I often find it amusing that so many people want to have Star Wars as the mythic tales of their time. Yes, with no heroes of epic proportions in the real world, one can understand how people can yearn for some in their entertainment. And why we are sadly continually disappointed when those we saw with such promise don’t always live up to expectations.
Depending on who you want to believe, the character seen above started off as just a simple farm boy who got swept up in a fight he did not understand. Kind of a stereotype, he was to win the day in his initial story. Learning from the older and wiser character as he went. And audiences get caught up in his tale along the way, right?
Had Star Wars been just a one off adventure, the character of Luke Skywalker would have been just another character in an obscure galactic adventure, as unremarkable as other who came before and after. But that was not to be and now, almost 40 years later, his story continues as part of the Star Wars series of films.
As the character grew through the sequels, I thought that George Lucas chose the easy path for him to follow. Instead of throwing him into the path of darkness and intrigue, we get the usual hero path to tread. We see him go from being just that simple farm boy, to a respected pilot in a plot line that could have come from the Battle of Britain. Where once he had been the plucky rookie pilot who save the day with a really lucky shot, he becomes the older respected veteran squadron leader we saw in The Empire Strikes Back. And just as another legendary hero (Arthur, later King), he goes off on a journey of discovery, learning who his is and what his destiny may be. And in encountering Darth Vader, he must face adversity to prove his worth. (Yeah, I know… use the best parts of mythos when you can.)
And of course, we all remember the moment when Vader tells Luke that he is his father. As if the name didn’t telegraph that moment enough… But that moment should have been an opportunity. An opening that gave a new dimension to the telling of this tale.
What if Vader had been lying? I maintain that it would have been a darker and emotionally twisted plot point if he had lied to Luke. Taking advantage of the younger, inexperienced character. Exploiting his willingness to accept everything presented to him. That would have made Luke far more interesting as he grapples to come to terms with it or learn the truth. (And have set up a better entertaining resolution in Return of the Jedi.)
Had Luke’s father actually been more of what we were told by Obi Wan, it could have made something that was more believable for audiences. Luke had been told that his father had been a navigator on a spice freighter, but Ben told him that he was a Jedi and a pilot, having fought in the Clone Wars.
“A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father.”
Had that been true, we would have likely learned other answers, such as who was Luke’s mother (instead of Padme) and why she was no longer part of his life. And also have been spared the whole Leia as sister plot. As well as sparing audiences from the pap we were given later. “What I told you was correct from a certain point of view.” Talk about easy outs…
Star Trek has from time to time seen alternate realities add a bit of spice with characters in differing situations than the familiar. While I don’t expect that the Star Wars canon will do the same, I can only imagine what might have been had Lucas not chosen to head us down the path he did.
It certainly would have been something beyond the tales we got.
Now, there is something for the fan fiction crowd. Star Wars Meets the Multiverse!