Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fixing/Rebooting the Prequels - From an obsessive Star Wars geek that won't let it go...

Ever since Episode I came out I've often thought about what could have been done to make the prequels better or what would I have done differently.  I would actually fall asleep at night thinking it through.  Yeah, I know, I'm a massive dork, but I'm guessing I'm probably not the only obsessive Star Wars fan that's done this at some point.  After Revenge of the Sith came out though, it's something I kind of gave up on.  Star Wars was 'dead' at that point, right?  Thoughts would still pop in my head from time to time.  My interest was rekindled after watching the awesome Red Letter Media "Mr. Plinkett" reviews of the prequels.  They made mention of several ideas that could have been done to make the prequels better (and you'll likely see some references to that below).  Then when Disney announced the purchase of LucasFilm and that more movies were coming, it really got Star Wars on the brain again.  Also when you consider the J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII, and he already did a successful reboot/re-imaging of Star Trek, maybe it's possible that down that line someone decides to take a crack at a similar thing for Star Wars.

I guess you can consider this blog post a living document.  I'm sure I'll revisit it from time to time and update it as I think of more stuff or mix it up a little.  This is also a really long post, so I've broken it up into several pages for the overview and each Episode.  Hopefully, that'll make it a little easier for you all to read.  With it's length, this might have a 'draft' feel to it, so let me know if you catch something I should fix.

This is all just done for fun, so hopefully you enjoy it, and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below.

First off, I know how this completely breaks the prequels. but since they're already broken, then who cares at this point.  I'm also not going to bother with renaming any characters and planets just to make things easier.

One of the easier and more obvious fixes is to first get rid of the whole concept of midi-chlorians.  Just throw Episode I.  This was mentioned in some of the Plinkett/RedLetterMedia stuff, but an example of this was that once the Jedi were aware that there was likely a Sith hiding at the top levels of the Senate, and there was a quantifiable way through a blood test to tell if someone has Force ability, then why wasn't everyone forced to submit to a blood test?  How is it any different than any employee having to submit to a drug test?  Anyway, I'm guessing that the whole idea of midi-chlorians was born out of George Lucas coming up with the name, thinking it was too cool not to use, and then throwing it in Episode I without any thought of how it would play out, or how it pretty much contradicts everything Obi-Wan and Yoda said about the Force in the Original Trilogy.  Then when he realized it didn't work, he just said screw it, and didn't bother with them for the rest of the prequels.  Getting rid of midi-chlorians would hopefully restore some of the mystery around the Force.
that out right away.  It's such a poorly thought out idea that I don't even know why it was put in the film. Not only did it ruin the mystery of the Force, but it wasn't even consistent in the prequels or referenced again after

This kind of leads into the second thing I would get rid of:  younglings.  Not kill them like Anakin did, or even the idea that there would be younger Jedi in training, but the idea that babies are taken from their families once it's discovered they have a high midi-chlorian count.  A better idea would have been to handle Force ability similar to how mutants are handled in the Marvel universe, where their powers typically manifest during puberty.  I'm pretty sure this is how Betazoids in Star Trek handled telepathy, as well.  This would also allow some interesting stories where you have 'prodigy' types showing significant Force ability at younger ages.  Anakin could easily be one of these kids, and that fact that he didn't get training until much later in life is one of the reasons why the Jedi found his power so dangerous and difficult to control, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Jedi Academy on Dantooine
Another thing I would change about the universe is to show that becoming a Jedi is a revered thing and a great honor.  Kids would aspire to be Jedi and hope powers manifest when they are old enough.  Like imagine finding out around 11-13 that you're going to become a famous superstar athlete?  However, the random occurrence of manifesting Jedi powers is very low, and happens more amongst families that have a known Force sensitivity to them (I'll get to that later, as well).

