Finding a reason, or reasons, to watch the Star Wars prequels is a hard thing to do. Some may say that the prequels are absolutely irredeemable and nothing good can come from them, but we are here to present to you the best pieces of these films in such a way that they may actually give you some hope and excitement for the new installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Now, most of us fall into two groups of people: those who always hated the prequels, and those of us who had a warped idea of what they actually were only to later realize how bad they were. Some actually enjoy the prequels and that’s fine, but the vast majority of us fall into those two previously listed groups. For these people, it is hard to cherry pick moments or aspects from the prequels that would actually create an excitement for The Force Awakens. However, there are actually several of these golden moments throughout the trilogy.
Come with us and let the hate flow through you as we give you Screen Rant’s 10 Reasons To Watch The Star Wars Prequels Before The Force Awakens!
10. The Skywalker Journey Begins
The Star Wars saga has been called a Skywalker journey for its focus on the lineage of the Skywalker family. While Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi and ultimately facing his Sith father Darth Vader was captivating in the original trilogy, the prequels follow the patriarch of the Skywalkers, Anakin. While Episode I gives us the annoying child version of the legendary Sith, we watch as he becomes a man, played by the notoriously wooden Hayden Christensen. While this sounds as terrible as you may remember it, the character of Anakin that we see develop is exactly the young man we expected him to be. We knew he was a great pilot, extremely strong with the force, and eventually willing to be seduced by the dark side.
We all remember the dialogue and wooden performances for young Anakin, but we did get an insightful introduction to “The Chosen One” who would ultimately bring balance to the force.
In The Force Awakens, a major plot point we see revolves around Anakin’s, and now Luke’s, missing lightsaber. This now famous (or infamous, if you remember all the younglings killed with it in Episode III) is now the totem that carries the Skywalker legacy into this new saga of Star Wars films. It is young Anakin’s blue lightsaber that connects these films and continues the Skywalker journey.
9. Learning The Ways Of The Force
Midichlorians. We all know what a pain they were to learn about and how much they muddied the already ambiguous waters of the Force. But despite the film’s ad-hoc nature of introducing the concept, the prequels actually give us an explanation into the ways of the Force that were long forgotten by the time Luke had found master Yoda.
In the prequels, we see not only Anakin’s training, but the training of other young Jedi disciples. The Phantom Menace finally explains to us what the proper process is to become a Jedi padawan and one day Jedi Master. Our exposure to those learning the ways of the Force, as well as those who are masters, gives us a well-rounded understanding of its power. It also reinforces the idea that the Force is a tangible and real energy that can be manipulated and used at will by those who have what it takes to wield it.
In the original trilogy, we see Han and others struggle with the idea of Jedi and their magical abilities that they claim is from “the Force.” In the prequels, it is explained and shown to be as real as ever, cementing the idea of the Force into our brains as a real “Force” to be reckoned with.
As we see in the trailers for The Force Awakens, the Jedi are once again legends, and the Force seems to be nothing more than an ancient religious myth. However, it was our original skeptic, Han Solo, who tells our new young heroes, “It’s true. All of it.” He learned through Luke what the force and Jedi really were, just as we learned through Anakin in the prequels.
8. Masters and Padawans
Some of the greatest relationships formed throughout the Star Wars films are those between mentor and apprentice. These relationships help us understand not just the skill levels of the master and apprentice, but their motivations as well. The sacrifice, seduction, lying, guiding, and development between these characters often feel like the heart of these films.
In the prequels, we follow the mentor-mentee relationships between Anakin and Obi-Wan as well as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn very closely. We even eventually see the forming relationship between Anakin and Darth Sidious. These relationships define for us what the role of a mentor is in the Star Wars universe, whether it be for Jedi or Sith. Star Wars has often been about the passing of the torch from one generation to the next and trying to teach that generation the right way to do things before they take power. We see Obi-Wan attempt this valiantly with Anakin and ultimately fail.
With the role of mentors defined in the Star Wars universe, the relationships in the prequels will help prepare you for the same type of connections made by the new generation of characters in The Force Awakens. With the biggest mentoring failure in the prequels (Obi-Wan losing Anakin to the dark side) it will help prepare you for what could lie ahead in this new set of films. Can anything top the pain and devastation of losing Anakin to the dark side?
7. Expanding A Galaxy Far, Far Away
The Star Wars universe has been one of the most expansive and successful cinematic universes ever created, and it continues to grow larger and larger with each and every new entry, whether it be the prequels, The Force Awakens, or the television series Clone Wars and Rebels. Beyond the original trilogy, the prequels were the first canonical entries to further expand the universe, introducing us to new species, star systems, and concepts on just how the universe functions. Whether or not they handled these introductions as well as everyone hoped or thought they would, the prequels did deliver in quantity.
While Star Wars will always focus on lineage and Skywalkers, it was nice to see the bizarre creatures that coexist and inhabit the various planets throughout the universe. Many often give George Lucas grief for his over-the-top creations, but these different aliens are just what the Star Wars universe needed if we are to believe this universe is as expansive as we previously thought. Now in The Force Awakens, we get similar species, but we are still given new planets full of previously unknown species.
6. The Seductive Dark Side
The Dark Side is an evil and corrupt power that not only eats away at its followers, but grants them incredible abilities. In the original trilogy, we are introduced to Darth Vader and Darth Sidious and see their powers in action, i.e. the Force choke and Force lightning. However, an interesting piece of the dark side is finally touched upon in Return of the Jedi when Darth Sidious implores Luke to kill his father and take Vader’s place as Sidious’ new disciple. Our young hero, who had been seen as heroic and valiant throughout the other films, is now shown as serious and conflicted with the offer of power through murder. Even though he lets his hate flow through him, the seduction of the dark side is not enough to turn him.
