For years, The Phantom Menace was dissed by a great many Star Wars fans. It was held up as the worst of this sci-fi series, and fans picked apart everything from the silly characters to the abundant CGI. However, this movie and the rest of the prequels have gathered a renewed popularity in recent years, especially with hot subreddits showing us how funny these movies can be.
There's more to The Phantom Menace than a chance for easy laughs, though. The movie and its characters actually have a lot of hidden depth, and time has revealed what a great debt later Star Wars mythology owes to the foundation established by this film.
Skeptical? We don't blame you. There's a lot of hate for this awesome movie, and it's easy to get swept up in it. But we all know that hate leads to suffering, so we'd like to convince you in the language that best captures the prequel spirit: memes.
These aren't just any memes, either. Even as they make you laugh, these memes will help make the case for just how good The Phantom Menace really is.
Keep scrolling to access the Jedi Archive and find Star Wars: 15 Memes That Show The Phantom Menace Makes Too Much Sense!
15 Fun New Villains
When people diss the characters in The Phantom Menace, they’re usually thinking about Jar-Jar Binks.
To be fair, Jar-Jar is quite possibly the worst thing to happen to Star Wars. But he shouldn’t be the reason you overlook the fact that the movie added lots of fun new villains.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that the new droids really stole the show. Almost two decades later, fans still find themselves saying “roger, roger” when people ask a question, just like the Battle Droids do.
The Droidekas like the one pictured showed us how even a simple droid could sometimes be a match for a Jedi. In that sense, even these fun villains also served as an ominous warning about how vulnerable these powerful heroes truly are.
14 Mighty Midichlorians
To this day, the word “midichlorians” will make some Star Wars fans start cursing. They saw the introduction of this idea as a way of essentially ruining the magic and mysticism of The Force.
This meme helps remind us that the midichlorians actually make perfect sense.
Think about it: we can say The Force moves in mysterious ways, but it doesn’t change the fact that only living beings can access it and that some have more command of it than others. If you imagine midichlorians to be like mitochondria in our galaxy, it makes a lot of sense: mitochondria fuels our greatest athletes, and these athletes have more of them than amateurs do. And you even inherit mitochondria, which helps explain that “powerful Skywalker blood” Luke talks about.
13 Dynamic Character
Anakin Skywalker is the other major controversial character in The Phantom Menace. This is mostly due to the fact that he was not what fans expected: they wanted a brooding proto-Vader, and they got a sweet kid who only became nasty later on. This meme reminds us that this was the whole point!
The prequels and even the original trilogy are basically the story of Darth Vader: his rise, ruination, and redemption. If he had just been brooding and angry from the beginning, he wouldn’t have much of an arc. Instead, we get a character who is actually dynamic and whose changes we can chart from movie to movie, adding to his depth and complexity. In this sense, Anakin is more dynamic than Luke, who only seems to change in the decades between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi!
12 Sick Choreography
When people rush to dunk on The Phantom Menace, they often overlook something the movie did really well. It gave us basically our coolest onscreen lightsaber battle that fans had ever seen, putting Jedi Master Qui-Gonn Jinn and young Obi-Wan Kenobi against the new Sith menace, Darth Maul. What made this so unforgettable and so awesome was the choreography!
This silly meme shows us three combatants delicately arranging a painting.
However, it underscores how every moment of their famous lightsaber fight was itself a delicate work of art. To this day, every frame of that battle is rich, complex, and innovative. Throw in the epic “Duel of the Fates” music and you can see why this Phantom Menace scene stands the test of time!
11 Rebel, Rebel
In many ways, Qui-Gon Jinn was a Jedi unlike any we had seen before. While he was wise and powerful, he was also frequently clashing with other Jedi. We even find out later that his own master was Count Dooku, who ultimately went to the Dark Side. This meme reminds us of why this is so interesting.
In short, we had never had much of an onscreen Jedi “rebel” before. Everyone else seemed to toe the line with regard to the Jedi Council, but Qui-Gonn knew that they weren’t always right and that Jedi had a moral duty to defy them in these cases. Older Luke Skywalker basically gives us a “Qui-Gonn was right” validation when he points out how the Jedi all got destroyed at the height of their power because they were too focused on the old way of doing things.
10 War: What Is It Good For?
As this meme jokes, it’s pretty easy to say Qui-Gonn was bad at his job. Considering all of the subsequent war and conflict in the galaxy, he must have been the worst peace negotiator ever, right? However, the meme also shows us how pivotal The Phantom Menace is to the Star Wars mythology.
The earliest Star Wars movies were basically elemental: good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and so on. However, Phantom Menace shows us Palpatine’s extremely long-term plan and how masterfully he set up his future domination. Despite the haters, this plan was in place for years.
From the original Star Wars novelization prologue: “Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic.” Those “organs” sound like the Trade Federation!
9 Sith and Myth
By now, the whole “Sith Code” thing is burned into many fans’ brains. We understand that there is always a master and an apprentice. However, as this funny meme helps underscore, this was not actually widespread knowledge when Phantom Menace came out.
Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, and Phantom Menace in 1999. In the sixteen years in between, various novels, games, and comics gave us adventures of various “Dark Jedi,” and there seemed to be no magical number when it came to them. In Phantom Menace, Lucas reined this in and pointed out that when it comes to actual Sith, their squad only rolls two deep. Star Wars mythology was never the same again, as this influence continues to be felt in movies like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
8 Before It Was Cool
Fun fact about all that Jar-Jar hate: fans didn’t really dislike his character until he opened his mouth. In all fairness, almost every line of dialogue gives you a new reason to hate him. If you can look past the bizarre patois he speaks in, you’ll understand what this meme is trying to tell you.
