Jar Jar Binks deserves his own Star Wars redemption arc
Ex-squeeze me, everyone! I have something very important to say about the most polarizing Gungan in the entirety of the Star Wars universe. Yes, you already know who I'm talking about.
Jar Jar Binks is genuinely a great character and his actions in The Phantom Menace — and spotlight appearances in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith — do not warrant even a tenth of the vitriol that has been flung at the character over the course of the last 23 years. In fact, as I argued on this week's episode of EW's Dagobah Dispatch podcast, he's one character that desperately needs to be brought back in a future Star Wars installment.
Before we deep dive down into the cool, crisp waters of Otoh Gunga, I want to say first and foremost that Ahmed Best is a wonderful actor and that any criticism of Jar Jar's personality should've never fallen onto his shoulders. Best brought the character to life onscreen with excitement and a whole lot of laughter, but he did not pen the film's script. If anyone were to be faulted for Jar Jar's onscreen hijinks, it should be writer and creator George Lucas.
Lucasfilm Ltd. Jar Jar Binks with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn in 'The Phantom Menace.'
When I re-watched the films ahead of this week's Dagobah Dispatch, I was initially a little worried: Would I still love Jar Jar as an adult, or was my rose-tinted view of him simply just childhood nostalgia? In actuality, it only solidified my spiciest Star Wars take: Jar Jar is a gem, and we need to stop acting like he's not.
If it wasn't already very obvious, I've been a lifelong advocate of Junior Representative and Bombad General Binks ever since I first saw The Phantom Menace when I was three. In a film overloaded with political subterfuge and ominous Trade Federation dealings, Jar Jar was a bouncy, bubbly balm to my young soul and I, like other kids, latched onto him immediately. In fact, I loved him so much that I actually owned a Jar Jar Binks inflatable chair (it's a real thing!). While I understand why adults weren't keen on his constant shenanigans, it also can't be denied that Jar Jar played a pivotal role in welcoming younger audiences into the franchise too.
And, as a character, Jar Jar is tasked with an impossible mission from the get-go. He's supposed to be this bright sunbeam that keeps everyone laughing, while simultaneously being the key to resolving tensions between the Gungans and the Naboolians. He is required to be serious, yet also lighthearted. Knowledgeable in the ways of the galaxy, yet easily bamboozled. That's a difficult dichotomy for any character to properly balance, and we all know that Jar Jar was literally banished for being clumsy! Does he sometimes go overboard? Absolutely. But he manages to bridge the gap while remaining his happy-go-lucky self, and that, at the very least, has to be respected.
Lucasfilm Ltd. Podracer safety is paramount!
And, most importantly, its his antics that propel The Phantom Menace forward. Who else is leading Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) to Otoh Gunga, narrowly evading a beatdown by Sebulba with help from young Anakin (Jake Lloyd), and guiding Padmé (Natalie Portman) and the team to the Gungans' sacred hideaway? No one, that's who! Jar Jar is fully firing on all cylinders all of the time and yes, if that means that he's gonna sometimes try to sneak an extra apple, then so be it. He's gotta be working up an appetite from carrying so much of the storyline.
The biggest issue when it comes to Jar Jar is the reduction of his role in the following prequel installments. No, I'm not joking. THIS IS NOT SARCASM! Listen, I fully understand that there was a shockingly adverse reaction to his cheeky nature amongst critics and theatergoers alike, but that doesn't mean that you — oh, I don't know — casually pin accidentally starting the literal Clone Wars on him in Attack of the Clones and then give him a sad little one-liner in Revenge of the Sith! No way!
Jar Jar deserved a chance to address the criticisms levied him and grow just like any other character. It didn't have to be an entire storyline, but even a singular scene of him wrestling over whether or not to lend emergency powers to Chancellor Palpatine in Attack of the Clones could've been an effective way to show audiences that he had become so much more than Phantom Menace's polarizing comic relief.
Lucasfilm Ltd. Representative Binks!
But! Thankfully, there's still time to rectify this galactic mistake. While Jar Jar has since gone on to appear in several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, his final fate is still a bit up in the air, which makes him the perfect candidate to pop up in a future Disney+ series.
Imagine it: maybe this older, wiser, yet still jovial iteration of Jar Jar would be able to see parallels between young Grogu and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) in an episode of The Mandalorian. Or he could simply provide refuge and a bit of comfort (a.k.a a much-needed therapy session) to an old friend in an episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The possibilities are endless and could provide Jar Jar with the redemption arc — or, at least, the solid ending — that he rightfully deserves. And, if that wasn't incentive enough, it would definitely draw in attention from fans on both sides of the great Jar Jar debate. Heck, it may even convert a few fans along the way too.
Listen to my argument for why Jar Jar is actually a Star Star on this week's episode of Dagobah Dispatch below and remember, my dellow felegates, that wuuude comments will never succeed in swaying my opinion.
To hear the entire Jar Jar discussion and debate — as well as interviews with Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Rosario Dawson, Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna, and more — check out the latest episode of Dagobah Dispatch.