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J.J. Abrams Nixed a Very Weird Prequel Reference in The Force Awakens

Illustration for article titled J.J. Abrams Nixed a Very Weird Prequel Reference in iThe Force Awakens/i

Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t completely shy away from prequel talk; one of the film’s oddest lines is Kylo Ren joking with General Hux about a clone army. Now, fans have begun to piece together another strange reference that was originally in the film, but removed before its theatrical release.

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We all remember the above shot from The Force Awakens; it’s the entrance to Maz Kanata’s castle. And we all knew there were Easter Eggs in the flags. For example, the 501st Legion, a major fan-driven band of Stormtroopers has a flag buried up there.

But recently Reddit user Aero-Space pointed out that the flags in the film’s trailer were different from the flags on the Blu-ray. Here’s their work:

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(Note: the above images say the “release version” of the film had the flag in it, but that’s incorrect. The change was made from trailer to the theatrical release, not from the theatrical release to Blu-ray.)

Strangely, J.J. Abrams more or less told us about this change long before anyone noticed it. A Rolling Stone article from December has the answer, as a writer is sitting in a room with J.J. Abrams editing the film. This is the exchange:

Abrams, fresh from his speech about the importance of details, sits at the center of the editing room. They begin by reviewing a shot shown in the trailer, where dozens of flags appear on a castle that belongs to Maz Kanata, a mysterious little goggle-wearing creature, played by Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) via motion-capture and CGI. The flags are designed to drive superfans nuts with references to the earlier movies, but Abrams tells Guyett that too many of them allude to the first of Lucas’ prequels: “I don’t want to be too about podracers,” he says. “I’d rather come up with our stuff.”

This makes sense. Abrams has repeatedly said that capturing the spirit of the original trilogy, going so far as to consciously copy the structure of A New Hope, was a key to the film’s success. But it would have been nice to include such a minor allusion to The Phantom Menace’s podracers, if not Anakin specifically.

Of course, this wasn’t the only potential Anakin reference was removed from the film. But given how many insane theories fans would have inevitably created if they thought Maz had any sort of connection to young Anakin’s podracing days, it’s pretty understandable why Abrams would take it out, no matter how small a detail it seemed.

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[Reddit, H/T /Film]

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

johncooley
John Cooley

Here’s the thing that people miss- there’s an entire generation- scratch that, generations - that are growing up and have grown up with the prequels as an intrinsic part of their Star Wars vocabulary. There’s countless fans out there- not just hardcore crazies, but fans from all walks of life- who’s childhood memories of Clone Troopers and Jedi Knights are just as potent and powerful as your memories of Stormtroopers and X-Wings. So while any individual fan has a full right to pretend the prequels never happened, I don’t think the creators of Star Wars have that option. Shelving the prequels off somewhere and pretending they never happened feels like a sleazy, cowardly misuse of the multigenerational appeal of the Star Wars universe. Don’t be afraid of the prequels, Disney. If nothing else, The Clone Wars series was proof that a lot of good can come out of that part of the franchise.

Star Wars does not belong to 35 year olds more than it belongs to children, or millennials. It belongs to everyone. If you didn’t like the prequels, fine. I have problems with them too. But stop campaigning for them to be erased from history. Stop pretending that the version of Star Wars you had when you were ten is the only legitimate form of Star Wars there is.

If you want a better insight into what I’m trying to communicate, watch this video. This guy says it better than I ever could: