Most people will agree that the Star Wars prequels have their fair share of flaws. Despite the mixed reaction to the more recent trilogy, Star Wars creator George Lucas has opened up about his inspiration – as well as love – for one of the series more hated elements: Jar Jar Binks.
Taking the stage at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Lucas addressed the crowd and explained his long-time fascination with Disney, and remarked at that fascination’s part in the development of the often maligned Gungan from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,
I can't even begin to tell you how much of an influence Disney has had on me… I will say one secret that nobody knows; not many people realize that Goofy was the inspiration for Jar Jar Binks… I know that you will look at him differently now. It's pretty obvious, actually, but, um, I love Goofy and I love Jar Jar.
Jar Jar’s inspiration really comes as one of those revelations that we would never have considered, but now makes perfect sense in retrospect. Both Goofy and Jar Jar possess tall, gangly physiques and an innate clumsiness that often gets them into trouble. The inspiration also makes perfect sense when one considers that Star Wars has long relied on amalgamations of genres and characters – such as: westerns, and samurai films.
That being said, the similarities between the characters do not necessarily justify Jar Jar’s inclusion into the Star Wars franchise. A series known for its balance of drama and light-heartedness, the original trilogy never really relied on the sort of slapstick humor their Jar Jar – or Goofy for that matter – would become known for. Aside from all of that, the character has received endless vitriol over the years for his annoying (and slightly racist) characterization, as well as his lack of relevance to the already overcrowded Phantom Menace.
Lucas’ has obviously always had a soft spot for the character; he even managed to sneak in a Jar Jar Binks Easter egg on the special addition DVD of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in which the Gungan can be heard yelling "wesa free!" during the liberation of Naboo. It even leaves us wondering what could have happened if Lucas had opted for Captain EO as his inspiration for Jar Jar. Also, despite the existence of some genuinely compelling – as well as short-changed – characters in the prequel trilogy, Jar Jar managed to appear in all three films – albeit in varying degrees of importance.
Despite Lucas' apparent enduring passion for the character, the series appears set to move forward without the character, judging by the trailers for The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters December 18, 2015.