If you're a fan of the prequels, and there are many fans, you can easily conjure up a multitude of on-screen examples when you're being asked, or forced, to defend your position on episodes one, two and three. Like them or hate them, the prequels are full of striking cinematic moments that gave George Lucas the opportunity to finally tell the story he wanted to tell and had the technology to do so. It is truly the type of avant-garde filmmaking that captures the audience’s attention and for what Star Wars is most known for.
The focus of the trilogy of course is the transformation of Jedi Anakin Skywalker to Sith Lord Darth Vader but holding her own on screen alongside him is Natalie Portman's Padme Amidala Naberrie of Naboo. Likely the easiest and most commonly known path to her legacy in the Star Wars universe is that of mother to twins Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, but that would be remiss. She's much, much more than that.
Yes, her role of mother to Luke and Leia and wife to Anakin are of vital importance in the context of the galaxy, but to dismiss her as simply a broodmare or consort would be foolish. She's also been a Queen, a Senator, an Ambassador, a warrior and like her daughter years later, a rebel. Yes, Padme was the leader of a resistance 47 years before being the leader of the resistance was a thing!
You can understand why she connected with younger female Star Wars fans, despite limited dialogue, who were desperately looking for the Princess Leia of their generation. Whether it was on a far-off planet or on the Senate floor, Padme was a strong female character who when given the opportunity (which wasn't always the case) fought with as much conviction as her male counterparts.
So, for years, fans waited patiently for more Padme stories to be told that weren't necessarily about her role as a secret wife to a brooding Jedi. It was completely obvious to many that she didn't always require saving and that she could, like her daughter, fend for herself, she just needed the opportunity to do so. We've have had plenty of Padme since the prequels to absorb, whether it was on The Clone Wars TV show or Forces of Destiny or more recently in the Timothy Zahn novel, Thrawn: Alliances. But again, those were not solo quests and often involved Anakin in one way or another, they weren't purely Padme stories. Forces of Destiny comes closest but in her four appearances, only one is she on her own and those of course are only two minutes long. The fans were hungry for more!
Finally, their loyalty and dedication to this character was rewarded as at San Diego Comic-Con, during the Star Wars authors panel, it was announced that E.K. Johnston, author of "Ahsoka", would tell a story where Padme is the central character. The novel, which is titled "Queen's Shadow", is set between the events of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, a time when Padme is busy transitioning between being Queen of Naboo and its Senator. The publisher's summary states...
When Padmé Naberrie, "Queen Amidala" of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo's representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen's shadow.
Sounds like we're in store for a lot of political intrigue and a look deep inside the seedy and corrupt side of the Coruscant government. With Anakin off training to be a Jedi with Obi-Wan Kenobi, this is a perfect time to show Padme on her own using her intelligence, wit and strength to navigate the very muddy waters of life on this sometimes-hostile planet. Here's hoping we see Duja make an appearance to provide some more context to their friendship!
For her part, Johnston is fully aware of the task at hand and seems to understand that there's more to Padme than meets the eye. She recently opened up in an interview with StarWars.com and explained how the prequels never fully fleshed out the character in profound way...
"I think a lot of what Padmé does in the movies goes on inside her head. So, her brilliance and her political acumen, you don't necessarily see it play out in the movies. Because she's so smart, she doesn't explain what she's doing. Getting to kind of get inside her head a little bit, and write from the perspective of inside her head, you sort of see how smart and how talented and how deeply compassionate she is. In a dress that weighs 80 billion pounds or in a suit for sneaking around or whatever, she has it covered because she knows herself and she knows her friends so well."
Like Zahn's take on the character in "Thrawn: Alliances", it seems Johnston will really focus on Padme's resourcefulness and cunning. Unlike her eventual life partner, she's just not showy about it, choosing to be subversive and strategic about her choices relying more on her prowess and intelligence than physically strength. But don't think Padme won't pick up a blaster should the need arise, we've seen her do that already and it's likely a choice she may have to make again. Like all good strategists, she will of course, way the options...
"Queen's Shadow" will hits stores on March 5, 2019, you won't want to miss this one!
Till next time...MTFBWY.
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