The ‘Star Wars’ Sequels Missed The Mark By Leaving Out The True Meaning of The Saga

Star Wars discourse: you can’t live on the internet without seeing at least some of it. Whether it is people hating on a specific movie or character, or it consists of fans praising their chosen favorite, Star Wars takes up a lot of online banter space. And one of the main pillars of argument revolves around the prequels and sequels. Specifically, why either one is better than the other or how they don’t hold up the legacy as well as they could. Even though the prequels get a lot of the hate, it’s the sequels that miss the meaning of Star Wars

Just to be clear, none of the trilogies deserve any hate. While the sequel loses the core theme of Star Wars, it still has its moments and importance within in the franchise. Plus, the energy it takes to hate a movie actively? Not worth it. 

The screen with a promo image for 'The Rise Of Skywalker' before a screening at a 'Star Wars' Marathon hosted by Nerdist.
A ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ screening during a ‘Star Wars’ Marathon hosted by Nerdist | JC Olivera/Getty Images

The sequel trilogy completely misses the core theme of ‘Star Wars’

From The Force Awakens to The Last Jedi to the recently released The Rise of Skywalker, the sequels gave a whole new generation Star Wars movies. They were the first movies from the franchise since Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Even though they brought a lot of good, they might have been better off as a separate entity outside of the Skywalker saga. They’re touted as the last piece in that saga, but they deviate from a lot of the soul of the first two trilogies. 

That’s because at the heart of Star Wars is Anakin Skywalker. Even though the original trilogy didn’t start as a Darth Vader-centric story, George Lucas went with the fans’ love for the villain and told a story of redemption. And to really hit Anakin’s tragic tale home, Lucas made the prequels to show his beginnings. It showed that no one is born evil and that even the best people can be swayed to the Dark Side under specific circumstances. 

It almost diminishes Anakin’s whole redemption arc

As stated above, Anakin’s redemption runs throughout all three prequels and original films. Anakin went from a little boy on Tatooine who was once a slave, to the Padawan not moved by authority figures. He fell in love, risked everything for his wife, and still stayed with the Jedi. Because of his desire to love and his passionate hate and fear, he was easily tricked and gave into evil. 

And in the original trilogy, Darth Vader is as criminal as they get, destroying whole planets and torturing whoever to get his way. But he stops it all, to save his son. Luke gets underneath that helmet and reaches Anakin Skywalker through Vader’s control. He is redeemed and rejoins the Jedi in Force Ghost form at the end of Return of the Jedi. It’s perfect to watch in that order. To see how all aspects of his character laid out raw for the audience and have him redeemed by his son. 

And the sequel trilogies almost threw that out the window. Anakin isn’t a part of them at all, except in The Rise of Skywalker. And when Kylo Ren did mention him, he’s using a bastardization of Anakin’s memory in The Force Awakens and onward. Palpatine was messing with the perception of his grandfather, but it still doesn’t leave room for a lot of the real Anakin to peak through. 

Anakin Skywalker has one of the most tragic — and most significant — stories of all time

The sequels almost set up Ben Solo/Kylo Ren as a pseudo-Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. But no one in the Star Wars franchise had as great of a fall or as tragic of a story as Anakin’s. There’s so much conflict in him and so much power that he couldn’t handle it all. In trying to save the person he loved the most, he completely lost himself and any semblance of happiness he could have had. 

As Lucas once wrote, he wasn’t going to make more movies expanding on Luke and Leia because he felt Darth Vader’s redemption was good enough. It might have been better to make these sequels their own “A Star Wars Story,” like Solo or Rogue One, instead of trying to reach for that Skywalker aspect. Like when Rey took on the Skywalker name; instead of making it the full-circle moment J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio were trying to do, it doesn’t feel right.

The connection to everything in Star Wars wasn’t just “Skywalker,” but a specific Skywalker: Anakin.