Feb 11 2014 11:00am

You All Forgot That Luke Skywalker is a BAMF

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

I have this problem—because I’m not a kid anymore, I am expected to admit straight-up that Han Solo is far and away a better character than Luke Skywalker. And... he’s just not. Look, I love the guy: he is a scoundrel and that is sexy and his sarcasm is welcome among the many do-gooders in his universe. But I feel like his slingshot retorts blind people outright to what anyone else is doing in the Star Wars trilogy.

Like the fact that Luke Skywalker spends all of Return of the Jedi being a complete badass and we never talk about it.

And everyone is rolling their eyes because so many people don’t even like Return of Jedi, but I don’t care, okay? I’m not interested in talking about furry bears versus stormtrooper armor, or even the fact that Han spends a good portion of the movie tied up. (He’s funnier that way anyhow.) I’m interested in addressing Luke’s final sequence of character-defining acts, which are so subtle in their execution that they seem to slide past even the most diehard fans.

We have to start by breaking Han out of Hutt prison, so let’s do some recapping. Luke sends his best droid buddies in to set the stage and put key elements in place. He doesn’t bother letting Threepio in on the secret for obvious reasons, but he strategically lets everyone in there ahead of himself; Lando is already present, then the droids, then Leia and Chewie. They are each there to have a separate shot at freeing Han, though Luke likely knows that Leia is the only one with a real chance. Once she is captured, he swings into action all by his lonesome. Or to put it another way, Luke sets himself up as the last line of offense. When all else fails, he approaches.

And do you remember what his first move is?

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

Obi-Wan Kenobi might have tried to mind trick them into a game of pinochle, but Luke doesn’t have time for that crap. As a definitive first action, that is a dark place to take us. It’s a move Vader uses, not Luke’s mentors. Yet it isn’t ascribed any villainous overtones—we’re meant to go along with this in good faith.

He continues by getting his audience with Jabba; one that he had requested by way of the message he sent with Artoo, a request that the crime lord ignored. So by barging right in, Luke isn’t just moving their plan forward, he’s being deliberately rude to Jabba. ‘Oh, you won’t bow to my polite desire for a meeting? Fine. I guess you’ll have to take that meeting when I set it.’ His cocky suggestion that Jabba realize what he’s up against falls on deaf ears, but Luke isn’t bothered by it—he’s enjoying the game. (He spends practically the whole conversation smirking like some jerk teenager.) “Wormie” little Luke Skywalker, the farm boy no one ever took seriously, now has the chance to stand toe to toe with monsters and criminals and he’s not even breaking a sweat. In fact, he doesn’t show a bit of concern until he falls through a trap door and comes face to face with a rancor. Which he dispatches in short order.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

“You should have bargained, Jabba,“ he tells the Hutt later. And then as he is dragged off to a dungeon cell to be held there until his public execution: “That’s the last mistake you’ll ever make.”

Do you recall that glimmer in his eye while he says it? It’s cold, son. Gleefully cold.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

I should point out that we’re meant to side with Han in all this. Over the course of this opening act he says multiple times that Luke’s lost it, that they’re all gonna die, and we snort at Luke’s assurances that he has it all under control the same way the ex-smuggler does. And he’s not the only one; Jabba’s court laughs aloud in unison as Luke is poised over the mouth of the Sarlaac. So do I really need to say it? Do I need to point out that despite everyone sniggering and telling him he’s nuts, Luke does exactly what he says he’s going to do? Moreover, that he does it in a manner as flash as possible? He could have signaled to Artoo for that lightsaber whenever it was most convenient, but he waits until the crowd is cheering for his imminent demise, uses the plank that would have led to his death as leverage for a flip through midair, then goes to town on his captors.

It’s not just that he carries out the plan—he carries it out with extreme prejudice. He doesn’t merely rescue his friends, he slaughters Jabba’s whole entourage. He slices people open left and right, he knocks them into a pit where they will be slowly and painfully devoured, then directs Leia to a gun turret that will blow the sail barge sky high. It doesn’t seem very Jedi-like does it? So why would he do it? Why would he so callously murder all those (admittedly not very nice) people? It’s true that they were complicit in the capture and humiliation of his friends, but there’s more going on here:

“I used to live here, you know.”

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

Let’s give this a good long think. Luke lived on Tatooine, and knowing that, we can also know for certain that Luke grew up with Jabba’s name on his mind. That he grew up knowing better than to cross the path of anyone who worked with or for Jabba, that he heard about what happened to innocent people on his planet who did. Luke knew exactly who Jabba the Hutt was, how he hurt people, how he ruined their lives. He had a chance to eradicate the world of Jabba, and he took his shot. He didn’t want to be nice about it—he wanted to be efficient.

I’m sorry, that sound you hear over in the corner is the prodigal son weeping for not measuring up to Luke Skywalker.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

Once he’s done with that, he goes back to complete his training only to find his master knocking on death’s door. So at the end of a triumph, he immediately suffers a great loss, only heightened by the knowledge that he’s meant to kill his own father. He takes it in stride and hurries back to his friends, volunteers for a dearly important mission to the Alliance.

As soon as they turn up on Endor they run into trouble, but he darts after Leia and hops on the back of her speederbike without hesitation. Kid’s reflexes have stepped up a notch, along with his technical know-how; he has no problem directing her toward the most painless manner of dispatching highspeed Scout Troopers. Then Leia goes missing, and on the search for her, he and the gang find themselves captured by tiny bears who seem to think that Threepio is worshipful. Han wants him to use that status as a Get Out of Jail Free card, but Threepio has programming that prevents it. At the point at which Han is losing his temper over this setback, Luke is on the brink of laughing his ass off. It might be one of my favorite things he ever does.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Han Solo

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Han Solo

You little punk.

They get tied up and hauled off to Ewok Camp, and while Han is busy trying to blow out the roasting torches with his lungs, Luke is forming a plan. All of Solo’s placations and Leia’s diplomacy are useless, but Luke commands his golden pal to threaten the furry guys with magic. It’s not nice, but again, it gets the job done. At this point in time, Luke should be teasing the crew about having to get everything done all by his onesies, but there’s that niggling Vader problem. So after a brief goodbye to his sister, he walks directly into the arms of one of the most evil and powerful beings in the universe with nothing but a “Come away with me, I’m incorruptible,” on his lips.

The nerve of this guy.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

And yes, Luke is a little surprised that Vader doesn’t immediately turn over a new leaf once he blinks those baby blues, but he takes a deep breath and keeps his chin high when he’s introduced to the Emperor of the galaxy, the one directly responsible for his lack of childhood family memories. I would like to point out that none of these things were penciled into Luke Skywalker’s weekly planner. He’s just winging it.

He keeps his cool despite some expert needling for a good long while, and once he finally freaks out (because a lot of his friends are dying out in cold, cold space), he pulls it back together quickly. This despite the fact that dad is telling him he has no problem killing his progeny if they don’t pass their dark side exams. He tries to hide, to remove himself as a target, because someone has just shot his sister and he can feel it. (This is an actual plot point of the ROTJ novel; Luke is trying to hide from Vader in those final moments because he can feel Leia’s injury through the Force and is trying to protect her and himself from Vader’s invasive mental-probing. That is ostensibly why Vader finds out about Leia at all.) But Papa Darth susses out the truth about his other kid—

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

—and Luke goes off the reservation, seemingly for good.

