This post was originally published on Side Quests before it was rebranded to Amuse-Bouche.
Why is Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace universally hated? Was it the decades wait for a new story to be added to the saga? Were expectations too high? Was the hype for Darth Maul unwarranted for the 6 minutes of screen time he received versus Jar Jar Binks’ 17 minutes and 45 seconds?
When experienced in real time, I agree, Episode I was a huge let down. But once you slog through Episodes II and III and watch the Clone Wars animated show (the cartoon is key to a better appreciation of this trilogy), the characters become more fleshed out, the intricacies of the Star Wars universe are better explained, and you get more context into the nuanced politics in this galaxy far far away.
The Phantom Menace is an excellent film, but only in retrospect.
In defense of Episode I, don’t blame the film, blame the order in which Star Wars material was released!
That brings me to Qui-Gon Jinn, the most underrated Star Wars character. His presence in Star Wars is fleeting but his impact ripples through the entire series. He finds Anakin, he measures Anakin’s midichlorians, he begs the Jedi council to teach Anakin the ways of the Force, then he dies, obligating Obi Wan Kenobi to train the boy who would later become Darth Vader. Thus, Qui-Gon Jinn sets off the series of events that we know of as Star Wars. His actions simultaneously upset the order of the universe and also brings it to balance.
Qui-Gon Jinn is not just important to the Star Wars universe, but he and the Episode I film are important to LEGO. Star Wars was the first licensing agreement the toy company made. They began with the original trilogy, but shortly after the release of The Phantom Menace, Episode I LEGO sets and minifigures flooded the market paving the way for new LEGO innovations. Like Qui-Gon Jinn lighting the fuse to ignite the Star Wars saga, Episode I brought forth a new era of LEGO.
The significance of Qui-Gon Jinn didn’t occur to my husband and I until we were unpacking all of his old LEGO sets and realized that he had somehow acquired an abundance of Qui-Gon Jinn minifigures. It sent Jon down a rabbit hole which I then filmed and turned into this delightful oral history of Qui-Gon Jinn’s impact on Star Wars and the frequency he appears in LEGO sets.