Star Wars was ruined by, “I am your father!”

Well, not ruined per se, but it was something the Prequels and the Sequels haven’t been able to live up to. Or perhaps they forgot about it — a key dramatic element of the Original Trilogy.

Everyone remembers the time they first saw that dramatic scene in Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader tells the young hero Luke Skywalker that he is in fact his father. The shock would plague some of us for nearly 3 years waiting for the release of Return of the Jedi. Yes, I was a kid, 8 years old, back then and saw it in the theater. I’m not sure I even believed it. I figured Vader was lying to Luke just to get him to turn to the Dark Side.

See, I was naive and believed Obi-wan Kenobi when he told Luke that Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father. Yet, once I saw ROTJ and the audience got its confirmation that Ben Kenobi lied, I learned a very important dramatic element of story telling. Some call it the “big reveal” or some might say “the redirect”. The goal is to surprise your audience with some information they weren’t expecting. This information is meant to change the dynamic of the characters relationship with one another. Not only providing melodrama but layers of complexity to the story.

Now, when the Prequels debuted in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, we knew this was going to be a story about a young Anakin Skywalker — Luke’s father. But what we didn’t know was how and what drove Anakin to the Dark Side. So millions of Star Wars fans waited and then we were disappointed. Okay, fine, we saw how he fell to the Dark Side, yet George Lucas made it a very long turn. Instead of something dramatic, we were told that Anakin was troubled and manipulated by Palpatine — spending over a decade slowly mind controlling him.

We all have the version of new Star Wars we wanted in our heads. My imagination over 20 years allowed me to think of a few different versions of the prequels. Yet, I know that is the definition of exaggerated anticipation — and there’s no way to be completely satisfied with the result. This is a common affliction in a Star Wars fan. We put too much of our own desires into future stories that we hopelessly know will never become reality. This is why a Star Wars fan can hate and love a movie at the same time.

In my Star Wars, Anakin fell to the dark side in one tragic and dramatic moment. Something very similar to what we saw in his final moment of his fall in Revenge of the Sith. But something much more powerful. I saw him using the Dark Side only to save someone he loved — i.e. the “young queen” (mother of Luke and Leia) but because it truly was the only way to save them. Almost to say, he sacrificed himself to save them. But this isn’t my point. Yet, I mention it as this could have been the “I am your father” moment. And maybe it should have been.

In all aspects of the Prequels, we never got this “reveal” moment. We were never shocked or surprised by the story. It really felt like the three movies were telegraphed to us in a very long exposition of images. I blame George Lucas for not giving us our surprise. Where was “I am your father” in the Prequels? We didn’t get it! Maybe Palpatine should have told Anakin that he was Anakin’s father? Or that Qui-Got was? Something. This is the same thing that happened in the Sequels. We almost had it with the tease on Rey’s parents but then we didn’t get anything. I believe if we had gotten this moment in Attack of the Clones or in The Last Jedi, those trilogies would be inherently better. But then, what do I know….

Analysis of Star Wars: Queen Amidala

I heard an interesting theory that Queen Amidala was an SJW – a Social Justice Warrior. I found this hilariously inaccurate.

First lets start with some simple definitions courtesy of the internet:

Social Justice (noun) – justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

Social Justice Warrior (noun) – a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views.

Just with these simple definitions, there’s nothing that would point this ideology toward Queen Amidala of the Naboo. For one, I don’t recall Queen Amidala having issues with the Galactic Senate as she wanted to redistribute the wealth of rich businessmen (another thing she’s angry about! why not businesspeople or businessfolk?) and powerful politicians. Nope. Don’t recall that. Oh, it was because Queen Amidala wanted to stop the consumption of Shaak (yes, this is a real creature on Naboo raised for its meat). I think I recall her addressing the Senate on how this eating of meat causes toxic masculinity on those from Naboo and must be stopped. Nope. Second thought, I don’t recall that either. Oh, I know! It was that she insisted that all the future rulers of Naboo must be women! Yeah, that makes since. After Amidala, there was Queen Jamilla and after her, there was Queen Apailana. Yes! That must be it. Although according to canon there was a King before Queen Amidala, I’m sure she straightened that ship and made sure no more men ran Naboo. Perhaps this was the case as the canon does not refer to any other male leaders during and up to the time of the Galactic Empire. Just for the record, this is never stated on screen that Naboo went to a matriarchy society.  

