Category Archives: Luke Skywalker

Finding character in clothing: The costumes of the Star Wars Original Trilogy

Costume choices make just as strong of an impression as dialogue and behavior do. The costumes of Star Wars not only capture the characters themselves, but the environment and tone of a scene. Even the smallest detail, like the embroidery of the Naboo symbol on Queen Amidala’s Red Invasion Gown in The Phantom Menace, tells a story.

Over the next several weeks, look for blog posts discussing the costumes of the Original Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy and Expanded Universe. In addition, there will be a post regarding costumes from other movies. Costumes add another layer to storytelling and can, at times, tell more about a character than the words they say.

 

A New Hope

Perhaps the costume that stands out the most in A New Hope is Princess Leia’s Senatorial Gown. Unlike the dresses worn by princesses in other movies, Leia’s dress wasn’t at all revealing, tight or restricting. She wears two different styles of the gown. The one worn on the Death Star, the Alderaan Princess, has short, less bulky sleeves and heavier while the Yavin version uses more voluminous sleeves and a more lightweight fabric.

The Senatorial Gown covers Leia from neck to toe. It’s loose fitting, white in color and simple. The color and fit insinuate purity while the simple design seems more appropriate for someone younger. The only accessory Leia wears is a silver and white belt. The hood in the back doesn’t appear bulky, merely practical. Leia’s practical and confident, yet she’s naïve in many aspects of life, including romance and military life. Her costume relays all these traits and more.

The Senatorial Gown wouldn’t be so memorable without the infamous double buns. The style combined an out-of-this-world feel with royalty. The buns hold her hair tightly to the scalp. Nothing is askew or hanging freely. Such is the life of Princess Leia for a third of the trilogy. The double buns, just like her, appear completely together, as if nothing can shake them loose. Emotions, a trip through the trash, nothing breaks through either.

At the medal ceremony on Yavin IV, Leia changes into a slightly more relaxed yet formal dress. The scooped neck, less rigid hair and gauzy cape remove some of the stiffness the Senatorial Gown cast on Leia. She still wore white and maintained that royal, pure look, but it’s clear that while she is still the same Leia, she has allowed herself to feel some joy at the destruction of the Death Star.

Leia’s hairstyle at the end of A New Hope consists of a crown of braids on the top of her head with one trailing behind. The crown of braids maintain her position, while the one trailing down acts as a sign of a touch of relaxation, regardless of how short that moment is. By that point, she needs a brush with joy after the loss of her world and family.

Everyone’s favorite farmboy Luke Skywalker wears a getup that solidifies his youth and role. The loose fitting tunic, pants and boots all indicate working hard in the heat. The lighter color is not only practical for a planet with two suns, but also give Luke an air of innocence and naivety similar to Leia’s. His garb is more casual that Owen Lars, who wears a robe and undershirt. Luke isn’t as focused on his life on Tatooine as his uncle is.

Luke’s second costume is the orange flight suit later worn by the Rogue Squadron. The insanely bright orange color acts as a drop of color in the drab grey and black color scheme that plagues the Empire. The suits, helmets and gear were based off what various military units wore or designed. In a way, that mixture is a strong indication of what the Rebel Alliance is: a mixture of various parts that wouldn’t normally work together, but when they do work seamlessly.

Luke’s final costume is the yellow jacket ensemble he wears for the medal ceremony on Yavin IV. With the blaster slung midway down his thigh, black undershirt and yellow jacket, some of that naïve boy from Tatooine blends in with a man who has witnessed death and destruction.

Han Solo’s clothes scream rebel. With a blaster as far down on his thigh as possible, a dingy looking shirt and black vest, it’s clear that this man sets his own rules. Even when presented with a medal at the end, Han sticks to the black vest. Even as he is being honored for his role in the destruction of the Death Star, he gives no outward indication of a change of heart. Even though his views changed, he wasn’t quite at the point of showing it.

