I usually prefer a more radical prequel story. The “fixing the prequels” rewrite has been done to Death, but I had this idea a while ago and figured I’d share it.
Episode I starts with the Trade Federation blockading Alderaan just like in George’s TPM (although obviously it was Naboo). However, this is for imperialist reasons. Alderaan kicked them out and stopped Federation control over their resources, and the Trade Federation retaliated.
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are sent to deal with the problem, although instead of Qui-Gon being his master, he’s just a good friend. Yoda trained Obi-Wan. However, they’re attacked by Maul, who they don’t yet know is a Sith.
The rest of the movie plays out similarly, although in a more dire way. Alderaan is being destroyed, and they evacuate the Queen. Maul is sent to go get the Queen, they land on Tatooine, yaddah yaddah yaddah. They meet Anakin.
Anakin here is not a slave, but a petty criminal who is just trying to feed his mother and sister, who is unnamed in the movie. His sister also does not show up, however his mother would later, after they win the podrace.
They meet Anakin when he tried to rob them, but he does so using the Force to try and mind trick them into giving over their money. This surprises them, it’s not exactly something you come across every day, a non-Jedi trained enough in the force to pull that. Plus, they can just feel this boy has an incredible raw power in the Force, even though he was untrained. Even the non-Jedi can feel something about him.
Obi-Wan really wants to take Anakin aboard, but Qui-Gon is not convinced that he’s capable. He has a connection with the Force, and he’s able to tap into it in some ways, but in a way that would be actually practical for the Jedi? Who knows.
Also, btw, the romance between Anakin and Padme begins around here, and by the end of the movie, they will be a couple.
Obi-Wan enters Anakin into the pod race to prove to Qui-Gon that Anakin is worth training, and also this gets the money for the parts for the ship, and extra money to lift Shmi and Beru out of poverty, since, you know, it would be morally awful to just leave them like this. Anakin demonstrates truly remarkable maneuvers in the podrace, and Qui-Gon admits he was wrong and they take Anakin to Coruscant.
Obi-Wan believes their attacker was a Sith, not just a rogue dark force user or a dark Jedi, because only the Sith would be so powerful in the Force and skilled in combat. However, prophecy says that the Sith will be destroyed by a Chosen One, and that Anakin is this Chosen One.
On Coruscant, things don’t go so well. The Jedi aren’t convinced the Sith are back or that Anakin is the Chosen One. They believe Yoda was the Chosen One, and he destroyed the Sith hundreds of years ago in the Sith Wars. The Queen pleads her case to the Senate, but they completely go off the rails. This is why we need a stronger army! The Jedi are unable to protect the galaxy! We need to take stronger control over the Outer Rim! The Queen must go back to liberate her own planet.
The movie continues on like normal, but the space battle is moved to before the big battle at the end. Anakin demonstrates his skill as a pilot as he leads them through the blockade. In this fight, he earns the nickname “Skywalker”, because it’s as if he’s walking the sky.
In the fight with Darth Maul, Qui-Gon dies, but Obi-Wan manages to kill Darth Maul. In his dying breath, he announces the revenge of the Sith and the rise of a new Sith Order. This battle proves to the Jedi Council that the Sith are indeed back. They allow Obi-Wan, already a respected Jedi to train the Chosen One.
Episode II takes place only a few years after Episode I, because Anakin would have been an adult or teenager. It’s established that the Jedi find out the Sith were able to survive for so many centuries because they only ever had two Sith. The ideas of the Rule of two would be explained here: Killing your master to make the Sith stronger, no infighting, but heavy focus on how it allowed them to avoid detection. They’ve spent the past few years trying to hunt down who the Sith Master is, but have been largely unsuccessful.
However, they have a lead and send Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, and a new character on this mission. I don’t have a good name for him, but he’s a former apprentice of Obi-Wan’s.
The movie is similar to Attack of the Clones, but it starts on Kamino. The group has found a bounty hunter, Jango Fett, who has been working with the rumored Sith Lord. He doesn’t cooperate, but they track him down to the planet Geonosis.
There’s a space battle here, where Anakin’s prowess is shown, but this new guy is also great. Jokingly at first, the name Skywalker is also given to this new guy, but eventually it becomes just as serious as it is for Anakin, and this makes Anakin very jealous. Being the Chosen One has sort of gone to his head, and he doesn’t appreciate the attention being off of him.
