In the pantheon of Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace isn’t exactly held in the highest regard. When Episode I hit theaters in the summer of 1999, it was arguably the most anticipated blockbuster in the history of cinema, and lived up to the hype from a commercial perspective after becoming the second highest-grossing movie of all-time. However, the critical reactions were a lot more muted.
Even after 22 years, the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia still haven’t seen the first installment of the Prequel Trilogy undergo a reappraisal, with the flaws in the plot, character and script departments as glaring as ever. That being said, one person heavily by The Phantom Menace was Leslye Headland, executive producer and showrunner of upcoming Disney Plus series The Acolyte.
In a new interview, the Russian Doll creator admitted that the plot led her to wonder how the battles between the Jedi and the Sith had reached a point where the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on the future of a child, and with The Acolyte set to take place towards the end of the High Republic era, it could end up painting The Phantom Menace in an entirely new light.
“I know there were varying reactions to it. And certainly there were a lot of people that had grown up with the original trilogy who were disappointed by it. But I actually was very intrigued by why George Lucas had started us at that particular point. I kind of wondered, but what happened to lead up to this? That’s kind of where my Star Wars fan brain went was like, ‘How did we get here? And why are the Jedi like this?’.
When they are in power, why are they acting this way and how is it that they’re not having the reaction that you would think they would to Anakin’s presence and what Qui-Gon Jinn is saying about how passionately he feels about training him and bringing him into the fold. It’s like, even the discovery of Darth Maul is kind of met with this like, ‘Hm, interesting’, kind of feeling. So I just think for me, my brain has always buzzed around that area and wondered what’s going on here, or what has been going on here.”
We still don’t know much about the show other than the setting and teases that it’ll be a mystery thriller with a heavy martial arts element. In fact, it was only recently that Headland spoke about The Acolyte publicly for the first time, which is a good indicator that things are progressing well behind the scenes, even if an official start date for production hasn’t quite been nailed down as of yet, but it should surely only be a matter of time.