Yoda, in much of the original Star Wars trilogy, could be mistaken for a senile muppet. When I watched A New Hope after seeing him in The Phantom Menace, it seemed like he was filling the Jar Jar role this time around, bumbling and nonsensical, fighting with R2-D2 and stealing Luke’s food. Where was the sage Jedi Master who had so impressively kicked Count Dooku’s ass? Yoda for me is a guru figure, brimming with wisdom gathered over centuries, and the rare moments of him dumping his cloak to literally run rings around his rivals, doing backflips and jumping off walls, remain some of my favourite scenes of the entire franchise. Prequel Yoda reigns supreme, in my opinion.
2. Having more than one Jedi around at a time
Pre-Order 66 was a good time for Star Wars. Jedi abounded, and even though their roles were pretty twisted by war by the time the prequel films came around, there’s no prequel snob who can’t say they didn’t enjoy the sheer mass of the Jedi’s presence in the films.
One of the most fascinating aspects of any SFF saga is seeing how the world within it actually works. Coruscant’s size and scale has always blown me away, and while it doesn’t have the symbolic resonance of Tatooine, it’s somewhere I’d kill to explore. The idea of a city-covered planet is super tantalising, and every glimpse you get of it fills you with questions – there are so many untold stories from the galaxy’s capital.
4. More lightsaber duels
Naturally, more Jedi means more lightsaber fights. While the original films hold much more drama in their duels, the frequency with which the prequel films provide the extremely pleasing sound of a lightsaber opening is A+. More contemporary special effects also allowed ILM to toy with some more energetic combat styles in the prequels.
5. Darth Maul
Darth Maul’s theme, Duel of the Fates, is reason enough on its own to validate the prequels. Darth Maul’s costume design could also stand alone as saviour of these much-maligned films. Lucky for us, he also makes for an eerily broody on-screen presence, a perfectly mysterious apprentice to Darth Sidious, and an excellently open-ended storyline that was later picked up to great success by the animated series. The logistical set-up of Maul vs Qui Gon & Obi Wan is one of the most suspenseful of the whole series, and his use of the Juyo combat form is beautiful to watch.
6. General Grievous
I’ll admit Grievous doesn’t have the solemn respectability of Maul, but who can really say no to a multi-lightsaber-wielding cyborg with a really bad cough as leader of the Droid Army?
7. The Droid Army
As legitimate idiots, I get why these guys might get on some folk’s nerves. However, they did provide an excellent platform on which to showcase the Jedi’s incredible combat skills without having to fill three films with manslaughter.
8. Clone Troopers
Stormtroopers and their terrible aim are the butt of the original Star Wars films’ joke. Look back to the Clone Army of the Republic, and these bucketheads are all of a sudden fierce soldiers, with world-class battle skills and proper character personas. Seeing the bonds between clone troopers and their Jedi commanders develop over the course of the prequels makes Order 66 so much more heartbreaking. I generally welcome any glimpse of Republic-controlled assets that we’re more used to seeing in the hands of the Empire later on.
9. The animated series
There’s no getting away with the fact that Anakin played by Hayden Christensen is an embarrassment to Star Wars, but Anakin played by Matt Lanter in The Clone Wars is a gift. The animated series, made possible by the prequel films, do much to restore the faith of anyone who finds the prequels kiddish or dodgily SFX’d up, and even if none of the above reasons to love Episodes I-III convince you, you should give The Clone Wars and Rebels a chance.
10. This meme