In honor of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope’s release, I’ll interrupt my series on reviews. To celebrate this iconic movie, the Galaxy of Heroes game has been showering me with Luke Skywalker events. Luke in those white pajamas, no less. Luke of Tatooine. Luke staring at the sunset–Luke fighting Sand People–shards of Luke–promises of Luke’s gear, but what materializes is not what my Luke needs. Typical gaming stuff.
Much as I love Luke (pajamas and all), it’s his father Darth Vader who really left his mark on entertainment history. This character captured people so much that a whole new series about his early years was created. The Mustafar-like volcanic eruption that followed those prequels only fueled more interest in Star Wars. An animated series about the proto-Vader’s adventures and a Disney buyout of the whole franchise further expanded popularity. And it all goes back to that 1977 movie in which Darth Vader first appeared. When I watch his entrance in A New Hope I can’t help saying, “This is a moment in history.” Which of course distracts from the movie.
It’s funny Star Wars is now a massive trend that “everybody” has to get on board with, because it’s about the outsider. The rebel is central to that galaxy far, far away, and dear old Luke is certainly not participating in any trends. As he says, “If this galaxy has a center, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” The mainstream is always shown as oppressive, boring, and corrupt–first the Empire, then the dying Jedi Order, and most recently the First Order. In the OT, of course, Luke learns that even the scary figurehead of that boring, corrupt Empire is like him. An outsider. Anakin was always an outsider to the Jedi and Darth Vader never fully accepted the Sith or became a cog of the Empire, an outsider to both. He always keeps his own identity even when he’s at his worst and ends up destroying these institutions.
And that is why from the minute he walked on that screen all those years ago people have found him so compelling.