When George Lucas announced that he would be bringing a trilogy of Star Wars prequels to the big screen, fans rejoiced. After all, many thought that the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi had marked the end of the franchise. The resulting prequel films — released from 1999 to 2005 — created quite a rift in the Star Wars fan community, but more than that, they led to a number of discrepancies between the story details established in the original trilogy and what was revealed in the new releases. Here are 10 of the most obvious ones.
For the record, we’re staying away from large-scale issues like the difference in technology between the two trilogies as well as the age of returning characters (notably, Owen and Beru Lars) and instead honing in on specific moments that remain in all versions of the films. Also, we’re referring strictly to the films themselves, not any of the tie-in novels or television series still considered canon.
1. Anakin’s history (from Obi-Wan’s point of view)
Granted, much of what Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker about his father is fabricated to protect the young farmboy from Anakin’s dark past. However, even the slivers of truth that he does include in his description of the elder Skywalker now seem disconnected from the reality depicted in the prequels. With no mention of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan makes it sound as if he discovered Anakin and his abilities when The Phantom Menace makes it clear that he didn’t initially believe in the boy’s potential and only trained him because he promised his dying master. Generally speaking, the older Obi-Wan doesn’t technically lie about everything (Anakin was a great pilot or, at least, pod-racer), but the scene still doesn’t quite fit like it should.
2. Luke Skywalker keeps his infamous surname
In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Bail Organa decide to hide Anakin’s children from the Empire. However, if the intention is to keep them safe, why do Owen and Beru raise Luke with the last name of Skywalker? A New Hope establishes that Imperial troops are present on Tattoine, and a young boy going by that name should raise a red flag or two. Moreover, it’s never established if anyone other than a select few even know that Anakin Skywalker transformed into Darth Vader or if it’s assumed that Anakin was wiped out along with the rest of the Jedi during Order 66. In any case, anyone bearing the name Skywalker would be of interest to the Empire. So it makes no sense to risk that a pre-Jedi Luke might be discovered and eradicated by stormtroopers.
3. “Always two there are … a master and an apprentice”
The prequel trilogy makes it abundantly clear that the Sith is able to endure in secret due to the “rule of two,” which ensures that no more than a pair of Sith Lords exist at any given time. The films repeatedly show that the Sith — including Darths Tyranus, Vader, and Sidious — are keen to betray one another in a never-ending bid for more and more power. Yet, in The Empire Strikes Back, Vader and the Emperor discuss how Luke would be a powerful ally to their cause because of his Force-sensitive lineage. Arguably, both Sith are clandestinely hoping to recruit Luke to the dark side to help overthrow the other, but the two of them discussing their plans to have Luke join their ranks now no longer matches what we know about how the Sith operate.
4. Yoda’s cryptic mention of “another”
In The Empire Strikes Back, Obi-Wan proclaims that Luke is their last hope to crush the Empire, to which Yoda memorably counters that “there is another.” Watching the films chronologically, Obi-Wan clearly knows about Leia and was, in fact, present at the twins’ birth. This begs the question of why he considers Luke their only remaining chance at defeating the Emperor. It’s possible that there simply isn’t enough time to also train Leia in the ways of the Force before the Empire closes in on our heroes, but as it stands, it makes Obi-Wan look like he either forgot about the other Skywalker twin or, even worse, that he has no faith in Leia’s ability to become a powerful Jedi in her own right.
5. Difference in the Death Star construction time
Way back in Attack of the Clones, the Death Star plans make a brief appearance as the Separtists’ ultimate weapon, and then in Revenge of the Sith, the planet-destroying space station is already under construction. Now jump ahead nearly 20 years to A New Hope: the Death Star is complete, operational, and easily able to wipe Leia’s home planet of Alderaan to smithereens in mere seconds. Still, upon its destruction, the Empire is able to ramp up construction time to the point that the Emperor secretly has Death Star 2.0 ready to go in just a few years. True, the new version in Return of the Jedi isn’t finished being built, but it’s still suspicious (and convenient, plot-wise) that the Empire is able to have it ready so quickly.
6. Leia remembers her real mother
Nevermind the fact that Padmé’s death was poorly attributed to her “[losing] the will to live.” The real crime in this scene is that it undercuts Leia’s moving recollection of her real mother in Return of the Jedi. Some have viewed her vague feelings of her mother as “beautiful,” “kind,” and “sad” as the films’ way of indicating that Leia is indeed Force-capable, and Lucas may have planned for that, seeing as Leia does glimpse her mother for a few seconds as a newborn. Still, it’s not enough to establish that it was always the plan for Padmé to die in childbirth. More likely, she was originally intended to die much later, but the story of Revenge of the Sith required that all loose ends be tied up.
7. Anakin becomes one with the Force
Regardless of whether or not you prefer Sebastian Shaw or Hayden Christensen as Anakin’s Force ghost (the latter opens up a whole other set of questions), there is no explanation for why Anakin Skywalker should ever be able to become one with the Force. Even though he achieves redemption by destroying the Emperor, the prequels establish that this particular Jedi ability has to be learned. In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon has found a way to communicate from beyond the grave and that he will provide Obi-Wan with instructions on how to do so as well. The fact that both Obi-Wan and Yoda appear to Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi makes perfect sense then, but the films never establish how Anakin manages to accomplish this same feat. Perhaps it’s just another perk of being “the chosen one.”
8. People have completely forgotten about the Jedi by A New Hope
In A New Hope, Han Solo opines that despite having traveled from one side of the galaxy, there’s nothing that’s convinced him the Force exists. It seems like an odd belief for anyone to have, especially given the fact that the Jedi were the galaxy’s peacekeepers for thousands of years before falling to the Empire. People wouldn’t simply forget about that. Hell, the Jedi were even the leading military presence in the Clone Wars, the biggest and most recent intergalactic conflict in the saga before the Rebel Alliance.
9. Rey grew up thinking Luke Skywalker didn’t exist
Look, we get it. Rey grew up on a junkyard planet that probably didn’t get a strong internet connection, and odds are she wasn’t privy to a good deal of common knowledge. But Luke Skywalker was known galaxy-wide as the person who blew up the first Death Star, the one who killed Darth Vader and the Emperor, and the last and only living Jedi. There’s no way that disappearing for a few months would make everyone forget he existed entirely, even on a backwater planet like Jakku.
10. Luke never hears about the actual Jedi fighting for the Rebellion before A New Hope
Admittedly, it makes sense to feature new Jedi characters in the animated Star Wars: Rebels TV series, it also presents a massive inconsistency. Luke spends the better part of the original trilogy in search of someone to teach him the ways of the Force. Meanwhile, Kanan Jarrus and his Padawan Ezra Bridger are right there fighting for the Rebel Alliance. At one point, they even talk directly to Yoda, and go toe-to-toe with Darth Vader himself, so it’s not like their existence is some huge secret. Either Kanan and Ezra both die before the Rebels TV series ends, or someone forgot to let Luke know that he wasn’t the only Jedi fighting against the Empire.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
Additional reporting from Nick Cannata-Bowman
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