December is a season of giving. Every other year, it's also the season of Star Wars. With both the holidays and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker just around the corner, why not combine those two things into one? The Star Wars franchise has given us a ton of gifts over the years. For some of us, Star Wars was our introduction to sci-fi, or even just movies in general. It's one of the biggest phenomenons around the world for good reason. But this year, I want to take some time to celebrate one of my favorite things Star Wars ever delivered to the world: the prequel trilogy.
Some folks love to hate on the prequel trilogy, which makes sense. They can be pretty difficult at times. The CGI is rough, the side characters are outdated, the dialogue is clunky in certain scenes; there's a lot of disappointments in these movies. But, what everyone tends to forget, is that there's a lot of good to be found in these movies, too.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith gave the world of Star Wars plenty of gifts over the years, and it's time we take a second and say, "Thank you."
Let's set aside a little time this holiday season to explore the 10 best gifts the prequels ever gave us.
John Williams' Star Wars scores are perhaps the most iconic themes in movie history. Even folks who aren't dedicated Star Wars fans can recognize the sounds of the opening crawl or the "Imperial March." It's safe to say that Star Wars wouldn't be Star Wars without the music of John Williams. As iconic as his work has been throughout the franchise, however, none of it is quite as good as "Duel of the Fates".
You don't often hear this track set as fans' ringtones, and not a lot of people will sing the tune in the car. But there isn't a better piece of music in all of Star Wars than this Phantom Menace banger.
If you aren't familiar with the title, "Duel of the Fates" plays during the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It's fast-paced and high volume, creating an aura of suspense that helped make the entire sequence exciting. Those grand operatic choruses are on a level all their own and it's impossible not to be entranced from the opening note.
Here, go back and listen to "Duel of the Fates" again. You'll see.
There might not be a movie villain more well-known than Darth Vader, but he's really the only memorable evil in the original trilogy. Darth Sidious doesn't have a ton to do throughout those first three movies (and remains one of the characters actually made better by the prequels). The point I'm making here is that George Lucas looked at his lack of villains in the first three movies and more than made up for that in the prequel trilogy.
Lucas introduced a great number of villains throughout the three prequel films, giving nearly all of them incredibly memorable character designs. General Grievous is certainly a standout from these films, but no prequel villain stuck with fans more than Darth Maul. He was cut in half despite earning only a few minutes of screen time, but people still talk about his terrifying horns and double-sided lightsaber to this day. Maul has the most menacing look of any Star Wars villain, Vader included.
Unfortunately, Lucas didn't give these great villains very much to do. Maul and Grievous were both killed after a handful of scenes, wasting what seemed to be the next great Star Wars antagonists. Fortunately, animated spinoffs like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels gave them more time to flourish.
Obi-Wan Kenobi vanished into thin air before being struck by Darth Vader's lightsaber in the very first Star Wars, leaving Luke Skywalker with entirely too many questions and not a lot of guidance. He was the catalyst for Luke's journey to becoming a Jedi but that was really all he had the chance to do. The prequels changed that and made Obi-Wan a central part of the Star Wars story. Could there have been a more perfect actor to bring the beloved Jedi to life than Ewan McGregor?
Just look at the overall reaction to the prequel trilogy amongst dedicated Star Wars fans. If people don't like these movies, why has everyone been begging for McGregor to return as Obi-Wan ever since he departed the role? No single character in the prequels resonated with fans more than Obi-Wan, and that was largely due to McGregor's performance.
Yes, Obi-Wan has dialogue just as rough as everyone else's throughout the prequels, but he delivers it so earnestly, like he was the only one who understood how to turn mediocre lines into something meaningful. His scoffs and dad-like responses to Anakin's angst helped us all get through multiple scenes that were just hard to watch. Not to mention he donned a different haircut in each of the three movies and they were all fantastic.
McGregor owned his terrible lines with a pizzazz and childlike energy that couldn't be matched or contained. He's the unparalleled MVP of the prequels, and it's a damn good thing he's getting his own show.
Ship designs are everything with Star Wars. It's why the Millennium Falcon has remained so popular after all these years. While the prequels spent a lot more time on-planet, they did introduce one absolutely stellar ship: the Naboo Starfighter.
These starfighters, which were featured in the final space battle in The Phantom Menace, remain once of the coolest looking ships in all of Star Wars. They're simple, sleek, colorful, and just awesome to look at.