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi robes first appear worn and comfortable. The long tunic doesn’t suggest that he is a fighter, more of a mentor. In that way, it captures the essence of Obi-Wan. Throughout the Saga, he teaches, tries to negotiate and fights only when necessary. More on the Jedi robes in the prequel post.

Darth Vader’s suit is the ultimate sign of an evil villain. With its mechanical appearance, it screams that the wearer is someone evil. Add in the loud ominous breathing and low dangerous sounding voice and the package is complete. His helmet and suit hide him completely, forbidding anyone from thinking he has any humanity left in him. The suit contains no decoration or alludes to style. It intimidates and keeps the man inside alive, that is all.

The Imperials wear uniforms featuring olive green, black and grey. Their costumes contain various features, like the riding pants that are based off what the Germans wore during part of the 19th century. The Imperial uniforms are drab and formal, similar to any military unit’s garb. There is no color aboard the Death Star, nor would there be. The colors play on the mood found aboard the space station: order, fear, destruction and desperation.

 

The Empire Strikes Back

In the next installment of the Original Trilogy, the costumes follow the changes in the characters, particularly Leia and Luke, much clearer. Given the multiple locations and opportunities to change, there are more costumes in the movie.

Leia is still wearing white, still her barred-off self on Hoth. The cold climate demands some type of protection from the cold, as seen by everyone. While the snowsuit isn’t formal, it certainly doesn’t belay any indication of relaxation. If anything, Leia appears more closed off than she did during ANH.

Leia keeps her hair up in braids. Again, her hairstyle is practical, perhaps more so than the double buns. Leia eventually sheds the vest portion of her snowsuit on Bespin.

The red costume Leia wears on Cloud City shows a dramatic change from the uptight princess to a woman finally allowing herself to be free. The dark red color of her tunic and pants suggest a more romantic, vibrate, alluring attitude. The tunic isn’t revealing or tight. The long white sleeveless cover adds a touch of soft romanticism and femininity. It’s decorated with embroidery, adding to the flair. Leia’s hair is also more relaxed. Though in braids, the looped style is much softer than any seen before. She is still Leia, but begins to adapt more to the changes in her life. Red is a deep contrast to the white she always wore before. It’s the color of romantic passion, something missing from Leia’s life until that point. In addition, it also shows that she is coming to terms with her growing feelings towards Han rather than hiding behind a stiff façade. The outfit is so characteristically Leia that it’s eerie.

Sadly, the Bespin outfit doesn’t stay on screen long. She’s stuck back in the snowsuit, sans vest, after capture. At the end, Leia goes back to white, wearing a gown that is almost in mourning. It’s almost the same as the Senatorial gown, though instead of the double buns or tight braids, her hair is pulled up in a more casual pile on the crown of her head. The hairstyle portrays more about Leia’s character at that moment than the dress itself. It’s clear that such a style wouldn’t take much time or energy. After losing someone, it’s difficult to do anything special. Though the dress choice could indicate that Leia could go back to the person she once was, her hair shows that it’s not the case.

Throughout ESB, Luke undergoes his Jedi training. Once free of the military snow gear and flightsuit, he turns to the khaki pants, ribbed tank and khaki jacket for Dagobah. His appearance gives him a more orderly feel, especially when he wears the jacket. Once he sheds the jacket, though, it’s clear how hard he’s working to become a Jedi. His clothing is simple caters to what he needs at the time. More importantly, it doesn’t resemble the ensemble we see him wear on the Rebel Base. He’s stepping away from the soldier to become something more.

Luke’s final outfit is a loose fitting tunic and pants. He wears it while the medical droid installs his prosthetic hand. Like most hospital garb, it’s comfortable and nonrestrictive. Its light color meshes well with Leia’s white robes, casting a type of light in the darkness that recently entered their lives.

No look at costumes is complete without a talk of Lando Calrissian, connoisseur of the all that is fine and luxurious. In his flared black pants, v-neck blue shirt and suave cape, Lando’s smooth and sophisticated personality is apparent from the start. He’s a businessman, ready to oil the wheels when necessary to reach the finale profit. The blue is peaceful and calm, suggesting that Cloud City is a safe haven for Han, Leia and Chewbacca. The silky fabric shows his love for the finer things in life. The hip cape is the final touch. Not many people can pull off a cape without looking ridiculous, but Lando does it. It seems like an extension of himself, that extra flair to his outfit—and character.