It’s a perfect parallel, in a way; Luke almost turns to the dark side as a bite back for having his mind plundered, but also to protect his sister, much in the same manner that Anakin was trying to protect Padmé. What no one was counting on is simply this: Luke Skywalker is nothing like his father. Not one iota (whatever that is). Luke is loving for unselfish reasons, he is constant and stable, he is not there for glory or even to save the universe. He’s there to prove to himself that he won’t turn.

He’s there because he wants his father back.

But Luke doesn’t simply stop thrashing Vader and roll over. He rubs it in the Emperor’s face. He could have just said no, he could have disengaged and backed into a corner. Instead he stands up, realigns his spine, and tells the Emperor “You’ve failed, Your Highness.”

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars

Who in their galaxy has ever had the gall to utter words like “failure” to that hooded robe since Palpatine took power? Any variation on them? Man, you can see that burn from another star system. For that he is unsurprisingly rewarded with unimaginable pain and near vanquishment. And then the unthinkable happens—ol’ dad comes back to the party. Better late than never, I guess.

And while Han and Leia are enjoying a kiss and rebellious triumph, Luke gets to say goodbye to his father. They’ve only just met.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Darth Vader

Luke Skywalker has to rearrange everything he knows and wants for his life in, what, a week? But he gives his father a hero’s funeral and walks to the Endor celebration with a smile and collected calm. He gives out handshakes and hugs to every friendly face he sees. He waves to some ghosts who are literally glowing with pride.

And I am still supposed to nod and smile dumbly when everyone goes on about how Han is just the best character in all of Star Wars? Because, I’ll be honest here—I never wanted to grow up to be Han Solo. I never wanted his debts, his disbelief, his wiseguy exterior born out of years of distrust.

Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Leia

But the one who walked onto the second Death Star with no idea what he was doing and achieved what everyone told him was impossible? On my best days, I’d like to imagine you could hear a little bit of Luke Skywalker’s resolve lingering in the back my voice. Even if I can’t do a flip in midair whilst catching a lightsaber.

I’m still working on that part.

Emily Asher-Perrin probably makes this argument too vehemently to strangers. She will never apologize for loving Luke best. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Scott Silver
1. hihosilver28
Well said Emily! On a similar note, I feel very much the same way when anyone tells me that Sam is unquestionably the best character in The Lord of the Rings. My Frodo defense may come off a little strong, but still...he is the reason the quest was successful.

Yeah, I've always been a fan of Luke as well. Great editorial.
2. Nanci
This is the best article. A++, would read again.

I get the whole "Han is better than Luke" arguments all the time, with people always pointing to the "power converters" line. Because something that happened during his FIRST SCENE in A New Hope is supposed to characterize him forever. Right.

Also, Luke has the tendency to be portrayed as very dark and melancholy in the EU, and that's just not true. Him laughing is ass of at Han's annoyance is proof of that. (One of my favorite moments in the film too, btw.) And nothing can top that look he gives his lightsaber after it falls smack into his hand, right before he ignites it. Perfection.
Christopher Bennett
3. ChristopherLBennett
Iota is Yoda's second cousin on his mother's side. He's known for being really short.
4. Brooklyn
Nicely done! This will lead me to rewatch RoTJ (and maybe all three films) with a new point of view. We've all been a bit dismissive of the farmboy-turned-Jedi.
Tim Kaufman
5. Tymerion
I agree with this so hard that I just gave you the highest of fives (in my imagination)
Sky Thibedeau
6. SkylarkThibedeau
Never wanted to be Han or Leia. Always wanted to be Luke or Wedge. Wedge Antilles is a pretty BAMF too. Only person outside the main characters who survives the 3 major battles of all three movies. Yavin Hoth and Endor
Rich Bennett
7. Neuralnet
YES! Great editorial, I have had this same argument with so many friends over the last ~30 years. Han is cool,I get it... he has the attitude, cool car, gets the girl etc. But Luke is the character I most love in the star wars universe. He starts off as a whinny kid and grows into a hero by the end of the trilogy. Luke is the reason the war (not just the battle) is won by the rebels. I am really curious what they will do with the Luke Skywalker character in the next movies. So many interesting possibilities.
8. Freelancer
Absolutely. I have similar feelings about the fandom's relative lack of appreciation for Rand al'Thor. Everyone loves Mat, and ignores the guy who keeps suffering, faces the fact that the universe is his mountain to carry, and carries on.

Luke had to be that guy, though. The one who innocently believes, and who cannot be bought, moved, or turned from the Right. Han? He's no champion, he's the guy who knows how to weasel out of scrapes, the guy who shoots first, the guy in it for himself and the reward. Even when he decides to join the fight, his eye is on Leia, not the freedom of the galaxy. It's definitely better to do the right thing for the wrong reason than to do the wrong thing for the right reason, but still...
9. Alex C.
There is only one thing I can say to this: a very heartfelt amen.

Is Luke Skywalker the 'coolest' character in Star Wars? No, not by a long shot (although you're right that in this last movie he transmogrifies into a badass).

But goddamnit, he's the hero of the saga, the one who makes the most important, most meaningful part of the story work. He's the moral anchor, and without him it would have been sunk.

I was first introduced to Star Wars at the age of five, when the original movie had an effect on my imagination equivalent to the effect of an industrial magnet on a bucket of iron filings. A couple of decades have gone by since then, and my relationship to the saga has evolved considerably - as I've gotten older it's gone from my gateway to hopeless nerdism, to a lingering guilty pleasure, to a very fond nostalgic memory.

But in all that time one thing has remained constant about Star Wars for me: ask me who my favorite character is, and I'll tell you straight up: Luke mother(or rather, sister)-f'ing Skywalker!
10. Freelancer
hihosilver28 @1

Ahh, but the quest in LOTR fails without Sam. How many times does he save Frodo? How many times does Frodo fall under the thrall of man, beast, the Ring, himself? And Sam never wavers. Sam is the Luke of that story, the less experienced, more innocent, and more constant force. Sam is heroic. Frodo bears the unbearable burden, and deserves all respect and honor for that. But at the end, Frodo would be Anakin Skywalker turned Darth Vader, were it not for Sam.
12. Emma Dee
This has, quite simply, made my freakin' day. All of the amens to you.
A.J. Bobo
13. Daedylus
Like many people here, I grew up on Star Wars (born in 1977 - I can't remember a day when I didn't know who Luke Skywalker was). Luke was always my favorite character. I think this sums up really well why that is. Thanks, Emily.
Alex Livingston
15. AlexLivingston
Great post! Luke's been on my mind recently. I saw something on tumblr which claims that he's in black through the whole movie to show that he may very well turn to the dark side (which aligns well with his force-choke entrance), but his costume flaps open near the end to show it was light-colored on the inside the whole time (as per your last pic).

It always struck me that when they did the re-releases in the late 90's, one of the first images they chose for Luke in the trailer -- chosen from among all that ronin priest badassery -- was him shutting off his lightsaber.

Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
Luke was always my favorite. The whole Leia being his sister retcon never sat well with me either.
Kevin Maroney
17. womzilla
The "Machete Order" is a proposal from a couple of years back that suggests that the best viewing order for the canonical films is IV-V-II-III-VI. Besides the obvious virtue of dropping Episode I completely, Return of the Jedi becomes much, much darker if you've just spent 2 entire films watching well-intentioned-but-impetuous-and-hot-headed Anakin slowly warp into Vader.

The biggest complaint I had against Return when I first saw it (obIAmOld: in the theatres, opening day) was not the Ewoks. It was that Luke's battle with his "dark side" is completely unconvincing, because the Dark Side is so monotonically unappealing. Watching Anakin stumble and fall makes that struggle less one-sided. (Yes, Episodes II and III aren't actually good films, but they can still shore up the weaknesses of VI.)
Joseph Cook
19. Jobi-Wan
Awesome article and I totally agree. My first memory of Star Wars, and one that I still often think about today, is the scene you described where Luke uses the plank above the Sarlaac pit to flip back onto the skiff, snag his lightsaber, and make short work out of Jabba's henchmen. Haters are gonna hate but ROTJ is my second favorite Star Wars movie.

I have read a lot of the Expanded Universe and Luke is quite the BAMF in those as well, I wish they would do the Thrawn trilogy or at least aspects of it for Episodes VII - IX.
20. harmonyfb
I saw Star Wars (that's "A New Hope" for all y'all young 'uns) the summer it premiered, when I was 13. As a girl, I really disliked Luke, because he was clearly all those gawky, earnest, painfully whiny teenage boys who surrounded me at school.

I liked Han. Smooth and dangerous...a scoundrel with a heart of gold. Han made my 13-year-old heart go pitter-pat in new and exciting ways (which only got more intense by the time of 'you love because I'm a scoundrel'. Whew.)

But I didn't identify with either of them. I identified with Leia. Kick-ass, smart, coolly competent, able to plan a rebellion, withstand torture, and shoot her way out of the Death Star. That's who I wanted to be, and it hadn't changed by the end of the third movie.

So you boys argue all you want, but you know in your heart that Leia was the best character in Star Wars.
Scott Silver
21. hihosilver28
Oh, I would never dream to say that the story works without Sam. But Sam always needs someone else, the quest wasn't enough, he needs someone to love and follow. That's not a bad thing at all, and he's wonderful and necessary to the story. But especially after the movies came out, I hear more of how Sam is the true hero of the story, and I don't buy it. I love Sam, but Frodo has always been and will always be my hero. Frodo does everything in his power to fulfill the quest, Sam does everything in his power to help Frodo. Sam would have gone on in the end when he thinks that Frodo is dead, but still... Anyways, that's my own personal feeling on Frodo.
Jessica Reisman
22. jwynne
Totally with you; Luke was always the most compelling character for me.
23. Andre Allao
I couldn't have said it any better. Fantastic article!
Christopher Bennett
24. ChristopherLBennett
The article title confused me for a moment, though, before I deciphered the acronym. "Luke Skywalker is a chibi Nightcrawler from Kitty Pryde's bedtime story?"
25. Jimmy Anderson
Saw this referenced in a twitter post and had to read. As others have said, GREAT writing! And I am in agreement with you on more than one point... I too enjoyed RoTJ immensely! And I am also a fan of ep's I II & III. All I hear is people bashing the prequels and the Ewoks and Jar Jar, but to me, they are PART OF THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE and they are great. :-)

And Luke is the "New Hope" afterall...
26. DRickard
@ChristopherLBennett/24: glad to know I wan't the only one thinking Nightcrawler on first read...
Shelly wb
27. shellywb
Luke's a great character. And RotJ is where he comes into his own in terms of charisma and sex appeal for me. He was a kid in the first two movies, and so my attention tends to wander to Han. But in RotJ my focus is completely on him in every scene he's in.
28. TBGH
This was no contest for me.

Luke over Han
Superman over Batman
Captain America over Ironman
Hermione over Harry

I've always preferred my heroes to be idealists rather than dark and complicated.
B. Dowdle
29. Lancer
Growing up, I always wanted to be Luke Skywalker. As a kid though playing on the playground at school the kids always told me I had to be Lando (Racist Bastards) but when I took the Star Wars personality test, I was...Wait for it...LUKE SKYWALKER!!

Grant Haake
30. gfhaake77
Hey, Emily!
Excellent article!
I've always been impressed by Luke, ever since I was too young to know why! I've defended Star Wars as a whole and Luke in particular to fans and nonfans alike.
The thing that everyone tends to ignore is that Anakin was supposed to bring balance to the Force, and he did. Twice.
First, he brought it down to two Sith and two Jedi, then he killed Palpatine and died himself, leaving Luke AS the balance to the Force personified.
He doesn't live by the strict rules of the Jedi, as he was only instructed by Obi Wan and yoda for a short time. He picked up other tricks, ie the Force choke he uses on the guards, a forbidden move in most Jedi camps, from seeing Vader's tricks.
So, Luke himself holds the power of the Force in true balance, and that's more responsibility than any Jedi has ever had to have before him!
You're right! He's a BAMF, indeed!

I'm glad you took the time to write this article, because you're absolutely right!

Jack Flynn
31. JackofMidworld
I've always felt that Han/Xander/Sam are the 'best' characters, if only because they go in with only their normal selves (no Force, no diplomatic immunity, no magic, no Slayer reflexes, no One Ring, no keen elf eyes, etc). That's certainly not to take away from the BAMFness that is Luke, Buffy, Gandalf, et al, but, to me, they're the 'best' because what they do requires a different kind of bravery than the heroes of the tale bring to the table; the kind of bravery that we mundaners can actually aspire to.

But, that said, great article! It's been years since I saw RotJ and, sadly, I was spending more time whining about blinking ewoks and the wrong Anakin than actually watching it as with grown-up sensibilities (yeah, it'd been that long since I'd seen it before that time), and now I actually want to go back and watch it just to pay attention to all the little tidbits that I missed. Nicely done, and thank you!
Nathan Martin
32. lerris
I agree.
Han's character development was complete in A New Hope when he returned to cover Luke's back over the Death Star.

Luke grew over the course of three movies.

The raid on Jabba's Palace is the sort of set-piece sequence I keep in mind when running a D&D game. After struggling against difficult opposition, heroes need to see how far they've come before moving into the final confrontation.
Chris Nelly
33. Aeryl
When I was a child, Luke was my guy. As I grew older, the appeal of the apathetic amoralistic guy who comes to the good side grew for me. I am now married to Han Solo's spiritual twin, the guy who talks a big game about all the illiict ways he could make money, but is constantly on the bottom because he sticks up for the little guy.

But Luke still does it for me. My heart might race a bit more when I hear the words "I know", but nothing gets me cheering like "You have failed, your majesty".

