How was George Lucas going to end Jar Jar's story?
Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Jar Jar Binks the Fool?
WARNING: This article contains mild spoilers for Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End. (Yes, it's the scene you've probably already heard about.)
Spoilers to follow below Jar Jar's handsome visage...
If you've been on the internet this week, you've probably already heard that Empire's End, the final novel in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy, reveals what became of Jar Jar Binks after he unwittingly convinced the Senate to grant Sith lord Sheev Palpatine emergency powers in Attack of the Clones.
(The cameo appearance comes after JJ Abrams joked about showing the bones of Jar Jar lying in the desert sands in The Force Awakens, a gag that didn't come to pass in the film.)
In Wendig's novel, Jar Jar has actually become a clown, performing for kids on the streets while being shunned by adults who blame him for the state of the galaxy.
"Jar Jar makin some uh-oh mistakens," he explains to one child. "Desa hisen Naboo tink I help the uh-oh Empire."
Not only does the moment show how far Jar Jar has fallen, in-universe, as a result of his 'friendship' with Palpatine, but it's also a bit of on-the-nose meta-commentary about the way Jar Jar has been received by the fandom over the years — beloved by kids, hated and avoided by adults.
But — and here's something you don't hear every day — what George Lucas had planned for Jar Jar Binks was more subtle.
There's no question that Jar Jar Binks played a much smaller role in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith than he did in The Phantom Menace. What's always been unclear, however, is whether that was because the character simply didn't serve the needs of those stories, or because George Lucas was shell-shocked and gun-shy after the brutal criticism he received for his use of Jar Jar in The Phantom Menace.
Lucas hasn't talked about it much, but Ahmed Best — the actor who played Jar Jar — has his suspicions.
"I think George wanted to give the fans what they wanted," he told Reddit users in a 2014 Ask Me Anything session. "That meant more lightsabers and less Gungans."
Best added that, while the character's personality was largely unchanged in Episodes II and III, "there were huge changes" to his story arc.
In a 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly to mark the ill-advised release of The Phantom Menace in 3D, Best elaborated on those changes, describing a deleted scene that was filmed for Revenge of the Sith, but has yet to see the light of day.
"In Revenge of the Sith, there was a scene that was cut where I’m walking down a long pathway with Ian McDiarmid before he is turned into the Emperor," Best explained.
"And Palpatine kind of thanks Jar Jar for putting him in power. It’s a really interesting scene, and it shows the evolution of Jar Jar from this fun-loving kid’s character into this manipulated politician. And it was an interesting arc for the character that I thought could have been explored, because the scene is really dark. But it just didn’t fit in the movie, which I understand.
"But yeah, George’s take on it is Jar Jar is now just a politician."
So, there you have it. Not quite as obvious as a scene literally depicting Jar Jar clowning around in a fountain for spare change and being reviled by his peers, but still a tragic end to the tale of Jar Jar Binks — a once noble creature with the innocence of a child, subsumed and corrupted by the dreary, treacherous and often sinister world of grown-up politics.
Pretty funny, right, kids?
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