Star Wars may take place in the past (in a galaxy far, far away), but that doesn’t mean the technology in the films isn’t lightyears ahead of what’s available in the real world now. Even so, sometimes the weapons, spaceships, gadgets, and gizmos seen in the saga are a little bit too advanced for the in-universe time period in which they appear.
This is especially the case in the prequel trilogy; indeed, Episodes I-III are littered with examples of hardware that’s as good (or better) than what’s on offer in either the original or sequel trilogies. Sure, you can explain away at least some of these continuity discrepancies – for instance, just because modern visual effects make a starship look prettier doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a better vehicle – but the examples on this list really don’t make sense!
If there’s one thing Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith do a great job on, is illustrating that Clone Troopers are vastly superior to Battle Droids. So, we totally understand why these robot soldiers were considered obsolete by the time the events of the original Star Wars trilogy rolled around.
But what about the Droidekas? Packing serious heat along with shield generators, these crab-like mobile weapon platforms had few weaknesses and proved a handful for virtually any opponent – and that includes Jedi Knights! To be honest, Droidekas are more effective than any frontline grunt (robotic or otherwise) seen in Episodes IV-VI, which means they’re probably too high-tech to belong in the prequels.
9 The Scimitar
Otherwise known as the Sith Infiltrator, the Scimitar was the starship piloted by Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. Now, based on what we see on screen, there’s very little to earmark the Scimitar as being implausibly cutting-edge for its day. But a quick flip through the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic book series raises a pretty big red flag: the ship’s cloaking device.
See, according to Captain Needa in The Empire Strikes Back, no ship the Scimitar’s size has the necessary specs to support cloaking technology – and this is more than 30 years after The Phantom Menace is set. True, the Sith Infiltrator is established to be a highly experimental craft, however, the idea that similar vehicles aren’t more common decades later is hard to swallow.
8 Clone Trooper Armor
The Mandalorian armor sported by the likes of Jango and Boba Fett will never go out of style, even though its basic design dates back 500 years. Not only is the distinctive protective kit highly effective despite its ancient origins – it was purpose-built with fighting Jedi in mind, remember – but its cultural significance means that no Mandalorian would ever think of replacing it. The same level of reverence shouldn’t apply to outsiders, however.
So why does the Empire (and later, the First Order) persist with Mandalorian-inspired armor designs for so long? After all, there’s very little obvious improvement between the clone trooper armor that debuts in Episode II and the stormtrooper outfits that supersede them from Episode IV onwards. So either armor fabrication techniques didn’t improve in over 50 years, or clone trooper armor was much better than it had any right to be to begin with!
7 Gungan Blast Shields
It’s fair to say that Naboo’s amphibious race, the Gungans, aren’t exactly the most beloved alien species in Star Wars canon. But they can at least lay claim to one genuinely impressive invention: the portable blast shield generator. Capable of withstanding a blaster cannon bombardment indefinitely, these movable defenses are arguably the best protection against a land-based assault seen in the entire saga.
Yeah, they have one glaring flaw: Gungan shields only work against energy blasts; infantry units can muscle through them with comparative ease. Yet this shortcoming can easily be mitigated with proper strategic thinking, and the only reason we can think of why tech this good doesn’t appear in the original trilogy is that franchise creator George Lucas simply hadn’t dreamed it up yet!
In the real world, communications technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed, but the same doesn’t seem to apply to Star Wars’ galaxy far, far away. There, holograms – the main method of making and receiving calls and displaying information – has remained virtually static between the prequel and sequel trilogies, a gap of almost 60 years!
The closest holographic hardware has come to an appreciable upgrade is showcased in The Force Awakens. Here, Supreme Leader Snoke’s oversized projection comes through devoid of the blueish tinge associated with technology. But frankly, that’s not much of a jump, and what’s worse, most holographic projections in the prequel trilogy are cosmetically superior to those seen in the original trilogy, despite being supposedly more primitive.
5 The Millennium Falcon
Full disclosure: this entry is more than a little harsh. How else would you describe taking Revenge of the Sith to task over a minor background Easter egg that was intended to amuse eagle-eyed fans? But part of the fun of Star Wars is in pouring over its many little details, and the YT-1300 Corellian freighters that can be glimpsed docked at the Galactic Senate building in Episode III is… problematic.
Why? Well, the saga’s most iconic vehicle, the Millennium Falcon is a YT-1300 model light freighter. Based off the YT-1300s seen in Revenge of the Sith, the Falcon has therefore been around at least half a century by the time The Force Awakens goes down – and official tie-in media suggests it’s closer to 90 years old at that point! Even with a million modifications, are we seriously supposed to believe that the Falcon is good enough to survive dogfights with far newer starfighters? Sounds like an impossibly good make of starship, if you ask us.
4 Seismic Charges
One of the most memorable moments during the interstellar dogfight between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones sees Fett unleash seismic charges against his Jedi foe. The results are nothing short of spectacular, as the explosives shear through the surrounding asteroid field with devastating ease.
This leaves us wondering why these babies never crop up in the original Star Wars trilogy. Take the Empire’s pursuit of the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back – compared to what we’ve seen seismic charges do in a similar scenario, the Tie Bomber’s proton bombs are pitiful by comparison!
3 3PO Units
Star Wars mainstays C-3PO and R2-D2 aren’t exactly spring chickens. Indeed, The Phantom Menace establishes that both were online 32 years prior to the events of A New Hope – so they’re clearly verging on obsolete by the time we reach the original trilogy. Or are they?
Certainly, C-3PO doesn’t seem to have been overtaken by newer models in the generation since he was manufactured. On the contrary, 3PO units are commonplace in Episodes IV-VI – and not just among the resources-strapped Rebellion. So either protocol droid technology has seriously plateaued, or the 3PO model was implausibly ahead of its time.
2 Darth Vader’s Life Support System
Over the course of its 140-minute runtime, Revenge of the Sith plays host to not one but two walking hospital beds: Darth Vader and General Grievous. Yet while both mechanized menaces rely on mobile life support systems to survive, Vader’s breathing apparatus – only a few years older than Grievous’ own – is markedly better.
True, both Grievous’ alien physiology and the severity of his injuries differed significantly from his Sith Lord counterpart (it’s presumably harder to keep a pile of organs alive than it is a dismembered torso). Even so, aside from his trademark heavy breathing, Vader otherwise functions unimpeded, whereas the droid general’s body is constantly wracked by hacking coughs. Our diagnosis? Grievous’ galactic healthcare plan was terrible, or Vader had the inside track on medical technology well beyond what should strictly have been available to him at the time!
1 Slave I
A heavily modified patrol and attack craft, Slave I was best-in-class when Jango Fett was at the helm during the Clone Wars. When Fett kicked the bucket in Attack of the Clones, his son (or to be more precise, clone) Boba inherited Slave I, and it’s not surprising that Fett Junior relied on his old man’s souped-up starship to kick-start his own bounty hunting career. But why is he still flying around in it during The Empire Strikes Back?
Think about it: Slave I is over 20 years old by this point – surely Boba should have traded it in for something a bit more modern? Yes, it was father’s ship, but Boba already indulges whatever traces of sentimentality reside within his ruthless soul by wearing Jango’s armor into battle. So, if we rule out mawkishness on Boba’s part, the only remaining rationale for him keeping Slave I is that it’s way better than any starship from the prequel era has the right to be!