Now that Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace has been rereleased into theaters in 3D I thought this might be a good time to post this idea. I’ve been thinking about this for a few years.
First of all, I grew up on Star Wars. I was a total Star Wars freak. Before the Prequels came out I was scouring the internet for information. Me and my friends lined up 6 hours before the midnight premier of The Phantom Menace. Even though it’s not a very good movie, I saw it twice in the theaters in the first 24 hours of it’s release. Why? Becuase I had waited so long to see a new Star Wars movie, I wanted more. Is the Phantom Menace good? No way. It’s pretty terrible. Are there a few cool scenes, moments in it? Yes, yes there are. I’ll touch on those in a bit.
This post is a musing about the prequels. What if we could go back in time and erase them from existence and come up with something that was way better? Imagine that! No Jar-Jar, no kid actors, no poop jokes, no midichlorians. Then imagine that instead of George Lucas directing the non action scenes in some boring, lazy way, a young hungry director is hired to give each installment a different feel.
There will also have to be a few adjustments to the setting of the Star Wars galaxy, which won’t change anything in the original movies. Here they are:
1. The Size of the Republic. The Republic isn’t made up of thousands of “star systems”. There are only a few hundred. Still a big number, but not so huge (like in the actual prequels) that it becomes impossible to get your mind around how anything could possibly be organized. So there are just less planets inhabited by different species. Therefore the Galactic Senate wouldn’t be a room with 10,000 representatives, but rather something more manageable like the U.S. House of Representatives. Makes more sense from a practical standpoint.
2. The Jedi. There are way less Jedi. Instead of there being a few thousand Jedi, there are just a three or four hundred. The Jedi are always looking for new recruits, they test people in their early teen years for strength in “The Force”, and if they show a great proclivity towards it they are recruited to the Jedi Academy. This eliminates any need to have any children in the movies, and ultimately eliminates the need for Darth Vader to slaughter children later, which was just stupid. Also, the Jedi are rarely at “home base” and are usually out on assignment. Kind of like Catholic priests, most priests don’t live in the Vatican, they are stationed somewhere to be priests. Jedi should be similarly dispersed. A few Jedi per planet. Finally, each Jedi actually has a personality, and there is nothing wrong with that. They aren’t all trying to be boring (unlike the prequels).
3. No trade disputes. I’ll get to the issues that drive the plot later. This stuff bored people to death.
4. The Force. It is entirely mystical, no science. No one understands it, and there are no midiclorians.
5. Some of the same characters. In the new prequels, we will keep several of the characters from the original prequels, but give them slight adjustments in characterization. So, if you read a familiar name, just pretend it looks like the old character, but isn’t necessarily the exact same. I’ll explain as I go.
6. No robot armies. Period.
7. I'm not married to any of these names I've created, so don't get hung up on that.
With all that in mind, here is the reimagined Episode I….
Set up (Something like this would crawl up the screen, just like every other Star Wars movie).
“It is a time of unrest and uncertainty in the Republic. A new threat has arrived and threatened the peaceful existence of hundreds of systems. Terrorists lead by the mysterious and charismatic Meruvius have caused havoc and destruction throughout the galaxies. Fear has gripped the peaceful inhabitants of many planets as the terrorists, in their quest to destroy the Republic and bring Meruvius to intergalactic power have sought to create disunity and death to every system.
The Republic Senate has asked Yoda, the Jedi Master, to send two Jedi to the planet of Naboo (Obi-Wan’s home planet) to investigate recent terrorist uprisings and attacks. Yoda has assigned Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Their assignment is to investigate the terrorist network and bring light to it’s workings and leadership. While stationed on Naboo they are also assigned to recruit and test potential Jedi….”
Big Opening Action Sequence
The camera then pans down (just as it does in every Star Wars movie) to a ship. Aboard this ship we meet Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as they discuss the nature of the terrorist attacks and the problem of Meruvius in general. They discuss Republic intelligence has lead them to planet Naboo in search of the terrorist network, and they are highly suspicious that there is an attack imminent on this very planet. They also discuss their secret plan in conjunction with the government of planet Naboo to create a “radar net” around the planet to keep anyone from leaving in case of an attack. It is during this conversation that we learn that the “radar net” is in place, and only needs to be activated.
