The Star Wars Sequels Really Weren’t That Bad
March 21, 2022
It’s been over two years since “The Rise of Skywalker” initially hit theatres, and many Star Wars fans still won’t acknowledge that the sequel trilogy exists. Nearly every time I see something online about Star Wars, I don’t have to look very far to find someone commenting something along the lines of “the sequels aren’t canon!” or “her name is Rey PALPATINE.” And don’t get me wrong, it’s not irrational to dislike these movies, or any movie, really. But what consistently surprises me is how the majority of arguments against the sequels that I hear are either very exaggerated or, quite often, aren’t even remotely logical. So, let’s get started with debunking some of the ridiculous things people say about these films, and in the meantime, point out some of the real issues the films had. Fair warning, much of this is subjective, and it’s all based on a fictional universe, so it may seem a little rambly (also, there are definitely some spoilers if you haven’t seen them (your fault for waiting this long)).
1: Palpatine’s return ruined Anakin’s redemption
This criticism sort of surprises me, as its existence implies that a lot of fans didn’t really understand how Anakin was redeemed in episode six. Every Star Wars fan knows the scene: Luke is on his last leg, and Darth Vader, witnessing his son’s suffering, finally turns back to the light, and saves his son by hurling the Emperor over a ledge, successfully saving his son, defeating the Emperor, and restoring the legacy of Anakin Skywalker. Now, the issue that some people take with this is that now that we know the Emperor survived his fall, the significance of that scene and, in turn, Anakin’s redemption, is somehow lessened. The glaring issue with this line of reasoning is that Anakin’s redemption was in no way dependent on whether or not the Emperor died. The act that redeemed him was turning away from the dark side and rescuing his son. Sure, he did this by defeating the emperor, but whether the emperor survived or not has no influence on the light side being restored within Anakin. He was still a vital part of the destruction of the Empire and saved the galaxy with his son. Furthermore, if you’re one who follows the whole Chosen One prophecy, it still works. The legacy of the Skywalkers still brought balance to the force and defeated the Sith, and Rey channeled the power of all Jedi to defeat Palpatine. That being said, Anakin (or Luke, if you consider him the chosen one) was present both in the force and in legacy.
2: The sequels are bad because George Lucas wasn’t very involved
Listen, George Lucas is an icon and visionary, and he undoubtedly created one of the most fantastical universes in the history of fiction. But there’s something he isn’t, and that’s perfect. This is the same guy who created Star Wars Detours, which, if you don’t know, is like a CGI Star Wars Family Guy. This is the dude who kept green-lighting edited versions of the original trilogy that nobody wanted. And it was this man who both allowed and wanted Jar Jar Binks to be a central character in the prequels. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that George Lucas sometimes gets a bit more credit than he is due. Though he created the story and world it takes place in, and was a producer on the films, Lucas didn’t even direct the original trilogy as a whole, he only directed episode four and the prequels. George Lucas is great, but he isn’t an automatic “perfect movie” pass.
“Jar Jar is the key to all of this”- George Lucas
3: Rey shouldn’t be able to use force lightning without extensive training
Really? Do you really want to see a training montage, or, better yet, a whole other movie just for the payoff of seeing her use force lightning? I mean, maybe some people would rather they cut the scene altogether, but honestly, it makes sense (I didn’t like Chewbacca’s involvement, however; see bottom of article.) She was angry, she’s powerful, and it was cool; that seems like a solid explanation to me. Furthermore, though force lightning isn’t genetic, her usage of it in this scene is representative of her Sith lineage, foreshadowing the reveal of her Palpatine roots. I mean, seriously, let’s get real here: Anakin literally
destroyed a federation ship as a child in episode one with his only piloting experience being with a pod racer. Power dynamics have long been either inconsistent or confusing in science fiction, and Star Wars isn’t exempt from that fact. Jango Fett killed Jedi Master Coleman Trebor with 4-5 blaster shots in episode two, and Cad Bane fights off some of the most powerful Jedi multiple times in the Clone Wars show. That’s not even mentioning that we have no canonical reasoning as to why fights such as Obi-Wan vs General Grievous last more than two seconds, considering Obi-Wan could literally just disarm or toss Grievous around with the force with relative ease. But why do these things happen? Because it’s more interesting when things play out in cool ways, and these occurrences give us a bit of context as to how powerful the characters are.
4: There’s no way Rey could fend off Kylo Ren like she did in episode seven
(Also see explanation for #3) I understand why people might feel this way, but with the context, it’s just not an accurate statement. First and foremost, Kylo was suffering from a bowcaster shot to the abdomen delivered by Chewbacca moments before this fight began. According to the Star Wars website, bowcasters are much more powerful that standard blasters, and instead of firing lasers, they actually fire a metal object called a “quarrel” that is encased in plasma energy. So, basically, Kylo got hit by a blazing hot piece of shrapnel fired from a handheld railgun. After that, to make things worse for Kylo, Finn also got a clean tag on him with a lightsaber. That aside, it’s clear that Kylo was not in control during this fight, he also just killed his father (which he clearly didn’t enjoy), Rey tapped into the force during the fight, was way more focused under the circumstances, and she also grew up scavenging and fending for herself in a harsh climate.
