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Regardless of how beloved a franchise may be, there’s always one character who is universally slated - and I’m not talking about villains here. Even the most compelling narratives and well-realised worlds can play host to that character, the one who slips through every production crack and makes it out into the world. It’s only when audiences rear their discourse-spurting heads that such a character’s flaws are finally highlighted. Maybe they’re annoying or unnecessary. Most of the time they’re a bit of both and just utterly out of place.
For the most part, I think we can all agree that George Lucas is a creative genius but even those with the utmost skill can make mistakes. Nowhere is that more apparent than with Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar has plenty of flaws, and this isn’t me trying to convince you otherwise. I may not despise Jar Jar quite as strongly as the rest of the GAMINGbible team, but I know bad writing when I see it. From the over-the-top slapstick comedy to his somewhat grating voice, Jar Jar has no shortage of annoying traits but when we whittle it down, why do we really hate this character so much? The truth is, Jar Jar Binks felt horrifically out of place but instead of sweeping the character under the rug, Star Wars has a real opportunity to revise our perception of the infamous Gungan.
We recently had the chance to speak to one of Jar Jar's co-stars Hayden Christensen at Star Wars Celebration. Take a look at what he had to say about his on set bromance with Ewan McGregor.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is one of the lighter Star Wars films, yet it still can’t afford to be a wholly light-hearted romp. If we’re truly to believe the young and innocent Anakin is to become the most evil being in the galaxy in two films’ time, you have to start planting those seeds - and they’re there. It’s no coincidence that Anakin says, “No one can kill the Jedi,” foreshadowing that further down the road that’s exactly what he’ll do. When we first meet Anakin, he’s fixing up and creating droids and even this shows his need for control and governance. They’re delicate touches, but important ones if we’re to believe Anakin’s turn to the darkside.
When you have a character like Jar Jar mixed within that, you’re diluting all the effort placed into that foreshadowing. Star Wars does need humour. It’s an intrinsic part of the franchise’s DNA, but humour excels in Star Wars when it’s a cleverly incorporated quip. Think of Han Solo’s “Boring conversation anyway,” in A New Hope or Obi-Wan Kenobi’s “So uncivilised” in Revenge of the Sith. It’s subtle. There’s just no reason for Jar Jar to step in a giant pile of turd. He doesn’t need to stick his tongue out like a three year old. Jar Jar’s humour is anything but subtle and considered. It’s brash.
There’s no taking that back now. Jar Jar exists and is universally hated. That’s simply a fact, but it doesn’t have to be that way. One thing that I love about Disney Plus is that you can take characters like Jar Jar and build them a world where they do belong. He may not be as hated as Jar Jar but prior to last year, who really cared about Hawkeye? The answer is not many people. Hawkeye was easily the most forgettable Avenger and continually shoehorned into scenes with more memorable and impressive characters, then came the Hawkeye series. For the first time, the MCU created a story in which Clint Barton was truly needed. They let his personality shine, gave him a sidekick (in the form of Kate Bishop) whose opposing personality was designed to complement his own and heck, I care about Hawkeye now!
You can’t change who Jar Jar is, especially when he’s achieved such notoriety. His larger than life personality and penchant for slapstick comedy are his characterising traits, whether you like them or not yet whilst those traits did not belong in the prequel trilogy, Star Wars could create Jar Jar an environment where those traits are more at home. Exsqueeze me Disney Plus, mesa is looking at you. Give Jar Jar Binks his own show - hear me out. Picture a series of animated shorts where in each episode, Jar Jar finds himself in a silly (and sticky) situation that he needs to find a way out of. Maybe Jar Jar could have an unfortunate encounter with the Tusken Raiders. Maybe we could see the moment he crashed Boss Nass’ Heyblibber submarine.
Each short tale would have disastrous results for Jar Jar I’m sure, but that would be the point. The whole show would centre around the over-the-top humour that Jar Jar is so well known for - the humour that just feels polarising elsewhere in the Star Wars universe. When you finally give a character the space they need to shine, you’d be surprised at the results. It’s the very reason why The Book of Boba Fett failed. It didn’t give Boba a chance to shine.
Jar Jar Binks could have a future in the Star Wars franchise. When he got kicked in the Gungan goolies by a pit droid in The Phantom Menace, it wasn’t funny. Put it on a loop on the internet in a crack video style edit and suddenly, it’s hilarious. That’s the vibe Jar Jar needs. To this day, we still talk about the character so you can’t say he isn’t memorable. The trick is not to fight it. Embrace the character and all his flaws and Star Wars could just create Jar Jar the perfect home. Mesa really thinks so.
Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
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