As the ship with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan is about to land there is a huge explosion in the distance, and chaos erupts. Instead of landing they direct the ship towards the explosion and the chaos, as they both indicate that something about the explosion involves The Force. They quickly arrive to utter chaos and destruction and leave their ship running against a river of people fleeing the destruction (think 911). Bodies are everywhere, and a building is about to collapse. They both see 2 black robed figures who are clearly trying to help the building topple using the force. They rush to engage them at which point the black figures recognize them for Jedi and flee. The Jedi make chase, and all kinds of crazy force throwing of objects ensues. Eventually one of the black robed figures stops to fight them, Obi-Wan engages him in a lightsaber duel that ends with the black robed figures death.
Obi-Wan then makes out towards where Qui-Gon and the other black robed dude went, chasing after them by using the force/following the mayhem created by black robed dude’s creating all kinds of force thrown obstacles to distract Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon chases the villain into the half destroyed building, more insanity, including our first view of this bad guy’s light saber, which he uses to slash through some metal structure that is barring his way. When bad dude emerges through the passage he has created with his light saber he finds two young men, trying to pry open a door (or window) to escape from the burning/collapsing building. He tosses them aside using the force. They lie in a semi-conscious heap on the floor as he rips cuts the door free with his lightsaber. Just as he frees it, in bursts Qui-Gon with lightsaber ready to rock. Bad dude looks at Qui-Gon and then at the two dudes laying on the floor and force throws the wrecked door at the 2 guys laying on the floor. He simultaneously jumps out the door and lands on his ship, which several of his henchmen have flown to meet him.
Qui-Gon uses the force to stop the door from crushing the 2 guys on the floor, then rushes to look out the door to see where bad dude went. He watches as the guy zips away, and just then Obi-Wan rushes in. Both men have their lightsaber’s still on, as they turn to check on the 2 guys on the floor. One is totally unconscious and the other is clearly afraid of them and delirious. As they walk towards him, we see through his eyes that they look like they are approaching to do him harm (he is mistaking them for the evil black robe dude) at which point he reaches to grab something to throw at them. He can’t move, and grasps with great futility towards a big chunk of cement (or something else heavy and softball sized). His desperation is clear on his face, and as he reaches for it, suddenly the chunk of cement moves to his hand, he grasps it and throws it at the 2 Jedi. Qui-Gon catches it, he and Obi-Wan look at each other with a great deal of suprise and the guy on the ground passes out.
Time for some explanation and plot building
Cut to next scene and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are having a teleconference with Yoda and his right hand man, also a Jedi, named Ethril Palpatine (yes, that Palpatine, this whole thing makes more sense if the dude is a Jedi). They have a discussion about the attack and are then assigned to hunt down the mysterious Sith (at this point they’ve figured out this is some kind of Dark Jedi). This creates a nice detective story for the Jedi. The two Jedi leave their room and we get to see what it’s like for Obi-Wan to be back on his home planet, he’s a bit of a celebrity. He and Qui-Gon discuss the inherent weirdness of being back on Obi-Wan’s childhood home, and Qui-Gon is careful to ask Obi-Wan what he is thinking and feeling. However, there is not the overarching sense of the forbidden (unlike the prequels). Immediately after this we meet Obi-Wan’s aging parents, and it is a heartfelt reunion, as he has only seen them a few times in the past 10 years. This is where we get some explanation as to why Jedi don’t marry, because they are special and can’t be tied down to a family
Next Scene, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are visiting the two young men they rescued from the evil black robed dude. They are both recovering fine and we learn a little more about them. There names are Owen and Anakin Skywalker (dun, dun, duuuuuhh) they are both in their late teens, and they are recently orphans as their parents were killed in the previous days terrorist attack. They aren’t even from planet Naboo, but are from Tatooine where they are farmers. The Jedi don’t mention the little force trick that Anakin used to throw the piece of debris at them the day before, but they do invite them to come and see them where they are staying in a few days, perhaps during the open testing for possible Jedi that they are holding.
