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Star Wars: Five Most Horrible Mistakes of ‘The Phantom Menace’

4 Minute Read
Feb 3 2023

It’s no secret that The Phantom Menace was a hot, hot mess. Check out the 5 biggest Phantom Menace mistakes.

Star Wars is a great franchise. Lately, we’ve taken a good, hard look at some of the things the Sequel trilogy got wrong, some things it got right, and some things it just kind of… did. Now it’s time for us to move onto the train wreck that is the Prequels. Let’s take a look at the granddaddy of all Star Wars movies to hate on: The Phantom Menace. We’ll start with the things it got wrong.

5. Showing Darth Sidious Was A Real Phantom Menace Mistake

This is kind of a minor infraction, so it’s okay if you disagree. But it seems like a mistake to show Sidious so early in the game.

His role was fairly minor in Episode One. He takes no direct part in the actions of the movie. With very little change, Darth Maul could have read his lines and just referred to his mysterious master in passing.

This extra mystery could have put the audience closer to the mindset of everyone wondering who Sidious actually is. It’s quite obvious he is the Emperor, and, especially to fans, it was clear that he was Senator Palpatine. Kids, that cloak is about as effective as Clark Kent’s glasses. Keeping this mystery hidden would have lent Episode 2 some needed intrigue.

4. All The Racist Overtones

Look, I’m not saying Gorge Lucas is a racist. But this movie has some problematic looks. For one, the Trade Federation comes off with some Asian stereotypes. Watto’s character plays on some anti-Semitic stereotypes, and Jar-Jar comes off somewhat like a minstrel show. Yeah, there’s enough in this movie to upset people.

This isn’t a new concern brought on by “changing times”. It was in the public discourse when the movie came out more than two decades ago. Articles from the time like this one or this one were quick to call out the problems. Skirting so close to racist portrayals was a mistake, and it fairly gave a lot of people a negative takeaway from the movie.

3. The Tatooine Set Up

The interlude on Tatooine takes up the whole middle part of the movie. It’s also its most uneven act. There is some great stuff here: the amazing pod race and the first clash between Maul and the Jedi are solid moments. It’s a necessary part of the story – after all, it’s how we find Anakin. But so much of the setup here is just nonsense.

I could never really justify the whole “Republic Credits are no good here” aspect. Sure, maybe Watto doesn’t accept them– but are there no money changers? No bank or anything? What money do they use? The Republic is the largest government around and controls most of the Galaxy, but no one will take their money?


Okay, sure, Watto can’t be mind tricked. So just go mind trick someone else into giving you money and paying him. Steal the parts, you are Jedi! Trade your super fancy one for a lesser ship or a ride.

There just seem to me so many better options than “wander around, find a kid, and bet everything on a long-shot pod race”. It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s not a good look for the Jedi.

2. Leaving Shimi is a Big Phantom Menace Mistake

While we’re still on Tatooine, can we talk about the Jedi just leaving Shimi Skywalker in slavery? Taking Anakin without Shini just makes the Jedi come off as cold and cruel. And again, there were so many other ways they could free her.

Sure, this isn’t a huge deal in the overall plot– but it leads into an issue later when we realize that Anakin and the other Jedi never come back and free her. Or even send money to free her. This just seems like a jerk move. I get that the Jedi should shed all of their connections and etc. But leaving one’s mom as a slave? That’s just needlessly mean.

Is it a setup for her to be used against Anakin in the future? Maybe. But even weirder is the fact that she’s been freed by the time she dies, so it wouldn’t have changed the story at all. Let the Jedi free Shimi, give her a reason to stay on Tatooine, and Anakin still gets to go to the temple alone. Nothing in the story changes except that the Jedi don’t seem like grade-A assholes.

1. Just… Jar Jar

Let’s face it, we all know Jar Jar was the most colossal of Phantom Menace‘s mistakes. And it was by no means Ahmed Best’s fault– and I love that he gets a form of redemption in Jedi Temple. But it was a badly-written character.

I really don’t need to go into many details on this. Binks has a reputation for ruining this movie. There are fan edits of the movie that mostly cut out Jar Jar and it’s a vast improvement. I think it’s safe to say that Jar Jar is the single worst mistake Lucas made in this film.


Let us know what you think were the biggest ‘Phantom Menace’ mistakes down in the comments! 

Author: Abe Apfel
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