The prequel is one of the biggest innovations of modern cinema; a movie which takes place prior to the events of one that preceded it. Though there are earlier examples- such as The Temple of Doom- the second Star Wars trilogy is probably the most famous example. The original trilogy was one of the most high profile successes in movie history and it was common knowledge that a further three films- covering the fall of Anakin Skywalker- were planned by George Lucas.
Though they were some of the most hotly anticipated movies of all time, it is generally accepted that Episodes 1 to 3 failed to live up to the hype; it is possibly this failure that has led to the negative regard in which prequels are held. It is often argued by fans and critics alike that the Star Wars prequels could never truly succeed because the audience already knew the ending, thereby restricting the characters growth and the possibilities for the story.
In the years since this argument has been used against prequels in general; The Hobbit probably being the most high profile case: we know Bilbo and Gandalf live, we know he keeps the ring and we know Smaug dies. Many of the questions that the audience has going in have already been answered thus removing some of the intrigue and mystery of the movies- but does that really matter?
Does knowing were the story’s going really ruin the film? The simpler answer must surely be that a lot of the films- certainly Star Wars- aren’t very good. Episodes 1 and 2 were poor movies filled with an overabundance of CGI, boring plots and- with the exception of Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor- badly cast characters. Revenge of the Sith was the movie that everyone actually wanted to see and not surprisingly it was the best of the trilogy, though not without faults of its own. We shouldn’t have had to sit through two movies we weren’t interested in to get the one we wanted, although had the first two been better it’s doubtful anybody would have complained.
A lack of quality prequels has turned public opinion against them; much like video game adaptions the genre needs a number of hits in order to turn this around, we’ve had X-Men: First Class and The Desolation of Smaug but it’s not enough to wipe away the negativity. It may be that nothing is ever enough; there is certainly merit to the argument of story limitations and some stigmas never truly go away.