Annlyel explores the importance of the father figure in the Star Wars universe
Star Wars at its center is a tale about family. From Luke and Darth Vader’s complicated relationship to the recent drama between Kylo Ren and his parents, we have been given an invitation to one of the greatest fictional works ever conceived in the modern world. This is a story that features good and evil, ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we can always come away from these movies feeling that spark of joy these films manage to give us so effortlessly.
I’m a Star Wars fan, as you may well know, and the reason why I am a Star Wars fan is that there is so much to uncover in this galaxy George Lucas created forty years ago. The aliens, the planets, the hidden references to a larger world, it’s all so very fascinating, but I what I truly love are the storylines. They can be inspiring and they can be underwhelming but I love watching them. And I’ve noticed that at the center of these storylines there is always a father-figure type of character. Take A New Hope for example. The first Star Wars film to ever come into theaters. It featured Obi-Wan Kenobi, the first in a long line of father-figure characters that would prove instrumental to the storylines of the characters they inspired.
So, on that note, let’s look at these characters and how they have impacted Star Wars.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi was that father figure for Luke Skywalker that Luke needed. His uncle and aunt took care of him but they never truly encouraged him to be the person he knew he was meant to be. Obi-Wan didn’t try to hold Luke back. He went on to steer Luke on the path to becoming a Jedi, teaching him the ways of the Force in the Millennium Falcon, aiding him in the Death Star trench, leading him to Yoda on Dagobah. Obi-Wan, the father-figure, was there for Luke every time he truly needed him (except that time Luke was dangling from the bottom of the Cloud City but that’s another story.) Of course, there was conflict as Obi-Wan, in an attempt to protect Luke, didn’t tell him the truth about his father being Darth Vader, but besides that their relationship was rather solid.
And then we go back a couple of decades or so and it turns out that Obi-Wan Kenobi was a father-figure (or much older brother-figure) to Anakin Skywalker as well. Now we all know Anakin didn’t have a father so his first father figure was Qui-Gon Jinn but he would soon perish at the hands of Darth Maul. It was then that Obi-Wan would take Anakin under his wing and try to raise him to be one of the greatest Jedi ever…which he did, but then Anakin turned to the dark side so…
His relationships with both Anakin and Luke Skywalker may have been fatherly but the way those relationships panned out was entirely different. But ultimately his impact on their lives would be tantamount to their eventual conclusions.
In The Force Awakens, Han Solo became the father-figure to Rey. He helped teach her small things (like how to use a blaster) and was, like Obi-Wan, always there for her…until he died. 🙁
His influence on her was powerful and would shape her destiny much in the way that Obi-Wan helped shape Luke’s. He also had a turbulent relationship with his son Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren hated his father (for some reason) and so the one time they were together wasn’t an ideal reunion. But Han’s willingness to die for his son may be one of the key factors to Kylo’s redemption in Episode IX. (You never know.)
In The Last Jedi Han is gone and Rey tries to find that father-figure in Luke Skywalker. He, however, is not as gracious in participating to facilitate that want from her. He pushes her away and their relationship becomes fraught with tension and despisal.
It is his sacrifice, however, that rekindles her appreciation for the Jedi and it’ll be interesting to see if their relationship is indeed on a friendlier status if he does, of course, visit her as a ghost in Episode IX.
Once again we are presented with another father-figure who leaves an impact on the character he inspires. Jyn wasn’t really into the rebellion but her love for her father and his determination to do what’s right spurred her onto helping orchestrate one of the greatest victories in the rebels’ history.
And even in Solo: A Star Wars Story, we are introduced to gunslinging smuggler Tobias Beckett who turns out to be Han’s father-figure. Han looks up to him the entire movie. He trusts his judgment. He learns things from him. And it’s these lessons that ultimately end up leading Han to become one of the greatest and most renown smugglers in the galaxy.
You see, the father-figure is a massive staple to the story of Star Wars. It’s just beginning to change slightly, as Leia has become the father (or more like mother) figure to Poe but as I’ve shown you in this post there’s an interesting trend to these storylines.
I’m sure with Rian Johnson’s trilogy there will be yet another father-figure type of character who will impact the overall story in an exciting way because at the end of the day fathers (and mothers of course) are important. They help us grow, they help us understand how to handle certain obstacles in life, and they will always have our back.
And that’s why I love Star Wars. The idea of family is a beautiful thing.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her own blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!