George Lucas says Jar Jar Binks is his favorite Star Wars character and The Phantom Menace remains one of his favorite movies in the series. Lucas kicked off his Star Wars prequel movie trilogy with The Phantom Menace twenty years ago, followed by Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Together, the three films followed Anakin Skywalker as he grew up and became a legendary Jedi Knight, only to be corrupted by Sheev Palpatine (aka. Darth Sidious) and help him wipe out most of the Jedi Order, transforming into Darth Vader in the process.
While the prequel trilogy remains fairly polarizing within the Star Wars fan community to this day, it's gained more supporters and has arguably been enriched by the Clone Wars animated series in the years since its release. Similarly, many a fan has softened their stance against the Jar Jar Binks character, who was perhaps The Phantom Menace's most reviled element when it first reached theaters. In fact, Lucas has gone so far as to call Jar Jar one of his favorite things about a galaxy far, far away in general.
Speaking at The Phantom Menace panel at Star Wars Celebration 2019, Lucas said Jar Jar "is my favorite character" and The Phantom Menace itself remains one of his favorite Star Wars movies. He went on to praise Ahmed Best for his performance as the Jar Jar character, saying he "did a fantastic job, it was very, very hard".
Interestingly, the Star Wars franchise has taken steps to redeem the Jar Jar character in the seven years since Lucas sold the property and Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. For example, the comic book story collection Star Wars: Age of Republic Special recently made Jar Jar a hero in the Clone Wars, and even had him wielding a lightsaber for a brief moment. Similarly, Chuck Wendig's Aftermath book trilogy revealed what happened to Jar Jar in the wake of the Emperor's defeat in Return of the Jedi, painting him as a tragic figure who was ostracized by society and beset by terrible guilt over the role that he played in aiding Palpatine's rise to power in the first place.
Meanwhile, in the real world, more people have come to appreciate Best's performance in The Phantom Menace and its significance in the history of motion-capture acting over time. The Star Wars community at large further rallied around Best last year, when he admitted that he'd become suicidal in response to the sheer amount of hate aimed at Jar Jar following Episode I's initial release. Whether you share Lucas' feelings about the character or not, there's no denying that he embodies a lot of what Star Wars is about and the idea that everyone has darkness and lightness within them, no matter who they are. And like the man said, Best deserves to be celebrated for tackling what proved to be one heck of a challenging role in the first place.
Source: George Lucas
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019