Tag Archives: Han Solo

Episode II: Anakin as Scoundrel

Fixing the Prequels, Part 2 of 2

Last week we identified the problems that Anakin has: He is the Chosen One for no evident reason, he is a whiny, ungrateful tween instead of a rebel heartthrob, and he too easily falls to the Dark Side.  In this week’s installment, we follow up on our critique of why Anakin doesn’t work as the hero and make him everything we want him to be.

Never Tell Me the Odds

It is inexplicable that Anakin is “the Chosen One” and how important Qui-Gon makes the boy out to be for no good reason other than the script says so.  His proof?  Anakin’s blood test with a high “midichlorian” count (aka microscopic “Force” bacteria).

How do we correct this?  We look at what Obi-Wan tells Luke Skywalker about his father in A New Hope:

He was the best star-pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior.  He was a good friend.

We can follow with what George Lucas already wanted to happen, but instead of making him too old at eight, make Anakin a young man.  Instead of TELL, as Lucas does, just how impressive he is, we can SHOW how he is able to pull off amazing feats in a starship, even though he may not recognize that he’s using the Force to do it.

Rebel Without a Clue

So we have a young, hotshot pilot who needs to have a rebellious nature and be everyone’s favorite character.  Luckily, the Star Wars Universe already has one of those.  Make Anakin a rogue like Han Solo.  Everyone loves a bad boy with a heart of gold.  This makes the Jedi turning Anakin away believable also – there’s no way a grown man is going to be able to take in all the Jedi teachings on peace and serenity when he is so clearly obsessed with himself.

Give in to the Dark Side

Lastly, in order for Anakin to fall to the Dark Side – he has to actually lose someone important to him.  Not the idea or threat of losing Padme, his true love, as the movies actually play out.  He needs to be committed to the Jedi Code and that commitment is what lets his true love die.  This is the shock to Anakin’s worldview that can believably push him over the edge, turn on the Jedi, and become Darth Vader.

Final Thoughts

Instead of making Anakin Skywalker a small boy with good genetics, by making him a young, swaggering rogue and accomplished pilot like Han Solo, we can really see why he is so special when he pulls off impossible stunts.  We can understand why he has trouble, as an adult, adapting to the lifestyle of a space-monk.  Ultimately when he loses the one person in the galaxy that he truly loves thanks to his commitment to that new philosophy, we can sympathize with him and really understand just why Anakin Skywalker tragically became Darth Vader.

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Episode I: Anakin as Scoundrel

Fixing the Prequels, Part 1 of 2

Many fervent fans of the Original Star Wars films released starting in 1977 were incredibly dissatisfied with the Prequel Trilogy released starting in 1999 with The Phantom Menace.  To this end, this is the first in an ongoing series of posts in which we identify and correct problems fans of either camp may have with the films.  We kick off the posts with a look at why Anakin isn’t quite the hero we’re looking for…

Identifying the Problems

My main issue with Anakin Skywalker begins in The Phantom Menace where he is a small child enslaved on a backwater world, and at ten years old is already “too old to begin the training” necessary to become a Jedi Knight.  Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn defies the council and with his dying breath, Qui-Gon makes Obi-Wan swear that he will train the boy anyway.  The problem here is that Anakin is special for no reason.  He is only important because Qui-Gon insists that it’s true, not due to any evidence shown on screen.  The only hint of this we get comes from the results of a blood test.  That’s epic drama at its best, right!?!

Teenage Dirtbag

In Attack of the Clones we see Anakin as a young student chafing at the restrictions that come from being a Jedi, like learning the value of patience and the Jedi’s vow of celibacy.  Anakin swears that he is incredible and way better than anyone else in the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan included, who Anakin says is jealous of him and holding him back.  The problem with this is that he seems whiny and ungrateful, not like a rebellious teen, but just a little jerk.  This culminates in his slaughtering of an entire tribe of Sand People after the death of his mother.  By his own admission, he even kills the women and children.  That’s the guy I wanna root for.

Slightly Older Dirtbag

Anakin is better In Revenge of the Sith, but not by much.  We see that he has gained some perspective and maturity, but he still comes across as a mushy, whiny twenty-something instead of a mushy, whiny tween.  He quickly abandons Obi-Wan, his best friend, and ignores Padme, his secret love, all to follow the advice of the creepiest old freak in the Star Wars Universe, Senator Palpatine.  Palpatine has been counselling Anakin and stoking the fires of his rebellious nature and creating doubts about just how shady the Jedi Order has become.  Palpatine ultimately convinces Anakin to abandon the Jedi, murder one of his mentors, and massacre Jedi children in cold blood.

“Murder children?  Yeah, okay.”

– Anakin Skywalker

To Be Continued…

In next week’s follow-up, we lay out a plan to address these issues with Anakin Skywalker’s character and make them work toward his status as the baddest mother-lover alive!

Book Review: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

ScoundrelsCoverThe Setup

Scoundrels is a novel by prolific Star Wars author Timothy Zahn and a lot of fun.  The premise is this: Set after the destruction of the First Death Star in A New Hope, but before the invasion of Hoth in Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo and Chewbacca are out in the galaxy at large and hit upon their biggest score ever.  The trick is, they aren’t going to be able to crack a safe in the stronghold of the Black Sun Crime Syndicate alone.  The pair of smugglers must assemble a team of scoundrels capable of pulling off this impossible job.

Solo’s Eleven

This setup for Scoundrels will be immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the Ocean’s Eleven franchise of films.  This remake of a 1960 film of the same name (although it used the number 11 instead of the word), sees a con artist create a team of specially chosen crooks and thieves to pull off a heist of robbing three Las Vegas Casinos at once.  The George Clooney role is filled in Scoundrels by Han Solo and his team includes his co-pilot Chewbacca and the smooth gambler Lando Calrissian.

The Hand of Zahn

Timothy Zahn is the author that reinvigorated the entire Expanded Universe with his seminal works, the Thrawn Trilogy of novels, first released in 1991.  This set of stories is credited with the revitalization of the Star Wars brand after waning interest so long after Return of the Jedi’s release.  I know this from personal experience as an eleven-year-old at the time overjoyed with new stories to read about my favorite movie characters.  The characters Zahn created like the Imperial assassin Mara Jade and the titular Grand Admiral Thrawn endure as some of the most compelling characters in the Star Wars Universe, despite the fact they do not appear in any of the films.

Han in His Element

Zahn’s steady hand really helps the “heist flick” format of this story really work.  Most novels set in the Star Wars Universe deal with the Force, Jedi versus Sith, and the Dark Side versus the Light.  Don’t get me wrong, I love stories about the Hero’s Journey as much as the next dork, but it seems a bit exhausted at this point, especially when that is the main thrust of Luke Skywalker’s journey in the Original Trilogy of films.  Another common theme in Star Wars novels is the rebellion against Empire, which is also pretty thoroughly covered in the films.  Experiencing the underside of the galaxy far, far away is a lot of fun and it’s a real joy to see the lovable rogue, Han Solo, really in his element at the center of a swashbuckling criminal sting.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a fan of films like The Sting or Ocean’s Eleven, as well as Han Solo and Star Wars in general, then Scoundrels is definitely for you.