7. Expanded Universe
I feel like I’m slightly cheating here since these aren’t technically in the prequel movies themselves, but they’re a result of the prequels and damn awesome, so I thought it worth putting on this list.
While some die-hard fans might want to crucify me for saying this, the fact that remains is that a lot of, if not most of, expanded universe material that involves or proceeds the original trilogy isn’t all that great. Episodes IV through VI are such a tightly knit, perfect story that it doesn’t need too much else added to it. With the exception of the current Marvel comic line-up, and a few key pieces of what is now deemed “Legends” material, EU for the original trilogy feels like sprinkling a five-star dessert with M&Ms: they’re bits of sweetness, but given their context, unnecessary at best, and cheapening the experience at worst.
It’s a whole different story for the prequels. There is such a huge time gap between Episodes I and II, and yet another between II and III – both of them filled with material that benefitted from expansion. The first gap allowed several books and comics about Anakin’s training as a young Jedi, and more importantly, who the hell Count Dooku was and how he rose to such prominence. Then the second gap of course, was the Clone Wars.
If you haven’t seen it, you really need to check out Genndy Tartakovsky’s amazing animated series, “Clone Wars.” On top of absolutely stunning action sequences, it captures pivotal moments in Anakin’s character, it explores even more planets in the galaxy, gives the spotlight to a wide variety of other Jedi, and builds up the power and cunning of the major villains. Seriously, General Grievous is such a force of nature in this series, he seems like a total wimp in “Revenge of the Sith.” “Clone Wars” was such a hit, it spawned a computer-animated feature film and a following series similarly titled, “The Clone Wars.” “The Clone Wars” may have gotten off on a really rocky start, but a few seasons in it picked up steam. Several of its characters became so beloved, that they’ve even carried over into the new animated series “Star Wars: Rebels,” which has garnered nothing but praise.
In many ways, the Expanded Universe was the greatest silver lining of the prequels. There were serious holes riddled throughout the story, but this allowed many talented artists to fill them with their vision and passion for “Star Wars.”