them together in Episode I except for a quick introduction and a moment at Qui-Gon’s funeral.  Luke and Han had a more engaging relationship in the original trilogy, being contrasts in ideals, temperament, and fighting styles.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: They’re partners throughout all three films (until Anakin’s fall to the dark side, anyway).  I feel like this ought to have been the emotional centerpiece for the prequel trilogy, more than the romance between Anakin and Padme.  Imagine if it were Obi-Wan and Anakin liberating Alderaan in the first film, chasing down Jango Fett in the second, and rescuing the Chancellor in the third, only to fall out because Anakin’s need for power is too great.  Like the clone troopers above, it would be a strong and reliable bond that’s finally and irreparably broken and man would it have been something to see!

1. Start The Clone Wars At The Beginning Of The Trilogy

My Issue: When we first heard about the Clone Wars in A New Hope, it became this giant mythical event in our minds.  What was this epic war that brought Obi-Wan and Anakin together?  How did Obi-Wan serve Bail Organa during the war?  And what part did it play in Anakin’s fall and the rise of the Empire?  All we get in the prequels is one battle at the end of Attack of the Clones and a montage of battlefields in Revenge of the Sith.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Make the entire prequel trilogy about the Clone Wars.  In a way, it serves as a nice mirror to the original trilogy, which is all about the war between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.  Maybe we have less filler scenes in the Senate and on Tatooine and more relevant, dramatic scenes on battlefields like Alderaan.  We get to see the Jedi Knights in action.  We get to see the roots of the Rebellion when it becomes clear that Palpatine’s not giving up his power. We get a more decisive story arc like George Lucas said these films were about. The original trilogy began with Luke’s involvement in the Rebellion and ended with the defeat of the Empire.  Why not show us the “dark side” of that story?  We start with the great Anakin Skywalker becoming a Jedi Knight and end with him becoming a Sith Lord as the Republic crumbles.

Ultimately, I don’t hate these films.  George Lucas made them and he deserves to make them as he sees fit.  If he honestly felt he made the right decision to cast Natalie Portman as Padme or Hayden Christensen as Anakin, who am I to judge?  But there is another side to the Star Wars universe: the one that lives in the minds and hearts of its audience.  My list of changes is meant for that second Star Wars, the one that the fans cherish more than any film, book, video game, or TV show.

You know–the world of fan fiction, like the kind I’ve outlined before.  Because I don’t have a million-dollar franchise of my own.

If my readers have their own ideas of what they’d want to have seen or disagree with some of my ideas, please feel free to share your “certain point of view” in the comments section below.

Blazing New Trails In A Familiar Far Away Galaxy: Darths and Droids

My last two reviews were on webcomics, so I thought, “What the hell?  One more won’t hurt.”

Darths & Droids is an ongoing parody webcomic that pokes fun at the canon of the Star Wars saga.  Taking stills from all six films, it tells the story of the saga as if it were something being acted out during a role-playing session, in an alternate world where Star Wars never existed.  As comedic as you might expect this to be, it’s actually quite ingenious, as some of the on-screen actions and idiosyncrasies are attributed (within the webcomic) to the rash actions of the players.

The Comic Irregulars have their own form of “animating” the comic.  Instead of drawing everything out, they use still frames from the movies.  Indeed, the premise behind Darths & Droids was already played using The Lord of the Rings films in The DM of the Rings.

As I said with Gunnerkrigg Court, I actually like the alternate “canon” that this webcomic creates for Star Wars.  Sure, I love George Lucas’s works and I’m not afraid to admit that I liked the prequel trilogy, too.  That said, there’s an unusual spin at work within this comic, redefining characters into either sillier or darker versions of their established selves.  The player characters elicit actual in-game consequences for their actions, which makes what we see in the stills more comprehensible, oddly enough.

Without a doubt, my favorite character’s Ben, who appropriately plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in the comic.  He puts a lot of thought into his character and the way he plays the game, but he sometimes over-analyzes the sci-fi format, which leads to discussions like the one in the comic below.

Overall, Darths & Droids is a fun and thought-provoking read, perhaps doubly so for Star Wars fans and RPG nerds.

 —

Originally posted Oct. 5, 2007. Copyright © 2007, The Comic Irregulars. http://www.darthsanddroids.net/

Bibliography: Darths & Droids.  Created by Andrew Coker, Andrew Shellshear, David Karlov, David McLeish, David Morgan-Mar, Ian Boreham, Loki Patrick, Steven Irrgang.  September 14, 2007 – Present.  http://www.darthsanddroids.net/

Redesigning The Starship Enterprise: The Reimagining Of Star Trek

Star Trek.  Just the name alone conjures up a thousand fantastic images–of heroic diplomats and captains, encountering new races and charting the Great Unknown; of brutish Klingons and pointy-eared Vulcans; of the millions upon millions of fans who gather at a thousand different conventions to share their love of this story.

Personally, I can’t say I share their enthusiasm (Star Wars has been and always will be my first love, thank you very much).  I certainly liked the films of Star Trek I-VI and even some of The Next Generation.

And then I saw the 2009 reboot, simply titled Star Trek.  And it was good.

It’s a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series, featuring younger versions of the first crew from the Starship Enterprise, as they are introduced to one another and the ship that will earn them great renown.  However, J.J. Abrams decided to play around with this story, using time travel, retroactive continuity, and alternate reality to establish his own take on the saga.  Abrams is taking what we, the audience, already know about Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest, and using future threats to bring their teamwork into full bloom.

Chris Pine does an excellent job as a young James T. Kirk, capturing both his cocky persona and his quiet determination to never lose. Zachary Quinto provides an excellent rendition of Spock, maintaining eloquent stoicism but occasionally cracking to reveal his true emotional pain.  Eric Bana makes for a good tragic villain in the form of Nero, both serious and mocking in the same breath.  And hands down, my favorite performance was Simon Pegg as Scotty, who doesn’t have a single unfunny moment in the film.

Whether you’re a Trekkie or new to the franchise, Star Trek is a film that will both entertain and… engage.

Photo by Photo Credit: Industrial Light a – © TM & Copyright2009 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Bibliography: Star Trek (film).  Directed by J.J. Abrams.  Produced by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindlelof.  Perf. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Eric Bana, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Leonard Nimoy.  Paramount Pictures, 2009.