Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace may be the most highly-anticipated and heavily-derided movie of all time. The film, which released 20 years ago this past May, is currently the only live-action Star Wars film with a Rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, despite its total box office being over a billion dollars worldwide.
While viewers may have found a story about trade embargoes and the politics of the Republic senate dull, there’s still an emotional core to the film in the form of Anakin Skywalker, the boy who would be Darth Vader. Unfortunately, the way the story was presented, combined with George Lucas‘s stilted dialogue and clunky acting from 10-year-old Jake Lloyd, the whole thing largely fell flat.
Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks saw the underlying potential in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace during a recent rewatch of the film, though, which led her to draw a retelling of the story from young Anakin Skywalker’s perspective. (Click through below to see the full comic/thread).
Imagine you are a slave boy on Tatooine. You & your mother are sold to a junk trader when you were 3 years old & you live without freedom, without personhood. You & your mother together, against the world. pic.twitter.com/mx7hUmBXT6
— Faith Erin Hicks (@FaithErinHicks) November 26, 2019
Hicks, the creator of The Adventures of Superhero Girl and the recent The Nameless City Trilogy, distills the story of Anakin down to that of a boy who goes from having no agency over his life as a slave on Tatooine to having no agency over his life as a member of the Jedi Order. The Jedi ignore clear injustices in the world in favor of stringing Anakin along on the possibility that he’s their ‘chosen one.’ Presented this way, Anakin’s arc is absolutely heartbreaking, and his eventual turn to the Dark Side of The Force feels like a foregone conclusion.
On the one hand, this comic can be read as saying Anakin became Darth Vader because he was once a slave, which is reductive and ignores the history of actual slavery in the real world. However, it seems Hicks is trying to make another point: It’s the repeated failure by those around Anakin—be it Qui-Gon, Yoda, or the rest of the Jedi Order—to act to right the injustice that still faces his mother and so many others on Tatooine. Ultimately, this failure drives Anakin to look for a better way.
Check out the full Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace comic by Faith Erin Hicks over on Twitter. Does her reimagining give new depth to Anakin Skywalker’s story? Let us know what you think.