Just the common sense definition of a Social Justice Warrior (or Activist) is someone who wants to change the society in which they live. This isn’t usually political or government level but a cultural change. The acceptance of not eating a certain food, the acceptance of a broad gender rule, or someone who wants the society to stop misusing animals.

Queen Amidala in no way expressed these views during the Prequel Trilogy. She was against an illegal blockade of her planet. This was completely a political move by the Senator from Naboo. Although we don’t understand that directly, we know that it was a way to give power to Palpatine and be sympothized to win the election of Grand Chancellor of the Republic.

The folks that say Amidala is a SJW also like to characterize that the entire Rebellion was a group of Social Justice Warriors. I find this just as ridiculous. The Rebels were not fighting for social change. They were fighting against a oppressive government. Okay I will concede a little…maybe 3%… that one could say fighting an evil tyrant and retorting freedom to the galaxy is a form of social change. Yet, just because I can understand the thought process doesn’t make it correct.

This is just the SJW trying to convince everyone that the term is not a bad thing but a good one. See, that’s what this person that I heard this from actually tried to convince me of. Hog Wash! Don’t be conned by it. The internet usually defines SJW as a bad definition of someone. Not a good one.

Analysis: know the diffference of terms. Don’t bend one into another. Fighting for societal freedom is in most regards the freedom of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This incorporates many different beliefs and cutlture practices. Social Movement Organizations (the institutions of the SJW) often try to push their political correctness on the whole. Examples can be PETA wanting a society that survives by not eating animals or animal products. Since there is nothing legally wrong with eating meat, this is considered a social activism. Do the lines blur? Maybe and could. That’s what’s usually the scary part.

In conclusion: Queen Amidala was not a SJW. Nor was the rebellion. Why? Because the man that created the characters and the story never defined it as so. It was merely a political story about tyranny and freedom – a classic story of good vs. evil. The Star Wars universe is so big, I doubt that one person would be able to change the societal views of millions of different species and cultures…..but what do I know!


George Lucas’ Lord of the Rings….

I find fun to think of “what-if” situations — the alternate history that could have happened if only something played out just slightly different. Similar to my alternate 80s/90s take on a Batman and Superman movie, there could have been another movie produced in the 80s if only the right creative minds had come together.

With the popularity of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, the Tolkien estate wanted to produce Lord of the Rings. There was hope that the animated feature of the 70s would have been their overwhelming achievement. Yet, the two projects just didn’t capture the hearts of minds of fans. So, the Producers decided the story had to be told as a life action movie. Tolkien family wanted something in the likes of Star Wars.

Star Wars was the biggest movie of all time in the 1980s. The three movies of the Star Wars franchise wasn’t just movies it was a licensee jugganaut. From books to toys, the intellectual property would eventually make billions. So, why not Lord of the Rings. After, George Lucas finished with Return of the Jedi and had no future plans of any other Star Wars films, he was the perfect choice for a massive Lord of the Rings project. The project is pitched to Lucasfilm. And in 1984, George Lucas confirms his next film project is Lord of the Rings.

Lucasfilm’s Production of Frodo in Hobbiton.

Being inspired by the books when he was in college, George is excited to tackle the story. One feature that George is most excited about is the story from the perspective of the hobbits — the halflings of Middle Earth. During the writing of Star Wars, George had considered filming it entirely with midgets — or small people. George was fascinated by the courageous “little people” living with the disability. He had worked with them to create iconic characters like Jawas and Ewoks. So, he knew he had to find the right ones to play Merry, Pippin, Samwise, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.

Lucasfilm’s production of Gandalf warning the hobbits of the quest.

George quickly sums it up that if there was 3 books in the Lord of the Rings cycle, then it could only be done with 3 movies – focusing on 1 book per film. With all the pre-production concluded, filming starts in 1985. The first movie is released in 1986 to huge reviews and massive box office returns. The second film arrives 3 years later — in 1989 and the last film — in 1992. Toy stores were flooded with Lord of the Rings action figures, board games and puzzles. Kids would hit the first day of school with Frodo and the all seeing Eye of Sauron t-shirts. Lucasfilm stuns the world with 3 massive trilogies — Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Lord of the rings.

Lucasfilm’s production of Aragon and Frodo.

This would have blown our geek and nerdy minds…. And possibly put a new level to those that enjoyed D&D and modern fantasy!

[note: this is not real but a possible history in film. Images are from Willow.]