Even now, translating the archetypes into a more modern context, I love Tony, but Steve is still the guy that gets me pumped to go see his movies.
Sol Foster
34. colomon
I think the analysis of Luke meeting Vader on Endor is a bit off. Sure, Luke hopes to turn Vader, but I don't think that was ever his plan, per se. His main plan is simply to draw attention away from his friends so they have a chance to get the shield down. And note that if those friends do everything according to plan, Luke's most likely still going to be on the Death Star II when it blows up. He calmly puts himself in the gravest of physical and moral danger. BAMF indeed!
35. etherial
iota is the smallest possible number. Take the smallest number you can think of, multiply it by itself an infinite number of times, and iota is still smaller than that.
36. Shanna Swendson
Amen! I've been a Luke fan since 1977. I may have been the only girl in school who liked Luke better than Han, but then I usually go for the "good guy" over the "bad boy" types. In just about any team set-up that uses the Luke and Han model, I go for the "Luke." It seems kind of like the good guy has an uphill battle -- if he's actually trying to be good, then the least little slip looks like a huge failure. But the "bad boy" looks like a hero and a saint just by doing one good thing that you don't expect of him.
37. AwesomeAud
"I wonder who the woman was that the Ewoks killed and ate before giving her dress to Princess Leia?"


38. rogerothornhill
HELLyeah. Thank you. The "good is boring" argument was old with Frank Miller. In the end, it's all about results.
39. Rancho Unicorno
I get where you're coming from. The latter would be fun to meet and hang out with on occasion, but the former are the types that I would spend random evenings and weekends with.

The only downside I see Superman's power. It's easier to be an idealist when you are nigh-invincible and nigh-omnipotent. The others found some specific strengths, but could knew what it meant to "not be good enough." Scale him back to leaping buildings instead of flying, etc., and all the world will be right.
40. Lsana
I have to disagree with you on one point: I don't want to be Luke. I'd want to be Leia, the savy political leader who put together a rebellion, brought down the most evil man in the galaxy, and (at least according to the EU) managed to bring in a successful democracy to replace it. I also understand the desire to be Han, just because he looks like he's always having fun. But Luke...no. I absolutely agree that he's a BAMF, but it's precisely because everything you said was true that I wouldn't want to be him. Throughout ROTJ, there's an edge of darkness to him. It's just an edge, I don't think he's going to turn, but it's enough to scare me just a little. And it's certainly enough that I wouldn't want to deal with that inside of me.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who interpretted Luke's "You should have bargained, Jabba," as, "I was really, REALLY hoping you'd give me an excuse to do this."
42. iRoswell
Man, Luke is the best in all of Star Wars! Not just movies but in books too! Great article!!!
Joseph Newton
43. crzydroid
Lisamarie needs to read this. She's tots in love with Luke.

You know, reading about his attitude in taking on the sail barge cronies (and especially in light of the fact that he's not yet good enough to avoid getting his hand blasted because the script needs to remind us that it's a robot hand) really makes me see some similarities between him and prequel Anakin in his cockiness. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know...just an interesting parallel to his father. But obviously he has it more together than his father did.

@39: I might think it would be harder to be an idealist with all those super powers, because you could do whatever you want. Superman could take over the world if he wanted. In the least he could be a lazy bum because nothing takes effort for him. But he ends up not caring about himself at all.

As for who is the most important LoTR character? It's like that discussion about Harry Potter vs. Neville on one of Emily's older posts. I think everyone in the fellowship had some part to play. Sam would've killed gollum if left alone. I think the point is they all had some failiing, yet they all did something necessary and important to the Quest.
Scott Silver
44. hihosilver28
Absolutely. And that's the hallmark of a well-written story. Every character has a role to fulfill. That said, everyone has their favorites. I wasn't trying to say that Sam isn't important to the story, just that since the movies Frodo's been getting shortchanged.
Joseph Newton
45. crzydroid
@44: Oh, I totally get that and agree that the movies have maybe done some disservice to some of the characters. I was trying to be more general to the conversation rather than responding to any one individual.
46. Lynne Stringer
I've always liked Luke best and had to grit my teeth when everyone said how Han was the hero. Thank you for making it so clear that Luke can stand on his own. Now it's time to watch Return of the Jedi again!
47. S. Marzioli
Loved this. Great work, Emily!
Del C
48. del
They're all important, or they wouldn't be in the story. Han is the Strider of Star Wars, the scruffy nerf-herder ranger who becomes king, or at least Mister Senator Organa. Luke is Frodo, who will take the ring to Mordor, though he does not know the way; and also Sam, who starts out a gardener who just wants to go down the pub, and ends up a rebel leader who, if he hears not allowed much oftener, is going to get angry. And maybe a bit of Faramir, who, after all his learning at the feet of wizards, and chasing after his fallen father, eventually takes his own place in the house of government.
Dan Rice
49. driceman
100% agree. Not to criticize Han, but when I was a little kid watching these movies for the first time, I wanted to be Luke swinging a lightsaber, not Han being a smartass. Just sayin'.
James Goetsch
50. Jedikalos
Yes, indeed! The Force is strong with your writing! And ROTJ was always my favorite SW movie (in part because of how cool Luke is in it).
51. Dianthus
I was actually a Jedi (wearing a costume similar to what Luke wore in RotJ) one year for Halloween. I love Luke, Leia, and Han. Han just has the edge for me as my fav character.
52. BMW
Thank you for posting a great defense on behalf of Luke. One doesn't have to go to so much trouble on Han's ...he just ROCKS by sheer existence, but I get your point about Luke.
53. errantree
This is the best thing I have ever read in my life. You put the thing in words.
I may or may not be brimming with tears of joy.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
54. Lisamarie
Oh love love love love love. Look, I'll be honest, everybody assumes that our first son is named for St. Luke the Evangelist. It is a reasonable assumption, as we're Catholic, and our second son was named for Pope John Paul.

But he's not. Our first son is named for Luke Skywalker, full stop. And we don't hesitate to correct people on that front ;)

I certainly appreciate Han and even had a mild crush on him when I first became a Star Wars fan, but it didn't take long for me to realize who my true love was ;)

Also, we were just watching Return of the Jedi a few days ago, and I love that scene when he is able to chuckle at the Ewoks. Han's all freaking out and Luke is just like, 'yeah, man, I got this.'.

On a more serious not, I've always loved that 'I care!' idealism and...yeah. :) He's my favorite - but, as you have pointed out, he is not necessarily one to be trifled with either!

@28, I love Captain America too :) Although I'll admit I prefer Batman over Superman, at least in terms of the movies. I just never could get into any of the Superman movies.

ChristopherLBennet@24 - HAHAHA! Nightcrawler is actually one of my favorite X-Men, so I had a similar thought. It actually took me a minute to figure out with BAMF was.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
55. Lisamarie
Also, I have to say, while reading the comments...it totally makes me squee to come across an article about one of my favorite things ever (Star Wars, and specifically Luke) and see all sorts of discussion about Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Harry Potter and comic book movies. It's like all of my favorite things all smooshed together! Has anybody mentioned Star Trek yet? I don't think so - so I will. This is also kind of why, while I am enjoying the latter immensely, I think I will always deep down prefer The Next Generation over Deep Space Nine.

