Star Wars 9 has an amazing opportunity to perfectly close the story George Lucas told in the Star Wars prequels. Since cameras rolled, Episode IX has been billed as the end of the Skywalker Saga that Lucas began in 1977 with Star Wars, something that has been reiterated by all involved, most recently Oscar Isaac (via The Today Show): "It is the end of the entire Skywalker saga. Nine stories, and this is the culmination of the thing, and I think what J.J.’s done, and really the whole Lucas team, is going to be incredibly fulfilling."
That quote makes clear we're talking an end to all the movies in the Skywalker Saga, including the Star Wars prequels and not just A New Hope onwards as some would be inclined to believe. When Disney first bought Lucasfilm in 2012, many were still burned the more slapdash writing and immediately dated effects of the heavily-hyped Episodes I-III and so it was believed the House of Mouse would carefully sidestep anything with even a tangential relationship to Jar Jar Binks. And yet not only has the new era of Lucasfilm roundly embraced The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith - this year's Star Wars Celebration is themed around Episode I for its 20th anniversary - fans have become to warm to Lucas' messy-but-driven films in the wake of the massive divide in the wake of Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
If Isaac's words are to be believed, then Star Wars 9 isn't just closing the book on the stories of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Rey and Kylo Ren, but also those began in the prequel trilogy. And that's a good thing, because when it comes to the real meaning of this entire saga, it doesn't make sense without ideas first laid down in The Phantom Menace.
- This Page: The Star Wars Prequel Story Isn't Complete (And The Sequels Have Continued It)
- Page 2: How Star Wars 9 Can Finish The Prequels Properly
The Star Wars Sequels Are Already Prequel-Influenced
The new Star Wars canon has been primarily focused on the sequel trilogy and expanding the world of the originals, but that doesn't mean there's not been a place for the prequels. Star Wars Rebels, the first official piece of new canon, was a stealth sequel to The Clone Wars, and both Star Wars Stories, Rogue One and Solo, have co-opted prequel ideas to tell the story of the Empire's rise; most overtly Bail Organa and Darth Maul respectively, but the Easter eggs are plentiful.
But even in the banner sequel trilogy, the prequels can be felt. Star Wars: The Force Awakens shied away from anything too overt, having to essentially soft reboot the franchise with multiple generations of fans, yet still managed to slip in references to Clone armies and a Coruscant-style Republic capital. Most importantly, its opening line discussed "balance in the Force", a concept first introduced in The Phantom Menace; from the very start, the sequels were rooted in the prophecy and spiritualism of the prequels.
This was properly expanded upon in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Luke's exile was ostensibly a reaction to having Ben Solo turn to the dark side as a result of his own actions, but the legend's continued resistance to the Force was rooted in a dislike of Jedi dogma and prophecy, with a tirade to Rey that summarized the events of the prequel trilogy and even namechecked Darth Sidious. While the notion that the Jedi were hypocritical and outmoded was seeded in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi when Yoda and Obi-Wan commanded Luke to kill his father, incorrectly believing him beyond hope, it was only in the prequels that the full subversion of the heroic space knights really came to the fore; and it's this version of the Jedi, stoic monks that enabled galactic catastrophe, that has so repulsed Luke.
And that's nothing for how Kylo Ren holds up a mirror to pre-suit Anakin Skywalker, showing a powerful young man wronged by his elders who finds solace in power that eventually corrupts him. The Last Jedi ends with Ben Solo having killed his master, Snoke, and assuming the mantle of Supreme Leader; going into Star Wars 9, he is now the unhinged monster that the prequels teased his grandfather could become.
The Star Wars Prequels Left A Lot Unresolved
In all this discussion of Star Wars prequel ideas and themes, it's worth noting there was a lot left unsaid when what was then the final film ended in 2005. From a narrative perspective, these movies are rather tight, if anything too much so: the ending of Revenge of the Sith beelines right into the status quo of A New Hope (despite the 19-year-gap), seeing every major original trilogy character slot into place. That's fine enough, but this ending didn't quite resolve everything that Lucas had discussed.
Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, yet so many of the core questions surrounding his fall remain. Were the Jedi doomed to failure? What was the true nature of the prophecy: what do "Chosen One" and "Balance in the Force" really mean? Who was Darth Plagueis and how does he connect to Anakin's immaculate conception? How did Qui-Gon learn the "path to immortality" and Force ghosts?
Some of these questions have been given answers or expansions by non-movie canon. The Clone Wars brought Qui-Gon back a few more times while a recent comic confirmed that, as suspected, Palpatine created Anakin as a tool to bring down the Jedi. But the fact those heavily-hinted outcomes needed such overt clarification attests to how unclear so many of the spiritual ideas of Episodes I-III were. That the prophecy and belief in a Chosen One was itself a mistake is clear, but because these ideas weren't ever a part of the original trilogy, it's unclear what conclusion we're meant to draw from Vader's eventual redemption; was he the Chosen One after all, was it Luke, or is the whole idea of destiny mute against family and love? You can have it any, all and none of these ways. And that's where Star Wars 9 can come in.
Page 2 of 2: How Star Wars 9 Can Finish The Prequels Properly
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019