 

Return of the Jedi

The most iconic costume in all of the films is Princess Leia’s metal bikini. Scores of websites are dedicated to the construction of the slave Leia costume. Rather than allow the skimpy garb and chained collar to weigh the character down, it served as a tool for empowerment and means of escape. Not once when Leia was laying on Jabba’s dais or watching Luke, Han, Lando and Chewie approach the sarlacc pit did she look as if she was allowing anyone to humiliate her. Rather than permit that chain to stop or beat her, Leia turned the symbol of slavery into a weapon against her captor. Rather than try to hide herself or allow the costume to distract her, she accepted it and moved forward. She isn’t held back by anything during the events of Jabba’s palace.

Leia fully integrates herself as one of the soldiers in the Rebel Alliance with what she wears at the briefing and on Endor. There isn’t a shred of white on her uniform, which also removes the “princess” from the battlefield. She wound her hair around her head in braids. It’s out of the way and very “Leia.”

The Ewok dress is a rather interesting piece of work. Leia appears vulnerable in it. Her hair almost completely unbound, held back by a braid. Her insecurities about herself come through while wearing this dress. It’s wilder, rawer than anything else she’s worn in the movies. When Leia learns the truth about her heritage, she’s knocked down to a dark place. Everything she’s known is sent on a tailspin. Even after the destruction of Alderaan, a horror only a few could relate to, she still had a grasp on her past. With Luke’s reveal, everything changes. She does have family out there and he’s a monster. The Ewok dress plays off these emotions quite well.

Luke sheds his farmboy clothes for good with his black Jedi uniform. It’s strict, darker and formal, as Luke now is. He still maintains his inner confidence and belief that good will prevail, but now he’s learning the discipline necessary to be a Jedi. He never loses the black uniform. Rather than change, he simply throws on a camouflaged poncho and helmet. Though a member of the Alliance, he’s set apart from everyone else through his dress.

Han Solo finally meshes the lovable scoundrel with his sense of responsibility on Endor. While he doesn’t give up his traditional pants, white/ivory shirt and vest/jacket combo, he adds a camouflaged jacket. Not only does this help him blend in to the forest, but also it gives a sense of similarity to the Rebel fighters.

Emperor Palpatine maintains a shroud of evil and mystery with his shroud. It possesses neither glory nor glamour. It is threadbare, old and rough as he is. His face stays mostly hidden by a low cowl. His cane isn’t smooth, its scraggly and eerier looking. The Emperor’s robes exude both mysticism and danger.

Acting as a stark contrast to the black of the Emperor’s robes is the red of the Crimson Guards. Their smooth helmets, inhuman appearance and bold color demand attention. No one around the Emperor can forget that it would be a very bad idea to try to harm him. The ceremonial weapons look intimidating, always within sight of visitors and ready to punish.

The costumes of the Original Trilogy reflect the overall feel of the three movies. The changes of the characters, the darker tone of the Empire and the lighter colors to Rebel Alliance paint a clear picture of the state of the galaxy. Life is dark in many corners and oppressive. The Rebel Alliance is the light in that darkness, restoring color and hope to the galaxy.

Look for an in-depth look at the costumes of the Prequels early next week.

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Filed under costumes, Darth Vader, fashion, female characters, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, Original Trilogy, OT, Star Wars

Asking for equality in Star Wars isn’t sexist

Star Wars is no longer centered on Luke Skywalker. In addition to his relatives, there’s Jedi, Sith, smugglers, clones, droids and more in multiple eras. Unfortunately, that rich cast of characters is mostly male.

Every few months, Twitter and the blogosphere erupt in criticism regarding the demand for more female characters of quality. One popular argument, as mention in a recent EU Cantina column that argued writer Nanci’s own piece regarding women in Star Wars, is that it’s sexist to make such demands.

