Warning: Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hit theaters and it is booming. Following the events of the Original Star Wars trilogy, numerous fans were curious to see how much of the prequel trilogy would be incorporated into the film. Some people predicted it would play no role due to the dislike of the trilogy, while others felt that it was mandatory to use pieces of the prequels as it was still canon.
The Force Awakens managed to somehow fulfill both of these prophecies. The movie managed to include elements of the prequels without being ultimately controlled or hindered by them. It was a very well done process that incorporated the canon of the saga and acknowledged its existence without giving it too much of a focus, so as to uphold its own reputation.
Here are 10 ways that the Prequel Trilogy was subtly included in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
At the entrance to Maz's castle on Takadona, numerous banners were hung along the enormous wall. The most prominent banner was the Mandalorian symbol, most commonly associated with Boba Fett. However, some of the other banners are identifiable with the banners and flags seen at the Podracing event from The Phantom Menace.
If you look carefully, you can make some identifications, the most apparent being the blue and yellow banner on the left shaped like an upside down flexed arm. That was the symbol for the Boonta Eve Classic, the Pod Race we witnessed in The Phantom Menace. There are also the flags of the competitors of the race, including Sebulba and even Anakin Skywalker.
2. "The Sith"
Though the term "Sith" may be common knowledge to any Star Wars fan now, it was never mentioned in the original trilogy. It was not until The Phantom Menace that the term was finally introduced to the Star Wars Universe.
The term "Sith" was mentioned by Maz while she was explaining the new rising evil in the galaxy. She said she had seen the Dark Side take many forms, including the Sith, the Empire, and now the First Order. This progression of the Dark Side is exactly how we have seen it on screen. It was a very clever way to introduce the threat of this new trilogy by referencing the threats during the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy.
3. The Jedi Temple
Like the term "Sith," the term "Jedi Temple" was introduced during the prequels. The Jedi Temple we saw in the prequels was the one on Coruscant, led by the Jedi Masters like Yoda and Mace Windu.
The Force Awakens, however, gave us knowledge of another Jedi Temple - specifically, the original one. When Luke went into hiding, he went to the first Jedi Temple, which actually manages to give us more insight to the history of the Jedi that led up to the prequel trilogy. I find it interesting to see this term come up specifically because it will most likely play a larger role in Episode 8 by giving us a large focus on the Jedi and the Jedi Order we witnessed in Episodes I, II and III.
4. The Clone Army
During the Original Trilogy, there was absolutely no mention of the Stormtroopers being clones. Though the "Clone Wars" were mentioned in A New Hope, the Star Wars canon at the time was actually radically different from the Clone Wars canon we know now. As far as the Original Trilogy was concerned, the Stormtroopers were just regular recruits - not clones.
Of course, this was made more clear in the prequels which showed the rise of the clones and their sudden transformation into Stormtroopers. This tidbit of information was mentioned in a conversation between Kylo Ren and General Hux rather early into The Force Awakens. During this conversation, Kylo Ren lectures Hux that his raised Stormtroopers may not be as good and as well trained as the clone army they used to have. This both explains the diversity in the Stormtroopers this time around and lets us know the fate of the clones we met in Attack of the Clones. But who knows, maybe this was just an excuse not to bring Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett) back.
5. The New Republic
By the time we return to the Galaxy Far Far Away in The Force Awakens, a new government has begun running the galaxy known as the New Republic. Clearly, this is just a newer version of the Republic from the prequels with the word "New" slapped on it. But, as long as Jar Jar Binks plays no role in the Republic's power, I'm okay with it.
From the dialogue we were given, it seems as though the New Republic runs just like previous Republic. The only real difference is that this New Republic is (or was) located on Hosnian Prime, not Coruscant. After the destruction of Hosnian Prime, though, it is unknown what became of the New Republic.
6. Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor is the only actor who started in the prequel trilogy to return in a film after Revenge of the Sith (excluding Hayden Christensen's digitally edited cameo in the special edition of Return of the Jedi). This is not surprising as Ewan was, without a doubt, one of the best actors in the prequel trilogy.
McGregor's voice made a cameo during Rey's dream sequence, saying, "These are your first steps." This actually came to a shock to me as it was a full acknowledgement of the prequels' existence in the Universe, including the cast members, which is often the most complained about part of the trilogy. Frank Oz also returned to briefly voice Yoda, however the Yoda voice was more like the Yoda appearing in Episodes V and VI than in I, II and III.
7. The Soundtrack
The most apparent incorporation of the prequel trilogy was in the soundtrack. If you are familiar with the previous Star Wars soundtracks and listen to the tracks from The Force Awakens, you will hear some familiar melodies. Some of these included songs are the clone theme from Attack of the Clones, which was rather similar to the March of the Resistance, and the Duel of Fates from The Phantom Menace, which appeared in a few fight scenes.
This really is not that big of a surprise to some fans because the music of all seven films were done by the amazing John Williams. Williams was already familiar with all of the themes and certainly had quite a lot of fun returning to writing the scores of some of his most popular soundtracks.
I find the incorporation of the prequels interesting as the main purpose of The Force Awakens was to bring about Star Wars nostalgia for the audience. This inclusion of the prequels in the soundtrack, the script, the canon and the cast shows that the nostalgia was not simply directed towards the original trilogy, but rather the entire Star Wars saga. Perhaps it is not too much to think that we will see more of the prequels in later Star Wars films. And, to be honest, as long as there is no Jar Jar and not too much of a focus on the political negotiations, I am perfectly fine with this.