@36 - I love your point about the 'good guy' vs the 'bad guy' and the accolades they get. Han's character development IS one of my favorite parts of the saga, but I really believe there is something to be said for a character who doesn't need a big reason or turning point to be good. For example, REAL FARAMIR.
56. Alias
I like to think of Luke in the Jabba scene as David Tennant's Doctor. The Doctors whole character (mostly) can be summed up with, "I gave you one chance. That was it." He then proceeds to kick total ass. Same with Luke, he says, "You should have bargained, Jabba", in the same way as Tennant. He doesn't want to, but he can. That's why he sent in everyone else first, hoping he wouldn't have to be the bad ass.
57. Nathaniel McCallum
Wikipedia is your friend. :)

58. IanW
As mentioned by the Machete Order is that when we first see Luke in RotJ, he's wearing all black and Force-choking guards, so we naturally think Oh crap, he's falling to the Dark Side. This is especially notable when he tells Jabba not to underestimate his power, words used previously when Anakin was dueling Obi-Wan. So when Han says Luke is losing it, we're ready to jump in there and agree.

It plays off fanastically.
59. Jan the Alan Fan
Great article. RotJ was the first SW film I ever saw, and I thought Luke was definitely a BAMF.
60. Andrew87
If you need to post an article explaining why a character is badass then they're simply not.
61. Bayushi
I've read this article twice, now and cheered both times.

I STILL want to be a Jedi and I was five when the movie came out. Sure, Leia's also a BAMF, what with her political savvy and rebellion and catching of the cool guy, but Luke. I didn't want to date him. I wanted to BE him.
Joe G
62. joeinformatico
Preach on, sister! ROTJ is actually the first SW film I ever saw (6-year-old me begged my dad to take me to the only place in town screening it), so I have a fondness for it that will always transcend my adult cynicism. And you're dead-on: until that emotional climax, Luke is in total control of every scene he's in. Just awesome.

Also, I never made the connection between Han's break-out as Luke cleaning up the scum from his home planet before. Thanks for that!
63. RocketGirl75
This, Emily Asher-Perrin, is why I think we would totally be besties, and should have several slumber parties fueled by Luke and Jareth and maybe Spike and also The Tenth and popcorn and probably a lot of wine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I'm not stalking or anything. But if you ever want to have a slumber party, I'm here for you, just saying.
64. gamma
I honestly dont get all the hype over Han, or rather I do somewhat because all he is is a smuggler who became a hero. But he is one of the many normal mortals in the rebellion and is only there becaues he isn't an entirley bad person, but he has a Past.
But every day Luke faces the terrible choice to fall or not, to over reach to the darkness and lose himself or to stay only with the light and be limeed to only reacting, becaues that is what 'A Jedi uses the Force for knowlage and defence.' boiles down to. Jedi order and Sith Lords both were limited and out of balance, without light darkness would destroy itself, and without darkness light would be boring.
Han is not better than Luke, Luke is not better than Han, they are both good characters with their own strenths and weeknesses, one might be your favorate but he is not better than the other. Personaly I favor Luke, but that does not mean I dislike Han either.
Glad I'm not the only one who saw in the 'you shouldve bargined' an Oh good, now I have an excuese to kill you and destroy your gathering. I daydreamed about this sort of thing hapening to you when I was younger. Now I get to do it for real.
Alan Brown
65. AlanBrown
I agree that many people overlook Luke's strength, and his darkness, in RotJ. But while all these arguments about who is best, or who is their favorite, miss the fact that we don't have to choose between one character or another, we can like them all.
That being said, while I like all the main characters in Star Wars, I think I identified with Wedge the most. Just an ordinary junior officer, trying to do his best to stay alive while he did his duty.
66. David L.
Luke's evolution from Puke to Nuke has always been my favorite part of the first three Star Wars movies.
67. WolfenM
*gasp* I'm not the only one who prefers Luke to Han?!! 8D Not that I dislike Han, but Luke was my very first crush, and Han was never even in the running for me ....
68. jbo
Anyone who has read any of the extended universe books knows that Luke is far and away the biggest BAMF in the galaxy. No matter how dire seems may appear, you know order would soon be restores the moment Luke appeared. They even had to keep him away from a lot of the action because there was little tension when Luke showed up - he would just defeat everybody with hardly breaking a sweat. One never got that feeling from Han.
69. shewolf0316
Luke was always my favorite too. Even when he was a whiny little boy in episode 4 because I just KNEW what he'd come to be after accepting his destiny. And really, who doesn't whine a little when they feel unappreciated and stuck in a rut, like he felt at first? As soon as he comes back and finds the burned remains of his aunt and uncle, he steps foot on the path and never looks back.
70. hurlepat

Re this: "But at the end, Frodo would be Anakin Skywalker turned Darth Vader, were it not for Sam."

Not according to Tolkein. In his letters, Tolkien says that if Gollum hadn't been there (who Frodo spared--and Sam wanted to kill) then the Ringwraiths would have made it back to Mt. Doom. However, since Frodo had grown so much spiritually at that point, they would not have been able to directly take the ring from him. Instead, they would have hailed him as Master and entreated him to come outside of Mt. Doom where Sauron could have taken the Ring himself. Hearing the Ringwraiths calling him Master, Frodo would have realized what he'd become and flung himself into Mount Doom, still saving them all.

While Sam is certainly heroic , essential, and manages to resist the call of the Ring, it is Frodo's sacrifice that saves them all. It is the mercy of Frodo (and Bilbo) that destroys the Ring.
71. asta
Now this might be slightly off the wall, but the character I most want too be in Star Wars is The Emperor. Im sorry, it just is. I mean, he is insanely intelligent, skillfully manipulates the ENTIRE GALAXY into supporting his cause, fools the all knowing jedi order, never tries to force his irritating moral viewpoint onto others like yoda does, he is a consumate politician, and yet, unlike his real world compatriots, actually has a spine, and isn't really that evil. He also ends the corruption in the senate and ends the Clone Wars decisively and with the minimum of bloodshed.
I mean, most of the time he is only considered evil because of our viewpoint, but consider this; for the average person, life under the emperor would be pretty similar to life under the senate, On Tatooine, Jabba is in charge both before and after and is up to much the same tricks, and on Coruscant what has really changed? The average citizen has just as much freedom, and whilst there is a change in those who are favoured politically, there isn't really a noticiable change in the standard of life for the rich either. Admittedly, the wookies get the short end of the stick (and frankly I cannot concieve of why the Emperor would make that decision, it doesn't seem to conform at all the the logical and calculating, if entirely ruthless view we get of him otherwise), but for 99.9% of the galaxy, there is no noticeable change at all. Especially when you consider how large the galaxy is and the fact that the only reason that this isn't peace after episode 3 is because of the resistance which continues to fight out of some misguided faith in the Jedi.
He is also willing to help Vader even after he looses much of his capability at the end of episode 3 and then does nothing evil at all unless provoked. As pointed out by fans of Slytherin in HP, being cunning and ambitious does not automatically make one evil! Besides, you get the impression that most of the totally evil acts, like the destruction of Aldeeran or the slaughter of the Padawan, are performed due to the orders of his generals or Vader instead of the Emperor himself. I reckon that he actually makes good decisions, but for terrible reasons. Despite this, he is the pinnacle of badass in Star Wars and that is always cool, moral considerations aside. He is, at least in my view, one of the most likeable villans in fiction, mostly because his actions make logical sense, and do all lead towards his final goals, and lets face it, you can't really claim that of Voldemort, whilst Sauron etc. don't actually seem to have a specific goal at all, beyond, you know, DESTROY EVERYTHING!!!
72. uproc73
I always wanted to be Kenobi, even as a kid!!! and even more so now with the with I, II, & IIIand the BBY books ... the only Jedi to beat Vader twice, and kill another sith.
73. Chlemtil
You might enjoy:

It's all about how awesome Luke is.. focusing on the opening of RotJ!
74. comicshopguy
Finally somebody else who understands why I always liked Jedi over
Empire. Well put! And your wanting to grow up to be Luke rather than
Han reminds me of another childhood argument: we all went home and
pretended to fight with lightsabers, not blasters. SKYWALKER'D!!
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
75. Lisamarie
@71 - Palpatine is actually one of my favorite characters (and a reason why I like Phantom Menace) but I have no illusions about his evil. Being cunning and ambitious does not make you evil, but being a toltolitarian, racist murderer who authorizes the building of planet destroying superweapons and subjugation of non-human species does.
76. Cloudrunner
I have always been a huge Luke Skywalker fan. I loved a Splinter of the Minds Eye because Foster took the sketchy whoop assness ( I know, not a word) outlined in the movies and brought it into clearer view. Anyone who has read any of the EU books knows that Luke Skywalker is mongo badass.

Don't get me wrong, Han Solo is the best non Jedi character in the series. But that is just it... he isn't a Jedi and there is no way he can match Skywalker's badassness, ever. In a different setting he'd be quite a stand alone character but he is overshadowed by Luke Skywalker.

Part of this debate always hinges on so many people being put off by the "goody two shoes" Jedi mythos. No, the Jedi aren't nearly as pure as they think they are, but the principles are something to be lauded. I was raised to be a paladin, folks, so the Luke Skywalker character is an embodiment of those ideals. Everybody thinks the bad guys are cooler than the good guys nowadays. I don't and never will.

When the new movies come out I will scream blood murder if they do not expand the Luke Skywalker character and give him his due.
77. Eric2673
Re: "As soon as he comes back and finds the burned remains of his aunt and uncle, he steps foot on the path and never looks back."

Every good hero has his/her defining momoent, a changing point and this was his. When he looks and sees the two burned up skeletons, looks away, and then looks back his demeanor has completely changed. Yes, he's still a kid and does and says some kid stuff. But the power converter thing is gone. He excepts what's to come without even knowing what that is.

He faces down Vader twice as well and defeats him both times. At first glance the Cloud City battle would be a defeat. But, lets look at that for a moment shall we. At the time Luke is at a critical state he (like his father) can go either way. His Jedi training is incomplete and he himself is still rather imature and head stong. Despite that he over comes his hate and anger with Vader and stays the corse as a Jedi.

He has a bit of the dark side to him, but really who doesn't? I don't see the powers as light/dark good/evil they are tools and ike any tool can be used for good or evil. The intent behind them makes the act either good or bad. When he chokes the guards at Jaba's palace he could have killed them, he doesn't just moves them out of the way and doesn't really hurt them, sounds like good to me. He could have killed or really hurt them even though he was 'unarmed'. He allows a bit of the dark side in while fighting Vader at the end, but only after his sister is hurt and Vader find her in his mind. He gives into fear. Which as Yoda said lead to hate to anger and suffering. And that all played out right there in the span of 2 minutes. Not only that but it all dawns on Luke about 2 seconds latter and he over comes it, lays down his arms and tells the Emporer to suck it. All the while knowing what will come next and willing to except it. If that doesn't make him a BAMF, I don't know what would. I guess he could have gone all medieval and taken out the guys at the landing pad, comindared a shuttle faught hisway to the emporer room on the death star, then faught both him and Vader. But, hey that'd be pushing it.
Randall Trussell
78. Randalthor1966
I agree totally, and have been a Luke supporter (over Han) since the beginning. When I play the Star Wars RPG (D6 only, thank you very much) I don't make a smuggler, I make a Jedi. There is a reason for that. Ok, sure all the Jedi powers and the back flipping is really cool, but that is not the only reason. ;-)
79. LeonieRogers
Interesting article :) Like many others, I grew up with Star Wars - I was twelve when episode four came out.

Having said that, I always preferred Luke to Han Solo. I think it was partly the whole light sabre swinging thing, but now, as an adult, I know it's about the story. Luke's story is complex, Han Solo's not so much, and there was always the absolute desire to know what would happen down the track. Even now, when I imagine what happens after Episode VI, it's Luke's story that I think about, not Han Solo's.

Note that I haven't read any of the follow on books at all, except Splinter of the Mind's Eye.

Having said all of that, I think that one of the reasons Han Solo's character gets so much attention is simply because of Harrison Ford. He's a very charismatic actor, who scored nearly all of the funny lines in the original Star Wars movies, and of course, he got the girl. As an adult watching the original movies, Mark Hamil doesn't really come into his own strengths until episode VI. (In my opinion, that is!)
80. alreadymadwithjedi
I wanted to be a Jedi. I wanted to carry the light saber. I wanted the cool badass powers. My dad went nuts because I was always waving around an imaginary sword.
81. Jeff (labrug)
Finally, I feel some vindication that I was not the only one who saw all this. Thank you Emily. Thank you from the bottom of my Star Wars Fandom heart. I will truly rest easier tonight knowing the I am not alone.

Sincerely, Jeff.
82. Eliz
Amen. Luke is the reason half my license plate says Jedi.

Just yes, yes, yes, yes!
S Tieh
83. infinitieh
Wow, there actually are people who had read "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" aside from me? LOL

Great job, Emily! I always preferred Luke myself. Sure, Han would be fun to hang out with, but Luke was the one I would follow.
85. Kartikeya GS
I've always liked Rand since his suffering was almost invariably followed by an awesome display of power/badassery on his part (LoC, CoS, TGS, et. al.). While I have always liked Luke, I found his character arc lacking in this element - the decisive diplay of power. Perhaps the movies are more realistic in this element - he is far from all-powerful. Still, he is a great character!

P.S. I still blame the prequel trilogy for totally ruining the light-saber duels in the original trilogy!
86. TonyD
YES! Awesome article! Luke is a BAMF. It's only because Han gets the girl, that people dig him more. "I want to be a bad ass Jedi, but I also want to get laid." So there is a disconnect with Luke, because nobody really wants to aspire to be him. His powers, yes, his sexually repressive lifestyle, no. So, the problem here is... yeah, I'm gonna say it. Religion. If all works out, the next movie should find Luke Skywalker pulling up to his "zen'd out" Jedi loft, in a flying Lamborghini with two chicks, Bruce Wayne style. Because, and this is true, you can have your cake, and eat it, too. (You just can't eat your cake, and still have it. We've been saying this backwards for years)
87. Indiana Jim
Yes! And by golly in 1983 when I was six, on the playground I was Luke Skywalker and _I_ flew the Millennium Falcon, dang it!
88. Dan Finneu
...walked onto the second Death Star, that he knew the rebels were attempting to blow up,...
Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
89. montsamu
When I was a kid, this wasn't really even a debate? On the playground, we hung upside down from the monkey bars as Luke, trying to get the lightsaber handle (otherwise known as a "stick") to levitate that last inch out of reach and into our hands. We had lightsaber battles, not "let's pretend to be frozen in carbonite!" sit-ins. (I really liked Obi-Wan, too, fitting into a bit of my "old mentor" archetype fascination along with Mr. Miyagi and Gandalf, but we pretended to learn from them, not *be* them.)