Sexism (Merriam-Webster)

1. prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women
2. behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

We are asking for equality not dominance. We aren’t not stating that the women should crush the men in numbers and presence. That request does not match the definition of a sexist person. There’s no excuse why more women characters can’t appear.

It takes less than a minute to rattle off 10 great, developed male characters in Star Wars. Naming 10 developed female characters take longer. Winter, Iella and Mirax are all great characters but lack the page time to be as fleshed out as most of the men. The potential is there. Grab it, Del Rey.

Another argument seen around cyberspace is why male fans should have to read female dominated stories. If a female fan wants to enjoy the Star Wars universe, she has no choice but to pick from dozens of novels lead by men. Tatooine Ghost and Dark Journey come to mind in regards to female leads, but after those, it takes some digging. If someone wants to read a great male lead, well, he can close his eyes, point at a stack of books and probably find a good one.

When we ask for more female leads, we aren’t stating that the male leads go away. That type of misconception is common in almost every women’s rights issue. Add more women in the workplace? Men will lose their jobs! Allow women to vote? Oh they can’t do that. They’re not educated enough and make rash, emotional decisions. Title IX discriminates against men because their sports lose funding, some say. No, Title IX does not state that schools must cut men’s teams to make room for women’s; it calls for equal funding. The institutions make the decision to cut the male teams. Remember, the woman’s rights fight isn’t even 200 years old in most countries. In the United States, we haven’t even been able to vote for 100 years.

The women’s rights movement was and is not about surpassing men in society. It’s about equality. Equality in everything, from jobs, politics, sports, pay and schooling to movies, television and books.

Most Star Wars books contain two or more main plotlines, each with its own lead or pair of lead characters. Multiple books use all male leads. And while some of these stories would work for specific characters (like Corran and Wedge in Rogue Squadron), there’s no reason why new stories couldn’t contain plotlines lead by all females or one led by a female.

The argument that a female-led book wouldn’t sell is weak. It’s no grand secret that women are a huge part of the buying market. We buy male-led books. To assume that men wouldn’t buy a book featuring Jaina, Leia, Winter, Padme or another woman character is insulting to many male fans and shows a lack of consideration for both genders.

Star Wars isn’t a “man’s world.” I can’t recall hearing about George Lucas stating that no women were allowed to view his movies. He created one of the best female heroines. Princess Leia is a cultural icon and not because of her metal bikini or hair buns (though those are icons of their own). Her take-charge attitude turns the typical princess role upside down. She’s not underneath any of the men in her life, no matter what they do or say. Telling Princess Leia what she has to do doesn’t work out well. While she’s had plenty of screen/page time, she hasn’t led many novels, usually falling second to Luke.

Just as there is a place for male heroes, there is a place for female in all eras. Satele Shan is the Grand Master of the Jedi during the period that Star Wars The Old Republic takes place. She’s one of the several great female characters the game developers and writers created.

The answer isn’t to throw in random female characters with no development. Just because a character is a woman does not make her a good character. We want female characters that are worth it, not cardboard placeholders. To assume that all we want is a female’s presence is offensive. A character that lacks any real substance isn’t useful.

The desire for equal treatment and character dispersion isn’t an out-of-this-world idea. It’s logical. If the situation was reversed, odds are that men would feel slighted. By continuing to put off or ignore the call for worthy female leads, the Star Wars universe narrows itself instead of grows. It can only last with new ideas and seizing opportunities. Using female leads will only help the fandom, not hinder it.

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Filed under Expanded Universe, female characters, female geekdom, Jaina Solo, Luke Skywalker, Star Wars, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR

Review: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Troy Denning

Contains spoilers.

Upon hearing the title of the last book in the Fate of the Jedi series, I cringed. Apocalypse is a word we’ve heard far too much in the past two years. The infamous Mayan 2012 prediction creeps into all media at random intervals to annoy us. Apocalypse seems as if it’s an overly dramatic title for a Star Wars book. The galaxy facing certain destruction is old news. Troy Denning closed out the FotJ with a plethora of action, just as he did Legacy of the Force.

