Posted by Liam on October 10, 2021 at 11:12 AM CST
Why hello there, Rebelscum fans! We’re taking a dive into the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and this week we’re looking at the saga’s beginning with The Phantom Menace. Make sure to check out our base “Expand Your Mind” article first to learn about the film’s conception and production, and check out our previous Episode I articles this week. Our “Character Profile” spotlighted Qui-Gon Jinn and our “Timeline Breakdown” looking at the 3D re-release of the film. Subscribe to our YouTube page to get Bobby’s video updates providing other interesting insights, and learn about all the best The Phantom Menace merchandise out there.
Although it's a bold statement, we think The Phantom Menace may have been the most anticipated film in history. The first new Star Wars film in sixteen years sparked years of speculation, particularly in the early days of the Internet. We’re curious to see how fans consider the film now in retrospect, but we want to celebrate it too.
In our new “Force Facts” section, here’s some fun trivia about The Phantom Menace:
George Lucas originally didn’t intend to direct. Before stepping back behind the director’s chair for the first time since A New Hope, Lucas courted his friends Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Robert Zemeckis for the job.
Pop superstar Michael Jackson lobbied for the part of Jar Jar Binks. Jackson wanted the part of the Gungan, but Lucas rejected his offer when the singer insisted on doing the character with practical makeup.
Jar Jar Binks was the first fully digital character in film history. Before Lord of the Rings’ Gollum, The Chronicles of Narnia’s Aslan, or King Kong, Binks laid the groundwork for the innovations in motion capture we see today.
The name “Mace Windu” comes from the earliest drafts of the original Star Wars. Lucas’s earliest drafts from 1973 starred a “Jedi-bendu” named “Mace Windy.”
Audiences headed to the theater just to see the trailer. When The Phantom Menace trailer launched in front of Meet Joe Black, The Waterboy, and The Siege in November 1998, countless viewers paid full ticket price, then left after seeing the Star Wars teaser.
Joseph Fiennes was almost cast as Obi-Wan Kenobi.The Shakespeare in Love star nearly gained the role before Lucas took a chance on Trainspotting up-and-comer Ewan McGregor.
Terry Brook’s novelization launched one of the Expanded Universe’s best characters. The official The Phantom Menace novelization made mention of Darth Bane, a character Lucas envisioned himself, as the creator of the Sith’s “Rule of Two.”
“Weird Al Yankovic” wrote his famous parody before seeing the film. Weird Al is a massive Star Wars fan, having written “Yoda” as a parody of The Kinks’ “Lola.” He was unable to see The Phantom Menace in advance due to secrecy, but gained a majority of the information he needed to write his “American Pie” parody “The Saga Begins” from internet spoilers.
Lucas lightly edited the film for the 2001 DVD re-release. Like he did with the original trilogy, Lucas made changes to the home media version of The Phantom Menace. Changes include the extended introductions to additional podracers, an extension of Anakin’s second lap, and more ships during the heroes’ arrival on Coruscant.
Additional changes were added in the 2011 Blu-Ray re-release. Most notably, the original Yoda puppet was redone with CGI, and other minor dialogue and visual effects changes were added.
What do you think, Rebelscum fans? What are some of your favorite trivia facts about The Phantom Menace? What do you look for during each re-watch? Let us know in the forums, and as always, may the Force be with you!