Star Wars Fox Execs Were Concerned Young Anakin Would ‘Destroy The Franchise’
The Skywalkers have been the focal point of the Star Wars franchise beginning with Luke Skywalker back in 1977. Introducing Darth Vader as Luke’s father was an iconic scene in the franchise and brought forth plenty of mystery as to who the Sith Lord was before he became the tragic villain depicted in the first three films. When Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace was released back in 1999, fans were given the chance to see what Anakin Skywalker was like as a young child, followed by Episodes 2 and 3 in which he grew into a young man, ascend to the rank of Jedi Knight, and ultimately fell to the dark side. Whether fans like the prequel trilogy or hate it, the series provided some insight into one of the greatest force users in the franchise’s history. Though fans were able to see the character’s growth from a young age into the man that ended up being deceived by the dark side, it seems the idea of introducing the character at a young age didn’t sit particularly well with the executives at 20th Century Fox.
An old interview from Empire Magazine with George Lucas that released just after the launch of Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace recounts details concerning the film and the franchise as a whole, revealing that Fox executives believed that the film would ruin the entire Star Wars franchise. Lucas had a successful run in the film industry, with work on American Graffiti, Indiana Jones, and the first three Star Wars films. When it came to the prequel trilogy for Star Wars, though, there was some push back with the idea of introducing Anakin as a child because it would be less marketable. As detailed in the interview, it’s revealed that the initial trilogy was created for children, while the prequel trilogy was originally designed to be more for those in their 20s and 30s.
The introduction of Anakin Skywalker as a child was deemed as though it would doom the franchise because it would be more marketable if the character had been older. While this did pose a potential problem for the franchise, Lucas decided to keep things as they were simply to tell the tale he wanted told, rather than bowing his head to rising pressure from the studio and the fans to deliver what was expected of him. Had the character been older when fans were first to introduce to him or even made Queen Amidala older than she appeared in the film, Lucas agrees that it would have sold better. Still, it wouldn’t have been the tale that Lucas wanted to tell, which is ultimately why he decided to introduce Anakin at the age of 9 rather than 15 or older. “I kept it as it was originally intended,” Lucas said when asked how he would address the issue mentioned above. “You can’t play too much to the marketplace. It’s the same thing with the fans. The fans’ expectations had gotten way high and they wanted a film that was going to change their lives and be the Second Coming.”
You know, I can’t do that, it’s just a movie. And I can’t say, now I gotta market it to a whole different audience. I tell the story. I knew if I’d made Anakin 15 instead of nine, then it would have been more marketable. If I’d made the Queen 18 instead of 14, then it would have been more marketable. But that isn’t the story. It is important that he be young, that he be at an age where leaving his mother is more of a drama than it would have been at 15. So you just have to do what’s right for the movie, not what’s right for the market.”
The Star Wars franchise has seen quite a few wonderful tales over the years, including the recent addition of The Mandalorian that currently airs as a Disney+ exclusive every Friday. The franchise as a whole may not have been destroyed by the outcome of the Phantom Menace in the grand scheme of things, but there are certainly things fans have been upset about for quite some time.
Did the introduction of young Anakin Skywalker ruin the Star Wars franchise for you? Let us know your thoughts on George Lucas’ decision to focus on the character in the prequel trilogy and more in the comments section below. As always don’t forget to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter for 24/7 coverage of all things gaming and entertainment.
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Chris Calles1500 Posts
Known as "Stash" or Yippee Calles. He's a student of everything, avid adrenaline junkie, and creator of random things. When he's not delving into a game, book, or movie - He's out teaching himself new things or taking part in some pretty epic adventures. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.