On the surface, Abeloth sounds like a terrifying being. She can’t die. She can be in multiple places at the same time. She has no limitations. After finding out exactly what Abeloth is supposed to be, I felt highly skeptical. The history the Killiks gave bothers me to no end.

I don’t like the idea that everyone’s path is predestined. That takes away the responsibility of choice. The Killiks made it sound as if Abeloth would come no matter what anyone did. There was nothing Luke or anyone else could do about it and that’s an idea that I’m not comfortable with in literature or life. Anakin Skywalker chose to kill Mace Windu and pledge himself to Palpatine. Jacen chose to listen to Lumiya. The drunk driver chooses to climb behind the wheel of his car. The woman acts to cheat on her husband. Personal choice is necessary to avoid chaos. Regardless of how logical the Killiks argument may sound, taking it for face value even coupled with some story Yoda told Luke, is far too trusting for a group of strong Jedi. That the Force has a being that causes massive amounts of destruction for the sake of it doesn’t sound like the Force we all know.

Right from the start, Denning pulls readers into a rich, action-packed infiltration of Coruscant. It sets the idea that the Jedi are there to take the situation into their own hands. Those who prefer a more philosophical or mystical battle for the Jedi may find the book a little frustration at times. It’s gorier than most Star Wars books, what with the way the Sith die, Saba’s fight in the Jedi Temple and Abeloth’s use of her tentacles (think Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean). The pace slows down in the middle a bit, but picks up towards the end. There’s some repetition towards the end that can bog down readers and at times, it’s hard to picture a location.

The strongest part of the Apocalypse isn’t the plot; it’s the characters. As this is a Denning book, Han Solo dances from the pages with sarcastic humor. Master Saba Sebatyne comes across somewhat tamer than she has before (in behavior, not physical combat). Unlike previous Denning-penned books, I found myself pleasantly surprised at the portrayals of Jagged Fel and Jaina Solo. Even Tahiri became much more appealing, a first in this series. She’s wallowed in grief and self-loathing far too long.

Probably the biggest change in characterization was Luke Skywalker. It’s clear by the end Apocalypse that Luke’s growing away from his role as Grand Master. Near the end, Ben mentions that eventually the burden will fall to Jaina’s generation. Throughout the series, Luke still acts as a competent fighter, but he’s physically weaker. While Luke’s power isn’t fading, it actually feels as if a shift is occurring with the Jedi Order. It feels like a natural change.

These revelations came clearest through the conversations between Luke and Jaina. Gone were the rash decisions, the constant back and forth her character constantly suffers. She’s the one who acts as the voice of reason. This is a Jaina that needs to stay. Denning created a balance between the fighter, the Jedi and the woman. Her decisions were logical and sound. There were no questions about her and Jag’s relationship. Even though they didn’t appear in the same place until the very end, the little actions of her calling during a lull in battle and his concern for her during his own crisis spoke volumes more than a conversation about the relationship.

The end of Apocalypse left me with mixed feelings, excluding the last chapter that better fits the term epilogue. Had Abeloth been a more impressive or conceivable villain, the defeat would seem impressive. The elements were there, but the problems lie in the Abeloth character, not the actual confrontations. The end leaves a plethora of questions. What happened to the Dark Man? Is Vestara the next threat or will she disappear? Where do the Jedi go from here? How will the whole future of the Empire play out regarding to Jag?

Some of these will surely come up in whatever Del Rey produces next. As Denning mentioned, the possibilities are endless. The book truly felt like a turning point in the Expanded Universe, something it desperately needs.

And the wedding? It’s about damn time.