Jar-Jar was actually a really impressive design.
First, he’s impressive from a strictly technical level, showing us how versatile CGI could be. Second, his design is really iconic: in a crowded Star Wars cantina, he’s not going to blend into the background but immediately stands out. Finally, he clearly laid the groundwork for the Porgs, who are also cute CGI designs that omit Jar-Jar’s fatal flaw by never actually saying anything!
7 Scary Jedi
Fans tend to remember Qui-Gon as a tragic character, mostly due to his untimely demise at the hands of Darth Maul. However, this meme helps to underscore what a scary fighter he could be when he wanted. As it turns out, that was vitally important to the whole Star Wars story!
First, it’s viscerally cool for fans to see how scary Qui-Gon can be. The original trilogy mostly portrayed the Jedi as underdog losers, but here he is showing that almost nothing can stop him. This also lays the seed for darker storylines where not only are the Jedi all destoyed by the Empire, but most of the galactic public seems okay with it. This is likely because they saw the Jedi as scary and intimidating rather than wise and helpful.
6 Fun for Young and Old
The debate over The Phantom Menace sometimes centers on who its audience is. Some fans, for instance, point to silly kid dialogue and farting desert creatures as proof that this is just a movie for children. As this meme shows us, though, the answer is actually much more complex.
At its best, Star Wars has always appealed to kids and adults in different ways.
Kids see A New Hope and focus on the cool battles while adults watch it and realize George Lucas has reinvented Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey.” Does Phantom Menace have stuff aimed squarely at kids? Sure. But it also has political maneuvering, prophecy, and heroic sacrifice, all of which appeals more to adults. George Lucas understood that is was okay to appeal to both groups at the same time!
5 Dynamic Duo
Before the movie came out, there was a bit of trepidation about the main villains. Sure, Palpatine was good at being bad in Return of the Jedi, but would he still work as a subtle manipulator? Would this new Darth Maul guy work well as part of Team Sith?
While goofy, this meme serves to remind us that Palpatine and Maul actually were a very intimidating team.
They each worked well as individual threats, but when they appear on the holo-call together, the aliens are utterly terrified. It’s a nice moment that sells the idea that, while there may only be two of these guys, they are scary enough to keep an entire galaxy in check. If we had not believed their threat in this moment, then the rest of the trilogy falls apart!
4 Best Villain Ever
We’ve had a lot of Star Wars since Phantom Menace came out. We’ve gotten to see more Sith and other villains challenge our best and brightest heroes. This meme reminds us of a simple truth.
After all this time, Darth Maul is still one of the greatest villains in Star Wars.
As it points out, he was a man of few words. Nobody remembers this character for his great dialogue. Instead, they remember him for his satanic appearance, his fierce lightsaber moves, and his utter ruthlessness. We get an entire movie showing us what an awesome Jedi Qui-Gon is, and Darth Maul takes our hero out with seemingly little effort.
Let’s be real: Darth Maul was cooler in this one movie than Kylo Ren has been in two movies!
3 Not Just a Pretty Face
Portraying Amidala, the future mother of Princess Leia, was always going to be difficult. Leia herself managed to perfectly balance being a princess with fierceness and fighting skills. Even as the series stuck her in things like golden bikinis, she was never just a pretty face, and she was always inspiring.
This funny meme helps remind us of just how well Queen Amidala was able to channel that complex Leia legacy. The Queen is not someone who cares about looking beautiful to others: instead, she wants others to see her as someone who will go to any lengths to protect her planet. We get to see her live up to this awesome reputation throughout the entire film.
Unlike Anakin, she is able to put on her “mask” of sorts without it defining everything she is, showing what a strong character she really is.
2 The Early Years
By now, the idea of Obi-Wan winning with “the high ground” has been memed to the moon and back. However, this meme gives it a new spin by applying it to The Phantom Menace. It helps to showcase something really important about this movie.
On a fundamental level, it is really cool seeing young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Previously, we had only known him as a wise Jedi Master. Here, though, we see him as impetuous, sarcastic, and torn between the Jedi Council's ideals and the teachings of Qui-Gonn. His appearance in this movie and in the other prequels makes Obi-Wan finally feel like a fully formed and three-dimensional character instead of a simple archetype, such as “wise mentor.” After this film, we were fully onboard with the idea of an Obi-Wan movie!
1 Origin of Evil
Perhaps no character has been memed quite as much as Emperor Palpatine. In fact, he's basically the mascot for the amazing /PrequelMemes subreddit. This character goes by other names at times (“Darth Sidious” to his allies and “The Senate” to cheeky fans everywhere). This meme, though, reminds us of the depth hidden in that cloak of his.
The Palpatine of Return of the Jedi was an outlandish, mustache-twirling villain. There simply wasn't time to develop his character any further. However, The Phantom Menace kicked off our exploration of this character's motivations and his unique view on The Force. As with Obi-Wan, it gave us a greater opportunity to get to know someone we barely knew in the original trilogy, resulting in a deeper understanding of his character arc.
Do you have any Phantom Menace memes to share? Leave them in the comments!