In the prequels, this seduction that we see Luke tempted with in the original trilogy is even further explored as we follow his father, Anakin Skywalker, on his journey to becoming the feared and infamous Darth Vader. Unlike Luke, Anakin’s seduction is completed and he falls from the light into the depths of darkness. This transformation is unlike anything we’d seen in Star Wars previously, and it gives us unique insight into what makes the dark side so appealing.
Further, the transformation and seduction we see in the prequels is explored even more in The Force Awakens. Without spoiling anything, we are able to learn more about how people are persuaded to join the dark side regardless if it is damaging to themselves and those around them.
5. The Way of the Jedi
We learn a lot about the Light Side of the force in the original trilogy, thanks to Obi-Wan and Yoda’s guidance as well as Luke’s journey. However, we never get to see what the Jedi Council or Jedi Knights were like when they were actually in use. This is exactly where the prequels succeeds.
While people often complain of senate hearings and council meetings, it is important to learn and understand how these Jedi operated among themselves and the government. We not only get one pair of Jedi with master and padawan, but we are introduced to dozens of Jedi Masters. More interesting than actually seeing all of these different Jedi, we learn why there are no more left by the end of the prequels, thanks to Chancellor Palpatine’s Order 66, in which most of the Jedi were executed by the clone troops they were leading. It was satisfying to finally see why Obi-Wan is forced to go into hiding and how he must remain on of the two last Jedi in the universe for years on end.
Again, without giving anything away, the prequels can definitely be used to remind us how much imbalance can be brought on by the destruction of the Jedi and the fluctuation between the Light and Dark Side.
4. Use The Force
We see Luke train in the ways of the Force when he deflects blasts from the training orb in A New Hope and in the training montage with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. But while Luke did learn a lot from his two mentors, the prequels really give us even more insight into how one goes about learning the ways of the force.
Despite Anakin being too old to start his Jedi training (just like Luke), he is still taught by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Not only do we follow Anakin as he learns how to use the Force and grow more powerful, the prequels also show us glimpses of the Jedi Academy where the ill-fated younglings are being taught.
While The Force Awakens doesn’t offer us much in the ways of training, we are given glimpses into the mental side of the Force that act as a way of “learning” the Force in a new and interesting way. The prequels give us a great sense of how Jedi physically learn and manipulate the Force, leaving the door open to the metaphysical and “spiritual” side to be explored later.
3. Sidious The Sith
One of the best characters in the prequels is Senator, later Supreme Chancellor, and eventually Sith Lord Palpatine. In the original trilogy, Emperor Palpatine was the guiding hand manipulating events from behind the scenes, but in the prequels we get to see how he manipulated his way into the position he now holds. While he still does scheme in the shadows as Darth Sidious, Palpatine also carries on a lot of his political manipulation out in the light of the day. Already knowing how evil and sadistic he becomes, it is interesting to see him work his way into power without directly taking it by force. It reinforces the fact that Darth Sidious isn’t just a master of the Force, but an excellent schemer who proves to be a threat both behind the scenes and in plain sight.
As was announced in various interviews and press releases, Andy Serkis’ Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order is The Force Awakens’ new big bad who manipulates the events of this new film. Like Emperor Palpatine in the original trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke plays a minor but vital role in the film. There are definitely some parallels that are drawn between both of these major characters that the prequels will help you see more clearly.
2. John Williams’ Score Will Still Astound
While the prequels suffered for not having the renowned Lawrence Kasdan come back to help (like he did for The Force Awakens), they did have the masterful music of John Williams to help put some of that old Star Wars magic into the prequels. These three movies undoubtedly have amazing soundtracks that embody the feeling of Star Wars. Widely criticized for not feeling like Star Wars, the one thing that could connect these films is the brilliant music.
Each prequel had at least one standout song from the soundtrack that defines the film and helps cement them into the Star Wars pantheon. For instance, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace had the exciting “Duel of the Fates” that pulls the audience to the edge of their seats during the climactic and stunning lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul. Then Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones had the sweet, but wondrous elements of Star Wars in “Across The Stars.” While this one may not be quite as exciting, it is a worthy love song. Finally, “Battle of the Heroes” in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith gave us a sense of gravitas that needed to be felt considering there are our two heroes, Anakin and Obi-Wan, dueling it out to the death.
All of these great songs may not be the classics that come from the original trilogy, but they will still keep that Star Wars spirit alive enough to keep you excited for The Force Awakens, where John Williams comes back to deliver us an even better soundtrack that melds the old with the new.
1. Lightsaber Battles
Of course the best thing about the prequels by far are the amazing lightsaber duels. Specifically, the three-way fight between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace is astounding. The choreography of this fight and the others is not only superior to anything we’d seen before, but they were all far more entertaining. In the original trilogy, we may have felt the gravitas of each major character who was wielding a saber going at each other, but in the prequels we see just how beautiful they can be. Like actual swordsmanship in real life, the lightsaber battles between both Sith and Jedi prove to be as elegant as they are deadly.
Luckily, The Force Awakens furthers the lightsaber dueling experience. The duels in The Force Awakens may not be elegant like in the prequels, but they aren’t as stiff as they are in the original trilogy either. These new fights are not only ferocious, but visceral. The refined art of the battle is not present in this film, but it is instead replaced by brutality and anger.
With The Force Awakens in theaters and people still flocking to see it, perhaps now you’ve found a reason to do a little prequel marathon before seeing it for yourself. Maybe you’re one of the people who have seen the film multiple times and still plan on seeing it again. Now you have a new way of going in and appreciating not only The Force Awakens but also the films that preceded it.