Legally Blonde Prequel Highlights The Problem With Prequels

By Zack Zagranis | Published

reese witherspoon the morning show

As you may have heard by now, Amazon is developing a prequel to Legally Blonde for its Prime Video streaming service. The prequel, Elle, will explore the main character, Elle Woods’ high school years. That’s all well and good, but the Elle Woods at the beginning of Legally Blonde is much different than the one at the end, presenting a problem that plagues most prequels: how do we give audiences the character they want without negating all of the character growth that happens in the original?

Ignoring Her Character Growth

At the beginning of Legally Blonde, Elle Woods appears to be a vapid bimbo who is only interested in fashion and partying. We find out over the course of the film that there is much more to her than that and she even becomes a lawyer at the end. The fact still stands, though, that for all intents and purposes, Elle is supposed to represent the “dumb blonde” stereotype at the beginning of the film.

Otherwise, the movie would have been 90 min of an already respected college grad moving on to law school with no one’s opinions of her changing, including how she views herself. I don’t know about you, but I would have found that film extremely boring.

The point is that Elle experiences a great deal of character growth throughout Legally Blonde, which leaves any prequels based on it with two options. The first is to portray Elle exactly as she appears at the beginning of Legally Blonde: ditzy, fashioned-obsessed, and fairly shallow. The problem with this option is that fans of the original will expect the Elle they know and love: bright, optimistic, and smart (in her own way.)

Option 2

reese witherspoon

Option 2 would be to portray Elle exactly as I described her above, the way she appears at the end of Legally Blonde and throughout the sequel, Legally Blonde 2. The problem with this option is for the events of Legally Blonde to mean anything, the prequel would have to come up with a way to regress her back to the “bimbo” everyone thinks she is at the end of the series. This is the problem all prequels face.


star wars star trek prequels

Okay, maybe not all, but most. For instance, Han Solo has a specific character arc throughout the original three Star Wars movies. He starts off as a cold, ruthless outlaw who only cares about himself and slowly grows into a rogue with a heart of gold who cares about more than money and his own well-being.

For Solo: A Star Wars Story to have been an accurate prequel, it would have had to portray Han as a heartless pirate the entire time. But Lucasfilm isn’t stupid. They know fans want a lovable scamp who’s a “bad boy,” but not a bad boy. As a result, they gave us a Han who’s secretly a good guy from the beginning and just playing the role of a thuggish outlaw.

The movie ends with Han giving up a fortune to a radical terrorist group so that they can fund their rebellion, for crying out loud. Compare that to the Han we’re introduced to in A New Hope, and it becomes clear that either Han suddenly becomes cold and cynical between Solo and Episode IV or his entire persona in the first Star Wars is an act. Either way, the prequel, with its very existence, cheapens the original somewhat.

Rogue One And The Thing


The only way for prequels to avoid this is to follow an original cast of characters like Rogue One. That kind of prequel, however, presents its own problems. The characters either have to die at the end to explain their absence in the next film, or there needs to be some convoluted plot device that keeps them otherwise occupied during the events of the original movie.

The Thing (2011) is perhaps the best way to illustrate this point. Nothing of consequence could happen in the Thing prequel because it had to lead directly into The Thing (1982), where it’s stated that the Norwegian research team—the subjects of the prequel—are all dead.

Or Maybe Take A Break From The Prequels?


The only way to avoid all of the problems above would be for Hollywood to stop making prequels altogether. Unfortunately, you and I both know that’s never going to happen. Disney will still put out dreck like Monsters University that absolutely ruins the continuity of the original, and we’ll keep watching it because soon, there will be no choice.

We’re moving toward a point where every piece of content will either be a prequel, a sequel, or a reboot. Hell, we might even be there now. The only choice is to either keep watching the crap studios are churning out like half-baked prequels or start spending your off-time reading books…

*sigh* When does that Legally Blonde prequel come out again?