However, they end up finding the rumored Sith - Dooku. A former Jedi leading a conspiracy to overthrow the Republic and install him as leader of the galaxy. The Jedi are put in the coliseum, but they kill the monsters. Dooku, however, recognizing his former friends, grants them audience. Dooku was Qui-Gon’s master and knew Obi-Wan when he was younger, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship went back to when they were young.
The Jedi reveal what they know, and he reveals what he knows: He is not the Sith, he wants to destroy the Sith. He found himself being tempted by the dark side years ago, and struggled with it. In this time, the Sith master (whose image and identity were hidden) revealed his control over the Republic and offered him a place in his Order to fill Maul’s shoes, but he rejected. The Sith master immediately tried to silence him, and he had to fake his own death and go into hiding before he could get word to the Jedi. He began organizing a coup, however, to fight back against the Sith.
The new guy thinks it’s better to become a martyr and that he should have told the Jedi even if it meant death. He tells the Jedi.
Now the word is out, and the Sith master sends bounty hunters to kill Dooku, successfully. The main characters return to Coruscant, but there’s another space fight where once again, the new guy proves to be a better pilot than Anakin.
On Coruscant, the new guy is praised for illuminating the control by the Sith over the Republic. The Jedi will begin investigating the Senate for links to the Sith, in hopes of finding the Sith master, and also weeding out the corruption in the Senate. There’s also not much the Senate can do about this, the Sith are so feared they could not survive going against the Jedi.
Anakin, formerly a hero in the eyes of the galaxy, does not like being one-upped by the new guy. He betrays and murders him, and he leaves the Jedi Order.
However, Anakin is contacted by a mysterious messanger. He is invited into a secret meeting where he meets the Sith master - It’s the relatively unimportant backbench Senator Palpatine. He’s aware Anakin left the Order, and being such a smart guy, he knows all about his motivations, and offers to train him, and he’d be the face of the New Order. Anakin accepts.
Skywalker actually had two children, and with him gone, Obi-Wan takes one to Tatooine, with Beru on her nice new moisture farm (this will be the first time we see of her and hear her name), with Obi-Wan agreeing to train him when he’s old enough. Padme’s brother Bail takes the other. Shmi will be dead by now.
Before Episode III, the Republic would have started wars with a bunch of small systems and local governments in the Outer Rim, publicly to “hunt down the Sith” after the “Sith Master was scared into hiding in the Outer Rim”, but this is actually the beginnings of the Empire. The Jedi would oppose this, and Palpatine would accuse them of suddenly doing a 180 and protecting the Sith. The Jedi, seeing their vetting of the Senate has failed, these wars are clearly the Sith’s doing, choose to enact Dooku’s plan, and attempt to overthrow the Republic. From here out, the movie starts being based on Revenge of the Sith more. However, the overthrow is given way more runtime than Mace Windu’s assassination.
Palpatine says the Sith have infiltrated the Jedi in the time, turning their hearts (Episode III would take place a while after Episode II, where Episode II is closer to III in GL’s prequels, II would be closer to I here) and eventually taking control. They need to get rid of the Jedi, and also restructure the government to be able to keep tabs on the galaxy to hunt down the Sith always. Not-so-coincidentally, this control over the galaxy and Outer Rim benefits a lot of the Trade Federation types and their imperialism.
Episode III ends pretty similarly to GL’s Episode III. Darth Vader now hunts down the Jedi enemies of the state. They fight on Mustafar, Anakin is injured badly and gets put in the suit.
Obi-Wan goes into hiding on the same planet as the boy he promised to train, although now Beru’s mom is dead, and her boyfriend now husband doesn’t approve of him,
A note I just want to put at the end here: The new guy in Episode II is the only way I could really see the Vader father twist not be spoiled.
Sure, you could just not name Vader, but as soon as you see the Ben’s Hut scene, you know something’s up, since he conveniently neglects to mention that Anakin turned to the dark side, and you don’t remember him being betrayed and murdered. Sure, certain point of view and all, but you won['t get that explanation until 2 movies later. So, Vader is Anakin boom.
Plus, once Obi-Wan says he trained Vader, no matter what, instant spoilage.
So, you need a second character who is trained by Obi-Wan and is “betrayed and murdered” by Darth Vader. It also helps that he has the name Skywalker, since that’s Luke’s name. If only Anakin had the name Skywalker, that would also give it away. So I also had to go with Skywalker being a pseudonym.
I also thought originally Anakin’s name couldn’t be Lars, but it turns out they actually don’t say Lars in ANH, so it could. However I thought it couldn’t be, and that’s why Anakin’s related to Beru, not Owen.