It's only as more jaded and sarcastic adults (and young adults) that we come to appreciate Han's humor and reject Luke's (in the first movie, to be clear!) painfully youthful earnestness.
90. Kevin Knpp
While we're at it, RotJ is the best and the worst of the trilogy. It's OK. Boba Fett is also a bitch.

But what's with the Solo hate? He's been out in it, with no sign of Jedi for years. Luke, like us, was a wide-eyed innocent, of course he'd buy everything Obi-Wan was selling.

Han always struck me as a realist. Not his fault he had some bad luck and no magic powers. But when it came time to ante up, he had the stones. Went BACK to the death star, didn't blink when he met Vader, just pulled his gun, verbally bitch slapped his buddy, took a carbonite bath without blinking an eye, led some build a bears in a suicide mission, nailed a princess, and oh yeah- shot first.
91. HeatherBear
Emily - 1) You are my hero for both validating and summarizing my childhood crush better than I could have ever hoped. 2) I would duel you with no mercy over a Sarlac pit for just a moment of Luke's attention. In short, we'd either be BFFs or mortal enemies.... Regardless, you have my respect, which isn't easily earned. Kudos.
92. William Pardlow
Thank You so much for this article, I've always identifiefd more with Luke than Han.
Glad somebody wrote about it.
" the Force is strong wth this one"
93. John Boy
I remember reading an interview with Mark Hamill where he said he always felt like Luke shoulda had a crew cut for "Return of the Jedi," but George Lucas insisted he stick with the classic 80's bowl cut. I agree with Mr. Hamill and, to this day, consider it to be the biggest error in judgment for that film (although a planet of Ewoks instead of a planet of Wookiees is a close second).
95. Freelancer

So, Rand over Mat, then? Just to be consistent about the idealist over the waffling rogue...
Stephen Shores
96. 2nihon
You know, you're right, and that's something we fans sometimes forget in the midst of our Han-worship (or Leia, or Chewie, or Lando, or any other character): the entire OT revolves around the story of Luke Skywalker. If anything good can be said about the PT, it's that Lucas was faithful in sticking to one character, Luke's father. It will be interesting to see who the sequels focus on, if they don't try to abandon this approach. It would be interesting if JJ and crew decided to stick it to the EU and the ST focused on Luke's children.
97. Elspeth
Gotta admit, I never knew that Han was ever argued to be the "best character" in SW. Luke is the hero! Always was, always is, always will be. Across the arc of the series, we see a young imature man grow into the Savior his destiny intended...all while keeping his cheekness and charm. Sure, he started out a little geeky. But geeks always save the world. Anyone who has lived to 21 knows that the real power is held by the geeky. Sure he was a bit akward at times, but what kid isn't. The guy had to grow-up real fast learning some very hard truths about life but never gave up Faith...in himself, in his future, in his friends.

Han? Han was a criminal. Han was unreliable. Han hardly every thought with his brain. How could anyone EVER think Han is "far and away a better character"? You don't want your kid to grow up to be Han, you wan't your kid to grow up to be Luke!
98. Param Bhattacharyya
This is EXACTLY why return was my fave movie.
Thorsten Mussa Schocke
99. Morlott
Luke was the character i felt aligned with most when I watched the whole thing premiere in cinema way back during the cold war. But when you went on how and why he finished off jabba I only could think "because the script did say so". And not because Luke became a darker jedi than his teacher had hoped for ;-)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
100. Lisamarie
Freelancer @95 - hah, yes! It took me a LONG time to warm up to Mat, he seriously irritated me for the first few books (always had a soft spot for slow, methodical Perrin as well). Although overall I think my favorites are Verin and Nynaeve, although their sheer awesomenes isn't totally revealed until the end of the series.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
101. AlirozTheConfused
Yeah, I was always a Luke kid, not a Solo kid.

Although, I really do love the sheer whininess of the Power conveeeeeeeeerteeeeeeeeeers line. It's the stuff of legend, as if hte kid had only one drive in existence, and htat was to get some power conveeeeeeeeeerteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeers.
And his "Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw, that's imposible!" to Vader, that face is amazing.

But still, he is a cool dang dude in Jedi.
Joseph Newton
102. crzydroid
@79, 86: Although Han doesn't actually get the girl at the end of the first one. In fact, there were many people who thought she might end up with Luke after seeing that one. The Han/Leia romance doesn't come into play until Empire. In the first one, Han doesn't seem to have any romantic interest in her, and his only comments to that effect are to tease Luke. Yet while Han "getting the girl" is going on in Empire, this is also the film where Luke becomes more serious and badass and is tempted by the Dark Side (though I suppose you could view him as, if not whiny, at least pissy--"I don't even know what we're doing here! We're wasting our time!"

I really think the "wanting to be Han" thing is more because he does have a lot of cool lines in the first one, and he is played rather magnificently by Harrison Ford. He's the kind of guy that can be smug and make it attractive, unlike I lot of guys I see who are smug and it makes you want to punch them in the face.

@85: I assume you mean that the prequel lightsaber duels (e.g., TPM) were so complex and fancy that the old ones seem lame by comparison? Take heart that I think the Empire Strikes Back duel is probably the best one out of all of them. Because that duel is not about being acrobatic and physically intense, but about being cinemagraphically artistic and emotionally intense. Ben Burtt has often remarked that they tried not to have music during the lightsaber duels because the lightsabers had an almost musical quality to them--and I say that the opening of the Empire duel is a symphony. Luke approaches Vader in a cold quiet, and there is a moment of tension before the first moves are made. Indeed, the very first moves are a testing of waters, a few leading notes teasing us with the feast that is to come before they really dive into it. And just as they really start getting into this thing, it is teasingly broken up by jumping to another scene. When we come back to it, we don't just statically observe--we are physically pulled into the shot as Vader pushes Luke from the side of the frame, just as our eyes were moving in the same motion from following Artoo in the previous shot. We then get into a tense anxiety for our hero, as Vader casually disarms him even after Luke claims to be full of surprises. At the mercy of Vader's blade and in danger of being killed, Luke is first darkly and emotionally tempted by Vader. Ack, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry to go on like that...but seriously, that is one of the best films ever made.

