Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Heroes: Luke Skywalker

If anyone were actually reading this blog, they would likely think I was nuts for writing this, but...here goes.

Luke Skywalker was, and is, my hero. 

Yes, he was a whiney punk. Yes, in retrospect, his force powers were feeble compared to the 'ultra-mega' Jedi presented in the prequel trilogy. No, he wasn't a suave and cynical smuggler or the badass bounty hunter. He was just a simple farm boy from the middle of nowhere who had a hard time living up to all the expectations laid on to him by the circumstances of his birth.

Luke Skywalker was the kind of hero you don't often see anymore- the uncool and even fallible type. It wasn't his looks or iron-will or even really his skill that saw him through everything that happened, it was his heart. He succeeded because, as he said in Star Wars: "I care". He wanted to make a positive difference, he wanted to help his friends, he wanted to help his family—even if they were evil. He wanted to do good. And in the end, it was his heart that carried the day, redeemed his father, and destroyed the Emperor. 

Luke is the quintessential 'boyscout'. At least in my concept of him. He reminds me of heroes like Captain America, or even Superman. Honest and forthright because that's just how they were brought up; Naive (to an extent) and rather unsubtle (in a refreshing way). In a world of Han Solos, Wolverines and Batmans (Batmen?) the 'boyscout' really isn't cool, but I guess that's part of the reason why I can relate to him. I'm not cool, either.

Luke's fallibility is also endearing to me. I remember being shocked during the Empire Strikes Back, when he was essentially FAILING every test Yoda presented him with. Luke was the hero, right? He should be a natural at this! But he wasn't. He went against the advice of his instructors and went to save his friends—where he proceeded to get his ass royally stomped by  Darth Vader. Again, I was shocked. But in the following years, as I matured (I was only 9 when ESB came out), I began to understand what that movie was all about. It showed the heroes at their worst, lowest points. Yeah, maybe that was a bit of a downer, but it made me identify with them even more. And it made me appreciate it all the more when Luke, learning from his mistakes, finally got his stuff together in time to kick some butt in Return of the Jedi. Again, Luke wasn't perfect. Things were difficult for him. And again, that is something I can relate to.

Unfortunately, like many things from the original trilogy, Luke has been abused and 'modified' in the resulting slew of novels that came out post RotJ. His character differs from writer to writer, with only Timothy Zahn seeming to capture what my concept of the character was. It is as though people are trying to make him into a brooding bad-ass, abandoning the core of his character—his 'inner farmboy'—in order to cater to the "I like cool dark heroes" crowd. Others give him almost godlike powers (I recall him 'building a castle' with just the power of pure telekinesis in one of the novels...). Still others (starting with the abysmal Vector Prime) portray him as a watered-down namby pamby who is so choked with self-doubt that he won't take a stand against what is clearly a galaxy-threatening conflict.

But through it all, Luke remains my hero- perhaps made even moreso because of all the times I was able to jump into his skin in online RPGs...to play him how I thought he was, how I remembered him. As Lucas and others continue to rape the corpse of a once great franchise (wow, that sounds harsh...), I have compartmentalized it all and, in my own heart and RP universe, Luke is still true to himself; still a farm boy at heart. He still cares.

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