A quick *disclaimer* before I dive into this month’s topic. I’m doing my level best to avoid any and all spoilers regarding The Force Awakens. If the information wasn’t disseminated from Lucasfilm, I don’t want to know about it. That said, I’m not above speculating on what might happen in the upcoming film. That’s actually kind of fun, and it’s what I’m going to do today. Just know that everything you read here is based solely on what I’ve seen in the latest teaser trailer or saw at Star Wars Celebration. No more, no less.
When Return of the Jedi ended it was a happy and triumphant scene. Statues fell, planets were liberated, and our heroes danced to music made by fuzzy teddy bears using Stormtrooper helmets as musical instruments.
After more than 20 years of Imperial rule, the galaxy was once more at peace, but what if those happy times were short lived? What if in the 30 years that followed things did not go as planned for our brave heroes? What if they were great at saving the galaxy, but not very good at running it?
The Force Awakens is going to be about another dark time in the galaxy. The opening crawl isn’t going to read, “it is a period of rainbows and unicorns. Han and Leia are living in the suburbs of Coruscant with their beautiful children. Luke has restored the Jedi Order and the Jedi Knights are once again the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy.”
The Star Wars saga has always been about the Skywalker family, and The Force Awakens is the next chapter in their legacy. The first six episodes were about Anakin’s failure, and his redemption by Luke. Luke was the hero, but what if later in life, he too, has his own fall? Not to the dark side, but in his ability to pass on what he has learned and restore the Jedi Order.
In the teaser trailer, we see Luke placing a fully mechanical hand with no skin covering atop R2-D2.
It is an ominous and lonely scene. A sign that Luke has endured many more trials since the fall of the Empire and not all of them successful.
The fate of the Jedi Archives and information pertaining to the Order is unknown, but it would not come as a surprise to find out that the Emperor had all of it destroyed. Without that treasure trove of knowledge, Luke’s mission to restore the Jedi Order becomes a thousand times harder, if not impossible.
Mentoring someone in the ways of the Force when your own knowledge is limited is a perilous task in which failure could have dire consequences for the galaxy.
I don’t know if Luke followed too closely in Obi-Wan’s footsteps and had a prize student fall to the dark side, or if he felt that training Jedi was just too dangerous and thus, gave up on the mission perhaps taking Leia as his only Padawan. Regardless, he was unable to prevent darkness from rising up and seizing power. While Luke may have been the only one capable of restoring the Jedi Order, he was not the only one charged with maintaining peace in this post-Empire world.
In what is fast becoming one of the most iconic moments in the Star Wars saga we see Han Solo and Chewbacca standing in the Millennium Falcon saying, “we’re home.”
It is a very emotional scene powerful enough to make grown men cry. Han Solo and Chewbacca standing side by side in the Millennium Falcon, just like we remember them from A New Hope.
It’s a wonderful moment, but it also begs the question, did Han and Leia go on to live happily ever after? What if they too wound up going their separate ways?
Before he learned that Luke was her brother, Han was always a bit jealous and apprehensive that Leia had feelings for Luke and perhaps, she might choose Luke over him.
What if she did? Not in a romantic way of course, but what if she decided to choose the path of becoming a Jedi? And what if, that meant not being able to maintain a relationship with Han? Maybe she chose a political role or a leadership role that made family life impossible?
I may be reading too much into this one scene, but I can’t help but to think that, somehow Han and Chewie are the same old smugglers that we met in that wretched hive of ‘scum and villainy’ decades ago. It conjures up warm feelings of nostalgia, but that wasn’t how they were supposed to end up.
One other oddity about that scene is both, Han and Chewie have their weapons drawn as if they were expecting some trouble. I have a bad feeling that they’ve been separated from their ship for a long period of time. Han doesn’t get the girl and he loses his ship? Dark times to be sure.
So why such a bleak picture of these iconic figures? The Force Awakens is a Star Wars movie, but it’s also a JJ Abrams movie.
JJ Abrams’ heroes tend to be flawed, with some serious daddy issues and the Skywalkers, well, they are the ‘ultimate daddy’ issue family.
When Luke recites his lines from Return of the Jedi and concludes with, “and you have it too”, it hints that there is a new Skywalker.
I don’t know who if any of the new characters are Skywalkers and based on the character names, they don’t know either. That said, if any of these new characters are offspring, it is yet another indication that Han, Leia, and Luke may not have been the best parents.
The role that Luke, Han, and Leia will play in this story is unclear. They aren’t the heroes and they aren’t the villains either, but their missteps could be a big reason the galaxy is in turmoil.
I will admit that I have a hard time thinking that Luke, Han, and Leia could fail. I also can’t accept that the story will be: oh look here is another evil Force Wielder taking over the galaxy and we’re just too old to do anything about it. Kids, you handle it. The story has to go deeper than that. Abrams loves mysteries with twists and turns. I think a “No. I am your father” moment is inevitable. Maybe even more than one.
In order to have that moment, our favorite heroes need to take a wrong turn. Not so far afield as Vader, but down the hole enough that their offspring can act as a catalyst for their redemption. Far enough so that the new heroes have a deep connection to the evil they’re facing. They must be more than do-gooders. They must have something at stake as well.
Luke, Han, and Leia are well-established characters that are firmly rooted into our mythology. They’ve had their journey and The Force Awakens is not their story; it’s their swan song. Our old heroes may start out broken, but they are beloved characters and I believe they will get their shot at redemption. They won’t save the galaxy this time, but they will get in a parting shot and lay the groundwork so they can pass the torch to those who will.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!
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