The first of a regular series where Mike, our larger than life presenter and editor, sets the record straight.
I will set out my stall now, and I understand that this might be a somewhat controversial comment, but one I truly believe. We, as Star Wars fans, were given a great and wonderful gift… the Prequels.
I am 42 years old, and as I get older I tend to care less about what people think. By doing this it lets me stay young and, mentally, that’s the best I can do! At 15 I had more fun in my life that I’ve ever had, and to this day I still try to stay in that mind-set!
Now, one thing I’ve learned as I get older is, if you complain and let yourself get angry about your job, the idiot in front of you who’s driving too slow, your neighbour’s dog messing in your yard, or even a new release within your favourite movie franchise as a child, you will make yourself miserable.
I have been a Star Wars fan since I was six years old, and I watched those three original movies over, and over, and over. Then, in the 1990s I heard Mr. Lucas was going to make prequels about when Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) was a child! I was blown away. I’m a really big fan of origin stories and I could not wait to see these movies about my favourite character from the Star Wars saga.
May 1999 could not arrive quickly enough.
Now, I was walking into the theatre with chills and I hadn’t even seen the movie yet. All I’d seen up to that point would have been a couple of trailers including the most iconic shot from the trailer where Darth Maul lit both ends of his lightsaber for the first time!
I could barely contain myself I was so excited. The movie started and the chills came back when I saw the words ‘Star Wars: Episode One: the Phantom Menace’ crawl up on the screen.
The movie ended and I could not close my mouth!
It was amazing as you slowly got to see everything you know from the original trilogy being put into place: the creation of C-3PO; the meeting of R2-D2 and C-3PO for the first time; the meeting of Anakin and Obi Wan (which gave me chills); the early stages of what would be Emperor Palpatine’s rise; and, finally, Anakin’s anger that would eventually push him to be the biggest, baddest villain in pop-culture today.
With episode two and three we got to see Obi Wan training Anakin; Anakin’s feelings toward Padme evolving; the origin of the Stormtroopers; Anakin’s anger growing; the slow decline of the galactic Republic and rise of the galactic Empire via Palpatine’s corruption of the senate; the fall of the Jedi order; the birth of a new hope (Luke and Leia) and the rise of the Lord Vader!!
There have been lots of comments, by lots of people, about the quality of the prequels. Comments both positive and negative about what the prequels provided. Comments about the acting; the use of CGI; the characters that were introduced; and you know what? With all of the collective greatness you get from the prequels: the back stories to characters we love from the Original Trilogy; the introduction of some great characters; a galaxy full of Jedi; and a time before the Empire, in my personal opinion I do not believe you can call yourself a Star Wars fan and say you hate the prequels!
The prequels fleshed out the history of the Star Wars universe at a time when Star Wars might have gone quietly into the night. It had been more than fifteen years since the Original Trilogy had been released. The franchise could well have become a footnote in movie history. By providing the public with the prequels Mr. Lucas introduced a new generation of fans to a galaxy ‘a long time ago and far, far away’ as well as re-energising the original fan base.
The launching of the prequels also unleashed Star Wars into other media: novels; computer games; comics. This re-engagement with the Star Wars universe in turn allowed the Clone Wars cartoon series to be created – something that if the prequels had never happened would never have happened!
The release of the prequels allowed fans of different generations to share their love of the whole franchise, in all its forms. This has made the Star Wars universe richer and more complete and ultimately paved the way to the decision, by Disney, to buy Lucasfilm.
In many ways, if it had not been for the prequels we would probably not now have Rebels, a roadmap of movies taking us from Episode 7 to 9 and Rogue One. Not to mention plans for even more movies and rumours of TV shows.
Today is a good day to be a Star Wars fan, and for that I thank the prequels.
May the force be with you all, Always!
Thanks for reading this first opinion piece from Mike Mann. Mike can be found discussing Star Wars on ChannelStarWars.com, both YouTube and Podcasts. Find us on iTunes and subscribe on YouTube!