5 Times ‘Star Wars’ Let Us Down

Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars The Phantom Menace

Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace | Lucasfilm

Ask anyone their favorite Star Wars film, and you’re likely to get flooded with answers of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, with a smattering of mentions of the other films. However, if one were to poll the whole of the Star Wars fandom asking for the worst thing the saga has brought us, there would be a lot more dissension in the crowd.

Don’t get us wrong: Star Wars is one of the most successful, beloved film franchises of all time. But we’ve already discussed that nothing in that universe is sacred. Besides, 40 years of history is bound to be marked by a few egregious missteps.

These are the worst of the worst when it comes to the Star Wars saga. We’re not trying to harp on any fans who still appreciate the below parts of the saga. Rather, we’re basing our selections on the general reception of these specific elements of Star Wars and how their place in the franchise has changed over the years. Deep breath, everyone, and let’s begin.

1. Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

Since we’re going in chronological order here, it should come as no surprise that the first major black mark against the saga is this 1978 abomination. Sadly, it’s still considered one of the worst things to come out of the saga, to the point that George Lucas has been keeping it locked away for years. Despite the presence of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and, yes, Harrison Ford, this ridiculous musical holiday special is about as dreadful, bizarre, and boring as Star Wars can get. At least an animated sequence gave birth to fan-favorite Boba Fett. Oh, and the special backs up defenders of the prequels that proclaim that those releases are by far not the worst thing to come out of the franchise.

2. Fruitless, subpar spinoffs

The Ewok Adventure

Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure | Lucasfilm

Speaking of terrible spinoffs, younger fans may not know that Lucasfilm somehow thought it was a good idea to make a pair of television films centering on the Ewoks. That’s right. One of the most divisive alien species this side of Otoh Gunga became the centerpiece of the 1984 film, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and its 1985 sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. The fuzzy little creatures even earned a two-season run as an animated series that was later aired alongside a droids series centering on C-3PO and R2-D2. Remember, Star Wars fans, this was the state of the franchise during the hiatus that began in the mid-1980s. Not a pretty sight.

3. An endless parade of changes (1997)

In 1997, fans rejoiced when news broke that the original trilogy would be returning to theaters for the first time in years. However, just as quickly, many longtime fans shrieked in terror when they caught the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, as all three films featured drastic changes to the series they knew and loved. Some of it was simply cleaning up effects shots, but there was also the addition of a silly musical number, a repetitive, once-deleted scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt, and worst of all, the groundswell of hate that came out of the cantina confrontation between Han and Greedo. We still say Han should have just shot first, just as God (and Lucas) originally intended it.

4. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace | Lucasfilm

Just two years after enduring the special editions, fans had only just recovered when the release of the first theatrical Star Wars film in 16 years was imminent. As we now know, The Phantom Menace — while not inundated with hate right away — has come to be viewed as the low point for the franchise. The focus on trade routes and legislation, the wooden, obnoxious acting by Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker, and the script’s overabundance of childish humor weighed down what should have been a grand return for Star Wars. Let’s not forget that the film created the poster boy for all things negative about the saga: Jar Jar Binks.

5. Farewell to the Expanded Universe (2014)

Star Wars Shadows of the Empire

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire | Bantam Books

Once A New Hope hit theaters, it didn’t take long for Star Wars to develop into a multimedia phenomenon. Especially during the significant gaps between the original, prequel, and current trilogies, the wealth of novels, comic books, and other stories set in the Star Wars universe helped to keep the franchise alive. It also helped flesh out the details that weren’t covered in the films, including the period after the fall of the Empire.

However, once Disney took over, all of that content was washed away from the canon, as The Force Awakens came and wiped the slate clean. In the interest of keeping the films alive, we understand the creative decision, but it was also a huge slap in the face of fans who have cherished the chance to keep up with their favorite characters.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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