‘Star Wars’: Mark Hamill on What’s Wrong With ‘The Phantom Menace’

The Phantom Menace is one of the more controversial movies in the Star Wars canon. Mark Hamill did not appear in the film, however, he did open up about his feelings toward the film. He had a theory as to what set it apart from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Mark Hamill near a Star Wars poster
Mark Hamill | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

The bizarre reception of ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’

The Phantom Menace is among the most divisive blockbusters ever. It was a popular culture juggernaut upon its release in 1999, however, it garnered a negative reputation for supposedly not living up to earlier films in the saga. For context, fans had to wait a staggering 16 years between Star Wars films so expectations were high. In more recent years, a new generation of fans who grew up with The Phantom Menace are offering new, more positive perspectives on it.

Mark Hamill weighs in on the movie and Jar Jar Binks

Hamill gave an atypical interview to Empire where he commented on The Phantom Menace. Instead of a single journalist asking Hamill questions, Hamill responded to fan queries. One of them came from a fan named Chris Jones who wanted to know if Hamill believed The Phantom Menace lived up to its full potential. The fan asked Jones to be very direct about his feelings.

A trailer for The Phantom Menace

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“Well, I don’t know,” Hamill said. “From what I understand, The Phantom Menace was more popular than the earlier films. I guess the expectations were so beyond belief because people had waited for so long. I get very defensive because I’m not really connected with these new pictures, but people on the street will criticize it and I sort of get upset. It’s like, it’s [O.K.] for me to criticize Jar Jar [Binks], but I don’t want to hear that from someone else. What I say is, ‘It’s okay to criticize, but be constructive.’”

Mark Hamill on what made the early ‘Star Wars’ film different than ‘The Phantom Menace’

Hamill added “In other words, if I were to talk to George [Lucas] – and I will – I’d say to him, ‘One of the greatest advantages that the earlier pictures had, which the new picture did not have, was a voice of skepticism.’ We had someone in there going, (snorts) ‘The Force, are you kidding me? I’m just here for the money.’” Hamill appeared to be referring to Han Solo, who was more concerned with payment than the supernatural in the original Star Wars.

Mark Hamill discusses Samuel L. Jackson and contradicts himself

Hamill said when he heard Samuel L. Jackson was cast in The Phantom Menace, he thought Jackson’s character would offer some skepticism to the film. However, he was surprised to see Jackson was portrayed as a sort of Pope of the Jedi order. In addition, Hamill was disappointed the actors in the film were very serious.

A modernized trailer for The Phantom Menace

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Later in the same interview, Hamill revealed he told a fan he thought The Phantom Menace was amazing. However, the fan told him it was awful. The Star Wars fandom has had varying reactions to The Phantom Menace — and so has Hamill.