Michael O’Connor’s “Power to the Prequels” series looks next at its villains:
Outside of those two characters, it’s possible Lucas feels uncomfortable with how villainy is glorified in most franchise films, including his earlier efforts. Consider the original films and how the majority of fan costuming groups adopted the Empire’s fashion. Those films made dressing up like space Nazis the cool thing to do, and it makes perfect sense when you compare the glamour and polish of the Empire with the raggedy hippies of the Rebellion. The Imperials dress better, design starships that are simultaneously sleeker and more intimidating, and construct massive and awe-inspiring bases. Of course, they’re also unrepentantly evil.
But in the prequels, you’ll notice that Lucas sheds some unflattering shade on prequel villains. With the exception of Maul, the prequel villains are a far more sordid, repulsive lot than their OT progenitors. The prequel good guys have all the coolest starships and costumes. Compare the Trade Federation fighters with the Naboo starfighter for instance. Or the Separatist tanks with the Republic gunship prominently featured in Attack of the Clones. And who wants to look like the coughing, gangly General Grievous or the frog faced Nute Gunray when you could be the dashing Obi-Wan, the fashionable Queen Amdiala, the stoic Mace Windu, or the idiosyncratic gnome Yoda?