Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace ushered in a new era of Star Wars for a generation of fans. The Prequel Trilogy shaped stories decades later, such as The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, Andor, Star Wars Rebels, and more.
Looking at the movie that kicked off so many stories in the franchise, here are 25 things to love about The Phantom Menace.
1. Qui-Gon Jinn
The Prequel Era introduced a slew of new Jedi, and one of the more fascinating characters was Qui-Gon Jinn. The unorthodox master of Obi-Wan Kenobi walked a different path than most around him.
He could be as whimsical as he was bold, full of riddles but brash. Qui-Gon was an interesting Jedi adding to the uniqueness of the Prequels.
2. Obi-Wan Kenobi
One universal agreement among fans is Ewan McGregor was brilliant as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Channeling the performance of Alec Guinness, McGregor’s portrayal of the great Jedi as a young and eager padawan was a new take on a classic character.
He shouldered the responsibility of taking on Anakin Skywalker, grieved his fallen master, and became the first Jedi in hundreds of years to defeat a Sith Lord. McGregor brought every bit of his talent to the role, making it one of the most memorable in the franchise.
Naboo is a gorgeous new location introduced to the Star Wars universe. The capital city of Theed shines with its mix of Italian and Turkish designs.
The tranquil world is revisited throughout the Prequel Trilogy as it is the homeworld of Padmé Amidala and Emperor Palpatine.
4. Otoh Gunga
Theed isn’t the only location on Naboo that’s breathtaking. The capital city of the Gungans, Otoh Gunga, is a beautiful underwater design for the aquatic warriors.
5. Padmé Amidala
Padmé Amidala is the complete package. She is incredibly crafty, hiding among her handmaidens to find the truth. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She is an elected queen at sixteen, and her politically driven mind will guide her to be a senator in the next movie.
Padmé is empathetic towards Shmi and Anakin’s plight as enslaved people. She holds her own against the Jedi, the Trade Federation, and the scum and villainy of Tatooine. Padmé Amidala is a force to be reckoned with.
6. Sabé and The Handmaidens
One of the best reveals of the film is for a good portion of the movie, who the audience thinks is Queen Amidala is actually her handmaiden, Sabé. The handmaidens of Naboo are hand-picked to be able to switch roles at any moment with Padmé for her protection.
The fashion of Queen Amidala is a vital part of the ruse, as explored in E.K. Johnston’s book Queen’s Shadow.
7. R2-D2’s Rescue
Introducing one of Star Wars’ greatest heroes is a relatively mundane scene, but that makes it a fantastic introduction. R2-D2 enters the movie with a group of droids to repair the ship the heroes are escaping Naboo on. He’s the last droid standing and gets fixed to join the team.
There’s nothing grandiose about the entrance, giving R2 humble origins for the legendary droid.
8. Jar Jar Binks
This writer was ten years old when the movie debuted and was the target audience for Jar Jar Binks. Created for kids and piloted by the ever-talented Ahmed Best, the character was beloved by young audiences who grew to cherish him despite the backlash the character and actor faced. Ahmed Best’s story is one of tragedy and triumph, making him a beloved actor in the franchise.
Jar Jar was also historic, being the first fully CGI character. He broke ground for other characters like Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the Na’vi in Avatar to be created.
9. Anakin Skywalker
This writer is a supporter and defender of Anakin Skywalker in this movie. He is the very embodiment of being a kid making the best of a horrible situation. He’s so incredibly sweet, going out of his way to build a droid from scratch to help his mother.
Anakin welcome the Jedi into his home and is enamored with them. He is filled with excitement, just like any other child his age. His heart breaks when he has to leave his mother, as he misses her dearly. He’s afraid when standing before a group of Jedi strangers, judging whether or not he’s good enough to join their ranks. Anakin is everything a child should be in this movie, which makes his eventual downfall to the Dark Side even more heartbreaking.
10. Shmi Skywalker
The mother of all Skywalkers is the very representation of the Light Side of the Force. Despite being enslaved, Shmi offers what little she has to feed the guests in her home. She advises Anakin that the galaxy would be a better place if people cared more about each other.
Shmi loves her son to the point of practicing the Jedi lesson of letting him go so he can follow the path he’s meant to. Shmi deserves all the love and more for her role in the Skywalker Saga.
Created in the novel Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, the city-planet is the capital of the Republic and, eventually, the Empire. With thousands of layers to venture into, Coruscant is a location that always has something new to explore.
