There was so much excitement surrounding the Star Wars prequels, that it was perhaps inevitable that they would never live up to the expectations of fans. The same could, of course, be said about the sequels, but it feels like the latter have left a much worse taste in the mouths of moviegoers (it doesn't help that The Rise of Skywalker was so divisive).
However, while there's no denying that both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were better than any of the prequels in terms of pure filmmaking, an argument could be made the George Lucas' movies ultimately told a much better, far more coherent story than the sequels which brought the Skywalker Saga to a close.
The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith certainly made a lot of mistakes, but we're now taking a look at why, as a whole, the prequels were better than the sequels! They're still not a patch on the original trilogy, of course, but despite all the politics and green screen, there's a whole lot more they knocked out of the park.
It's a bold statement, but one we think you'll agree with after clicking the "Next" button below!
10. They Told A Coherent Story
It feels like the legacy of the Star Wars sequels will revolve around the competing vision of two filmmakers - J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson - both of whom played a game of one-upmanship, undoing the other's work because they had their own specific ideas about what Star Wars should be.
While the prequels featured a lot of peculiar creative decisions, George Lucas being the man in charge meant there was a cohesive story which had a beginning, middle, and end.
Moments from The Phantom Menace paid off down the line (even if you occasionally had to struggle to find them), whereas it was impossible to watch The Rise of Skywalker without being befuddled by sudden U-Turns. Those include Supreme Leader Snoke suddenly being a creation of Emperor Palpatine and Rey's parents going from nobodies to somebodies who were, uh, nobodies.
9. The Lightsaber Battles Ruled (Despite The OTT Choreography)
Yes, it was sometimes hard not to cringe watching the Jedi in the prequels unnecessarily spinning around for the umpteenth time in a single battle, while those flips were definitely a tad over the top.
However, each of the major lightsaber battles felt like truly epic affairs with high stakes and edge-of-your-seat action. Can the same really be said about the sequels? Rian Johnson expertly choreographed that battle aboard Snoke's Star Destroyer, but when Abrams had Rey face down Kylo Ren, excitement was lacking, and the iconic weapons barely factored into his finale.
The sequel's leads weren't trained in a traditional way, but just like these movies overlooked what it really meant to be a Sith (was Kylo ever more than someone who was attuned to the Dark Side?), they also failed to deliver lightsaber battles which left a lasting impact of any sort.
8. They Tied Into The Original Saga
Having already made the original movies, George Lucas obviously knew where he was heading with his prequels. The challenge of making the sequels was to create a new story, and while they did succeed in that respect, they ultimately failed to build on what came before in a satisfying manner.
Han Solo and Leia Organa's marriage fell apart after they failed their son. Lando Calrissian disappeared into the ether. R2-D2, uh, turned himself off. Oh, and most crushingly, Luke Skywalker was a broken-down failure who never became a true Jedi Master and just went into hiding.
Those aren't the outcomes we wanted for any of the characters, and it's not like they even ended up finding redemption for the most part. The prequels made us realise what sort of man Obi-Wan Kenobi was before ending up on Tatooine, while we also got to witness what led Anakin Skywalker down a dark path. The sequels, however, didn't do the original films justice for the most part.
7. The Villains Were Better
Kylo Ren was a fantastic villain with a compelling story arc which, minus his death, had a satisfying ending. Unfortunately, the rest of the bad guys in the Star Wars sequels were a disappointment.
Supreme Leader's Snoke story went nowhere thanks to Rian Johnson's decision to kill him off, while the mystery surrounding his identity boiled down to a throwaway moment in The Rise of Skywalker. General Hux, the Knights of Ren, and Allegiant General Pryde were completely forgettable for the most part, whereas the prequels delivered bad guys who left a lasting impact.
There's a reason fans still talk about General Grievous and Darth Maul (both of whom have gone on to take centre stage in animated TV shows), and while Count Dooku was hit and miss, Christopher Lee helped him excel. Oh, and Emperor Palpatine's story arc was a million times better in those early movies than the clone with the inexplicable plan we got last year.
6. There Was The Right Level Of Fan Service
While many of the criticisms were overly harsh, there's no denying that The Force Awakens borrowed a little too much from A New Hope in terms of how the story played out. The Last Jedi, on the other hand, essentially told fans that what they wanted didn't matter (which isn't always a bad thing), but The Rise of Skywalker took fan-serve to a downright unbearable level.
