I know. The internet hates the prequels. Everyone has listed its sins – from poor acting, directing, writing, characters, an overabundance of CGI – and most, if not all, have wondered what would make the prequels worthy of being connected to the Star Wars universe.
I’m going to give a brief outline of how to re-write and fix the Prequels.
See, I can hear you now, screaming far away in the echoing chamber of the internet’s digital hallway. It’s been done before! Everyone has their theory on fixing the prequels! It’s going to be trash!
Probably. But I gotta try.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode I is probably in the most need of change. Not because it’s bad. In fact, I enjoy Phantom Menace. I know it’s probably the most ridiculed (although I think Episode II is the worst of the prequels), but I like it. It also has some practical effects and sets that were somehow thrown out the window when the rest of the films were made.
The Phantom Menace takes place too far removed from the other films. Anakin is not the main character. It’s a weak ensemble piece. The Prequel trilogy was intriguing to us because Obi-Wan mentioned his relationship with Anakin and the Clone Wars, so we need to get right into that. So let’s fix that.
Let’s Start A War
First, Palpatine is already Chancellor. He’s just won election on the back of trade reforms that should spread money around better across the galaxy. The Trade Federation doesn’t like this though, so they blockade his home system of Naboo (so we keep that plot point from OG Episode I). Palpatine sends two Jedi to negotiate. Those two Jedi? Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is in his late teens, but he is early in his training, and Obi-Wan mentions having to ‘beg’ the council to train him because of his obvious talents. They have a mentor/pupil relationship that is strained by their peer friendship.
The Trade Federation does exactly as they did in the OG Episode I, they invade Naboo after trying to kill the Jedi (at the behest of Sith Lord Darth Sidious/Palpatine). The events carry on much as they do in OG Episode I, except that Anakin meets Queen Amidala here on Naboo instead of on Tatooine. Anakin and Obi-Wan escape with the Royal Party, and hide on Anakin’s home world of Tatooine.
Anakin and Padme
It’s on Tatooine that we get to know Anakin. He was once a slave. He won his freedom after proving useful to a local moisture farmer, Owen Lars, who married his mother. Anakin became a talented pilot, which brought him to the core where he met Obi-Wan and began training. Padme, a teen ruler, identifies with Anakin’s overwhelming feeling of responsibility and inflated sense of importance in the galaxy. Anakin and Amidala bond while Anakin is fixing the ship.
Enter Darth Maul, the coolest character from the Prequels. He is the apprentice of Sidious and he is sent to find the Jedi and Royals. Sidious uses Darth Maul to hone Anakin’s skills as a fighter. This is how Anakin becomes a great lightsaber duelist. Darth Maul eventually finds them, and Anakin holds Maul off and the group escapes to Coruscant after repairing their ship (this is a similar plot line from OG Episode I).
Politics in the Prequels can be a rough slog, so we’ll try to keep this concise. Palpatine is struggling to keep the Trade Federation (among other parties) in line. His negotiations are failing because he doesn’t have the military force to back up his demands. Count Dooku stands as the leader of the Coalition fighting back against Palpatine’s reforms. The former Jedi stands at the Senate floor, stating that this blockade is merely positioning to show that the Federation, and its sister nations, are important to the Galaxy and shouldn’t be punished for their prosperity. Dooku rebukes Palpatine for using the Jedi to conduct political maneuvering.
Palpatine, feeling the pinch from both parties, begs Queen Amidala to request forces at the senate floor, to be conscripted from the Cloning world of Kamino. She refuses.
Palpatine speaks with Anakin, telling him the situation in the galaxy. He feels that things will turn to chaos without the threat of force. Padme doesn’t understand this. Anakin promises to talk with her. Palpatine mentions that Anakin truly understands the burden of leadership, inflating his sense of importance.
Padme seeks the council of Obi-Wan and Anakin. Obi-Wan agrees with her stance against clone troops, while Anakin, under Palpatine’s sway, makes a passionate case for the need to enforce the laws. Obi-Wan and Anakin are obviously strained in their friendship by these conflicting ideologies.
Anakin and Obi-Wan visit the Jedi council, where Anakin is reprimanded for speaking out of turn to the Queen. Jedi are not supposed to give advice on political matters. The Jedi are extra sensitive because of Dooku’s words at the Senate.
Anakin sees this as hypocritical, as Obi-Wan also gave advice. Obi-Wan shows a weakness here as he uses the council to admonish Anakin rather than do it himself and hurt their friendship. But Anakin sees this.
They also mention Darth Maul, and a feeling that the Sith are returning. The Council agree that Maul was drawn to the Queen, so Anakin and Obi-Wan should follow her.
Queen Amidala, in the end, takes a centrist point of view on the matter of war. She leaves Coruscant, but leaves a hand written letter rebuking the Senate for its inactivity and need to enforce the laws it passes. She travels back to Naboo, with Obi-Wan and Anakin following after her (unaware to her)
Battle for Naboo
Events happen in much the same way as they did in the OG Episode I, except for a clear deviation: Anakin is an expert pilot and a Jedi. Obi-Wan orders Anakin to help with the space battle, while Obi-Wan fights Darth Maul by himself. Obi-Wan holds his own against Maul (he is somewhat older than he was in OG Episode I, so he’s more experienced). Maul is vicious, but he isn’t methodical like Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan, bloodied and bruised, takes high ground (which will make the episode III scene more powerful) and punishes Maul for his hubris (a mirror to Anakin in episode III) by cutting him off at the legs.
Obi-Wan tries to interrogate a pained Maul, when Maul is rescued by none other than Count Dooku, aka Darth Tyranus. There is a sense that Dooku feels this task is beneath him, and that he sees little need for Maul’s animalistic nature. Dooku strikes Obi-Wan with force lightning, knocking him to the ground; allowing Dooku and Maul to escape.
Anakin and the other pilots take down the control ships running the droid army, effectively winning the battle. Amidala takes control of the throne room much as she did in the OG Episode I.
Dooku now outed as a Sith, the Council believes it has its 2 Sith Lords – Maul and Tyranus – while Palpatine’s identity remains a secret.
Amidala and Anakin are falling in love. Obi-Wan reminds him that attachments are forbidden in the Jedi Order. Anakin mentions that maybe that is a stupid rule (which it is).
The Senate passes a provisional power for Palpatine to procure clone troops for the emerging war between Dooku’s forces – the Trade Federation, etc – and the Republic. Palpatine, as a measure to appear bipartisan, appoints the Jedi to lead the troops in battle.