when george lucas announced he’d be releasing a series of prequels that would show how anakin skywalker grew into one of the galaxy’s most terrifying villains, star wars fans lost their damn minds — and with good reason. darth vader is one of cinema’s most iconic figures, and the films told us very little about his origin story. the idea of three films tracing his origins as a jedi through his eventual transformation into a sith lord was enough to make even the most casual star wars fans squee just a little.
unfortunately… the prequels were… less than stellar. by and large, audience reactions ranged from unimpressed to enraged at the poor acting, cartoonish effects and all around lack of connection to the original trilogy they’d fallen in love with. that said, now that there’s been a decade or so to cool off, fan reaction to the prequels is a little more forgiving. so forgiving, in fact, that there are those who would seek to defend the prequels over the original trilogy. as all great battles in nerd history are fought these days, the weapon of choice is the meme. we’ve gathered some of the most savage originals vs. prequels memes in this list to give you an idea of just how brutal this battle can get.
15. rip george lucas
oh man, has george lucas taken no small amount of flack for his prequel “vision.” while fans were way less than impressed with hayden christensen and natalie portman’s romance, they saved the bulk of their vitriol for the creator himself. they couldn’t understand how he could preside over such wooden acting and also betray the practical effects that many thought were the heart and soul of the original trilogy.
while lucas was certainly ambitious in his attempt to utilize cgi to present an even more vibrant and fantastical star wars universe, the result wound up being the addition of characters like jar jar binks and a ninja yoda that no one really asked for. unfortunately, for a guy like lucas and a franchise like star wars, the only options are success or utter failure, and many fans consider lucas to have done the latter.
14. mutually exclusive fandoms
we sincerely hope the hot girl meme never dies. it’s so versatile! this time it’s making fun of the typical og star wars fan reaction to anyone who has a positive thing to say about the prequels. if you’re reading this and you’re a trekker, admitting to actually enjoying the prequels is, to many, admitting that star trek: enterprise is your favorite series. did you actually even watch it?
but that’ll happen with generational fandoms. expectations were so high for the prequels, they most likely would’ve had to approach flawlessness to garner positive comparisons to the originals. frankly, at the epic movie-making level, that kind of thing is hard to do — even for someone like lucas. given the context, it’s not surprising that, without the burden of expectation, some people really enjoy attack of the clones.
13. the originals aren’t perfect
yes this meme has a glaring typo that makes it… well, even funnier, to be honest. but that doesn’t take away the inherent truth of its message — there are things to poke fun at in episodes iv-vi as well, no matter how much fans might want to brush them under the rug. luke skywalker’s kind of a dopey hero, and the effects are hella low-budget, which, as much as we can all forgive it, is a thing that’s hard for modern audiences to swallow.
just ask star trek: the next generation fans how they feel about star trek: the original series. the nice ones will smile warmly and change the subject. the less nice ones will roll their eyes and start ranting about hammy acting and chauvinism. point being, no matter how much people may hate the prequels, their perceived lack of quality doesn’t absolve the original movies of their own sins.
12. cookie monster
this meme, while not only top-notch wit, is a brilliant send-up of hayden christensen’s namby-pamby, emo anakin skywalker. we certainly don’t envy the actor who had to take up the mantle and embody the backstory of the most iconic villain in cinematic history, and it really stinks that his performance fell so flat. but his dawson’s creek vibe just didn’t make sense with the gravitas of what people expected from the boy who would be vader.
this meme is funny because it hits the nail on the head reducing anakin skywalker’s journey to sad cookie man/angry cookie man. even when he was murdering younglings, anakin still looks like he’s pouting. the degree of face/voice incongruence with james earl jones was just too much to take.
11. pre-partum depression?
seriously, so a perfectly healthy woman in her prime with the benefits of what are, by all accounts, very sophisticated medicine at her disposal and a few jedi masters hanging around… dies in childbirth? after leia claims to have remembered seeing her in the original trilogy? padmé’s death was infuriating because it was such a blatant narrative attempt to imbue anakin’s transformation with higher stakes. unfortunately, it didn’t work.
the romance between padmé and anakin was as dull as toast and so, so disappointing. luke and leia’s story was born out of their parents’ “epic” love story, but that love story was anything but epic. amidala’s death was the deflated cherry atop the melted sundae that was her romance with anakin. she did look really pretty at her funeral, though.
10. this meme has a point
if there’s one thing og star wars fans can’t really defend, it’s the fact that the prequels had more money and more juice behind them, effects-wise than the originals. and, frankly, it’s really hard for younger generations to get past movies that don’t look as sleek as what they’re used to. also, the prequels made a pretty ambitious attempt to broaden the scope of the already massive original trilogy, and in many ways, they succeeded.
the world-building lucas managed to do in the prequels, however cartoonish it may have looked, was still far more extensive than what he was able to do in the originals. many fans might not have liked the look of it, but it’s not surprising that there are more fans in today’s audiences that respond positively.
9. space fashion. whaddya gonna do?
oooh, man. did the costumes in the prequels really take a hit. well, frankly, all of the visuals took a hit, but it did feel like wardrobe was given a whole helluva lot of latitude in those movies. chalk it up to budget, but while the original trilogy’s costumes definitely looked other-worldly, they were still pretty practical. even leia in full royal regalia didn’t look anywhere near as affected as her mother did at dinner.
granted, the case could be made for the fact that even for royalty, resources were limited under the rule of the empire, so it’d be rare to see anyone dress flamboyantly under any circumstances. that said, so many characters in the prequels looked like they could’ve followed some immortal fashion advice and taken at least one thing off before they left the house.
