It is the Disney era of Star Wars. We are getting new films almost every year. While most fans would’ve loved this news just a few years ago, there might be some fatigue setting in. I never thought I’d see the day when fans would say that they don’t want a Star Wars movie, but the consensus still seems to be that Solo is incredibly unnecessary at best. Still, where some see an evil studio trying to milk a valuable cash cow, I choose to see opportunity in this time of rapid expansion. This is a chance for Star Wars to not only expand but to actually correct or reframe its own missteps. It’s a chance for Disney to take legitimately interesting characters who were shortchanged in the past and give them the depth they deserve. I speak, in this case, of Padmé.
First, a Disclaimer
Honestly, I do not hate the prequels. Actually, I like them. I first saw the original trilogy in 1997, when I was seven, shortly before the special editions came out. When The Phantom Menace premiered two years later, it was still the same Star Wars to me. My Millennial mind draws almost no distinction between the originals and the prequels in terms of what feels like “real” Star Wars.
I freely admit to liking the prequels. However, I also understand that they are flawed in many ways. I am not blinded by nostalgia and I acknowledge that they are simply not as good as the original trilogy. As I have gotten older and learned about film and storytelling, I can see their problems rather clearly. However, these problems do not anger me. At best, I see the issues with the prequels as quirks of George Lucas and his vision for the films. At worst, they are very frustrating missed opportunities or just lapses in judgment.
The Tragedy of the ‘Star Wars’ Prequels
The most frustrating aspects of the prequels, in my opinion, are the super interesting things that exist only in the periphery. Lucas wrote some incredible ideas into the movies, but he merely hints at them. Instead of focusing on these things, they’re spoken about briefly – if at all – and the movies then move onto other, messier things. For example, the entirety of the Clone Wars happens off-screen (or on television).
The best example is the entire first act of The Phantom Menace. The beginning of Episode I includes a trade dispute, botched negotiations, the most hated character in the history of Star Wars, and a civilization who recently elected a 14-year-old girl as their ruler. Lucas chose to focus on all of those things, except the most interesting one!
No character ever acknowledges that Padmé is a teenager. We later learn, in Attack of the Clones, that she wasn’t even the youngest queen ever elected! That makes it crazier! So these people, the Naboo, actually make it a habit of electing child prodigies to their government? The people around her are just as interesting. For example, the queen’s “handmaidens” are actually bodyguards. They are so loyal to her that they often switch places with her. They are prepared to die for her. Are we going to discuss any of this at all? Nope.
The list of problems with the Star Wars prequels is endless. This is just one of many missed opportunities. This wouldn’t be the last time Padmé got the short end of the proverbial stick, though. In fact, this trend continues throughout the first three episodes of the saga.
Padmé Deserved Better
Another common complaint about the prequels is how Padmé’s characterization changes by the end of the trilogy. By Revenge of the Sith, she has gone from being a powerful politician who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and pick up a blaster, to a worried wife who barely leaves her apartment until the third act. It’s even more frustrating that Lucas abandoned a potentially great subplot that involved Padmé. Originally, she founded the Rebel Alliance. Revenge of the Sith‘s deleted scenes are fascinating. It makes you wonder what might’ve been. In short, the character (and Natalie Portman), deserved a lot better than she got.
There have been some steps in the right direction. The Clone Wars TV series has helped to correct or improve upon many of the prequels’ shortcomings, including giving Padmé a more active role in the action. Padmé will be one of the stars of an upcoming Forces of Destiny young adult book. More than that, I think this character deserves her own movie.
The Case for a Padmé Spin-Off
Besides the simple fact that she is an interesting character who deserved better, I believe there is a great deal of potential here. This 14-year-old prodigy and her culture are incredibly fascinating. Let’s tell their story. Star Wars has told stories about kids slightly younger than her and about young adults slightly older, but nothing like this. This is a chance for something different for Lucasfilm.
The young adult genre of literature is incredibly popular right now. Equally popular are the film adaptations of those books. In a time when The Hunger Games and Maze Runner are getting big-screen adaptations and making decent money (to varying degrees), this is a chance for Star Wars to try something new. This could, essentially, be Star Wars‘ young adult film, which would pull in new fans as well as the usual diehards.
It also seems rather fortuitous that a potential star for the film is simply a no-brainer. Many people have commented on Millie Bobby Brown’s uncanny resemblance to a young Natalie Portman. Brown’s legions of young fans alone could bring in millions for Disney and create a new cohort of Star Wars fans in one fell swoop. And, frankly, she’d play a 14-year-old prodigy politician quite well.
The Time Is Right
Since Disney bought Star Wars, they have done a wide variety of new things with the property. The new “A Star Wars Story” movies should be the key method of doing this. Kathleen Kennedy has stated their desire to make these movies different genres and to use them as a mechanism to further explore the Star Wars universe. In addition, they have done their best to further the causes of diversity and representation in these films.
What better way to do all of this than by giving an already known character the movie she deserves? Padmé is the mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. She deserves better. Along with her daughter, she’s one of the biggest badasses in the galaxy. Disney should celebrate her as a character. She deserves her own badass movie.
What do you think? Does Padmé deserve her own Star Wars movie or should Disney slow their roll with the spin-off films? Let us know what you think!