It's honestly surprising that Star Wars has never revisited these ships. Nostalgia alone would help sell a ton of toys. But, sadly, the Naboo Starfighter has been completely ignored since the prequels, much like the other vehicle on this list.
Why has there been no podracing since The Phantom Menace? Can anyone begin to explain that? Just because we didn't love the kid that played Anakin doesn't mean the entire franchise needs to distance itself from everything the the character touched. Podracing is such a great concept and could really have legs on its own somewhere else in the Star Wars films.
Podracing is essentially a space version of street racing, and that, in a nutshell, is what makes it so great. The designs of the racers are completely unique, and the culture surrounding it is full of untapped potential, but its the simplicity of the concept that really hooks you into podracing as a Star Wars staple.
One of the most interesting things Star Wars has done, particularly in the original trilogy, is take real-life things and make them just a little more galactic, as a way of helping us connect with a different planet and time period. Podracing can do just that, it just needs the opportunity.
Yoda was a wacky old Jedi in the original trilogy, offering advice to Luke and tossing around hilarious one-liners. He was like a little green Rafiki. That version of Yoda is great and we should always cherish him, but the version of Yoda we got in the prequels is incredible in its own regard. Let's call him "Killer Instinct Yoda."
We always knew that Yoda was supposed to be a great warrior, though we never exactly got a chance to see it in the original movies. His abilities were on full display throughout the prequel trilogy, especially in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. CGI aside, those movies taught us that Yoda is an absolute badass.
Do you remember his fight with Count Dooku? It's pure insanity. In none of the other Star Wars movies will you find a character that can fight quite like him. It was a massive shock to the system after only seeing the fun side of Yoda in Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, and one we'd love to experience again and again.
The scenes on Kamino with Jango and Boba Fett aren't all that exciting. In all honesty, they're pretty dull. But it's the story they represent that makes Kamino such a gift to the Star Wars universe.
As we've already seen in Star Wars: The Mandalorian, just the idea of cloning can be a wonderful driving force in Star Wars. Several different storylines can be improved upon by the introduction of cloning, or at least the threat of it. Everyone in the galaxy wants a piece of that technology and its value can't be overstated.
It's also worth mentioning that the actual planet of Kamino is totally different than anything else that's been featured in Star Wars before. Between the design of the world and the resources it offers, Kamino represents a well of untapped potential in the Star Wars universe.
Does anyone have anything negative to say about Mace Windu? Seriously, can you think of one thing? He's an absolute rock star.
Samuel L. Jackson in Star Wars was already a dream come true, even before he spoke a single line. It was just an added bonus that his lines were some of the best that Lucas wrote throughout all of the prequels. He also had some real stinkers, to be fair, but when they're delivered with that Jackson brand of confidence, it's hard to notice.
Also, that purple lightsaber is absolutely iconic.
There were things introduced in the various prequel films that Lucas never took the time to fully flesh out, or that fans just wanted more of. There were also storylines, like the idea of the expansive Clone Wars, that needed more opportunity to really flourish. Star Wars: The Clone Wars helped solve those issues.
The animated series that was spun out from the prequels has been a staple for Star Wars fans ever since it premiered. It gave deeper stories to characters like Yoda, Darth Maul, and a few others, which helped add to the overall lore of the universe. That said, its biggest impact on Star Wars was its work adding instantly beloved characters to the franchise.
Characters like Ahsoka, Rex, and Asajj Ventress are favorites amongst Star Wars fans, and for good reason. They're well-written, compelling, and wildly unique characters that are easy to spend a lot of time with.
Perhaps the greatest gift the prequels could ever give us is the gift of eternal laughter. There is a lot to love about these movies, but there are a lot of laughably horrible lines and scenes as well. Just think about the memes that have been born out of these movies.
There is an endless supply of jokes and memes to come from the prequels. Think about Obi-Wan joyfully flying the speeder in a behind-the-scenes video or Anakin's dry delivery of his "sand" monologue. They will bring a smile to your face almost instantly.
Of all the memes to come from the prequels, however, nothing is quite as delightful as Obi-Wan's "you were the chosen one." That poorly written line at the climax of the entire trilogy lives in infamy on Twitter to this day.
Welcome to Star Wars Week! ComicBook.com is celebrating the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker all week long with an in-depth look at the last four decades spent in the galaxy. Click on the banner to see more of our exclusive coverage and videos celebrating all things Star Wars!
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.