Prior to the debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the most divisive element of Star Wars fandom was arguably the prequel trilogy, with its more playful tone turning off longtime fans of the franchise who had anticipated a more mature adventure. The clearest representation of the more whimsical nature of the trilogy is Jar Jar Binks, who was brought to life by a motion capture performance from Ahmed Best. The years have been kinder to Jar Jar, with fans judging the film less harshly, while George Lucas recently detailed how he remembers the response to Jar Jar in the prequels being similar to the initial response to C-3PO.
"The main thing they obviously got upset about was Jar Jar," Lucas shared in a recent conversation with StarWars.com. "But they got upset at Jar Jar because he was there for the kids. When I did A New Hope, everybody felt the same way about Threepio. They hated him. They thought he was too childish and the jokes were bad. They said the same thing. It’s just that the initial wave of Star Wars sort of overwhelmed the criticism of Threepio. We even played on that in Empire, making fun of him and acknowledging the fact that he was annoying. And then in the third one we did the same thing with Ewoks. People just went berserk. They said it was horrible, it ruined the movie, and how can you watch this, and all that kind of stuff."
While Lucas leaned into the public perception of C-3PO, subsequent appearances of Jar Jar saw his role reduced, earning him less screen time. A major difference between the release of the original trilogy and the prequels is that, with the internet, the criticisms could be louder and more widespread.
"So I was used to that sort of thing, but for some reason, the criticism through the internet became more alive," Lucas detailed. "And the news media began to listen to the fans. Obviously, when a fan, or a group, or a blog says something terrible, they take it seriously, and suddenly that became the reality. It was very hard to turn back from that."
One constant that Lucas maintained with both trilogies is that they depicted the classic battles between good and evil in hopes of warning young audiences of the dangers of following a "dark" path.6comments
"The fact is that Phantom Menace is actually about some different kinds of things, and the story is a little more complex," Lucas pointed out. "I knew it would mean a lot to kids. I kept defending it by saying, this is for 12-year-olds and kids are going to love Jar Jar."
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