Or is it? George Lucas’ prequel trilogy did far more than tell the story of Father’s rise. It also revised the legacy of the Jedi, and therefore the legacy of the franchise itself. The famous Jedi Council was revealed not to be a bastion of wisdom and nobility and truth, but flawed, even corrupt: perfectly capable of manipulation and deception. In short, a colossal failure. Yoda failed Dooku, just as Obi-Wan failed Anakin and the galaxy along with him.
This was world-building – world-rebuilding – at its best. To go back and see the originals again, in the light of prequels, was to gain a deeper understanding of Luke’s Lightness, his goodness. The only reason he would have become an evil agent, it was now clear, was if he became one listened to Yoda and did not save his friends. On one level or another, Luke had perceived the failure of the Jedi, their resort to dogmatism and arrogant omniscience, and sought to break the pattern. That is why this list sets The attack of the clones near the top and Sithens revenge by itself. If a new story in a franchise deepens or expands, rather than limits or undermines, your idea and enjoyment of an original, it’s worth it – and can plausibly be considered better.
Not that JJ Abrams understood this. When he went to make his contribution to the Skywalker saga – episodes VII-IX, produced all three, directed the first and the third – he did not look to prequels for inspiration as he should have done. He looked at the originals.
The result, some say, was “shelves” for Lucas, loving reconstructions that introduced the archetypal storytelling of Star Wars to a new generation. This is hovey. Abrams’ film was, to put it bluntly, first-order plagiarism, a copy-and-paste made even more shameful by the implication that having a female lead in Daisy Ridley’s Rey was all it took to legitimize the effort. So his film must, in any order and certainly in this one, not appear anywhere but dead last. The characters and plot points were so attached to their counterparts in the original story, Abrams’ failure of imagination so total that the trilogy threatens to destroy, to this day, the legacy of the entire franchise.
That is again why this list hates lists. Because as much as Abrams is to blame for the general worthlessness of Rey’s journey to Jedi Judgment – and he is, in fact – lists, especially those that only serve to recapitulate norms, are just as, and perhaps even more, responsible . Lazy, lame, dull, lacking, such lists are. By constantly supporting the glory of the old, they inflict their own risk aversion on the outside, poisoning the audience with a conservatism in fundamental opposition to the liberating art of storytelling. As a result, fandoms, far from welcoming radical change, demand fidelity, loyaltyto tradition.
Over the years, certain parts of the Star Wars fandom have proven to be exactly that: backwards in the extreme and thus unwelcome of transformation. Not wise, in other words, or noble or true, but flawed, even corrupt – men’s fault. How great this sodality is has never been entirely clear. What’s clear is this: They’re out there now, and they’re holding us back.
And they are most likely many of you: the audience for an article like this. Ask yourself, as Yoda once asked Luke: Why are you here? Because if it’s to quarrel and show off and police and hate – and what else would it be? – an evil agent, you are already. Seeking out the locations of Star Wars movies, reading list after list after bullshit list, is ultimately to justify your obsession and nostalgia for a dying franchise: the endless hours you have spent rediscovering its meaningless details. If only you had friends to flee to. If only you had real people to save.