Prequels Aren't Just Dumb, They're Evil

Illustration for article titled Prequels Aren't Just Dumb, They're Evil

Star Trek and Star Wars keep venturing down the dreary route of prequels, and in the process, they've made the universe a way less interesting place. But prequels aren't just boring and predictable — they're also morally wrong and a scourge on humanity, because they portray people as helpless pawns of a history that's already set in stone. Click through for five reasons why prequels are actually evil.

Illustration for article titled Prequels Aren't Just Dumb, They're Evil

For some reason both of the big "Star" franchises are addicted to prequels. With Star Trek, it's the pre-Kirk show Enterprise, and now the young-Kirk movie directed by J.J. Abrams. Star Wars, meanwhile, had its dull prequel trilogy, and now it's plugging in the gaps between episodes two and three — and episodes three and four — with two new TV shows.

Here are our reasons why prequels are actually bad for the human race:
Prequels are anti-creativity. When you decide to go back and fill in minor gaps in your backstory, you're saying there's no point in going forward. There are no more interesting stories to tell about what happens after the last installment of your storyline. That's not just false, it's actually an insult to writers everywhere. I can think of 100 ways to continue Star Wars after Return of the Jedi. And John Ostrander's addictive Star Wars: Legacy comic proves that there's still plenty of scope to move forward until that "long ago" era catches up to our own.

Prequels are anti-futurist. The great joy of science fiction is that it encourages us to look to the future, to what happens next. Prequels tell us that the future isn't that great, there's really nothing to see beyond what we've already seen. Why not just take a nice detour back into the past, and revisit some of the stuff we've already seen?

Prequels are anti-heroic. There's no point rooting for the good guys in a trilogy, because their future is already set in stone. This can be a bleak future, like the fact that we know Anakin will become Darth Vader. Or a happy one, like our certainty that the Federation will come to pass after Star Trek: Enterprise. When you make a prequel, you're coming down firmly on the side of predestination. There's no point in anyone sticking their neck out heroically, because future history is already set in stone. (The new Star Trek movie may avoid this problem by allowing history to be changed. J.J. Abrams has hinted strongly that the Trek universe may wind up being quite different after the time travel in his movie rewrites history.)

Prequels are all about trivia. We've already warned of the dangers in trying to answer fans' minor niggling questions, and prequels are more likely to do this than any other kind of story. You may already know that Captain Kirk outwitted the Kobayashi Maru test, but did you know what kind of boxer shorts he was wearing when he did it? No? Well, allow us to show you. No, thanks. I want to know what happened after the war with the Dominion and after Janeway crippled the Borg and after the Romulan government was destroyed. Which brings me to the final problem:


Prequels are small and personal. I love small, intimate portrayals of people's lives. But that's not what I look for from movies with "Star" in the title. (Well, maybe A Star Is Born.) By their nature, though, prequels have to be about a few people, not a larger topic. We already know the Federation will be formed and the Starfleet uniforms will get more pajama-like, so the only question in our mind when we watch Enterprise is, "Will Trip Tucker sacrifice his life in a totally contrived moment during a pirate raid on the ship?" By taking all of the bigger issues off the table, prequels force us to focus entirely on the characters. Who usually, sad to say, don't hold up to it that well.



Charlie Jane Anders

@taxbaby: Well, now you're agreeing with me. I'm the one who thinks "a sequel can be done right." It's true that I'm making a sweeping argument, based on specific examples. I can't actually think of a scifi franchise that dipped into prequels — based on events we already knew about in a fair amount of detail — and created a compelling story. Can you? A prequel about events we knew nothing about in advance would, of course, be different.