Score: 7/10

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Filed under Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, FotJ, Jaina Solo, Luke Skywalker, Review, Troy Denning

Where’s the love? A look at the lack of romance in the EU

Romance is a fickle thing in writing. Too much will make the story seem too soppy or distract from the main plot while too little leaves readers unsatisfied. Finding that balance is one that many writers struggle with. When it comes writing romance, I shy away from the long, love-filled speeches. I prefer to use actions and gestures, like a touch or favor. There’s no set formula, though, about how much or how little a story needs.
Romance plays a vital role in so many stories we love. Think about Empire Strikes Back. The love story between Han and Leia was phenomenal. It wasn’t drippy or character killing (go Harrison Ford’s improvising). It wasn’t awkward. It was believable. Their actions made sense for the characters, making their love easy to see. It was a vital chain in the story, not some silly side plot.
Take Harry Potter as another example. While love is a major theme of the book, it’s not romantic love. The romance in Harry Potter is much less than some fans wanted to see. Hermione and Ron don’t have grand, loving moments. In the books, we don’t even see their first kiss. The movie handled that scene well. It was the moment we were all waiting for—and expressed the same amusement as Harry did about the situation.
Romantic pairings come into play in Harry Potter. The Ron and Lavender incident caused severe friction between the three. And who can forget about the Yule Ball fiasco? Bill and Fleur’s wedding and the pairing of Remus and Tonks added not only a touch of romance, but hope to the latter books.
Even Harry’s crush on Cho and feelings for Ginny were rather muted. He pined for them, but it wasn’t as if they were the focus of the books.
When it comes to Harry Potter, I don’t think that the books needed more romance. It wasn’t about Harry’s relationship with Ginny or Remus learning that he can have love too. The romance added a bit of flavor to the book, the topping if you will.
Romance is something severely lacking from the Star Wars EU. It didn’t used to be. The best example of this recent problem is the Fate of the Jedi series. It started with great romantic interactions with Jaina Solo and Jag Fel. These continued through the series until Backlash. There was nothing in Backlash. No real Jaina and Jag or Han and Leia. Allies? Yeah right. Vortex, a sliver. Conviction? Not really. Ascension? I’ve already expressed my feelings on the “romance” in that book.
What doesn’t make sense with FotJ is that there was a love story right there to work with and expand upon. Jaina and Jag were prominent characters in Outcast, for one. After that, their roles dwindled. It’s important to maintain some type of character balance in a long series, but it was lost along the way.
When I think of romance in Star Wars, I don’t think of chats in the starlight or candlelight dinners. It’s more action orientated and animated. It’s possible to have a romantic interaction without gooey language or even a kiss. It’s all in the wording and the character point of view. A person’s reactions are more telling than anything else is. Look at the Hunger Games trilogy when Katniss thought Capital was going to torture Peeta. She wanted to kill him to save him. Even though she didn’t realize it, it was clear she loved him.
The EU books need romance to balance out the story. Think about a book or story. Now categorize what is going on in the book. Each piece acts as a building block to make the perfect tale. Too much of something and the story feels odd.
Romance is something that most can understand. Most people want to love someone or already do. It’s an emotion we can understand, even if we don’t have any experience with the situations or emotions the characters are feeling. I’ve never been hunted, or as good as dead, but I understood Peeta’s need to keep Katniss alive in The Hunger Games, for example.
Star Wars is a space opera. Love plays such a vital role in the overall Saga. Anakin’s obsessive love for Padme influenced his decisions to go to the Dark Side. Would Anakin have fallen had he not fallen in love and married Padme? It’s very possible, but the story wouldn’t have been the same.
Romance also appeals to everyone. We all know the arguments about romance novels and “chick flicks.” They’re for “women.” Plenty of men enjoy these types of stories. The concept that romance is only for women is a pointless, old stereotype.
One of the many questions I’d love to ask the editorial team and writers is where the romance went. Including some aspect of it would not only make the books feel more “Star Wars,” but would also make the stories more appealing to a wider audience. Without Mara and Luke, the content falls mainly on Han and Leia’s and Jaina and Jag’s shoulders, yet we don’t see too much of either.
When writing, I can’t put the number of pages or romantic interactions into a calculator to determine how much more or less I need. Reading the story and finding feedback is the only way to accomplish this. Receiving feedback from multiple sources is even better. That way, it’s possible to see multiple views of the scenes in question. Some stories only need three or four romantic moments or bits while others need a chapter’s worth of content.
The argument for balancing romance is similar to angst, tragedy, comedy and other genres. Each has a place in a story—and a certain amount called for. While not every story needs romance, that factor was established as a key factor of Star Wars during the OT. It’s time for it to come back.

