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I’m posting this first so you read it second. Read the post just after (above) this one before you read this one.
Now back to our regularly scheduled font. So first I sat down and wrote a whole ton about how I would change the characters. Somewhere in the middle of that, it occurred to me to swap Luke and Leia. Luke always was a whiney little girl, and in general no fun as a character. No inner conflict, no hard decisions. He was such a little girl, that in Return of the Jedi, when we’re presented with Mark Hamill playing a grown man, we say “bullshit.” Young Luke was such a little b*#$% that you can’t fathom that he could ever grow up. So when he does, it just feels contrived.
Also, Leia was always made out to be a powerful person but never really was one. She was fairly unimportant to the story. She’s just the damsel in distress who in two scenes, while the hero’s busy doing manly saving-the-day things, grabs the hero’s gun and takes a few shots. She’s the character that makes the movie longer because there’s got to be something for her to do. But you tend not to notice that because every other character acts like she’s important and useful. I say make them stop acting like that, but make her important and useful.
Best way to fix both of those problems: Send Luke to grow up as a senator’s son and send Leia to be a Tatooine farm girl. Now Luke isn’t a little girl so much as he is a pampered rich boy and Leia’s not useless because she’s got Luke’s part in the story. Also, she doesn’t have all that conditioning to dampen her angry streak early in her life. That makes the whole thing so much more interesting. Does that mean Leia rescues Luke from the Death Star? Maybe. Does it mean she flies an X-Wing and blows up the Death Star? Maybe. Does it mean that now Luke is completely useless? No, because Luke’s not a girl (at least not in any biological sense). At the very least, he gets killed, making him a meaningful plot element. Does it mean Han falls in love with Luke?
No. No it doesn’t. I think one uncomfortable relationship is enough for any good story. At most, there will be the hefty bromance that was always hinted at (but never actually illustrated) in the original trilogy.
That being said, I’ve got half a mind to get rid of the Luke-Leia awkwardness. It just doesn’t make any sense. How does Obi-Wan take Luke (or in this case Leia) to the Death Star to rescue his sister and not tell him she’s his sister? Bad planning, that’s how. Craftless writers. When Luke rescued Leia from the Death Star, she wasn’t his sister. Not until Lucas let it slip to Carrie Fisher (if I have my story straight) during filming of ESB was Leia Luke’s sister. And how are both of his children in the same place at the same time ten feet away from him and Darth Vader still thinks they’re dead? Meeting one kid, maybe:
“Hey. You look an awful lot like some chick I knew about seventeen years ago. Isn’t that a coincidence? That must be why I feel like there’s a tremor in the Force. Because you remind me of her.” Fine. Fine. But when you feel the same tremor in the Force board your space station, and you know the princess is already on it, you’ve got to know something’s up. When you further discover that that kid that blew up your space station has the same last name as you (and nobody ever thought to change it), then you’ve got to sit down and say “wait a minute. He’s got my name and I feel this tremor in the Force. I feel the same thing when that girl WHO SURE LOOKS A LOT LIKE PADME AND WAS CONVENIENTLY BORN THE SAME DAY SHE DIED is around. There’s gotta be something going on there.” But no. Vader NEVER figures it out. He accidentally discovers that he has a daughter when he catches Luke thinking about her. BUT HE NEVER KNOWS WHO SHE IS!!! Come on. That’s a “villain” no well-organized rebel alliance needs to worry about.
Just full of holes. Bad, bad writing.
Also, how about Darth Vader? Evil, scary dude. But then we find out he’s not really “evil” per se. He’s more “misguided.” But if that’s the case, what’s all this nonsense about blowing up planets and enslaving entire races? Neither of those is really a grey area. Both pretty evil. My solution to that is simply this: know where the story’s going from the beginning. A New Hope was clearly meant to be a one-off. There was no “saga” until Empire Strikes Back, and there was no “Episode 1” until well after Return of the Jedi. If Darth Vader is a dude who thinks he’s doing the right thing but clearly isn’t, make him relatable. The bad guys who are easiest to hate are the ones who fall into a grey area. Gaius Baltar comes immediately to mind. Totally human, totally believable, and totally hated upon.
That being said, Darth Vader isn’t supposed to be Gaius Baltar. He’s supposed to be Darth Vader. But now (right now) when I watch A New Hope, I find myself thinking: where’s the Human Being I saw in Revenge of the Sith who would have some moral qualms about this? He would absolutely blow up a planet to enforce peace. But he would be conflicted about it. And he would totally give his children to the Emperor. But he might (might) hate himself for it. I mean, the way he is, Darth Vader (in the original trilogy) isn’t even a villain. He’s just a bad guy. Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith is a villain. He’s real. He’s believable. There’s something interesting about him. He’s not just the bad guy.
In New Star Wars, Han Solo also thinks he’s smooth less and is smooth more. If there’s one thing Han Solo wishes he was, it’s slick. Don’t get me wrong. He has his moments. Not many, but he does have them. “I know,” is one of them. “Scoundrel? I like the sound of that,” is not. In short, Han Solo needs to be more James Bond and less Jack Sparrow. Not a lot more James Bond. He just needs to be as cool as he thinks he is.
R2-D2 needs to be a lot less Tweeky and a tiny bit more Dalek. Far, far less “beedy-beedy” (R2 was a huge helping of “beedy-beedy”) and a little more “exterminate.” Not a lot of “exterminate.” Just not so comical. C-3PO is plenty of comedy for any robot duo.
And one more note. Just how powerful is this “Force” thing anyway? Can I read people’s minds or not? If I can, then Vader should know that Luke is his son as soon as he sees him on the Death Star. Not because Luke knows who his father is (which he does, by the way), but because Luke name is Skywalker. And if I can’t, then Vader can’t know that Luke has a sister, because he only finds that out when Luke is thinking about her (God knows why) when they’re dueling on Death Star 2.
And can I have telekinesis or can I not? If I can’t, then re-write the entire saga, because telekinesis is used very prominently in several scenes in every single film. If I can then why do I ever need to do any such thing as throw a rock (or was it a skull?) at a button across the room when I could just use my telekinesis to push the button? For that matter, what am I doing in this Rancor pit in the first place? Don’t I have superhuman reflexes? When the floor falls out from under me, I just grab the edge and throw myself back up into the room. JUST LIKE LUKE DOES TEN MINUTES LATER AT THE SARLACC PIT. So many inconsistencies.
It has been my opinion (until about an hour ago) that George Lucas used to be a good writer. Now I understand how wrong I was. There were people that wrote the story for the original Star Wars trilogy who were good writers. Lucas was able to take the story that they whispered in his ear and make it look good. Wherever he did any actual writing, we get crap. But that’s not entirely true, as I think he may have actually written the first one himself. But he certainly had Joseph Campbell whispering in his ear for ESB and RotJ.