I’m almost loathe to post this article. Not because I want to throw any shade on The Phantom Menace, far from it. Of all episodes in the Star Wars saga, this film grows and opens up with every viewing, its importance impossible to understate. I just refuse to believe that it was 19 years ago when I sat down in the Showcase Cinema on the Las Vegas Strip with my lifelong friend Paul Squire and a few hundred other fans and watched the return of the greatest space fantasy of all.
When George Lucas made his decision to return to the saga in the mid 90’s, it was this story he sat down to write. Some disagreed with his decision to center the story on a pre-teen Anakin Skywalker, telling the story from the perspective of a 9 year old slave on Tatooine and not the dark, broody young man he would turn in to. Looking back, it was a masterstroke.
Lucas was recently interviewed by James Cameron for his new series James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, and Lucas had this to say which speaks to his decision to focus on telling this story from a younger point of view.
“One of the reasons why I made Star Wars is it’s made for 12-year-olds. It appeals to everybody but it was still made for 12-year-olds and I tell people: don’t underestimate 12-year-olds. They’re smarter than the rest of us. They get stuff much faster than you do….”
Almost two decades later, the world has changed and the Star Wars story, especially of this era, has been greatly enhanced by six magnificent years of Dave Filoni’s The Clone Wars. The Phantom Menace kicked off a 14 year deep dive into the prequel era, was the first Star Wars film to do a billion dollars worldwide and gave us Jar Jar Binks, the modern era version of Mace Windu and some stunning John Williams themes.
Here’s a thought. The Phantom Menace is as far behind us today as The Empire Strikes Back was when Phantom came out. Where will we be with the saga in another 19 years? I’ll be 66, by then (if I get that far) a veteran of 60 years as a Star Wars fan. People will then be looking back to this era, of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and Solo to say nothing of the TV output we have.
Back in 1999 I was running Wirezone, which was just about to rename itself Lightsabre, the forerunner of this very site. In 19 years time will there still be traditional websites as we know them today? Will it all be social media led? Will we take a red or blue pill with our morning ration cubes to get the latest news? Who knows, but in one form or another we’ll be here to cover it.