Fixing the Prequels, Part 1 of 2
Many fervent fans of the Original Star Wars films released starting in 1977 were incredibly dissatisfied with the Prequel Trilogy released starting in 1999 with The Phantom Menace. To this end, this is the first in an ongoing series of posts in which we identify and correct problems fans of either camp may have with the films. We kick off the posts with a look at why Anakin isn’t quite the hero we’re looking for…
Identifying the Problems
My main issue with Anakin Skywalker begins in The Phantom Menace where he is a small child enslaved on a backwater world, and at ten years old is already “too old to begin the training” necessary to become a Jedi Knight. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn defies the council and with his dying breath, Qui-Gon makes Obi-Wan swear that he will train the boy anyway. The problem here is that Anakin is special for no reason. He is only important because Qui-Gon insists that it’s true, not due to any evidence shown on screen. The only hint of this we get comes from the results of a blood test. That’s epic drama at its best, right!?!
In Attack of the Clones we see Anakin as a young student chafing at the restrictions that come from being a Jedi, like learning the value of patience and the Jedi’s vow of celibacy. Anakin swears that he is incredible and way better than anyone else in the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan included, who Anakin says is jealous of him and holding him back. The problem with this is that he seems whiny and ungrateful, not like a rebellious teen, but just a little jerk. This culminates in his slaughtering of an entire tribe of Sand People after the death of his mother. By his own admission, he even kills the women and children. That’s the guy I wanna root for.
Slightly Older Dirtbag
Anakin is better In Revenge of the Sith, but not by much. We see that he has gained some perspective and maturity, but he still comes across as a mushy, whiny twenty-something instead of a mushy, whiny tween. He quickly abandons Obi-Wan, his best friend, and ignores Padme, his secret love, all to follow the advice of the creepiest old freak in the Star Wars Universe, Senator Palpatine. Palpatine has been counselling Anakin and stoking the fires of his rebellious nature and creating doubts about just how shady the Jedi Order has become. Palpatine ultimately convinces Anakin to abandon the Jedi, murder one of his mentors, and massacre Jedi children in cold blood.
“Murder children? Yeah, okay.”
– Anakin Skywalker
To Be Continued…
In next week’s follow-up, we lay out a plan to address these issues with Anakin Skywalker’s character and make them work toward his status as the baddest mother-lover alive!