The Return of the Jedi is very emotionally charged, as well. And if it's any other consolation, the ANH duel was lamified as soon as Empire came out, and that is no fault of the prequels. To be fair though, for an old guy, Obi-Wan does get pretty into it.
103. GreenSaber
I agree with this 100% I liked how you pointed out some of the lesser noticed parts, like when Threepio and Han are having their conflict. My family is always telling me how annoying and whiny he is, like they haven't even see ROTJ. Well, all I can do is keep trying to explain. Maybe even have them read this! Kudos!
104. Sarah Tompkins
You have literally spoken my mind...Thank you so much!!!! I always identify with the characters that everyone else thinks are lame.
105. KatherineW
Return of the Jedi is my favourite Star Wars movie, precisely because of the emotional power of the scenes with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. And everything in Jabba's palace is not only well-executed, but well-planned, with contingencies for anything that can go wrong (such as Leia being captured when she tries to free Han). Yes, Luke is awesome.

At the same time, Han's opinion that Luke is delusional during the Jabba's Palace scene is also perfectly justified, given that the last time he saw Luke he'd just rescued him from a wampa. "Difficulty defeating a wild animal" to "able to take out a the top space gangster" is a pretty steep learning curve.

Han's earlier line about "hokey religions and ancient weapons" is pretty ridiculous, though - and patently incorrect as soon as you see that a lightsaber and the Force allow a Jedi to block blaster bolts.
Anthony Pero
106. anthonypero
Being a BAMF doesn't nessecarily make one interesting. Han was the most interesting character back in the day because he was essentially an anti-hero at first, something lacking (at the time) in creative works. Nowadays, Han Solo looks like a straight-up hero compared to what passes for anti-heros these days. So he is far less rare, and therefore far less interesting than he used to be.
107. MikeW_
Loved the article!

Luke is also my favorite, and the kind of person I always wanted to be.
108. lexxasaurus rexx
THANK-YOU. You're bloody awesome. This article is bloody awesome. I think this just might be my favourite Star Wars related article out of all the ones I have ever seen, and I've seen plenty throughout my many years of Star Wars addiction. I thought I was the only one who saw it this way, that no one else would ever understand. I was wrong! :D
I always prefer subtle badassery to those others that normally take the limelight. ?
109. Emily A
Well said! These have always been my thoughts and feelings! He faces so much and grows so much more than any other character yet is almost looked down on for being "too good". But yes, everyone then ignores his actions in ROTJ at Jabba's Palace, choking is too good??? Thank you for this article, I can now better articulate when defending Luke thanks to you.
110. Vallinorean
Thank you so much for writing this. :)

I always feel the subtle beauty and utter magnificence of certain characters gets washed into the background till there comes a point where people actually enjoy bashing those characters instead of evering them.

Atleast here in India, people don't understand how kick-ass Luke is to SW or Frodo to LotR.
111. Clint Hollingsworth
Thank you. That was wonderfully said. I always wanted to be Luke myself, or at least have the moral backbone of the future grand master of the Jedi.
112. JB Harshaw
Well stated.

One thing you (and apparently everyone else) seems to have missed, or at least left unstated, and that is the title (and remember the working & planned title had for a significant amount of time been "Revenge of", not "Return of" -- trailers and posters were released with that, and the title swap was a last minute change).

But THAT is not my point -- in fact my point (reinforcing yours) works either way, Think about it, whether it is:

Revenge of THE Jedi

Return of THE Jedi

Now, the word "Jedi" is quantity ambiguous. It is used to refer to both plural and singular. But in the title, and in the film, it s SINGULAR. There is only ONE "jedi" left to either take revenge or to "return": Luke, ALONE... period.

Yoda is gone. The Emperor is a "Sith" who is also dispatched, Vader/Anakin is a "Sith" who is redeemed temporarily as a "Jedi" prior to death, and Leia is only a "potential".

This ONE (singular) Jedi pulled off what the whole boatloads (hundreds? thousands? more?) of so called "fully trained" experienced Jedi (including Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Yoda, et al -- the whole pile) could not do... and yeah, while Luke had help (from "muggles" to pull in a non-SW reference), the REAL work (the destruction of the second death star itself while making for a big fireball, was virtually irrelevant vs the death of the Emperor & Vader)... was done by Luke along what was (at best) a roughly laid plan (if you can even really call it a plan), but which in the end was ("trusting the force") Luke, all alone... and as you noted "winging it".

THAT isn't just a BAMF... it's so far beyond that there is no comparison, he's the ultimate "BAMF".
Christopher Bennett
114. ChristopherLBennett
@112: Sorry, but "the Jedi" could easily be a collective reference for the Jedi Knights as a whole. After all, "the" is not a singular article. So there's no way in which the use of the definite article in the title proves that it's singular.
115. Grant S.
Well written and undoubtedly true. Thanks for reminding me that Luke was and most assuredly will be a badass in the coming film.
Anthony Pero
116. anthonypero

I agree with you, but you are ignoring the entire thrust of his/her comment. The commentor is saying that the context of the movie indicates that Jedi is singular in this title... because Luke is the only one.
117. ImperialGirl
For the tl;dr verions: Han is cool. Luke is the PROTAGONIST. I never especially wanted to be Luke-I don't need that kind of pressure-but it's sort of obvious who the hero of the thing is. (I refuse to accept the argument that Anakin/Vader really is. Anakin was an antihero who paved his own road to hell and took everyone down with him. He failed. He does not get to be the ultimate hero of the thing for throwing Palpatine down an elevator shaft entirely because LUKE showed there was one Jedi in the universe who was willing to both love unconditionally and die rather than fall to the Emperor. Anakin only brought "balance" in the sense he fathered the first Jedi who seems to actually be able to balance love for others--Leia, Han, the ideals that the Republic failed to live up to and being a Jedi, including stnading up to a Sith Lord. The credit for bringing down the Sith goes to Luke.)

To the very first comment: eh, Frodo is a slightly different case, and he's not helped by the movies making him into a suicidally-useless load for 2/3 of them. The books he fits the Luke mold much more so, though even there Sam has a lot more to do structurally than Han. Heck, Gollum does, too, in a sort of less-well-intentioned Vader-esque way. The Han analog is more Aragorn: yes, he's cool, yes, he has an awesome sword and an elf chick waiting for him. Yes, he has a destiny. But (and the movies do try to get this across) unless Frodo gets the ring into that volcano, Strider's hero's journey means precisely squat.
Anthony Pero
118. anthonypero
Or, Anakin brought BALANCE to the Force by killing all the Jedi, leaving only Yoda and Obi-wan on the Light Side and Palpatine and Vader on the Dark Side. There's balance for you.

Also, there's a difference between saying someone is the "protagonist" and someone is the "hero". "The hero" is a specific type of protagonist. If you look at A New Hope, or the original trilogy as a whole, Luke is most definitely the protagonist, and is your archtypal hero. If you look at the entire Saga as a whole, while not a hero, Anakin skywalker is most definitely the protagonist. The story is about his rise, fall, and ultimate redemption. He's the driver of the story, the most influential of all characters, and all 6 movies when taken as a whole revolve around him.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
119. Lisamarie
@117 - "He does not get to be the ultimate hero of the thing for throwing Palpatine down an elevator shaft entirely because LUKE showed there was one Jedi in the universe who was willing to both love unconditionally and die rather than fall to the Emperor."

This sentence filled me with warm fuzzies :D

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