There are few characters in the pantheon of Star Wars that were underrated more than the main character of The Phantom Menace. We see him as the focal point of this one movie and referred to at sparse, random points throughout the rest of the prequels and The Clone Wars series, but he really could have held down a bigger role.
If, for some reason, you have not seen this 22-year old movie, lots of spoilers lay ahead.
Let’s start with my assertion of his being the main character of the Phantom Menace. Most Star Was fans have something against Episode One. They don’t like Jar Jar, they don’t care for the, at times, child-like feel to the story…there are several reasons. While I’m not here to debate the merits of the first (fourth) Star Wars movie, I am pointing out my opposition to a point made against the Phantom Menace by a youtube review from Mr Plinkett. He asserts that there was no main character for the movie, which is a main reason as to why he did not like it.
Based on his presence from the beginning to the end, his direction and progressing of the story, and his actor being top-billed, Qui-Gon Jinn is the main character of Star Wars Episode One.
He led Obi-Wan on, and off, the Droid Control ship in the beginning of the movie. He saved Jar Jar and Obi-Wan from the droid speeders. He convinced the Gungan Boss Nass to allow them to take an underwater transport to the Naboo capital. He led the queen to the ship that allowed them to escape the Trade Federation occupation. He directed them to Tatooine after Obi-Wan found the planet. He masterminded the scheme of Anakin’s entrance into the pod race, and his eventual freeing of Skywalker. He planted the idea with the Jedi Council to advance Obi-Wan to the rank of Jedi Knight and to train Anakin. He told Anakin to remain in the cockpit of the Naboo straighter that the kid would later use to destroy the Droid Control ship and ensure victory over the Trade Federation. Finally, his death was the catalyst of Obi-Wan’s focus that led to the defeat of Darth Maul and his dying wish spurred Obi-Wan to ultimately train Anakin.
What contributed to his awesomeness more than just the discarded fact of his main character standing in The Phantom Menace, was his standing as a Jedi Master. The rank of Jedi Knight versus Jedi Master comes more in to play with Anakin in The Revenge of the Sith, but we can tell that Qui-Gon is a master since the mission to go to Naboo came from Supreme Chancellor Vallorum. Directives from the Chancellor, though rare, are always entrusted to a Master and not a Knight. Especially with the secretive nature of this mission, the Jedi Council would have chosen a Master, at least, if not a member of the Council to carry it out. Qui-Gon was a Jedi Master.
That’s not to label him as one that followed the Council’s will to a tee. In fact, due to his individuality, he was not a member of the Council. He put a high emphasis on feeling and stayed in tune with his instincts more than other Jedi. Because of that, he followed his interpretation of what The Force was communicating to him more than relying on communion with other Jedi which tended to put him at odds with what the Jedi Council decided as a group.
It’s also intriguing about Qui-Gon that he actually remained a Jedi after his former Master defected to the Sith. We find out in Attack of the Clones that Count Dooku was once the teacher of Qui-Gon. This is most likely where his individual rebellion against the Council originated. Even when Obi-Wan Kenobi attempted to point out how his individuality kept him from a seat on the Council, Qui-Gon simply replied “You still have much to learn.” An interesting response, given how close Obi-Wan was, at the time, to ascending to the rank of Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan later understood Qui-Gon’s defiance. Despite his refusal to follow the Jedi Code’s every direction, Qui-Gon was still very much entrenched on the light side of the force, he was just a little less conservative then, say, Plo Koon or Mace Windu.
His character was that of a rare centrist Jedi. There was a lot of speculation during the Rey trilogy that maybe she’d be a Gray Jedi, or one who utilizes all sides of The Force for what they deem necessary. Qui-Gon was not this, but he was closer to that, which would have been cool to see how he handled the Clone Wars.
Also, it would have been awesome to have Liam Neeson in more Star Wars movies. I mean, that’s just a given.