Every fandom has its hated element. For Star Trek, it's the new movies (and the odd numbered old movies). For X-Men, it's The Last Stand. And for Star Wars, it's the prequels. Even suggesting that you enjoyed the prequel trilogy is enough to get you a world of hate-filled comments online, and it's easy to understand why.
After decades of expectation and buildup, the prequels were an absolute mess on pretty much every level, from the stilted writing to the static direction, and the less said about Jar Jar Binks the better. Admittedly, the CGI was pretty good for the time... but it was horrendously overused.
Yet, there are people who love the prequels, some ironically (it's-so-bad-it's-good?), some out of childhood nostalgia, and some just genuinely like them. Rogue One's Riz Ahmed, who plays ex-Imperial officer Bodhi Rook, is one of these people, and he defended the prequels when speaking to Screencrush.
"I did not have a massive problem with the prequels at all, There were some elements that stood out. Jar Jar Binks, I didn’t enjoy him as a character. But people had a problem with them because they weren’t broad and tough and cheek. I enjoy that. I enjoy the fact that it was about grown-up politics and the dissolution of the League of Nations and World War and the rise of fascism. I really enjoyed that, and I really enjoyed 'Clone Wars'."
The animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars continues to be a fan fave — this series follows the adventures of Obi Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka Tano (Anakin's padawan) between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Exploring themes from the movies this show fills in many of the prequels' plot holes, and it does the apparently impossible: It makes Anakin Skywalker a likable character.
Clone Wars has a lasting reputation, even contributing the character of Saw Gerrera to Rogue One, and it wouldn't exist were it not for the prequels. But even without The Clone Wars, the prequels do stand on their own merit — in a way.
Rogue One & The Prequels Have A Lot In Common
As Ahmed says, the prequels explore the corruption at the root of the Republic that allowed Palpatine to rise to power. The politics may be a bit dry at times, and the armies we're supposed to root for are utterly disposable (droids vs clones? Not great for building tension), but ultimately the prequels tried to do something different with #StarWars, and in some ways they succeeded.
After all, the political commentary on how people can be taken in by an evil dictator just because he's a dynamic public speaker, leading to the dissolution of democracy as we know it... well, that's become all the more pertinent recently, hasn't it?
And of course, the prequels offer a different perspective on the Star Wars galaxy, which is something we hope Rogue One will do, too.
"I really don't see what the big problem is, to be quite honest. If all Star Wars movies were the same, it'd be boring. I hope each new movie adds a new dimension, and I think that's certainly what Rogue One does."
Rogue One, which has so far garnered mainly positive reviews, also challenges us to see beyond the tried-and-tested structure of Star Wars — resulting in a film that is by all accounts the gritty, space opera / war movie we've always wanted from the franchise.
So maybe it's time for us to forgive the prequels: They may not have been the best movies in the world, but they did try to do something different with the source material. And for many of us, the prequels were our first introduction to Star Wars — they were marketed to us millennials when we were kids, and many of us delighted in the podraces, in Padme's beautiful clothes, in the brotherhood shared by Anakin and Obi Wan. And hell, some kids even liked Jar Jar Binks.
Bottom line is: It's a pretty dick move to tell people what they're supposed to like, and to criticize them when they don't agree with you. Like Ahmed says, there isn't really a "big problem" if someone enjoys the Star Wars prequels.
But here's hoping Rogue One is better.
Do you like the 'Star Wars' prequels?