When did public opinion on the Star Wars prequels become more positive?

I was in late elementary through early high school when the Star Wars prequels were released. The prime age to have nostalgia for them. Yet at the time I didn’t like them that much despite loving Star Wars. Watching them as an adult they are terribly written and poorly acted (except of Ewan McGregor) movies with comically bad CGI whose central drama is centered on one of the least convincing love stories every committed to film. I wasn’t alone in this opinion, from the film’s release til the last couple year I feel like the broad consensus among most people, including Star Wars fans and more general ned culture, was similar. The movies were considered huge disappointment, the Mr. Plinkett reviews were very popular, and when Disney purchased Lucasfilm many were happy that the property was out of Lucas’ hands.

However in the past couple years I feel like I see a lot more people who express genuine love for them. Especially on places like reddit many seem genuinely upset that Hayden Christiansen’s Anakin was not included in the sequels.

What happened? Did r/prequelmemes whip it back into popularity? Is it part of The Last Jedi backlash? Is the Clone Wars series really that great?

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I seriously think it’s just people who grew up with the prequels having nostalgia. Some other stuff - The Clone Wars TV series has helped redeem a lot of that era by making it deeper and developing a lot of the characters. I also think, though I generally like the new movies, that the prequels are less “generic” than the sequel trilogy. For all the flaws, the prequels had some interesting ideas and aspired to be more than straight action movies.


I don’t know but I do not like it.


I made a long post about this a week ago but the short version is “people are probably nostalgic for this weirder era of movies before nerd-culture franchises became mainstream and static”.


I would argue that the prime age to love the prequels would be younger. I was 4 when TPM came out, and I loved that shit. It was my first Star Wars movie; more than that, I thought it was all Star Wars was. I was amazed to learn that they had made Episodes 4, 5, and 6 before 1, 2, and 3.

I have friends who still think those movies are great. I don’t, but I also don’t think they’re nearly as bad as everyone makes them out to be.

I also think that when you love something a whole lot as a kid, and everyone does nothing but shit on that thing, it makes you reflexively defensive. Like, I think I would have been more critical of the movies earlier if I hadn’t spent years liking Star Wars, but the only “allowable” opinion on the prequels online was that they were straight garbage, and nothing good could be said about them.

Edit: I also realized that I have a very clear memory of a friend on the bus when I was in first grade telling me about what happens at the end of Episode 2 where Anakin uses two lightsabers, and being fucking pumped.

Edit 2: Also, I wanted to get a rat tail because that’s what I thought Obi-Wan’s padawan braid was in Episode 1.


I think it’s mostly nostalgia and memes.

I was 7 when Ep1 came out and so I grew up with a ton of prequels tie in merch because it was Star Wars and so my mom who was mostly against me owning things like Medal of Honor and CoD was perfectly fine with me getting games like Battle Front 1 & 2, Clone Commando’s, etc which I sunk hundreds of hours into. Also the LEGO sets were often really good and if you were a child like me who wanted to build giant LEGO armies the star wars sets always gave a nice number of cannon fodder clones for your cooler characters to lead.

The thing I’ve come to accept about the prequels that I like is the setting it created. It essentially became G.I. Joe but in space where everyone had their favorite Jedi and there were outlandish villains in the comics and cartoon that ran in 5 minute increments.

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If you want a real answer, I think it has a lot to do with /r/prequelmemes.

At first, that subreddit was just a collection of how wacky and stilted a lot of the Prequel dialogue is:

“Another happy landing.”

“I am the senate.”

“I have the high ground!”

These phrases have had such a cultural impact online, that they seem to have taken the tone of the reception of the film from outright mockery to celebration. You could find prequel meme references in any random video, as a response to a twitter post… In fact, the modern films and TV shows make references to them.

So, as with any community online, it’s original purpose has shifted into something else entirely. If you go on the sub now, you’ll see people disparaging the sequel films by USING prequel memes. It has basically become a second /r/starwars, with the general consensus that the prequel films are GOOD just misunderstood. There’s value in that, I think, but I don’t like how the sub has just become a sequel hate club.


Then what I don’t understand is that there seems to be a big overlap between prequel apologists and The Last Jedi haters. TLJ was lots of thing but it certainly wasn’t a safe or unambitious movie.


