Star Wars’ Expanded Universe helped rescue Phantom Menace and the prequel trilogy

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is 25 years previous and again in theaters for Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you”), inevitably setting off a brand new spherical of debate about the film, the prequel trilogy as a complete, and the present, typically irritating, state of Star Wars media. Although The Phantom Menace has been closely criticized, it’s additionally been re-examined and even embraced over the previous few a long time. There are memes that commemorate the extremely dramatic dialogue and direct references in tentpoles like Solo. The children who grew up with the prequels as their principal Star Wars films have spoken as much as defend them.

However arguably, what actually vindicated the prequel trilogy was the spin-off tradition. The animated collection, books, comics, and all the pieces else tying into the expanded canon made good on the guarantees delivered in the prequels’ seven hours of CG-filled journey. The Phantom Menace, and later Assault of the Clones, launched a political conspiracy that spanned each nook of the Star Wars universe, a corrupt authorities meshing with a considerably clueless Jedi Order. In an try at cheap runtimes, the films don’t go that deep with the Jedi’s request for a clone military, or fascinating characters like Darth Maul, Mace Windu, and Rely Dooku, who all meet early demises. However the genius of Lucas’ plans — anticipated or unintended — is that the films sparked creativity in different creators.

Del Rey

In 2014, shortly after the acquisition of Lucasfilm, Disney rebranded most “Expanded Universe” media as “Legends” content material, with solely a handful of tales and lore from outdoors of the films surviving the purge. Nonetheless, each departed and surviving EU improve the prequels.

One notable e-book that didn’t survive the new post-Disney canon is James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, which took considered one of the most essential but unknown figures of the prequels and gave us a whole story that fills loads of the blanks. The novel handled the Sith lord Darth Plagueis, hinted in Revenge of the Sith to be Darth Sidious’ grasp, and a being who might manipulate midichlorians to create life. The novel tells the story of Plagueis’ coaching of a teenage Palpatine, his arc to develop into a politician, and how the duo deliberate the creation of a clone military, and with that the Clone Wars itself.

Although the novel is not canon, the concept that Palpatine and his grasp deliberate all the pieces about the Clone Wars so as to acquire energy has been explored in different comics and novels, like Luceno’s personal Tarkin from 2014. Palpatine in the films was meant to be this mastermind who was ten steps forward of everybody, however we didn’t actually see him do this a lot till Revenge of the Sith. Likewise, we’re instructed imprecise statements about corruption and the “bureaucrats” in command of the Senate, however in books we lastly began to see how a lot the senator from Naboo modified the course of historical past in the galaxy. Tarkin illustrated the broken political system, and how straightforward it was for Palpatine to govern it to his favor, one thing that fleshed out the hooded determine previously identified simply as “The Emperor” right into a crafty man everybody underestimated till it was too late.

The expanded canon additionally shines a brand new mild on the Jedi Order higher than the films ever might. We knew from the authentic trilogy that the Jedi had all however disappeared; the prequels confirmed them to be a naïve, strict group that was unable to stop its downfall.

The novels Grasp & Apprentice by Claudia Grey and the audiobook Dooku: Jedi Misplaced by Cavan Scott give attention to why some Jedi in the galaxy turned disillusioned by the Order, and its shut ties to the Republic. Grasp & Apprentice follows Qui-Gon Jinn as he welcomes Obi-Wan Kenobi as his apprentice, fleshing out some themes from the films, like slavery in the galaxy and the Jedi Order’s function in galactic politics. The novel exhibits that Qui-Gon was continually questioning whether or not the Jedi had been greater than the chancellor’s police drive, and the nature of “balance” in the Pressure.

