The Serendipitous Prequels

Unlikely coincidences provide George Lucas’ critics with their most justifiable complaint about the prequels.  They don’t like to give him much of a break and call it over-the-top fan service.  But determining appropriate references to the original trilogy would be incredibly tricky.

If the prequels were devoid of fan service, many of these critics would probably bemoan the lack of components from the original films.  So while they raise valid points when criticizing the serendipity, there’s a degree of disingenuousness at play.  It’s ridiculous that Anakin created C-3PO, but wouldn’t a realistic approach minimize his role and that of R2-D2 in the prequel trilogy?  Hypothetically, that likely would incur the wrath of such fans.

That isn’t to say that they are wrong because fundamentally they aren’t.  For example, as a bounty hunter whose defining characteristic was looking cool, Boba Fett has no reason to factor into the clone subplot at all.  Sure, Jango Fett looked almost as cool and the original concept for Boba portrayed him as a sort of super stormtrooper, but Lucas forced an unconvincing link between the character and the Empire’s minions.

Now, does this ruin the films?  No.  Does it undermine the saga?  No.  These critiques serve as a nitpick of Lucas’ vision, not a wholesale indictment.

While a background shot of the Millennium Falcon at Coruscant more convincingly links the trilogies together than, say, Yoda’s bromance with Chewbacca, serendipity didn’t ruin the prequels.  It didn’t even differentiate the films from the original trilogy all that much.  After all, those movies turned a farmer’s boy, a princess, and a homicidal cyborg into a family.

The original trilogy established precedent for unlikely coincidences, so the prequels’ happy accidents didn’t mar the series.  Since all six of Lucas’ films tell the Skywalker story, familiar faces and chance encounters of destiny were requisite for the prequels.  Maybe Lucas went overboard, maybe he leaned too heavily on nostalgia, but he successfully conveyed his vision.

I’m inclined to side with the merits of the critics’ argument on this issue, but their proclivity to lash out with hyperbolic anger undermines an otherwise legitimate complaint.

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