When Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, people were a little disappointed to find the galaxy far, far away’s troubles all started with a trade dispute. Granted, it does seem a fairly mundane way for a Galactic Empire to get a foothold in a planet-spanning democracy, but, George Lucas says, that’s the whole point.
Reported by Polygon (opens in new tab), Lucas says in Taschen’s The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 that “that’s how wars start.” He further explains that: “There’s no coup, there’s no rebellion, there’s no nothing. They vote it in, which is what happens in real life.”
In the prequels, things went really wrong for the Republic when Jar Jar Binks granted Chancellor Palpatine emergency powers in a tremendously misjudged move. This set the stage for the Chancellor to become the Emperor by the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
While the original Star Wars trilogy was more of a mythic space adventure, the prequels were all about these sorts of political machinations and how the baddies can rise to prominence underneath the goodies' noses. It seems that’s a lesson the remnants of the Republic didn’t pass on, since that’s more or less exactly what allowed the First Order to destroy democracy all over again.
Lucas is definitely right that this is fairly reflective of real life, but it’s also probably fair to say the ins and outs of an interstellar trade blockade isn’t all that attention-grabbing – though the duel with Darth Maul surely makes up for the slower start. In fact, Maul was even set to become the main villain of Lucas’ sequel trilogy that never was.
The director also shared that he was warned “You’re going to destroy the franchise; you’re going to destroy everything!” if he went ahead with a young Anakin Skywalker as the lead character. The director again defended himself by saying he was “making a movie that nobody wants to see”, but said that’s preferable to retelling the same story.
It’s safe to say the prequels didn’t destroy Star Wars, and have in fact ended up growing in popularity again thanks to practically every scene and line of dialogue becoming a meme. For now, check out our The Mandalorian season 2 release schedule so you’re ready for your next glimpse into the Star Wars galaxy.