Which do you prefer?
Nothing has divided the Star Wars fandom more than the debate over prequels vs. sequels. The only common ground between the two camps is that is that the original trilogy comprising A New Hope (1977), Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983) is sacred. So what are some of the arguments from those who prefer prequels over sequels and vice versa, and can we objectively say who wins?
The prequels to the Star Wars Trilogy include Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: The Attack of the Clones (2001) and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). The first chapter, Episode I, hit theatres on May 19th, 1999. As with its two successors, it was met with a mixed critical reception. Some championed the film for broadening the appeal of the Star Wars universe thanks to rich storytelling by creator, George Lucas. Add in some of the most stunning cinematography of all of the Star Wars films, and you’d think that the producers were on to a winner.
Others, however, took a very different view. The prequels were seen as an attempt to commercialise the series by including unnecessary plotlines (a trade war, an ill-fitting romance) and introducing characters with questionable comedic value (we’re looking at you, Jar Jar Binks). As the films were released, so was a ton of new Star Wars gadgets and memorabilia from Storm Trooper figurines to Death Star Lamps. The Internet became flooded with Star Wars gadget reviews telling us about the latest must-have fan collectibles.
Thus a divide was born between those who were more excited than ever about the re-birth of the franchise, and those who staunchly felt that the prequels dragged down the magic of the original trilogy. The only conclusion that could be drawn was that you either loved these new films, or hated them.
The Star Wars sequels are: The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi (2017) and the yet to be named Star Wars: Episode IX (2019). These three films took a completely different direction, overseen by new production company Disney and three new directors including J.J Abrams of Star Trek fame.
The first two instalments of the sequels received a warm reception from critics and (most) fans. According to figures obtained by The Gadget Nerds, the first two films became some of the highest grossing of all time. Their success can be explained by the fact that they stayed true to the original trilogy, and even paying homage to many of the classic Star Wars scenes (although some of us think this was over done in parts). The visual effects, as one might have guessed, are better than ever.
But not everyone is impressed. The first two films have been criticised for underwhelming story lines that bring nothing new to the table. The notable exception is the inclusion of a strong female lead (Rey) and a more diverse cast than ever before. But many of the Star Wars fans that want to see the films evolve, were left cold.
Our Two Cents
One of the most irresistible aspects of Star Wars is that it immerses us into a Galaxy far, far away. We’re some of the most passionate fandoms in the world, so being able to share different opinions is healthy. It makes it exciting to be a Star Wars fan.
When it comes to the prequels vs. sequels debate, we won’t have heard the last of it. Those who preferred the prequels under George Lucas’ direction will be hoping that the last sequel due for release next year will deliver something more unique. At the same time, fans of the sequels will be expecting a thrilling end to the story that honours the original films while still keeping us captivated.
We can’t wait to see how it unfolds.