Revenge of the Cloned Phantom

You have probably heard by now that Episode III has received an official title: Revenge of the Sith. It is customary for Star Wars fans (and non-fans) to descend like jackals upon Lucas’ movie titles, arguing about their merits (or lack thereof). In keeping with that spirit, I’ll offer a few thoughts on the new title. In short, I like it quite a bit. It’s the best and most fitting of the prequel titles, in my opinion.
I have been somewhat ambivalent about the titles of Episodes I and II. The Phantom Menace doesn’t work terribly well for me as a title. While it is somewhat relevant to the movie, the plot arc to which it refers (Darth Sidious’ secretive scheming) is really just a sideshow compared to the movie’s main function, which is to introduce a cast of new heroes and show off their, well, heroism. Calling attention to this sideplot when the real meat of the film lies elsewhere seems… disproportionate, if that makes sense. Granted, A New Hope is even more vague, but that movie at least had another catchy title by which it could be known: Star Wars.
Attack of the Clones as a title is equal parts good and bad. It’s good in that it perfectly fits the pulpy space-opera feel that the movie is aiming for. (Claims that it’s cheesy or stupid-sounding miss the point; it’s an excellent fit for its genre.) On the bad side, I think it’s somewhat misleading. For one, it sort of implies (to me, at least) that the Clones are bad guys who will be attacking (possibly surprise-attacking) the Good Guys, when in fact this is not the case. That is a bit of meta-analysis on my part, but I can’t shake the feeling that a more accurate (though far less entertaining) title would have been Attack of the Separatist Union or Attack of the Rebel Scum. And “attack” sounds a little… aggressive, given that in the film, the Clone Army is really just reacting to Separatist acts of war. Technically, they are attacking, but the title implies to me that the Clones would be launching some sort of massive invasion, not reacting to acts of aggression initiated by somebody else. Maybe it should have been Episode II: Aggressive Response of the Clones?
Which brings us to Revenge of the Sith… which I like. Firstly, as Ron noted in a recent conversation, the word “Sith” is really cool. Secondly, it’s a perfect counterbalance to Return of the Jedi (doubly so given that Episode VI was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi). Both Star Wars trilogies track the rise to prominence of a Force philosophy and end with one faction overthrowing the System and returning to power. The difference lies in the nature of this takeover: for the Sith, revenge is their motive; their assumption of power is almost an act of spite directed at their long-hated Jedi enemies. For the Jedi, their assumption of power is a simple returning to their rightful place; revenge and hate have no place in it, as is demonstrated in Luke’s confrontation with the Emperor. Revenge of the Sith… Return of the Jedi. I like it.
What do you think?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

One Comment

  1. Topher says:

    I feel pretty much the way you do about the titles. I think the new name is excellent mostly because of the way it plays against The Return of the Jedi. I’ve never quite understood the strong hate feelings many Star Wars fans have for episodes 1 and 2. They have no more and no less taint of that hokey space opera “1903’s serial” than the original three. I think it’s just that it all seemed so much more believable when I was 5 and saw Episode 3 in the theatre. Just like I thought Speed Racer was really out there. I watch Speed Racer now and shudder. I think the children of the 70’s expect the new movies to awe them as much as the originals, and it’s just not going to happen.

Leave a Reply