Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Star Wars: How It Should Have Started
If you're an adult Star Wars fan, you probably saw the prequel movies. And there's a good chance you were disappointed. Or maybe you weren't. But whatever. You probably went to see each new movie, like me, hoping that somehow this one would be better, but always being disappointed. With good reason. The new movies, while flashy and filled with epic scenes of Jedi combat and huge space battles, fell short in almost every other area. New characters were either uninteresting or annoying, acting was sub-par, dialogue was cheesy-beyond-all-belief. (I don't like sand.) But even more than that, the new movies seemed to shy away from the original thematic elements of the series - elements such as good vs. evil, self restraint, sacrifice, confronting ones deepest fears - and replacing them with midichlorians, angstyness, and style without substance.
The real sad thing is each of these new movies could have been just as memorable as the originals. Part of the reason the fanbase is so angry is that they saw so much potential, and instead they got crappy lightshows.
Well people, I'm here to tell you that I am in no position to make or remake the star wars prequels, but if I could, I have a number of ideas that would have made them a lot better. And here they are now:
Lets start off with a nice, general idea. Galactic scale. Okay, II and III caught on pretty decently, but Episode I centered around the politics of one tiny planet called Naboo. Annoying name aside, do you remember any time in the original trilogy when we focused on local, planetary politics? No. Various planets are involved, and they have character, and the politics of a particular planet sometimes plays into what happens, but the focus of the story is on a galactic scale, and it should stay that way. Moving on...
Some General Stuff:
We don't need R2 and 3PO in the prequels. It doesn't really make sense, anyways. Sure, Artoo is a favorite in the future, but that doesn't mean he needs to be around for all time. His story starts with Leia's message to Obi-Wan, and before that? Just a droid.
It goes without saying, but no midechlorians. Or however you spell that. Seriously, this mysterious and mystical power does not need to be explained by little orange germs. Jedi don't need scanners to tell them that someone is strong in the force. They can sense it. Duh.
It's okay to have nods to some of the favorite characters or objects from the old movies - just make it subtle. We could see a production line of R2 Units - or, if anything, R2-D2 is owned by Leia's future adoptive parents. Maybe an auctioning grid with the Millenium Falcon in the background. Subtle nods, you don't have to whack us in the face with it.
Okay, on to the important things:
The prequel trilogy really should focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi. It's his story that matters. He lets on to a part of his life in the original trilogy, but there's much more to be had there. To watch Obi-Wan grow from a cocky and overconfident Jedi Knight through his attempts to train Anakin Skywalker, facing the consequences of that going wrong, and becoming the Jedi Master that he is in A New Hope and beyond... that's the story we all wanted to see. It's there in the prequels - sort of - but not really. This is the focus. The core. Speaking of which...
Part of the allure of Darth Vader is his mystery. This is the most powerful Jedi in the universe, by prophecy. Or at least, he's destined to bring balance to the Force. Jedi who know this prophecy of the younger Anakin look at him in awe, treat him like a religious figure. But no one really understands this dark, brooding teenager. He is an unknown. Sure, he needs to be part of the story, but as an enigma - both to normal people, to the other Jedi, and even to Obi-Wan.
No one knows what he does when he goes off on his own, no one understands the internal and external conflicts he faces that draws him over to the dark side. Heck, people barely even notice it's happening until it's too late. But this is all off to the side - from the point of view of Obi-Wan, who in his arrogance is trying to build the answer to the Jedi prophecy, not raise up a young and confused Jedi, and in that lies his critical failure. As viewers, we dont need to see every detail of Anakin's descent to the dark side. That only serves to soften it's terrible power. Sure we see him disappearing, we see him brooding, we see him hanging out with some hot chick from Alderaan or whatever, but it's just in the background.
There aren't that many Jedi Knights. In all the planets in the known galaxy, children with the ability to harness the force are few and far between - and then, only those that can be found with the Jedi's limited resources can be recruited. Jedi are misunderstood, feared, even distrusted by 'normal' people. That in addition to strict rules as far as marriage, etc, the Jedi are slowly dying off. Even as the Jedi that remain sense the coming darkness, no one in the senate really pays attention, blinding themselves to the inevitable (as politicians often do). The Jedi, who are forces of good, do not want to create chaos, and thus are limited in what actions they can take - they must act secretly, and quietly, and the enemy uses that to their advantage. In fact, the Jedi hope that Anakin will be the savior and restore order, and as such spend a lot of time waiting for him to be ready.
