Why Revenge of the Sith Is a Good Movie Almost Ruined by Excessive Fan Service

Aatif Rashid
13 min readDec 27, 2019

One of the biggest problems with the new Disney Star Wars films is the way they rely on fan service for their biggest emotional moments. Whether it’s Han Solo’s death in The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker’s surprising character arc in The Last Jedi, or the return of Emperor Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, the pathos of the new films comes not from the narratives of any of the new characters but instead from the nostalgic reactions Disney trusts we will have when we see old characters return. Nostalgia is, of course, an extremely powerful emotion (something our current political situation makes pretty evident), but I think it’s a poor substitute for the genuine emotional experience one can derive from a good story. It may give audiences a fleeting thrill and get them to cheer in a crowded theater, but when the rush dies away, you’re left with a story that feels hollow by comparison.

What I like about the Star Wars prequels is they very rarely rely on nostalgia for their emotional power. The Phantom Menace has a few moments, particularly when R2-D2, C-3PO, and Yoda each return, but these characters ultimately play very minor roles in the movie’s narrative. Attack of the Clones meanwhile had almost no nostalgic references to the original trilogy, except for the obvious fact that the clone troopers are reminiscent of the original stormtroopers — though as I argued in my last piece analyzing the film, this connection creates an extremely effective meta-level sinister tension, and certainly not the kind of cheery nostalgia the new films rely so heavily on. The only exception in Clones is a brief moment at the end when it’s revealed that the Geonosians are building the Death Star. It’s an unnecessary moment that takes away from the emotional tension of the movie’s climax, and a perfect example of the weakness of fan service: not only is it a poor substitute for the actual emotional resonance of a narrative, but it can even undercut the emotion the audience is feeling. As far as I’m concerned, a movie should stand on its own and not try to create false pathos though nostalgic recognition.

Revenge of the Sith, the third and final film of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, unfortunately suffers from an excess of fan service. For all its wonderful moments, including an…

Aatif Rashid

Debut novel PORTRAIT OF SEBASTIAN KHAN (2019, 7.13 Books). Writes about politics and literature.