Revenge of the Sith: The New Canon Cut
Hey, it’s the 100000th fanedit of Revenge of the Sith!
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm way back in 2012, eventually a lot of Star Wars’ EU was deemed uncanon in favor of a more focused, newer canon, in which TFA could fit. Aside from the movies, the 2008 animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars was kept canon.
One of the things that show did right was Anakin Skywalker. It manages to make up for those OT Ben Kenobi lines of “He was a great pilot, and a good friend…”- It gives us an Anakin Skywalker that is all of those things and is truly worthy of being the prototype to Star Wars’ most iconic character.
Matt Lanter/TCW depict Anakin very differently than Hayden Christensen and Lucas did; he’s a charming, swashbuckling, but mature jedi/general/teacher/pilot/friend - with a dark side that manifests itself in ways more interesting than bratty whining and naive creepiness. Knowing that THIS guy falls to the dark side is tragic, and seeing him inch further and further away from the Jedi Order as the show progresses is incredibly compelling.
Watching all of that build in TCW and then going into RotS almost makes RotS work - but Anakin is a completely different character. Theoretically, TCW should be able to complement the movie nicely for those who put the time in - but there’s too much suspension of disbelief at play to connect Christensen to Lanter.
Every edit I’ve seen hasn’t been able to do this (mostly b/c idk if they’ve really tried to) without me thinking to myself, “Well you could’ve done this or left in or out that.” So for this edit, I’m going to try and make an edit that more reasonably connects RotS and TCW, specifically in the case of Anakin. It’s going to fit in with the larger canon in terms of characterizations, so that the Lucasfilm story group’s justification of a more cohesive canon than Legends is actually true.
Anakin is going to go from a moody, entitled teenager to a mature, experienced jedi and decorated general. His relationship with Obi Wan is going to be brotherly, as Obi Wan states at the end of the movie. They’re equals, so every reference to a mentor/mentee relationship is abolished. Their friendship has grown past that and is much stronger now. His relationship with Padme is going to be healthier and less cynical; they won’t be worrying about getting caught, and there aren’t any undertones of Padme/Anakin being an inherently bad mistake - just something that was tragically manipulated. Palpatine won’t have such an iron grip on everything Anakin does. Anakin will have more agency and think for himself. He’ll be well aware of and wary of Palpatine’s rise to power being sketchy, but he’ll find that his politics, ambitions, and personal feelings align with it more than his responsibilities as a jedi. Turning will be a conscious choice as opposed to a last resort or result of Palpatine’s manipulation. When Anakin does turn, he doesn’t do a 180 in his personality. It doesn’t immediately corrupt him to be creepy and moustache twirling, and he’ll never be proud of anything he does, or even believe that what he’s doing is morally righteous. He was no illusions about the monster he’s becoming - and it will be gradual. It’s framed in a way in which dark!Anakin is more like the Darth Vader we see in the OT. Cold, methodical, and effective. Not unhinged and crazy like he is in the original Revenge of the Sith.
Even if you’re not into TCW, what I’m doing here is aging up Anakin to be an adult and a more sympathetic character; setting up his fall to feel more tragic. You see and understand where he’s coming from (in a way that doesn’t make him immature and/or submissive) but not in a way that you’re rooting for it to happen or get over with. His relationships with Obi Wan and Padme and the hero that is General Skywalker should be the biggest losses felt in an all around terrible situation.
Here’s a list of changes.
(Poster design made from Mike Sapienza’s poster as a base)
Some Preview Clips
There was very little contrast between Hayden as a padawan in AotC, and at the end of the war in the theatrical RotS. He seemed to exclusively follow Obi-Wan’s lead and was at the mercy of the council throughout the film. Meanwhile, Lanter’s General Skywalker was a bold and experienced Jedi general. This clips shows additions/edits that give Hayden that same authority and leadership skill. He gives commands, is addressed by his rank, and is more explicitly involved in military matters. He is treated as not just an adult, but respected as a war hero.
Anakin’s Personality + Relationship with Obi-Wan
Following up on Anakin as more of an adult, this clip demonstrates how Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship has evolved. Equal in rank and skill, they’re brothers on the same wavelength. In humor and action. Obi-Wan doesn’t treat Anakin like his subordinate/apprentice, nor does Anakin to Obi-Wan as a master and with formality. Anakin’s easygoing fun nature from the Clone Wars is supposed to be translated in Hayden here - more of the jock-like swashbuckler - and Obi-Wan responds to it with his appreciative wit, not exasperation. The banter is meant to service this from the novelisation:
“And Obi-Wan Kenobi knows, too, that to have lived his life without being Master to Anakin Skywalker would have left him a different man. A lesser man. Anakin has taught him so much (…) He smiles now, and sometimes even jokes, and has become known for the wisdom gentle humour can provide. Though he does not know it, his relationship with Anakin has molded him into the great Jedi Qui-Gon said he might someday be."
