We’re continuing our look at the Star Wars films to see what the series to date might tell us about the possible direction of Episode VII, and the future of that galaxy far, far away…
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
I’m going to preface this article by stating that Attack of the Clones is my least favourite film of the series, an opinion confirmed by watching it again. Genuinely exciting scenes such as the Coruscant speeder chase or the arena battle are entirely undermined by Lucas’ attempts at humour; C-3PO’s ‘contributions’ to this instalment do more damage to the film than anything Jar Jar Binks accomplished in Episode I, for example. It’s an unbalanced mess.
There are positives though; the aforementioned speeder chase and Geonosis battles, along with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s detective work and epic fight with Jango Fett are high points. Whilst Ewan McGregor’s Kenobi steals the screen whenever he has it, Hayden Christensen is less lucky. Anakin Skywalker is badly written, either creepy or surly by turn, and the fact that Christensen was so burned by the role despite his performance is one of the more unfair ramifications of the Prequel Trilogy.
Attack of the Clones takes place roughly 70 years before The Force Awakens so we’re starting to see the roots of Episode VII a little more clearly. Let’s continue on with the second step of our journey towards The Force Awakens…
The First Order
Palpatine’s plan drives the plot of AOTC and leads directly to the introduction of the iconic white armoured troopers of the Republic, so it’s a pretty significant instalment. For all of his machinations however Darth Sidious is glimpsed only briefly at the end, conferring with the charismatic Count Dooku.
This film also sees the widespread hatred of Jar Jar Binks recognised as the Gungan is manipulated into giving Palpatine emergency powers. It’s the last bureaucratic step Palpatine needs to pass to ascend to Emperor; the rest is just a matter of war and PR.
As well as white armoured troops AOTC also introduces another piece of technology that will be felt in Episode VII– the Death Star. Starkiller Base is rumoured to be what the First Order have learnt from the Empire’s previous two armoured battle stations, so it will be interesting to see how this design heritage plays out.
AOTC introduces the very first seeds of the Rebellion with the Loyalist Committee, a collection of pacifist senators opposed to the Military Creation Act. Led by Padme the alliance includes Bail Organa and a young Mon Mothma, working together to try and preserve the Republic for the very first time.
Scum and Villainy
As the film focuses on the burgeoning Republic/Separatist war the seedier elements of the universe get little play in AOTC. Jango Fett and Zam Wessel are the closest we get to criminal life in the Old Republic. Most significantly we’re also introduced to a young Boba Fett, who may or may not remain Sarlacc fodder by the time Episode VII rolls around.
The prophecy of Anakin bringing balance to the Force is mentioned again, but far more intriguing is the revelation that the Jedi’s connection to the Force has weakened; something that may have more of a bearing on the Sequel Trilogy. Yoda and Mace Windu’s confession shows that the Force may be starting to go dormant as the Dark Side takes over, and may form the basis for its re-awakening several decades later.
This is where the Skywalker lineage we know and love begins, as Anakin and Padme meet again after so many years and fall hopelessly in love. Had Lucas not pushed their romance to the fore so early and instead let it build up naturally over the course of their adventure it would have been so, so much better. As it is we have something that resembles Stockholm syndrome more than Romeo and Juliet.
No wonder their kids were so screwed up.
The Kylo Ren Collection
Anakin leaves some choice mementos behind for Kylo and the Knights of Ren to find in AOTC, as he loses both his broken lightsaber and his right arm on Geonosis. It’s unlikely that either of these collectables survived long enough for the Darth Vader fetishists to ever find, but then you never can tell with these alien environments…
Attack of the Clones ends leaving an awful lot of work for Revenge of the Sith to do to bridge us completely to Episode IV, and highlights again how Episode I could have been used more effectively. But then in fairness it also left the door open for both the Tartakovsky and Filoni Clone Wars TV shows. However it came about, this is a good thing.