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Filed under Han Solo, Harry Potter, Jagged Fel, Jaina Solo, Katniss Everdeen, Luke Skywalker, Peeta Mellark, Princess Leia, romance, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, writing

Could Ben Skywalker and Anakin Solo co-exist?

Imagine the galaxy with Anakin Solo alive. It paints a pretty, uncomplicated picture at first. Jaina never fell to the Dark Side. Jacen wasn’t nearly so disturbed. Han and Leia didn’t lose a child. The prophecy about Tahiri and Anakin would have had the potential to matter.

Now think of Anakin co-existing with Ben Skywalker.

The image becomes a bit complicated.

Throughout Anakin’s life, it’s clear that he is destined to be the next Luke Skywalker. He is powerful in the Force, quiet, intelligent, brave and understands the point of sacrifice. Jaina and others mention, either aloud or through silent observations that Anakin seems to understand more about the Force, both before and after his death.

“It’s like this. For the past two years, I’ve listened to Anakin and Jacen debate the role of the Jedi and our relationship to the Force. In the end, what did any of that amount to? […] Anakin started to figure it out. I sensed it in him after Yavin Four. He learned something there that the rest of us don’t know, something that could have made all the difference, if only he’d had time to figure it out. If there is such a thing as destiny, I think that was Anakin’s. He has always been different. Special.” –Jaina Solo, Dark Journey

Had Anakin not died, would he have become the leader of the Jedi? I’m not sure, but it felt as if that was the direction the authors were taking.

That is, until Ben came along.

Ben has had his own issues with having probably the most famous father in the history of the galaxy (Darth Vader may have him beat…maybe). Ben isn’t even 18 and he’s already treated as if he is the next best thing. With Ben’s birth, Luke had a direct heir.

At the beginning of the New Jedi Order, there wasn’t a question as to who was destined to be the most powerful Jedi. Jacen was the more peaceful and Jaina was the solider. They were the support behind Anakin. I haven’t seen enough to show that Ben is nearly as powerful as Anakin was. While I don’t think Ben would have fought Anakin over the issue, it would have raised questions among fans.

The question remains is that if Anakin survived, how word it have worked with Ben? Would Anakin have been the one working with Luke or would Luke have taken a step back from the front lines? Anakin’s voice of reason would have come through somehow. There’s enough of an age gap between the two that Ben could take time gain enough life experience, one could argue. However, the other side to that is Luke won’t give up the mantle of the No. 1 “go-to Star Wars hero” until, well, we don’t know but it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. By that point, Anakin and Ben would both be experienced adults.

That is, of course, if the Jedi actually need someone to lead them.

“The order can’t wait for a great Jedi Knight to lead it. That’s what everyone thought I was, and when I died, too much died with me. Don’t make the mistake I did, don’t let anyone push you into that. Every Jedi Knight has to be his own light, because the light shouldn’t go out when one Jedi dies.” Anakin Solo, Abyss

 

Ultimately, I don’t think there should be one end all, be all being the Jedi look to. While Yoda was clearly the leader, it wasn’t as if his death would have caused such a huge reaction in the Jedi Order. Yes, he’d been around for a along as everyone could remember, but great Masters died often enough. Through the movies or books, it never feels as if should Yoda die, the Jedi will fall into shambles or act lost. It’s a different story with Luke. In the beginning, when Luke started trying to grow the order, it would have crashed without him. No arguments there. But now, it could go either way. The Jedi either get with the program and realize hey, no more Luke Skywalker to fix our messes or fall into chaos. With the state of things at the moment, I’m leaning a bit towards chaos.

