On the topic of Padme, isn't it unfortunate that so many crucial scenes for her ended up being cut in both Episode 2 and 3? Lucas seemed to have lots of ideas for her, but they all get cut to make more room for Anakin.
It was the early 2000s.
Movies weren’t embarking on the feminist revolution of today. Movies instead adopted their philosophy of “find the next pretty white boy to star in front of the computer effects” and whisked off on that. The internet was boiling over, news feeds were buzzing, you had Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConawhatsits, it was a new phase in movies, and the money lay in the men. Hayden Christensen included…
For female-led movies, we had Halle Berry as Catwoman. 2004 release, right between 2 and 3. It was a dark time.
Lucas could have done more with Padme, yes, but if he’d wanted to make her flawed or given her depth, that too might have been a dangerous move. Remember the Harry Potter movies? They made Hermione Perfect because they had to be feminist and superior back then; it was the day of Action Girls, who are Just As Good As Men and who Don’t Cry or Wear Dresses.
Star Wars could have done more, but I don’t know if Lucas (whose primary influences had predated LOTS of feminist advances) had wanted to forge onward like that–especially not when the movies really were about Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. At the end of the day, that’s the real sticking point: it’s all about Anakin and his fall to the Dark Side.
It’s weird, and I’m rambling, but I just want to put some perspective. We had Halle Berry being stuck in a dominatrix outfit to be passed off as a superhero, Trinity being killed off in the Matrix, and Arwen having to be given an enlarged (still minor) role in Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, George had a fourteen-year-old girl and her posse of teenage girls overthrow a planet, then the fourteen-year-old-girl entered her twenties and led a rescue mission to a planet of bugs, and then the girl went and had to wrestle with her husband’s fall to the Dark Side.
Yeah, she didn’t have much to do in Episode 3, and I kind of wish they’d had her try to kill Darth Vader like they had toyed with, but she gave up her life so her children could live and save the galaxy (MY THEORY, sticking to it, ask me later), and basically just had to watch everything fall apart.
…yeah, they could have done more, but again, time and a place.
THEN WE GOT AHSOKA AND REY THOUGH SO THINGS ARE FINALLY GETTING BETTER.