As the last real hurrah for the duo, maintaining camp and humor was fine for me, as a contrast to the later tragedy.
Second Act Kashyyk Kickoff + Luke’s Father Wanted Him To Have This, When He Was Old Enough
I’m using Hal’s LoE structure of politics before nightmares, as a way to establish that even an Anakin in an untroubled state of mind still has friction with the Jedi council. Because of that, Grevious’s entrance on Utapau can’t happen where it does in the theatrical - I’ve replaced it with the initial attack on Kashyyk (+Wookiees moving to call the Jedi). It kicks off the second act in a similarly bombastic way, and introduces that subplot a little more elegantly than a change of subject at the tail end of another scene.
That transitions into Padme and Anakin’s balcony scene. The scene on its own is cheesy and bad, but I hope with the added dialogue I mitigate most of it. When we come down to them, they’re in the middle of discussing whether to give their baby a lightsaber. Perhaps if they should be a Jedi or whatnot. (Callback to Ben Kenobi lines too!)
That actually segues pretty nicely into Padme saying she wants the baby on Naboo, but it also feels like a real conversation a real couple would have; Anakin and Padme hashing out the different things they want in their relationship and for their child, rather than just a vague and empty “we love love love”. It in turn also subtly sets up their later ideological conflict, in a way that doesn’t turn us against Anakin immediately. He’s just like his jock-y CW countepart here.
More than that, Anakin doesn’t seem to particularly want or care about the kid(s) in the theatrical, and with this, it’s more clear he absolutely does. He’s excited in his own masculine way, and that also lends itself nicely to how he feels things for Luke as Vader in the OT. He’s ecstatic about being a father, and I keep that thread consistent and noticeable throughout the edit, whereas it kind of fizzles out and seems forgotten (by Anakin) in most of the theatrical.
Siege of Mandalore Tie-Ins and Fixes
Here’s how I’m currently trying to handle the inclusion of the deleted scene where Obi-wan, Yoda, and Mace discuss their concerns about Palpatiine - a scene that can be replaced by a later scene in the film and recreated for TCW. This scene was important to maintain because it establishes where the Jedi are on the chessboard quite early on, and Obi-Wan being here for it is wonderful parallel progression with Anakin. He’s reacting alongside Anakin to the events of the film, rather than offscreen, and helps position their roles as main characters for coming cataclysm. Based on Knight of Kalee’s suggestion.
That leads into Anakin and Obi-Wan in the briefing room, where we actually get a mention of Ahsoka and what’s happening with her in SoM. Other edits in the scene are just subtle things to make Anakin and Obi-Wan more brotherly. Making the interaction less formal and actually having Anakin acknowledge when he’s being a little radical on his own, based on Obi-Wan’s expression. It also makes Anakin less blind and more pragmatic like TCW Aankin; he understands why the council distrusts Palpatine. Here he just has faith in, not blind loyalty for, Palpatine.
Appointment to the Council and Anger Management
Following up on that thread, these are more ways Anakin is not blindly loyal to Palpatine, and more mature and pragmatic.
Using deleted scene dialogue, Anakin relays the council’s concerns to Palpatine, and Palpatine responds by being more subtle about his manipulations. Rather than tell him the council needs him and Anakin just buying that entitlement, he just points out all Anakin has done for them in the past and leaves it at that.
Anakin handles the rejection better than he does in the theatrical. As opposed to lashing out for not getting what he wants, he feels the unconventionality of the situation and catches on to a plot they aren’t revealing to him. It’s less “How dare you do this to me” and more “Wait a second, what’s going on here.” He’s more upset at their dishonesty than what he feels he’s owed.
Subtle things to make him more CW-y: Obi-Wan gives him a head shake to calm him down, Mace doesn’t refer to him as “young,” and Yoda offers Anakin something to think about rather leave him cold. In line with all of their TCW relationships; Obi and Ani and communicate nonverbally, Mace and Anakin have a strained but equal relationship, and Yoda is nicer than Mace to Anakin.
Anakin and Padme’s scene has Anakin not lash out at Padme. He understands the council’s moves but Palpatine is his friend. He’s caught in the middle, rather than all-in on Palpatine at this point.
Not From A Jedi
At Delpheas’ suggestions, here’s how I’m reincorporating that scene where Anakin senses Obi-Wan’s been at Padme’s. Right after “Not From a Jedi.”
