Right now, think of the dirtiest word you can possibly think of. Don't hold back. Got it? If you're a Star Wars fan, there is a decent possibility the word you came up with was "prequel." That said, those very same people probably have a tremendous amount of excitement heading into this weekend and the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Disney and Lucasfilm have been careful not to use the "P" word in relation to the movie, but make no mistake; Rogue one is a prequel. But that is probably a good thing.
Disney hasn't tried to act as though the prequels never happend ever since they purchased all of Lucasfilm back in 2012 for more than $4 billion, but they very clearly understand that it is a delicate thing. There is a younger generation of Star Wars fans that still love those movies, but there is also a great many more who detest them. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place during the time period between the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, making it a prequel. Dirty, dirty word. But, because of where it takes place, it is sort of going to serve as a way of marrying those two trilogies, which many fans hold very distantly from one another in their minds. This will bring them undeniably closer together than ever before.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be introducing a ton of new characters to the franchise, but the majority of familiar characters will be coming from the prequels. Jimmy Smits will be making an appearance as Bail Organa, who had a very big role in George Lucas' prequel trilogy. In addition, Genevieve O'Reilly will finally be getting to play Mon Mothma properly. She was a senator in Revenge of the Sith but was relegated to silence and barely noticeable. Plus, Saw Gerrera, a character who first appeared in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series (something from the prequel era) is being played by Forest Whitaker in the movie. So yeah, there is a lot of connective prequel tissue. But most importantly, by far, is Darth Vader. This is really going to be the first time we get to see real-deal Darth Vader in a prequel era movie, and that is incredibly significant.
At the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (easily the best of the Star Wars prequels), we got to see Anakin Skywalker put on the Darth Vader costume, but outside of him standing on the bridge of a Star Destroyer overlooking a partially completed Death Star, we didn't really get to see him be the Darth Vader we all know and love, which was kind of the point. The prequels, for all of their many (seriously, so many) flaws, the whole point was to show how Anakin became the most famous and feared Sith Lord in the galaxy. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is finally going to show us the meaningful results of that prequel journey. Genuine Darth Vader. That could serve as one hell of a healing potion to cure old wounds. Like spending a relaxing weekend in a Bacta tank, am I right?
So can Rogue One really make the Star Wars prequels better? The answer is both yes and no. On one hand, no. It can't actually fix all of the problems that still exist and, barring a full-on remake of the entire trilogy, will always exist. Jar Jar Binks is an unfortunately significant part of the Star Wars canon. All we can do is continue to try and ignore it like that noise your car is making. Just turn up the stereo and pretend it's fine. On the other hand, yes. This movie can help justify that journey in a lot of ways and perhaps make elements of them look more favorable in hindsight. But there is a more important element to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and how it pertains to the prequels.
As we discussed, prequel is a dirty word right now for Star Wars fans. Lucasfilm needs to change that notion. They already have other prequel movies planned, like the young Han Solo movie, as well as consistent rumors about an Obi-Wan prequel movie (or two, or three) starring Ewan McGregor. There is a whole lot of Star Wars history to explore prior to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and to not be able to explore that time period simply because the "P" word doesn't sit well with Star Wars fans isn't right. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first step in making prequel a good word again.