5: Luke from episode eight wasn’t Luke from episode six
You’re right, he wasn’t… that’s the point. Luke Skywalker is a character built on hope. The entire reason he believed he could save his father and defeat the Empire was his unwavering hope. And, if you didn’t catch on, the “New Hope” in the title of episode four, is Luke, obviously. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Luke at his prime was the personification of hope. So, what happens to a character that relies almost entirely on hope when everything that he’d used that hope to build up for decades gets completely and utterly decimated by someone using the skills he had taught him. What happens is Luke in episode eight. Of course looks grew coarse and weary in the wake of the tragedy Kylo Ren caused, because he blamed himself. And no, the Luke from episode six wasn’t a perfect Jedi who would never sink to these levels. I mean, when he beat Darth Vader he clearly tapped into his anger and frustration; he has never been perfect. Not to mention, a lot can happen in 30 years. For goodness sake, Luke went from the whiny farm kid in episode four to the Galaxy’s #1 hero in episode six, and that’s like a four-to-five year timespan.
6: Rey is too powerful, and she’s not a Skywalker.
I’m putting these two together because the “Rey is not a Skywalker” thing is something I can break down really quickly. First, it’s symbolic. Luke trained her, Leia inspired her, and Kylo finally joined her in the end. Palpatine wanted to live forever, and Rey wasn’t going to let that happen. So, she changed her name from Palpatine to Skywalker, symbolizing the end of Palpatine’s influence on the galaxy, and effectively allowing the honorable legacy of the Skywalkers to live on. Also, people change their name in real life too, so if we’re just speaking from a practical perspective…
As for Rey being “too powerful,” she’s really just not. I always found it strange how so many fans are totally cool with literal planet-eating Sith lords in the non-canonical Star Wars content (Legends, as it’s called), but when Rey uses force lightning or beats the emperor with the support of every Jedi force ghost there is, some of those same people would consider that a stretch as far as power goes.
1: Finn Didn’t Get Enough Character Development
The setup for Finn in episode seven was great. We got to see rebellion from a new lens–that of a courageous stormtrooper. We followed Finn through his journey as he adapted to life in the resistance, made a new life for himself, and stood up against the oppressing force he once aligned with. Then, episode eight happened. Finn’s development slowed down big time, and we didn’t really learn anything new about him for the rest of the trilogy. He got some good moments, but it really would’ve been nice to see a more interesting conclusion for Finn.
Note: This also applies to Captain Phasma.
2: Vice-Admiral Holdo
This character was… I don’t even know. Holdo played a gigantic role in the conclusion of episode eight, being the ultimate sacrifice to destroy Snoke’s ship, AKA the Supremacy. In my opinion, her place should’ve been filled by Leia. Not only had Carrie Fisher already sadly passed by the time episode nine was being made, but Holdo was a character we knew relatively nothing about that got this huge emotional moment that changed the course of the story. Leia didn’t even necessarily need to light speed slam into the Supremacy like Holdo did, but I just think Leia deserved that big emotional moment that turned the tides of the battle.
Note: This also applies to Rose.
3: They probably should’ve kept one director, or at least a consistent plan.
Episode seven and nine were directed by JJ Abrams, and episode eight was directed by Rian Johnson. A lot of people felt like episode nine was rushed and was a crazy turnaround for the trilogy, and in a lot of ways, it was. Having multiple directors in one series has worked well plenty of times in the past, namely in the original Star Wars trilogy, but it just didn’t play to this trilogy’s favor. I recall episode seven being rather well-received before eight and nine came out, but now seven, along with the sequel trilogy as a whole, is soured in the eyes of many fans. Again, I don’t hate these films, but I agree that having two different directors and the apparent changing of plans really removed from having a cohesive, consistent vision in this instance, and if Lucasfilm just kept one team on all three films, we very likely would’ve gotten a much smoother trilogy.
4: Chewie’s Fake Death in Episode nine
This one is probably the most subjective of my criticisms, but like I said, I’m fine with the force lightning in this scene, but they either should have killed Chewbacca or made it clear that he didn’t die. It came off as a bit of a cheap move for an emotional audience response. And no, this is not the same as Palpatine’s supposed death in episode six (don’t even try), Chewie is a beloved character and there was no value in him being at stake in the scene if there were no consequences. This does not apply to the Emperor’s fall, which had purpose whether or not he died (Empire is destroyed, Luke is saved, etc.).
It’s a sad reality that the Star Wars fanbase is so divided. There are many other criticisms people make about these films, such as the lightsaber combat not being as flashy as the sequels (which I could rant about like I did with the other points), but I enjoyed the films for what they were. They weren’t the best movies ever made, sure, but they weren’t abysmal. I encourage Star Wars fans to give them another try.
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