Politics, tragedy, and a hero's fall make an addictive space opera.
The arrival of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace ushered in a new era. Fans were transported into the past to view not only the fall of Anakin Skywalker, but the descent of the Republic and the Jedi Order. We saw how the Emperor took control and how the Galactic Empire began. It was a bleak time for the galaxy -- a time made worse by the dark side clouding the Force and blinding those who had the potential to change the course.
Because the 16th anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace and the 10th anniversary of the release Revenge of the Sith just passed (both films hit theaters on May 19), there's no better time to celebrate the prequel trilogy. Experiencing this era again will also better prepare you for the arrival of Darth Vader in Season Two of Star Wars Rebels.
Here are six other reasons why you should sit down and indulge in a marathon of Episodes I-III.
1. Anakin Skywalker's Journey
One of the most obvious reasons to watch the prequels is to see how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. The Sith Lord was not born an automatic cardholder of the dark side club. Factors such as his upbringing, events throughout his life, and the deft manipulations of Palpatine combined to twist his path. He also made a series of questionable (and sometimes atrocious) decisions that contributed to him taking on the Sith mantle. You can trace all of them, examine what went wrong, and then use that information to gain a better understanding of Darth Vader in the original trilogy.
2. Palpatine's Rise
Episodes IV-VI presented the Emperor as the most powerful being in the galaxy, and it's fascinating to go back to the prequels and see his rise through the ranks. On the surface, Palpatine appeared to be a helpful, modest public servant ready to help Queen Amidala and his planet, but in reality he was a Sith Lord taking calculated action to slice the galaxy apart and prepare it for the Galactic Empire. If nothing else, the prequels are worthy of a rewatch just to pinpoint every time Palpatine tricked someone.
3. The Strength of the Jedi
The Jedi were the peacekeepers of the galaxy, and they were many. Hundreds of Jedi served the Republic, and the prequels provide a glimpse into that world and life inside the Jedi Temple. It's an opportunity to get to know Jedi other than Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi and to experience their wisdom, their fighting skills, and their blindness. When watching the new trilogy, you learn both how powerful and foolish the Jedi were.
4. Visiting New Locations
The galaxy grew by leaps and bounds in the prequels as characters visited new destinations -- Naboo, Mustafar, and Coruscant among them. Exploring different planets enhanced the saga and provided a sense of scale. The new alien species introduced had a similar effect.
5. Politics and the Clone Wars
Political maneuvers may not be the most exciting subject for some of us, but they played a key part in the Clone Wars that erupted between the Republic and the Separatists and paved the way for the Galactic Empire and Imperial oppression. Episodes I-III (specifically Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) showed how the most seemingly innocuous political moves prime a government for failure and lead to dictatorships.
6. Sith Operations
As we learned how the Jedi Order operated in the prequels, so too did we learn about the Sith. The Sith did not have a council in place, they were a body of two people: A master and an apprentice. Darth Sidious was once the apprentice to Darth Plagueis, but killed him in his sleep.
Sidious worked with Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, and eventually Darth Vader in the prequels, and though each relationship was different, they served the same purpose in the Sith Lord's plan.
Do you have a favorite moment from the prequels? Memories of seeing them for the first time? Let us know in the comments below!
Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with all things Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. Follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek and keep up with all things geeky at her blog.