Maybe this is a sign that I’m just getting old. I get the backlash against the overwhelming negativity but the prequels, especially I and II, really are badly made movies. Go back and watch them and see how much time is spent in very dull conversations, dead-end plots, and bloodless battle scenes. Episode I barely has a plot and doesn’t advance the overall story in any meaningful way.


First: In the leadup to TROS I watched the prequels, the originals, and the sequels in numbered order with friends who also grew up with the prequels. They’re absolutely not great, but more than anything else, they’re Star Wars; as in, there was never a time for me when the prequels weren’t Star Wars.

Second: I have never felt that Episode 1 was too dull; every bit of the trade dispute conversations sets up a thing for the film: Sidious, the Jedi, the Trade federation is going ambush the Jedi rather than have negotiations. It’s not genius or anything, but it was enough for 4-year-old me

Third: I object to the idea that there is no story advancement in Episode 1, but I don’t want to be that guy, you know?

My opinion of the prequels became more positive when they changed the range of my internal scale of quality by releasing the worst star wars movie last month. They’re still bad, but now are relatively better than they were.


Also, they can be badly made and I can still love them. Episode 2 is like four different movies in one, none of which are very good, but the idea that there’s a bit where Anakin and Obi-Wan are in a car chase on Coruscant, and Obi-Wan meeting an informant in a diner is so fucking ridiculous, I love it.

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I think this has always been their biggest appeal for me and what I understand to be the source of a lot of the positive public opinion. I was 11 when The Phantom Menace came out and 17 for Revenge of the Sith which provided a pretty good arc of time/personal development to recognize that the movies were not objectively good movies but they are George Lucas cosmic brain Star Wars to their very core.


They are bad and that, but we’ve recently learned just how bland and uninteresting (and frankly even worse) Star Wars movies can be. You gain new perspectives.


For me, it’s mostly a reaction to the realization that Gen X ruined my childhood because their irony poisoned critics taught me to hate joy.


There’s some part of my “negative -> indifference” to the prequels that stems from everyone parroting the same 3 critiques of Ep. I that RLM stated in that fucking insufferable review of theirs.

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This is my take on it, too. There was pretty much unanimous agreement that the prequels were bad (except for a grudging admission that certain approved scenes like the Duel of the Fates, etc. were kind of cool) until shortly after /r/prequelmemes took off and started infesting the rest of Reddit.

TFA’s release probably didn’t help matters, because for all their flaws the prequels are pretty friendly to the reactionary dipshits in their casting decisions if not in their themes.

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I think there’s something to this. I’m more familiar with music criticism than film, but it seems like criticism in general over the last 15 years or so has shifted away from this attitude of “let me prove my prowess as a writer by savaging this piece of art that probably wasn’t even meant for me in the first place” towards a more sincere assessment of genres that had previously been dismissed. That means there’s been a lot of space for reappraisal of albums/movies/etc. that were objects of ridicule when they were originally released.

I wouldn’t say the prequels have been vindicated by this, exactly, but people have gone back to them and salvaged what they could. On the other hand, everything bad about them has been so heavily discussed for so long that the conversation has been exhausted.


It’s the opposite, people made fun of stupid shit in the prequels when they came out but still enjoyed them and bought plenty of merch and embraced the spinoff stuff. The “Lucas sexually assaulted my childhood” folks were pretty a loud internet minority. And in general people comfortably settled into the territory of Phantom being bad, Attack of the Clones being alright but sand lmao, and Revenge being fun and decent. It wasn’t until the RLM video came out that people started to over-embrace them as being extremely terrible on every level in general.


backlash to the sequels having a woman and poc as main character. any excuse to hate the new movies, “oh the prequels aren’t that bad” ok sure


My personal theory is that the prequels get better the longer you go without actually watching them. There’s some outstanding ideas and worldbuilding in there, there’s stunning and memorable visuals and the story at large flows into the universally beloved original trilogy quite well and the animated series that relies heavily on the prequels is well liked, so the longer you go without actually remembering the experience of watching the films the better they seem.
I personally can’t fathom walking out of a showing of Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones and thinking it was a good time though (unless you were riffing on it with your friends, but anything can be fun that way).