There’s no doubt that there will always be someone in charge, be it Yoda, Luke, Satele Shan or Ben. And while that isn’t a bad thing, blind dependence only leads to disaster. There are enough examples in both fiction and the real world to illustrate that point.

Ben has leadership qualities that come out, but not enough to make him win me over like Anakin did.

In the end, I don’t know how it would have played out. We’ll never know. Both characters are interesting, memorable and keep the reader’s attention. Until I see more of Ben’s character develop, I think Anakin would have been the better, more effective leader.

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Filed under Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker, Star Wars

Is Jaina Solo Luke Skywalker’s eventual replacement?

Is Jaina Solo Luke Skywalker’s eventual replacement?

“Perhaps that feared Luke Skywalker just that much. And that was a mistake. Luke Skywalker was not the Sword of the Jedi. Jaina was, and now the Sith had trapped themselves inside a locked temple with her” – Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse

Upon reading the quote from Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse, I found myself wondering why is it that Jaina is used at the end of a series to clean up messes. Yes, we’ve only seen this once before, but when an event happens twice within a short period, one starts to wonder.

Luke maintained a prominent role in every book of the Fate of the Jedi series. Odds are that most of the pages are dedicated to his particular plotline. (No, I’m not going to count, it’s just a hunch). Jaina has not. In each book, Luke deals with whatever mini plot is occurring on the planet he and Ben visit, faces Abeloth, fails at defeat and flies away. This formula would have worked more effectively had the Jacen plotline not been tossed aside and it hadn’t turned into a game of chase, but what’s done is done.

Now the Lost Tribe of the Sith and Abeloth somehow managed to worm their way onto Coruscant to cause problems. Based on the quote, it seems that Jaina will deal with the Sith in the Jedi Temple, as Luke cannot. Luke could not deal with Jacen, either. It was Jaina who ended that mess.

Jaina’s role as “Sword of the Jedi” crops up when it’s convenient. While it shouldn’t control every aspect of her life, only using it when Sith needed a swift kick in the butt alters the title. It makes Jaina sounds like a tool for the Jedi, or authors, to use. When she’s not needed, she fades into the background. Jaina doesn’t need that title to do what is right. Prophecies and titles are fine and dandy, but it’s the character’s choices that define them, not a string of words.

How does all of this make me wonder if Jaina is Luke’s replacement? Let’s look at their roles. Luke in the Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi series played an important role, but could not take down the final opponent. Assuming Jaina takes down the Sith, something she’s proven she can do, she is once again solving a problem her uncle could not. If she takes down Abeloth that will further seal the deal. Given the quote, it’s a reasonable prediction.

By having Luke deal with the Sith and Abeloth throughout the series, he still plays an important role. He then steps aside to allow Jaina to defeat the Sith. He’s stepping aside for the new hero. If Apocalypse plays out this way, then it will be the second time Luke turns to his niece. He is no longer the “go-to Jedi” for grave threats. Luke’s role is more of a mentor and guide.

Passing the torch is a necessary step in a multigenerational story. Luke cannot be the hero forever. He has to move on. It’s inevitable. In a way, it feels like the authors are weaning readers off Luke’s role as the ultimate hero of the Star Wars universe.

And that’s okay. Part of what makes Star Wars such a lasting fandom is that the story is constantly progressing. The Star Wars universe is large enough to allow one Jedi to fit the mold of the mentor and teacher and another the fighter.

If these predictions are true and Jaina is the one to save the day, then why isn’t she on the front cover, you ask. My guess is marketing. The casual reader is going to recognize Luke (or Han, Leia and Lando) more than other characters. Del Rey already used EU characters on the fronts of Conviction (Tahiri) and Ascension (Ben and Vestara). Throwing a member of The Big Three on the cover of at least one of the last three books could be a way to try to increase sales.

Jaina fits the role as the “next Luke Skywalker” well. She’s not the same person, appeals to many fans and has enough experience to fit the job. While I don’t see her as the leader of the Jedi in the sense that Luke was, she would be a viable, believable hero- whether she works for the Empire or the Galactic Alliance.

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