Lucasfiilm clearly felt that they needed to make things right with fans after some of the creative decisions made by Rian Johnson, but that led to them arguably making no one happy.
The prequels, on the other hand, did deliver the moments we wanted to see as fans (Darth Vader's transformation and how Emperor Palpatine got his deformed appearance, for example), and while that was undeniable fan-service, there was definitely just the right amount of it. Did we need to know how R2-D2 and C-3PO met? Nope, but it was more fun than the way Luke's personality shifted from film to film.
5. The Ending Didn't Suck
Whether you loved or hated it, it's hard to deny that The Rise of Skywalker served as a mostly horrendous ending to the Skywalker Saga. Whether it's the fact the entire Skywalker lineage ended in death and Rey Palpatine dubbing herself "Rey Skywalker" or the random return of Emperor Palpatine to the land of the living with zero explanation about how it happened.
Sure, Darth Vader's cry of "Nooooooo!" was, well, awful, but the way the prequels ended didn't really disappoint. We got to learn how Anakin Skywalker fell under the spell of the Emperor and learned what led to characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda ending up where they did in the original trilogy. It wasn't perfect, but it worked, and it didn't leave a bad taste in our mouths!
Unfortunately, it will take a while to get over how the Skywalker Saga ultimately reached its conclusion.
4. There Weren't A Million Unanswered Questions
For this point, you might be best off checking out our breakdown of The Rise of Skywalker's biggest unanswered questions! All done? Well, those barely scratch the surface, and it's crazy to think just how many lingering plot threads these sequels left us with.
Not everything needs to be neatly tied up, of course, and a certain level of ambiguity is a nice way of getting fans to wonder what happened next to these characters. This finale, however, failed to wrap up the story arcs of key characters, and felt like half a movie as a result.
We'll get into the long list of questions regarding Emperor Palpatine a little later, but you can't say the prequels left us with as many dangling plot threads, and certainly not ones this infuriating!
3. The Big Name Characters Got Their Due
As we mentioned a little earlier, where we picked up with characters like Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo in the sequels was downright depressing. The adventures we all imagined them having together came to an abrupt end, and their victory in Return of the Jedi was short-lived.
No one said they had to have a happy ending, but man, what an ending for so many of our favourites!
On the plus side, the prequels, didn't let down characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, or C-3PO. Instead, it added to their stories - not always in an effective way, mind you - and ultimately did them justice. We'll address why that's the case with Emperor Palpatine a little later, but they all fared better than the returning characters from the original trilogy.
2. The Changes To The Force Worked
The concept of Midi-chlorians was so silly, that George Lucas had pretty much ditched the idea by the time Attack of the Clones rolled around. However, the ways he otherwise expanded on the Force did make sense, whether it was Yoda mentioning that Qui-Gon Jinn had mastered life after death or the effect the Dark Side had on Anakin Skywalker after his horrifying actions.
The sequels also played around with the Force, but this time, the result were definitely mixed.
Everything from Force Dyads to Wayfinders and the Dark Side were introduced in Disney's Star Wars movies, but most of these ideas didn't work. The concept of there being two Sith at one time (a Master and Apprentice) was randomly dropped, and the convoluted nonsense linking Kylo Ren and Rey in The Rise of Skywalker is definitely something that's better off forgotten.
1. Emperor Palpatine's Plan Actually Made Sense
We alluded to this a little earlier, but when you go back and look at the prequels, Emperor Palpatine's story arc did make a lot of sense. There was some dodgy acting and questionable decisions (we really didn't need to see why he looked so ancient), but the story of him attempting to bring the Galaxy back under the control of the Sith alongside a powerful apprentice made sense.
What about his role in the Star Wars sequels added up? Without looking to the novelisations and tie-in books for further context, all we know is that he somehow survived the events of Return of the Jedi in a clone body, and planned to have his granddaughter kill him so he could take over her body and then rule the Galaxy. Yes, that idea made it into an actual screenplay.
Getting into Supreme Leader Snoke's role further muddies the water; was he an actual person Palpatine cloned and used as a pawn or just one of his own failed clones? Who the hell knows!