When it's discovered a child has Force sensitivity, they contact the Jedi (or in some cases the Jedi sense them and they initiate the contact) and representatives show up to test the child.  If they pass, they are offered the privilege of training with the Jedi and moving to the Jedi Academy.  The families are financially compensated for giving up their children, so you can even show how desperate families attempt to 'fake it' and try to trick the Jedi in order to get the money.  It never works though. You can't fool the Jedi that easily.

Now, if they fail the initial test, or decline the offer to train with the Jedi, a ritual is performed that cuts the person off from using the Force.  They can't exactly have Force sensitive people running around the galaxy unchecked.  Also, in the case of trainees that wash out of Jedi training, they are also put through the ritual before being sent home.  Being a Jedi is not easy, so even though you may pass the initial tests, there's no guarantee you make it through the Academy.

A concern was brought to my attention regarding the ritual and someone being cut off from the Force.  There was a concern about this ritual being used for evil purposes (which I actually think could make for some interesting subplots in different stories), or that anyone Force sensitive may be subject to this.  While the idea of being cut off from the Force draws from Expanded Universe, I figured I'd expand on this a bit to clarify.  The ritual itself would only be known about by the highest Masters of the Order, and would require several people with extensive Force knowledge to carry out.  So while someone could potentially steal this knowledge  they'd have to be a considerable Force user to do this.  It could also be a reversible process, as losing powers never seems to be a permanent thing in any media.

This wouldn't necessarily apply to anyone that's Force sensitive either.  Force sensitivity would be in a range, where people on the lower end may not be noticed by the Jedi or show any outwards signs of it, but it could give them enhanced abilities or senses.  That allows for someone like Han Solo, who has often been said must of had some level of Force sensitivity to be such a great pilot and get out of so many sticky situations, but never actually giving off any detectable signs of Force use.

Once at the Academy, they go through a schooling period with Yoda and other masters on the history of the Jedi, basic Force use, meditation, swordplay, etc.  Eventually, as their rite of passage, they make their own lightsaber, and are then paired with a Knight or Master in the field as an apprenticeship, going around and doing diplomatic things, settling disputes, etc.  This schooling period has no time limit.  Stronger users get through it within a few years, while other can take decades.  Most are able to finish around the time they are between 18 and 20.  Students that take a longer time to pass the Academy, are usually put on a scholar's path, and are more likely to become instructors themselves.

All Jedi are expected to make sacrifices though.  Jedi are not allowed to marry.  Marrying is an honor bestowed only once achieving the rank of Master, as they've shown they have a mastery of their power and emotion.  Since the chances are greater that a Force sensitive will also have a Force sensitive kid, this isn't something that they want any Jedi being able to do.  By the time time most Jedi reach the rank of Master, they are too old to have kids or no longer have the desire to, fully devoting their lives to the Jedi code.  The option is there for them though, and longer living species usually benefit from this more.

Jedi are allowed to have emotion though.  This whole Jedi as emotionless monks just isn't realistic to me, especially when you consider all the different cultures and species that can become Jedi.  You can't expect species from thousands of different systems to conform to the same emotional range.  It makes sense when you take a single race, like Vulcans, and make it part of their culture and history that they decided to purge emotion, but again, it doesn't work in the Star Wars universe.  Throughout the Star Wars films, you see Jedi express emotion, so again, it's not even consistent in it's own Universe.

The whole marrying thing though can be another point of contention with Anakin.  You can show that Anakin doesn't always play by the Jedi's rule, and that the Jedi Council is extremely upset with him once they find out he has married in secret.  The Council can look at this as just yet another example of Anakin circumventing the rules and jumping ahead of others.  Many on the Council are already upset with how quickly he's advanced and they feel he's skipped past much of his training even though it's a time of war.  His age in the first place was one of the reasons that some didn't want him trained.  Anakin sees this all as resentment and jealousy towards him.  You know, it's like of like how veteran sports players sometimes have issues with young players skipping college and not having good fundamentals as a result.  As Anakin hasn't always shown maturity, this is another reason the Council isn't super happy about this.

So this is more of an overview of how I think the Jedi should have been, let's get to some of the actual story elements.

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