One of the brilliant things that’s happened since Disney bought the Star Wars property from George Lucas is how the studio has managed to put so much energy into damage control. As a fan of Star Wars, it’s easy to expect everything to be perfect. But the reality is that the series needed some help. Love the Prequels or hate them, it’s a different era. So how does the arrival of these new films change the balance of the force?
James Akinaka on the Comics and Novels
Over the past few years, Lucasfilm’s programming has steadily moved away from the prequel trilogy. Comic miniseries like Obi-Wan & Anakin and next spring’s Darth Maul tell stories about the prequel trilogy. But otherwise, prequel-era stories are few and far between. Marvel’s other comic series concentrate on the original trilogy or beyond. Similarly, Del Rey’s publishing program has only used the prequels as a bridge to the original trilogy. Novels like A New Dawn, Ahsoka, and the recent Catalyst mostly use the prequel films as starting points instead of main settings.
So why are Star Wars novels and comic books leaving the prequels behind? On some level, the prequel films have become less relevant, at least in terms of Lucasfilm’s overall plans. Star Wars has a creative hierarchy, since Lucasfilm’s publishing programs revolve around the current films and TV series. And unless Lucasfilm makes another movie that’s in close proximity to the prequel trilogy, there won’t be much of a reason to produce comics and novels about the prequels.
Still, it’s not like Star Wars publishing has entirely forgotten about the prequels. Most of Marvel’s comic series have incorporated some elements from them, as have Del Rey’s slew of novels. Nevertheless, it seems like the prequel films have lost their creative appeal, especially since they’re now over a decade old. Until another movie or TV series revives widespread interest in the prequel trilogy, Star Wars comics and novels will continue to focus on other areas of the timeline.
Nick Nunziata on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a lot on its plate. It has to return the look and feel of the series to the time right before A New Hope. There has to be enough connective tissue to what followed as well as what was to come. All new leading characters. A few familiar characters. There’s also the task of fitting into the continuity organically and even fix some flaws that had fans scratching their heads. It could have been a disaster.
Instead, the film does a fabulous job of making certain elements of the prequels a bit more bearable. By returning the performers who played Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, the film tightens the transition. More importantly, it shows that the series is capable of changing the backstory for the sake of future films. Suddenly, the Death Star’s flaw makes sense. Rogue One also rejiggers the idea of the epicenter of Jedi activity with the introduction of Jedha. Perhaps the Prequel notion of Coruscant being the hub of the Order is less important.
Perhaps future films could overwrite the Prequels altogether. It’s a near-impossibility, but we can dream.
Andrew Hawkins on The Force Awakens
With The Force Awakens, Star Wars was given the energy and the freshness the series so desperately needed. Fans were desperate to see the mistakes of the prequels corrected and the seventh movie did exactly that. Finally, the world’s favorite franchise was retooled. Not only to honor the original trilogy, but also move on from the sour foundation the films in-between had laid.
The constant callbacks The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith contained basically turned the films into unoriginal rehashes of what we had already seen. The stories for each did nothing to get the audience interested in the characters, and everyone who watched the original Star Wars trilogy knew where everything was headed. The Force Awakens fixed that by showing us an engaging story and using the design of the series and expanding upon it instead of recycling old images.
There are tons of similarities between TFA and Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi and those nods are what builds the connective tissue between chapters. The prequel movies are still there for viewing if fans really want to see the saga of Darth Vader before the rise of Luke Skywalker, but watching them as a necessity isn’t even a factor anymore. The bad guys are bad again and the good guys are good. It’s time to move on from politics and get excited about what’s going to happen next.