“You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” – Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker. Jedi Knight and friend of Captain Solo. Anyone who has known me for even a short time knows that Luke is my favorite Star Wars character. I’m sure I’ve gotten some funny looks for that. After all, Han Solo is definitely the “cooler” of the two male leads.
I can definitely see why Han is typically more popular. He’s (at first) morally ambiguous, flies an awesome ship, relies on pragmatism instead of honor in combat, and he has some of the most memorable lines in the Original Trilogy. Luke, on the other hand, in his transition from farm boy to Jedi Knight falls almost perfectly into the trope-laden “hero’s journey” archetype that we’ve seen in countless stories throughout history. On the surface, Luke doesn’t seem like more than a one-dimensional character going through the motions. In order to get a better glimpse at what makes Luke such a compelling character to me, let’s go back to the beginning of his timeline.
Luke’s life was shaped by tragedy before it even began. Like his sister, Luke lost both of his parents (death of personality for one and physical death for the other) right after birth. Unlike his sister’s more royal and cultured upbringing, Luke was taken to his father’s harsh home planet of Tatooine to grow up as a moisture farmer. Skip ahead two decades, and Luke had lost his only two parental figures to the Empire. Move slightly further down his timeline from there and he’d lost his best friend (Biggs) and a love interest (Nakari Kelen). Finally, Luke had to come face to face with the fact that one of the galaxy’s most merciless killers was indeed the father he’d been working so hard to avenge. I won’t go into every story in the new canon, but suffice it to say that Luke was no stranger to death, loss, and psychological trauma.
That being said, the best part about the aforementioned losses? They do not break him. As a powerful Force-sensitive (with his father’s raw potential to boot), it would have been so easy for him to fall to the dark side and few would have blamed him for holding on to resentment and anger. Instead, Luke chose to forge his own path when his Jedi tutors –one of whom lied to protect him from an ugly truth– urged him to destroy Vader.
I frequent the website TV tropes often and one particular trope associated with Luke is the “all-loving hero.” Luke, upon discovering that his father was an evil Sith Lord, decided that Anakin was still worth saving. Everyone cautioned him against it, but he proved them very wrong in the end and he was instrumental in bringing about the fulfillment of Anakin’s prophecy to balance the Force.
I’ve seen people say that Luke is the Chosen One, but he’s really the Unchosen One (another trope I am fond of). Unlike his father, Luke had to work and fight for everything he attained. His father was raised by the Jedi and formally instructed in lightsaber combat and the ways of the Force. Luke had to rely on his own adaptability and intuition. Like his father, Luke faced temptation, but because he had a stable upbringing (plus a little of his birth mother’s compassionate personality – more on that in another post), he became a hero instead of a villain. So, no, Luke was not the Chosen One, but because of a prophecy twist, he played a huge part in helping to fulfill his father’s destiny.
Luke also displayed tremendous character growth over the course of the OT. For example, in A New Hope he is probably remembered for his childish optimism and semi-whiny lines. By the time Episode VI rolls around, he is markedly more mature, he’s wearing a sweet black suit (to symbolize the fact that he is vulnerable to falling to the dark side) and he showed that he possessed the ability to verbally spar with his father and cause him to doubt his connection to the dark side. That’s a far cry from the character we first met in ANH.
Oh, and bonus points for throwing the top page quote at Sidious and being one of the few people to make our favorite evil chessmaster lose his cool. Palpatine’s face is priceless before he starts his Force lightning barrage.
Anyway, I wanted to write a lot more, but I can always save other parts of Luke’s persona and exploits for another post. I just wanted to express why I loved the character so much. He’s patient and compassionate (two traits I value highly), but if you mess with him, you’ll be in for a world of hurt.
Oh, and he’s totally not Kylo Ren and I’m betting he won’t be turning to the dark side in the new movie (thus invalidating his entire journey in the OT), so let’s just nip those rumors in the bud, shall we?
Thanks again for reading!
“Your overconfidence is your weakness.”