The Phantom Menace launched the concept of Jedi as one thing akin to the United Nations’ Peacekeeping Forces, unable to intervene with out full authority from the Republic, and anticipated to all the time be impartial. However how are they supposed to guard the mild facet of the Pressure, which lives inside all dwelling creatures, if they’ll’t intervene in wars or finish slavery? The present EU books confront the contradictions that pushed away members like Rely Dooku and, ultimately, Anakin.

qui-gon age of republic comic book

Marvel Comics

In the case of the comedian books, the anthology run Age of Republic shines new mild on the characters we all know from the prequels. The Qui-Gon challenge expands on the story from Grasp & Apprentice the place the Jedi grasp was turning into obsessive about prophecies and discovering true stability in the drive, which he thinks the Jedi Order can’t obtain in the event that they keep so inflexible.

There’s additionally Obi-Wan and Anakin, written by Charles Soule, which explores the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin and the 10 years between Episodes I and II, carving out the brotherly bond that shaped between the two Jedi. The Darth Maul miniseries focuses on Maul’s insatiable starvation to kill of Jedi, and his frustration over being forbidden to have interaction in fight earlier than the occasions of The Phantom Menace, one thing that additional sends him to the darkish facet of the Pressure, even when he wonders what the mild has to supply.

Then there’s The Clone Wars, considered one of the few bits of media that wasn’t de-canonized earlier than The Pressure Awakens was launched. What made the animated collection particular from the get-go is that it appeared like everybody concerned knew that viewers had been fairly damaging about most of the characters in the prequels, so that they took it to coronary heart to flesh them out and give them sufficient depth to make us love them simply as a lot as Luke, Leia, and Han.

From the first season, The Clone Wars confirmed us the impression the battle had on the whole Star Wars universe. We meet youngsters who had been orphaned by the conflict, see how the felony underworld thrived in a conflict setting, and observe why most planetary populations hesitated to hitch the conflict effort — which kicked off rebellions in some areas. Whereas the collection was primarily aimed toward youngsters, there was some darkish and mature materials at show that confirmed the horrors of conflict and the human price of it.

the clone wars umbara arc

Cartoon Community

Certainly one of the finest components of the collection was attending to know the faceless clone military that was launched in the films. We first meet Domino Squad in coaching, then observe them via their trials and tribulations in the area of battle. The Umbara arc finest exemplifies what made The Clone Wars so good. The four-episode story follows the Domino Squad and the bigger 501st Legion as they embark on a lethal mission to take the capital of Umbara, and watches as pressure rises between the clones and their new and reckless commander, Jedi Pong Krell. Gritty and frank about the casualties of conflict, the collection nonetheless discovered room to offer the clones personalities, regardless of all wanting the similar.

The animated collection additionally did a greater job of tying up unfastened ends. Do not forget that deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith the place Padmé mainly founds the Insurgent Alliance? The Clone Wars exhibits there was resistance in a number of worlds that opposed the conflict, and what the Republic was doing. This included the introduction of Noticed Gerrera, who performed a key half in the live-action Rogue One. There was additionally the re-introduction of Darth Maul, who got here again to life in the collection, with far more than three traces of dialogue.

When it got here to filling in the gaps from the prequels, The Clone Wars additionally gave followers their first canonical have a look at the notorious Sifo-Dyas in the episode “The Lost One,” which handled the conspiracy surrounding the creation of the clone military. In that very same final season, the collection confirmed how the Emperor was capable of management the clones with Order 66, giving us a backstory for the devastating order.

In the finish, for a lot of followers, The Clone Wars succeeded the place the prequels didn’t by making the viewers care about Anakin Skywalker’s journey. The boastful, bratty Jedi was given extra dimension, and his story turned that of a person caught between the mild and darkish sides of the Pressure. We witnessed his fixed struggles with the darkish facet, his worry of loss, his anger and resentment towards the world, the pressures of being a Jedi, and the way it all made him the good goal for Palpatine’s manipulation. The collection supplied a deeper, extra complicated have a look at the character and made his shift into Darth Vader logical, with far more impression.

The Phantom Menace is 25 years previous, however the prequel period feels brisker than ever. The gripes mounted over twenty years have been challenged, inverted, and matured by the ever-expanding EU. Worry over the prequels results in anger, anger results in hate, and hate results in struggling — however most of that could possibly be alleviated by choosing up the proper e-book.

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