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The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is unquestionably a divisive topic among the space opera franchise's fans, but whether you love those movies or hate them, they're still important to the saga of the galaxy far, far away. As the backstory of how Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader was revealed, these three movies significantly expanded to the mythology of this universe, adding more flavor to not just the cinematic series, but the novels, comic books, video games and more. But Revenge of the Sith concluded this Star Wars era in 2005, and more than a decade later, we're now in the midst of both another main trilogy and standalone Anthology spinoffs being released every other year. Recently, however, Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio reportedly said that Episode IX will be infused with "thematic" Prequel elements. That's a good decision, because it's necessary to acknowledge this era of Star Wars history, no matter how polarizing it is.
It's no secret that the new Star Wars trilogy maintains close ties with the original Star Wars trilogy, from fan favorites like Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa returning after decades away from the big screen, to how The First Order rose from the ashes of the Empire. So by the time of The Force Awakens, there aren't as many people still alive who can remember the time of the Old Republic and when the Jedi were once plentiful. Nevertheless, the events of this time period were important, particularly the Clone Wars conflict that ravaged the galaxy between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and paved the way for the Empire's rise. Even though that all happened half a century ago when the new trilogy unfolds, the consequences of that era left an indescribable impact on this galaxy.
Obviously not everything that from the prequels was added to the Star Wars canon was great, and there are some elements that are better left gathering dust in the proverbial corner. For instance, I doubt we'll ever hear about midichlorians again. Still, it's one thing for the current trilogy to maintain connections to the first Star Wars movies, but to ignore the Prequel period entirely is a disservice to the franchise. Obviously the main focus should be making Episode IX a great story, but if J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio can do that and effectively pay tribute to a period of Star Wars history that (from our perspective) only ended a little over a decade ago, then so much the better.
Of course, it remains to be seen what these Prequel elements in Episode IX will actually be. They could be something as minor as seeing a few starships from that era (I'm partial to the Naboo straighter) or hearing about Old Republic politics, to something major like a new droid army or clone operatives being activated by The First Order or The Resistance. Taking a few steps further, I wonder if Episode IX will tie into the prequels by concluding the overall Skywalker saga.
When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, it was expected that the studio would be playing the Star Wars game for the long run. So it would be foolish to think that after Episode IX, there won't any more Star Wars trilogies. Nevertheless, for several decades, George Lucas was kicking around telling Star Wars as a nine-part epic, and along with the infused prequel elements, J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio intend to have Episode IX unite all the trilogies and "bring everything together." What better way to connect nine movies together than by telling the final chapter of the saga centered around this notable family, which started with Anakin and would end with Kylo Ren (and Rey, if she is indeed Luke or Leia's daughter). That way whenever a new Star Wars trilogy is launched, it can stake out its own territory and not be directly beholden to its predecessors. We don't want the Star Wars galaxy to become too "small."
Star Wars: Episode IX will be released in theaters on December 20, 2019, and in the meantime, you can keep your Star Wars appetites sated with The Last Jedi, which comes out on December 15, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, which follows on May 25, 2018. And if you have your own suggestions for how the Prequel Trilogy could tie into Episode IX, let us know in the comments below.