Based on the wildly different yet equally polarizing reception to The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, trying to imagine how Star Wars fans would have reacted to The Phantom Menace had it been released in the social media age doesn’t even bear thinking about. There’s no denying George Lucas’ worldbuilding abilities and talent when it comes to crafting and expanding mythologies, but the franchise’s creator has always been sorely lacking as a writer.
Episode I was the single most highly-anticipated blockbuster in history when it arrived in 1999, and expectations were through the roof for a brand new entry into a sci-fi series that had long since ascended to legendary status. Unfortunately, however, a lot of people were left sorely disappointed by a turgid plot that focused far too heavily on Senate machinations at the expense of any genuine excitement, and the less said about Jar Jar Binks the better.
In a new interview included in The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 book, Lucas defended his decision to have the story of The Phantom Menace hinge on politics and trade disputes by claiming that it had a firm basis in the realities of our society, saying:
“That’s how wars start. There’s no coup, there’s no rebellion, there’s no nothing. They vote it in, which is what happens in real life.”
Obviously, fans don’t flock to see a big budget spectacle-driven blockbuster set in a galaxy far, far away in the hopes that it reflects the real world, and as a result, the scenes in question are often painfully dull and a chore to sit through. Lucas obviously had good intentions and was aiming to infuse his intergalactic adventures with some weighty political subtext, but once again, his shortcomings as a writer came to the fore and reduced The Phantom Menace‘s Senate bickering to abject tedium.