I initially didn’t keep it because I had the Padme deleted scenes where it is in the theatrical, and because Anakin came off as too sinister and the tone was too foreboding for how I wanted to depict his fall. I want Anakin to be cognizant and aware of his actions up until the end, and this scene almost single handedly undoes that. But there’s merit in how it discusses Obi-Wan reaching out, worried for his friend.
I discovered that placed after the opera scene and before (1) His friendly farewell with Obi-Wan and (2) His soft discussion with Padme about his dream (this has been moved from the beginning of the film to the middle), it doesn’t necessarily read as an unhinged Anakin’s descent, but a moment. And having normal, human moments afterwards shows that he doesn’t fall down a rabbit hole into Vader (which is what I don’t want.) I’ve edited the scene short obviously, ending with:
P: You expect too much of yourself…
A: Is that bad?
…Which isn’t like the theatrical, where he pretty much tells Padme he’s going to use the dark side. Now, he’s just opened himself up to his selfishness, which works well directly off of the opera scene. The dark side isn’t something he’s interested in yet, nor is it anything he ever really seeks in this edit, at least until the last second choice between Mace or his wife.
Obi-Wan reacts to Anakin’s Fall
I’ve always had an issue with how… nothing, Obi-Wan’s reaction to Anakin’s fall initially is.
I tried to mitigate some of that, with a few added lines/shots and distressed noises (from Ewan himself) that better show how much it shocks and hurts him.
Okay, so courtesy of sade1212, I tried my hand at implementing an idea of theirs from the Radical Redux thread I really liked. Subject to change back.
Anyway, the basis for this change is that Anakin’s exact mindset in turning to the dark side has always been somewhat muddled and nearly inscrutable. We probably understand why he chooses it, but not how he can. How can a good man do these terrible things? The theatrical asserts that he’s always kind of been troubled and scary in that way, but I’ve obviously moved away from that to make him more well-adjusted. I’ve previously leaned on Anakin developing this philosophy of “ends justify the means;” where he visibly feels remorse and never explicitly extols the virtues of galaxy-ruling. He knows he’s done terrible things but it’s for Padme!
The underlying issue with that execution of it - while it has worked for me and others - is that Anakin then becomes almost a secondary character for what should arguably be the most important part of his development. The next time we see him there’s distance between us and him - he’s done all the bad things offscreen and how he feels about it is only given to us after that fact.
Anakin visits Padme before he marches the temple
So sade’s idea was to have Anakin visit Padme directly after his christening as Darth Vader. I like this for a lot of reasons. Where this scene is placed originally, is exactly what I mean when I say there’s distance between us and Anakin. He’s acting somewhat normally, seemingly unfazed by what we know he’s done. Any empathy we had for him is lost because we can’t relate to that. Sure, we can extrapolate an internal justification process or him burying his feelings, but there’s no real payoff for that understanding (unless you count the “Nooooo”/scream from Vader, which I have removed), no elucidation that that’s what’s happening.
With this new placement, Anakin has only betrayed Mace and only just agreed to march on the temple. He has yet to commit his crimes, so now this scene is contextualized as cold feet, trying to re-affirm why he would do the things he will while he’s still relatively “innocent.” I tried to play up how he doesn’t know what he’s about to do, and avoided him talking about his allegiance to Palpatine. He knows Padme would be against him, and now the scene is rife with half-truths and uncertainty. When Padme brings up Obi-Wan, he’s taken aback because it’s the first real consequence he has to face.
In looking for a scene to replace the previous, I felt like the youngling scene might work now as its own beat in the story, rather than glossed over in a montage. It used to be a 180 that was hard to justify, but now we have context for Anakin’s state of mind. He was hesitant, but he has to do what he has to do. Turning it into its own beat makes it a point of no return in his descent into depravity, especially as Anakin is never even slightly optimistic after this. He just wants to save Padme. I think it adds to the tragedy now rather than confuse it.
Palpatine Reveal (Palps is more subtle)
Grevious expecting Skywalker (Parallels Maul and Ahsoka)
Anakin is the father isn’t he? (Obi-Wan comforts Padme, wants to save father of her children)
Padme stands up to Anakin, Obi-Wan thinks there’s good in him (kept here for archival reasons)
Earlier, better version of above (Audio clip selection TBD, some VFX, Padme shot credit to snooker)
First clip I ever posted of this edit (Updated) (Anakin’s Theme Rescore)
Anakin falls to the dark side (WIP)
Obi-Wan initially wants to help Anakin out of the lava after their duel
Tried some alternate dialogue instead of silent nodding to replace Yoda’s reused lines in the Windu/Obi/Yoda deleted scene
Testing an alternate exchange in pre-duel sequence
STILL IN PROGRESS. Maybe not so much anymore
EXPERIMENTAL WORKPRINT AVAILABLE