12. The Senate
Part of the Republic is the importance of the Senate, and it’s a changing location explored from the Prequel Trilogy through the Clone Wars, Andor, and the Original Trilogy. The evolution of the Senate is a cautionary tale of how corruption breaks down democracy for fascism to invade.
13. The Jedi Council
Coming from the Original Trilogy, where only a handful of Jedi survived, the Prequel Trilogy showcases the Jedi Order with over 10,000 beings in its ranks.
The Jedi Council, in particular, is a menagerie of various Jedi from different planets, ages, and skills portraying the best the Order can offer in its leadership.
14. Mace Windu
Samuel L. Jackson brings a gravitas to Mace Windu as he balances the weight of his duty. As a member of the Jedi Council, Mace must be a leader and a pillar of strength to those around him. Mace’s unwavering firm nature made him sometimes seem blunt and cold.
But in reality, the growing threat of darkness that he and Yoda senses with the reveal of a Sith Lord means that Mace often has to make tough choices to protect the greater good. Samuel L. Jackson shines in the role, showcasing his range.
When a character is 800 years old, it was a given that Yoda would be in the film. Compared to his role in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, where he is more of a trickster, Yoda is far more serious in the Prequel Trilogy. The looming threat of the Dark Side worries him, showing a new side of the character to explore.
Tatooine is an iconic location in the Original Trilogy. It’s fun to revisit the planet once again. Nostalgia is on display, showing what the planet was like years before the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han.
17. Jabba the Hutt
No trip to Tatooine is complete without some appearance of the Hutts, particularly Jabba, who is still ruling. Overseeing the Boonta Eve Classic, the gangster slug makes a fun cameo.
The highlight of the middle part of the film is the podracing. The action set piece has everything that makes Star Wars great, mixing high-octane action with comedy and heart.
The entire sequence was one of George Lucas’ most ambitious visions to pull off at the time, something he succeeded at.
For the podrace, Anakin’s rival is the delightfully deceitful Sebulba. The mustache-twirling racer is the perfect amount of cartoon-like villain to face off against a child.
Slimy in nature from his introduction, it’s delightful watching him get his comeuppance as Anakin wins the race.
20. Warwick Davis Cameo
After his appearance as Wicket in Return of the Jedi and the two Ewok films, Warwick Davis began his ongoing career appearing in various Star Wars projects as different characters. In The Phantom Menace, Warwick portrays Weazel, who is part of Jabba the Hutt’s entourage.
He would reprise Weazel as a redeemed character working as the Lieutenant for Enfys Nest in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
21. New Alien Species
The Phantom Menace expanded the Star Wars universe by introducing a few dozen new alien species. These aliens include Zabraks, Dugs, Chagrians, Tholothians, Aleena, Toydarians, and many more. New aliens add to the rich visual tapestry of Star Wars, making the worldbuilding more interesting.
22. Battle of Naboo
The Battle of Naboo is a fantastic climatic multi-faceted brawl. From the battle above the planet to Padmé leading the ground troops against the backdrop of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan facing off against Darth Maul, there is something here for every Star Wars fan.
23. Darth Maul
Darth Maul became a fan-favorite character thanks to his introduction in the film. The design of the Sith Lord is unique and striking, and his lightsaber skills are incredible as he fends off two Jedi.
The character would be explored in books, comics, and series to become one of the most complex individuals in the franchise, but his great story began in The Phantom Menace.
24. Duel of the Fates
If there is one thing that Star Wars fans agree on, “Duel of the Fates” is one of John Williams' outstanding pieces of Star Wars music. The theme is used again throughout the Prequel Trilogy, and elements of it can be heard in the franchise, like in Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Clone Wars, and multiple Star Wars video games.
25. Senator Palpatine
As the titular character, Palpatine is incredibly cunning throughout the movie. As a Republic senator, Palpatine fools the entire galaxy making those around him believe he is on the side of peace. In reality, the Sith Lord plays a plodding and patient game as he carefully moves the necessary pieces into position. One fun fact is that the final song on The Phantom Menace soundtrack during the parade on Theed is “Augie's Great Municipal Band.”
The song is a reworked version of “The Emperor’s Theme” from the Original Trilogy, sped up and in a major key, symbolizing that the end of The Phantom Menace is a victory for Palpatine.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.