Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How the Star Wars Prequels Could Have Been a Total Win

(In Emily's own humble opionion, of course)

  I apologize this post was late - I went on a terrific three day backpacking adventure to live in a snowy mountain hut with no electricity, running water or cell reception. 'Twas awesome.

  Love 'em or hate 'em, the Star Wars prequels are a thing, and they are canon. And yeah, they weren't the best part of Star Wars ever...which I think is a real shame, there was SO MUCH potential for a really good story wrapped up in the poorly scripted mess that is the Star Wars prequel trilogy and it really, really wanted to make it out. Unfortunately, it didn't.

  Now, I happen to be a prequel fan - to an extent. I enjoy the movies for what they could be, not necessarily what they are. Basically, I fill in a lot of the story from my own head and smooth it all over and make it as awesome as I think it could and should be. So, for my post today, I'm going to share with you all some of the ways I think that the Star Wars prequels could have been a total win...


  1. ANAKIN'S TRANSFORMATION TO THE DARK SIDE AND HOW HE WAS RAISED AMONG THE JEDI


  This definitely should have been handled and written much better, and it definitely has the potential for that. Anakin is one of my favorite antagonist's simply because of his fascinating backstory and the potential the prequels had to really reach into the psyche of a truly messed up and evil character. Could have been so much more fascinating! First of all, the Jedi of the prequel time period were not necessarily the most squeaky clean of good guys. In fact, they are a hardcore conservative faction and almost cultish in a sense. They are the ultimate leaders, unchallenged and perhaps a little too powerful. They restrict their recruits ability to function within normal human emotion and deny any sort of individuality or expression which can be incredibly unhealthy, especially on young and impressionable minds. Of course denying oneself can often be a good and helpful thing, but the point to which the Jedi enforce this is incredibly toxic - it can even be considered a form of indoctrination (even if what they teach is generally good). If the prequels had been more opportunely written they would have used this to their advantage in creating the character of Anakin. Since he was taken at an older age to be trained as a Jedi, it would be harder for him to become the Jedi they wanted, hence their reluctance to take and train older Force-sensitive children.

  Now, the Sith are quite the opposite of the Jedi in most everything, but their philosophies are perhaps the most different. Where the Jedi are very conservative the Sith are very liberal, practicing a self-centered worldview and accepting no oversight or social responsibility over their personal freedom. Both views are taken to extremes between the two factions and Anakin - prophesied to bring balance to the Force - is in the perfect position to see this and become a Jedi warrior who can take an unbiased look at both sides and become a moderate, thoughtful and questioning young man who is not swayed or manipulated by a political belief. If anything was to bring "balance" to the Force, it would certainly be this.

  However, we know that this did not come to pass, but the stage is perfectly set for Anakin's failure. The controlling and overbearing nature of the Jedi faction pushes him towards the lure of the Dark Side and it's much broader and more personally pleasing views. As a Sith Anakin would be free to follow his own plans and ideas and not take orders or be forced into an empty stoicism where he must deny his feelings - including those for Padme. Examining the story this way, it is easy to see why Anakin was swayed to the Dark Side.

  Unfortunately for him, the fault in the Sith philosophy is that if you put yourself first you will become a slave to yourself, even to those who seek to control you through yourself. And that's exactly what happens to Anakin. The story is perfectly set up to send him on a path to be the perfect Jedi, but then have him falter and go too far along the way, leaving him as the bitter and twisted Darth Vader who hates both the Jedi and Sith and cannot find peace with himself. The interesting thing about this I think is that it would mean Anakin was not tricked into becoming a Sith, but chose it willingly. He was bullied by those who didn't want the balance he tries to bring to the Force through moderation and progress. He is bullied into moving from one extreme to another. Though one philosophy is no better than the other, he makes an incredibly human decision in favor of his real, personal situation. Sadly, the films miss their opportunities to really explore Anakin's clash with the Jedi, resorting to "telling" us that is the relationship rather than really demonstrating it with Anakin's intelligence and ability to see past the facade and to the dark underbelly of the Jedi world. I think that if this was addressed more, along with other subtle pieces of Anakin's character and life story, then we would have had a much more emotionally powerful tragedy to enjoy in Revenge of the Sith.

  2. GREATER EMOTIONAL FALLOUT BETWEEN ANAKIN, OBI-WAN AND PADME


  Along with some of the things mentioned above, Anakin's tragedy of turning to Darth Vader could have been a much more powerful punch in the gut if only his relationships had been properly delved into. In my opinion there was too much poorly scripted screentime between Anakin and Padme and not enough good stuff between him and Obi-Wan. After all, Obi-Wan is his mentor and trainer and their relationship is one of the coolest "brothers turned enemies" tropes to ever grace TV screens (in my opinion). I believe first of all, that Obi-Wan being so young and inexperienced when he took on Anakin and having a touch of a rebellious edge himself as a youngster made their master/student relationship dissolve into something much more personal than is traditional of Jedi. Being thrust with such a great responsibility as training the "Chosen One" at such a young age after so recently losing his own master must have been very difficult for him. I believe Obi-Wan tried and failed to contain his care and concern for Anakin, which was why he let his slip to the Dark Side go so far as it did. He allowed his feelings to overrule his caution and paid for it. Along with this being a building block of their relationship, I really wish we'd had more scenes of them together throughout the trilogy, stuff like we see in the Clone Wars show. Seeing them as companions and allies rather than just two guys getting into arguments who we are told are friends would have made their climatic Mustafar battle that much more intense.