Also, given the shrinking numbers, you wont see an army of 50 Jedi on a single planet - especailly not to fight an army of droids. Given the standards we saw in the original trilogy, Droids are not warriors - they're servants, slaves, workers. No one builds a droid army because it would be slow, clunky, and fragile. Also a single trained Jedi Knight could take down that entire army of droids from the Coliseum scene with some concentration and a wave of the hand. Also, Jedi are classy warriors, not barbarians. They mostly work alone and they mostly work in secret, and an army of Jedi that big would terrify all the normal people into demanding that the Jedi Order be shut down forever.
Speaking of outcasts...
Is still like 800 years old, an old, shrivelled up Jedi Master. The Master of masters. High and lofty. He is so strong with the force, he does not need a lightsaber. He can move mountains with his force powers. He could crush the cities of Coruscant if he put his mind to it. Fortunately, he's still a good guy.
But, being the short, green, shrivelled up creature that he is, people outside of the Jedi Order don't take him seriously at all. He gets even less respect than other Jedi. In a world where understanding and knowledge of the force is declining, and the soon-to-be-Emperor is stirring up feelings of human superiority, people don't give Yoda a second glance. Except for the other Jedi, who respect him greatly.
Unfortunately, Yoda's greatest flaw is, perhaps, too much inaction. He constantly spends his time meditating, studying, focusing, looking forward to the future and back to the past, but he is slow to take action. This unfortunately causes him to miss the last opportunity to act in time to stop the Emperor from becoming the Emperor.
As I said before, sometimes the mystery and unknown of a character is what makes them fearful. We don't need to know who the Emperor was. He's just another mysterious figure in the background, playing his game, spinning his web, unhatching his plan. He schemes and plots and manipulates and all we see are the effects. We never know exactly what he's doing. The Jedi certainly don't put him into power. He never fights against Yoda (seriously, Yoda would flatten him if they ever came face-to-face).
Oh yeah, lets not forget about...
Exile / The End of the Prequels
One major thing that doesn't make any sense to me in the actual prequel movies is Yoda's exile. Why does he send himself to the swamp-pit-of-the-universe that is Dagobah? Why doesn't he just go with Obi-Wan on Tatooine? There could be a number of reasons - maybe Dagobah was Yoda's home planet, wiped of civilization by the empire. Maybe that was a common retirement place for Jedi. Who knows. But the explanation given just doesn't cut it.
So here's what happens in my version: at the end of it all, Yoda finally sees that he needs to do something. He is the wisest and strongest in the force of all the Jedi, and they look to him for hope when all else is lost. So, he organizes a fleet to go against Darth Vader and hopefully stop him once and for all. Unfortunately it's far too late to actually succeed. Vader has amassed a huge fleet and violently attacked the opposition, putting fear into anyone who had thought about rebelling. Yoda's fleet is small, and no match for the new Empire fleet. With his extremely powerful control of the Force, Yoda takes down a number of ships simply by ripping them apart with his power, but he feels the pain of every voice he silences. As his fleet is torn apart, Yoda's own ship is damaged. Holding it together with the Force, Yoda crashlands on Dagobah. In his sorrow over all the lives he murdered - oh and since the entire rest of the fleet was destroyed - Yoda refuses to even try to leave the swamp land, and exiles himself away.
Obi-Wan escapes as well, but manages to rescue Vader's pregnant wife, bringing her back to Alderaan. To be safe, he brings Luke to Tatooine and stays there to watch over him, while Leia is raised by her mother - til she dies when Leia is young, and Leia is adopted by her aunt and uncle. As the years pass and society crumbles, Vader rebuilds his fleet and the spark of rebellion ignites once again.
So there you have it. Obviously, the prequels we have will never change. My versions will never be made into reality. But it's fun to imagine what it could have been like.
So, do you think my ideas would make for a better set of prequels? Do you have ideas of your own regarding how these movies should have been made?
Leave a comment! And share this article with your friends, so we can all enjoy the imagining of what could be, together!
Oh, and May the Force Be With You!
(Happy Star Wars Day!)