Palpatine certainly is a puppetmaster, and his hand in this war will later become clear to the audience. However I made sure he does not appear until Episode II. I felt that putting him in Episode I would introduce too many foreshadowing obligations into an otherwise straightforward tale. Imagine if the following things were different about The Phantom Menace…
- Anakin is at least twice as old, maybe even early 20s.
- Padme’s at first not all that cracked up about leading a planet.
- Alderaan instead of Naboo.
- No Qui-Gon or any other Jedi Knights beyond Obi-Wan (again, they will have their time to shine in Episodes II and III).
- No Palpatine yet.
- Clones instead of droids fighting the Republic.
- Simple reason for invading Alderaan: use it as a site to build a second Clone Machine so that Atha Prime can swamp the Republic core systems.
- Start the Clone Wars right off the bat. Waiting two movies to do this was one of the PT’s biggest mistakes.
That’s what I am going for with ATG:Ep1. The “Keep it simple, stupid” approach.