  Anakin's relationship with Padme as secret lover and wife could also have been written much more convincingly. Put aside the poorly documented script and love story and imagine it different for a moment with me. Padme, an intelligent, progressive and bright young woman meets the grown up Anakin, a Jedi not stuck in the hardline conservativism of his fellows, but a thoughtful and idealistic young man who sees past the Jedi philosophy and could be real, lasting change in a stagnant and ancient environment. To Padme, a pragmatic, diligent politician, this could be quite an attractive feature and might encourage more and more time spent together reveling in their shared ideals until finally, one day, they realize they are in much deeper with each other than they ever expected.

  At first this is alright, they keep things a secret and go on with their lives. But the disapproval of the Jedi weighs heavily on the relationship and strains it over time, turning Anakin from someone calm, collected and rational to paranoid, anxious, and tempestuous, always looking over his shoulder. This also causes problems between the two of them and gives Anakin plenty of legitimacy to deflect to the Sith without the contrived prophetic dream sequence. It also gives him cause to be suspicious of literally everyone - including his beloved master and including the woman he loves and is doing everything for. To me this seems like a more realistic and interesting way to spell out the events of the prequels, it gives Anakin's character a lot more agency to have him struggling more with the laws of the Jedi and its personal effects.

  3. PADME'S HANDMAIDENS AND THEIR SECRET REBEL SOCIETY



  This is one of my personal favorite 'what-ifs'. It's a fan theory that I've fully adopted but cannot claim to have come up with myself (sadly I'm not good enough at fan theories). Basically, the five handmaidens of Queen Padme Amidala are portrayed as thoroughly trained soldier/bodyguard/handmaidens who not only look out for the queen but are each very individually intelligent, skilled and strong. Their strength comes from their anonymity and their bonds with each other. The fan theory is that after the death of Padme her handmaidens gather together and join the Rebel Alliance to avenge the death of their friend and queen. This includes them gathering intelligence, acting as spies and operatives and specifically looking into Amidala's death and trying to maintain her legacy of peace and diplomacy. It might possibly even include them watching over/helping to raise and teach Princess Leia on Alderaan. I don't know about you, but that would make a great sub-plot story in my opinion.

  4. AHSOKA TANO - no, actually, hear me out...

"Once I called you brother..." by Renny08 on deviantART

  I know lots of people didn't like Ahsoka Tano from the Clone Wars movie (some found her more tolerable in the show) and it seems so far removed from the cinematic Star Wars universe that yeah, I can understand if you're apprehensive about this idea. I think it could be really cool though, I mean, look at that magnificent fanart! ^^ Look at the angst! ^^ The possibilites for emotional fallout here are endless.

  Now, I know and am glad that we get a bit of this scene in Star Wars Rebels, but wouldn't it be so much cooler in live action? If they had established Ahsoka as a character in the cinematic universe then Anakin's turn to the Dark Side would have had yet another terrible price to pay. Plus, in the show Ahsoka also struggled with the restrictive Jedi mindset and, if this was applied in the SWCU then it would have been another thing that pushed Anakin away from the order. Adding yet another layer to his character development.

  To take it further, Ahsoka could believe herself at least partially at fault for his turn because of how she defected from the Jedi. Would she feel guilty? Torn by this revelation? Of course she would be forced to confront him, a former master and now enemy whom she had helped create. Would she hear how Obi-Wan failed in his mission to stop him and take it upon herself to track him down and end it? Would she be unable to in the final moments, remembering how he had been as a brother to her, and how she had failed him and left him when he needed her? Would she give in to his anger and rage and let him kill her (as Obi-Wan eventually does) rather than kill him herself? There are so many ways you could go with that and the theorizing of it in my mind just kills me. So come on, say that wouldn't be terribly cruel to audiences? You're a writer, you know it would be deliciously, wonderfully heart-wrenching, don't deny it!

  **The above fanart is titled after the song "The Plagues" from The Prince of Egypt movie soundtrack. And yes, since writing that section of the post I have been listening to the song nonstop. Don't judge me.**

  Ultimately, I feel the greatest tragedy of the prequel trilogy was not Anakin's fall to the Dark Side, but the fact that these movies were SO CLOSE to being SO GOOD. That bothers me every day of my life, not gonna lie. The skeleton of the story is pretty amazing I think, but they just didn't build on it in the best way they could have. And that is the saddest aspect of all of this to me.

  So there you have it, a few of the ways I would have tried to make the Star Wars prequels a little better. What do you think of these headcanons? Agree, disagree, intrigued or turned off? Do you have any mental improvements on the prequels of your own that you'd like to share? Please, nerd with me!

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