Why Star Wars is better when it doesn’t put its hopes in the Jedi
When Obi-Wan Kenobi met Darth Vader in the first Star Wars, it was undeniably a big deal. After all, this was the moment Old Ben reunited with his ex-protégé gone wrong, a chance for a distant couple of friends to solve a bunch of unresolved issues and – historically – the first time anyone ‘one laid eyes on a lightsaber duel.
And yet, despite the duo’s alleged mastery of the Jedi trade, their fencing is the least memorable thing about one of the most crucial scenes in A New Hope.
Aside from the fact that the confrontation lasts less than three minutes, even Obi-Wan’s oddly ballet spinning cannot hide the fact that this is a fight executed in slow motion on stilts – if Errol Flynn is was made its way through Sherwood Forest in such a static, it’s unlikely anyone will remember The Adventures of Robin Hood again.
When George Lucas first transported us to this famous galaxy far, far away, Star Wars was not on the Jedi. Of course, the neon glow of lightsabers, paired with Ben Burtt’s now-legendary sound effects, instantly turned them into the coolest weapons in cinema. And the idea of a mystical energy field binding the universe together gave the film a magical element that instantly separated it from other space operas on the big screen – it was fantasy in a science setting – fiction.
But there’s a lot more to the Star Wars universe than the buzz (and shock) of lightsabers, lightning-based, force-driven powers, and the so-called saviors of the galaxy. In fact, some of the best things to come out of the iconic franchise are those productions that not place the Jedi and Sith front and center.
The “Hokey religions” were never the only – or even the main – reason Star Wars broke box office records to become the most successful film in history in 1977. Theatergoers are also fell in love with the idea of a child coming out of the darkness to destroy a Death Star.
And that’s not without neglecting the rogue hero and his furry sidekick, the blaster princess, the Stormtroopers and the massive amount of droids, spaceships, bizarre aliens, secondhand universe aesthetics, criminal fathers, and interstellar air combat. And, of course, the instantly iconic villain of the Man in Black with a penchant for strangling any subordinates who might be suffering from a lack of faith.
With A New Hope’s overt displays of the Force effectively limited to those aforementioned neck nips, a few mental tricks, and communication from beyond the grave, the Jedi themselves were only a small part of a masterpiece of world building on all levels. They were simply a group of nearly extinct warriors who were, for the most part, simply a forgotten relic from a more civilized age. Indeed, as Han Solo so memorably put it, “I have flown from one side of the galaxy to the other. I have seen a lot of strange things, but I have never seen anything that makes me believe that there is an almighty Force that controls everything.
While Luke Skywalker’s quest to become a Jedi and overthrow Darth Vader and the Emperor – the Sith word wasn’t spoken onscreen until the previous trilogy – inevitably increased the Force quotient in The Empire vs. -attack and Return of the Jedi, it still was. t the whole story. Han Solo and Leia’s respective stories – not to mention the Rebel Alliance’s ongoing struggles – were arguably just as important to Star Wars as Luke’s training scenes with Yoda on Dagobah. Meanwhile, Return of the Jedi’s entertaining Jabba’s Palace opening show put the spotlight on Tatooine’s largest and most entertaining criminal empire, giving us something new to enjoy in the burgeoning Star Wars series. by Lucas.
Superhero in everything but the name
In fact, it wasn’t until The Phantom Menace landed with great fanfare – roughly halfway through Star Wars life – that the Jedi took center stage in official canon. Young Obi-Wan Kenobi (who gets his own Disney Plus spinoff show in 2022) was now the star of the show, accompanied first by his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, and then his ultimately doomed apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. .
By definition, they were very different heroes from Luke, Leia, and Han. With the Jedi Order still a major force in the Old Republic, these guys were superheroes aside from name, able to use telekinesis, lightning reflexes, and tricks to make sure they were still the most powerful people in the room.
What we gained in the glittering, high-speed lightsaber shards – what we’d give to see this Vader / Obi-Wan showdown reimagined in the style of “Duel of the Fates” – was wasted by Lucas’ decision. to found his previous film. around a clique of unrelated warrior priests. When your heroes are invulnerable to just about anything non-Sith, Pride, and Order 66, telling memorable stories becomes much more difficult. Stories of unlikely heroes like Han, Leia, and Luke triumphing through thick and thin therefore have infinitely more potential.
And yet – with a few notable exceptions, such as Rogue One and The Mandalorian – the Force has emerged as the dominant force in 21st century star wars, especially on the big screen. And when the Force is strong, that’s not always good news for the franchise.
One of the most notable things about Star Wars Visions, the Disney Plus anime-style anthology series, is that eight of the nine standalone shorts somehow focus on the Jedi or the Sith.
But, while lightsabers and gravity-defying duels are the perfect recipe for compelling visuals, you can’t help but think that the filmmakers turned down the chance to explore more interesting parts of the galaxy. Although the story of “Tatooine Rhapsody,” a rock band paying off debt to Jabba the Hutt, was one of the weaker deals, it harnessed the storytelling potential of one of the popular culture entities. the largest and most versatile ever.
And it’s a Well thing. Because there are no limits to the stories you can tell in the context of Star Wars – comedy, romance, or even an interstellar version of the high school movie could theoretically work. Relying too heavily on the Jedi and the Force, however, instantly narrows your storytelling choices.
Put an experienced Force bearer in a room with mere mortals, and there’s a good chance they’ll win any battle. And, since the original trilogy introduced mind control, telekinesis, and Sith lightning to the cannon – alongside those all-important lightsabers – it’s rare to see characters wield the Force in new and exciting ways.
Rey’s real-time healing abilities and ability to project objects at her Force pal Dyad Kylo Ren, in the sequel trilogy, feel like narrative conveniences rather than essential additions to the Jedi arsenal. And they just make you wonder why the Legions of Jedi in the prequels didn’t consistently display such talents.
The Mandalorian – arguably the best thing to come out of Lucasfilm in the Disney era – has never denied the existence of the Force. But, like the original trilogy, it keeps its talk about mystical energy fields in the background. Din Djarin is a skeptic who gradually discovers and accepts Grogu’s ties to the Jedi, but ultimately the show is the story of people making their way through the forgotten pieces of the galaxy, the kind of places which rarely entered the orbit of the Jedi.
The Mandalorian resonated with many Star Wars fans because it is a reminder of what we fell in love with in the first place. The new spinoff show The Book of Boba Fett, which takes place among the miserable hives of foam and wickedness traditionally found in the Tatooine landscape, promises to give us even more. And, with another series of prequels that focus on Rogue One character Cassian Andor also on the way, there will be another show that will focus on the seedy underbelly of the universe.
There are hundreds of stories waiting to be told in the Star Wars universe, and the law of averages suggests that most of them probably didn’t need to use ancient weapons like sabers. laser. Han Solo may have been wrong in dismissing the Jedi so quickly, but he may also have been correct in suggesting that their time is up. Or, at the very least, that there is more to Star Wars than the Jedi, their mortal enemies, and the Force itself.
Boba Fett’s book will launch exclusively on Disney Plus on December 29. Episodes are published every week after this date.