8. no, baby, nooooo
the dark side, if you will, of fandom, is the weird opinion-elitism that abounds. there are properties so widely reviled by fans that to love them is to commit geek social suicide (yes, we know exactly how stupid that is). among them are star trek: voyager, the original buffy the vampire slayer and the star wars prequels. walk onto the show floor at any comic convention, shout your support for any of these properties and see what reactions you’ll get. we’ll bet it’ll be a 70/30 ratio of laughter to intense disagreement.
sometimes it feels like it’s only acceptable if you “love to hate” the prequels, which, at this point, almost makes it tempting to find value in them if only to disturb the waters. and honestly, anyone who takes this stuff so seriously as to actually get upset at someone’s opinion deserves to have their sh*t disturbed just a little.
7. the a.n.a.k.i.n. system
okay, so this isn’t a naked originals vs. prequels meme, but if your leading man is getting compared to dennis from it’s always sunny, it should go without saying that by default, your rival is getting complimented. if you’re not an it’s always sunny fan, this meme is in reference to the d.e.n.n.i.s. system of seducing women. adjusted for anakin, it’s… scary funny.
he admires padmé from afar, he nurtures her dependance, he assists the senate (like a dope), he kills the younglings, then gets told that in his rage he killed her, too, and finally, nooooooo. it’s not a great… long-term plan, but it does have a 100% success rate. though, that depends on your metric for success. if it’s ending up single, but possessed of great power and secret kids, go for it!
6. there are only so many movies
here’s the thing: the original trilogy is a trilogy. that means there are only three. being a star wars fan isn’t like being a star trek fan — you have limited amounts of content to share with friends. yes there are endless books and supplementary content, but you can’t really throw a party around those. and before the force awakens, that meant you only had six movies of star wars content to watch with your buds.
if statistics don’t lie, more often than not, most people in that room only wanted to watch three of those movies, ever. if you were the one person who didn’t mind watching the prequels if it meant you could change it up every now and then, you’ve probably been shouted down once or twice. sorry about that. at least now you have rogue one!
5. obi-wan is all of us
while there’s definitely a limit to how seriously fans should probably take the originals vs. prequels debate, we understand why there’s serious beef. waiting decades for a beloved franchise to be continued only to have it fall so short of expectations was heartbreaking for a lot of people. this is especially true when you consider that this was really the only shot anyone was ever going to get at telling anakin skywalker’s story.
obi-wan’s despair at seeing his protegé fall so far from grace is kind of creepily representative of how many star wars fans felt about the prequels. these movies were supposed to take the originals to a whole different level. and they did, it was just in the wrong direction… and that genuinely sucks because with this kind of thing, there aren’t any second chances to get it right.
4. we don’t know how to feel…
let’s not pretend samuel l. jackson in star wars wasn’t one of the cooler things that’s happened in this life. is there anything this man can’t make more badass? no. the answer is no. that said, even mace windu couldn’t save the prequels from the problems that plague them. that’s what makes this meme so satisfying and… conflicting at the same time.
using another of sam jackson’s iconic characters (name one that isn’t, we dare you), jules winfield of pulp fiction, this meme gets very meta in its send-up of the prequels. using the likeness of an actor from the prequels to insult the prequels is as savage as it is kind of genius. that said, our endorsement of this meme is in no way an endorsement of any tinfoil theories that pulp fiction and star wars share a universe. hear that, reddit?
3. green screen of death
this meme was probably meant to be funny (and it is), but it speaks to a more serious debate than just prequels vs. originals. while practical effects have their limitations, to be sure, doing away with them almost completely in favor of cgi made the prequels look painfully cartoonish to many. that reaction mirrors a larger one had by many moviegoers at the almost total elimination of practical effects from film. quite simply, cgi lacks soul.
take yoda — the iconic jedi master was brought to life by frank oz, who operated and voiced the puppet. the viewing is experience is markedly different in the prequels when he’s cgi, even though he’s got the ability to really show off his skills. even though puppet yoda is infirm, knowing that he’s made of a material we could actually touch is somehow more impressive than a cartoon yoda that kicks ass.
2. don’t forget to check yourself…
if you’ve seen tangled, you know that for at least the first part of the movie, finn’s kind of a know-it-all doof. this meme is kind of great at turning his boneheaded character into a representation of casual fans who sound off about this “great” star wars debate when they should probably just sit down and be quiet.
of course there are no laws against opinions, and geeks sometimes get overzealous when shutting people down, but there’s a flip side to that coin. fans care deeply about their fandoms of choice because often their love of the work is a very personal experience. when someone’s insensitive to that just to rile people up, it’s… a little galling and disrespectful. if you’ve been a star wars fan for five minutes, best to remember that you could unintentionally step on some toes if you take things too lightly.
1. foxworthy ftw
this meme closes this list not because we’re rampant foxworthy fans, but because it sums up exactly how seriously is too seriously to take this debate. there are fans out there who hate the prequels so much that they basically turn a blind eye to their existence and try to argue they’re not canon. and that’s just too far.
yes, they were disappointing to many, yes they whiffed a love story that was an incredibly important element of the original trilogy, and yes, they kind of ruined yoda. *sigh* but, at the end of the day, they’re still star wars. they might not be the best of star wars, but there’s no getting around the fact that its the story we got, and, at some point, must make peace with. it’s time to lay down the lightsabers and focus on the good parts instead of what disappointed.
where do you fall in the og vs. prequel debate? let us know in the comments!
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