Building some future conflicts
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon return to their rooms in the capital and here we meet Obi-Wan’s love interest from his youth. A girl he was quite serious with in his teenage years before he took the test and decided to leave to become a Jedi, forsaking any chance of romance with the girl. Her name is Claris, and we also get to meet her friend, the 16 year old Amidala. They are both the daughters of different high ranking officials in the Naboo government and Claris (like Obi-Wan) is in her late 20’s. When they meet it’s an exciting and warm reunion (not awkward like every guy/girl interaction in the Prequels). Obi-Wan is happy to see her, and she him, and they make plans to catch up later. Amidala seems nice too.
Anakin and Owen show up, somewhat reluctantly, with many other teenagers (most of them several years younger than Anakin) for the Jedi testing. They figure they don’t have anything to lose now that they are orphans. Owen doesn’t make it past the “cattle call” portion of the training, but of course Anakin does. He meets with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon and they get to know him a little better, put him threw some tests, and ask him about the thing with the rock earlier. Anakin responds that at some times in his life he has noticed strange things happening, and he thought it might have something to do with the Force, but he’s just a farmer and not very knowledgeable about such things.
The Jedi ask him if he would like to be a Jedi, and they explain what it means, and that he would have to go to Coruscant for training, etc.
Anakin responds that he would like to do it, but he’s not sure he can leave his older brother Owen. He says he’ll have to think on it, and he will get back in touch with the Jedi.
Then we go to Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon using Obi-Wan’s connections and childhood contacts to do some investigation on the black robed terrorist figure. Since no one can leave the planet, and all inter-city travel has been shut down as well, they know that the villain is somewhere in the city, and now they must pick up the trail. I’m not a detective story writer, so someone else could come up with 15 minutes worth of investigative clue-following and dealing with shady characters that would lead us to the hideout of the black robed dude.
Action Sequence Number 2
Somewhere in the midst of that, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon track the dude down, and have an actual chase/lightsaber duel with him. This is where we finally see his face, and we get to briefly see him in action. He is Darth Maul. Why? Because Darth Maul was awesome! He basically uses every dirty tactic in the book to kick their butts and escapes again.
The Big Decision
Cut to Anakin and Owen discussing him becoming a Jedi. Owen is encouraging Anakin to join the Jedi and tells him he will return to Tatooine to mind the farm. Back in their quarters Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are happy to see Anakin show up at their door, bag in hands, ready to become a Jedi. They tell him that he will accompany them until the current lockdown on the planet is over, at which point they will escort him back to Coruscant.
Final Big Action Scene
Not too long after that someone rushes in to tell them the lockdown has ended. The Jedi quickly deduce that this is not right and that someone (probably Darth Maul) has infiltrated the headquarters of the top brass and has called an end to the planetary lockdown through use of force so that he and his henchmen can escape. They rush to headquarters and along the way see Darth Maul escaping. They follow him to a hangar where his ship awaits along with his henchmen and a slew of dead bodies of Naboo military. Anakin tags along, and follows them, even though Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are unaware until they arrive at the hangar for the big showdown. What ensues is awesome, as henchmen and reinfocement soldiers have full on Star Wars laser battle, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have round two with Darth Maul t(his is reminscent of the final showdown in the actual Prequel Episode I, because that scene is awesome). Just like in the original Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul, however Obi-Wan only cuts off Darth Maul’s ear, and he barely escapes. He leaves the planet as the lockdown was ended, and he slipped out before the “radar web” could be put back in place.
At the end of the film, we see Obi-Wan and Anakin on Coruscant where Anakin is meeting with Yoda and Palpatine (who we find out is working with Meruvius, but only as a rouse to feed the Jedi information). Basically Palpatine is a good guy, who is pretending to be a secret agent for Meruvius.
The Next Film
This sets up the plot of the next film which will deal more fully with Darth Maul, the temptations of being a Jedi, and Palpatine's journey to the Dark Side/rise to power.
A few more tidbits
At some point (maybe in the first film) we learn that some people actually leave the Jedi order, and while it's looked down upon, it's not unheard of. They aren't priests or monks who are committed for life, although most are.
Please feel free to post comments, point out plot inconsistencies, or make suggestions below.