To be fair, Boba is a really stupid name.
“My name is Inigo Montoya…”
Okay, I’ll bite… who is that and how are they more of a character than, say, OT Luke?
Kylo Ren is the only character Star Wars has ever had, because he drives the plot via is motivations and feelings. Everyone else only ever does what the plot tells them to.
And Luke really has no character.
Not sure I agree with your detective work there, Lou. Luke is the farm boy who dreams of seeing the galaxy, having adventures and living up the image of his father, and then proves up to the challenge when it becomes far harder than expected. Kylo Ren wants… what? Power? Peace by any means necessary? The girl? Redemption? A lozenge? I have no idea. Admittedly, he is played by the better actor…
Ok, here’s a question: why does Luke crave adventure?
Because he’s heard lots of tales about his dead father being a great fighter pilot in the war, which he finds more exciting than dealing with farm mess on a planet with nothing going on…
(Don’t want to clog up the Marvel thread with a lot of Star Wars talk by the way, so maybe somebody wants to move this stuff to the SW thread…)
He thought his father was a freighter pilot, he had no idea he fought in a war
Fair enough, I am hazy on exactly what he learned about his father and when but the underlying point is that hearing about his dead dad being a pilot sparked the thirst for adventure inside him.
Luke wanted adventure before he met Ben, there’s the sequence where he asks Owen and Beru about moving his application to the Imperial Academy up a season because of how well the farm is doing, Owen pushes back, Luke storms off, and Beru says “he has too much of his father in him”.
But what I’m getting at is that Luke strives for adventure, because if he doesn’t he wouldn’t push against his boundaries in the way that he does, but that need for adventure is only set up by saying he’s like his father, who it turns out was a Jedi Knight. There’s never an internal reason for Luke to want to do what he does. Similarly he goes to Dagobah because Ben’s ghost tells him to. He leaves before his training is done because Han and Leia are in trouble and he’s their friend and the hero.
In the course of three movies, Luke makes two or maybe three empowered decisions depending on how you want to count them - he rejects Darth Vader’s offer in Empire, he chooses to surrender to the Empire on Endor, and then he rejects the Dark Side on the Death Star. And even with those decisions, it’s hard to separate out personal motivations from the requirements of the plot.
This is because Luke is less a character and more of an archetype. He’s using the same character arc as Frodo Baggins, Flash Gordon, and so many other heroes. It’s at least in part because George Lucas was a big adherent to the Campbellian Monomyth idea. He didn’t have to make Luke a thoughtful, nuanced hero because we as an audience were primed to already know his character beats.
And this isn’t a bad thing. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to tell a story, loads of the best stories use these tricks and tropes. It’s a huge part of why we as a culture have mythologised Star Wars itself. If you’re deep into the franchise to the point of playing games, reading books and comics you’ve become emotionally attached to these characters/archetypes, precisely because this form of storytelling is so effective.
And Luke is probably the most complex individual in the OT. Like, Han’s character arc in the original cut of Star Wars is lauded as an interesting journey from scoundrel to rogue with a heart of gold, but it’s really a sketch. Han repeatedly states he’s in it for the money, he shoots Greedo in lukewarm blood, he goes along with Luke and Ben on the Death Star because they do need to escape. And then on Yavin IV before he leaves, still talking about the money, he bashedly says “May the Force be with you” to Luke, and then he comes out of nowhere at the Death Star to shoot Darth Vader off Luke’s tail.
This works because we like Han and we want him to come good, but nothing he’s seen or done in between escaping Tattooine and leaving Yavin IV indicates a reason for his change or heart. There’s no indecision, there’s no deliberation. There’s beats to indicate a slight change of heart, but no reason why they should be there.
By comparison, Kylo Ren’s motivations are internal. He’s angry, he’s adrift, he’s insecure, scared and alone. And we know why. His motivations are laid out in a simple way, quite similar to how the motivations of the more archetypal characters in the OT and the ST are, in fact. But his motivations are backed up. Some of this is because he’s more grounded, his insecurities and anger are things that we can see in real world events. Sure, we don’t have many galactic overlords who overreact and have literal temper tantrums, but there are a lot of angry, insecure people who get violent in the real world. And there are angry, insecure people in elected office who lash out all the time.
Let’s put it a different way - Why does Darth Vader want to usurp the Emperor and rule the Galaxy with Luke at his side? And why does Kylo Ren kill Snoke and ask Rey to stay with him? Which of these parallel events has more of an explanation in the text?
Luke is frustrated by his aunt and uncle keeping him on the farm and yearns to experience a bigger world than his current dull life provides. It may be a cliché archetype but it’s still a good character basis for a heroic story.
Marvel Movies & TV General Discussion
There isn’t always a trigger for things. Lots of people are scared of spiders, but they didn’t all have a traumatic spider-related moment as a child.They just find spiders scary.
Luke’s parents were both pretty active, go-getting, world-changing people, but even before you know that, he’s a young guy, on a farm, wishing life was more interesting than haggling for droids with Jawas.
Yes, but the difference between the real world and fiction is that fiction needs to make sense.
Yeah, but he could have just moved to Anchorhead or Toshi Station and become a pilot or something, the motivation towards adventure is the driving point for everything that comes next - removing Artoo’s restraining bolt, chasing after him, deciding to fight the Tusken Raiders, following Ben.
He also quit his Jedi training against the advice of both Yoda and Kenobi’s ghost to go rescue his friends. True he was being manipulated by Vader, who was torturing his friend to draw him out, but the decision was his.
The same argument about personal motivations vs plot requirements could be made about Kylo Ren. Or really any work of fiction. Why did Jon Snow join the Nights Watch? Some personal reason, or so he wouldn’t get killed at the Red Wedding because Martin had bigger plans for him?
The only motivation I get out of anything Ben Solo does is that he’s an asshole. Killing Han Solo — asshole. Wanting to find and kill Luke — asshole. Killing Snoke and taking over the FO — asshole. He explicitly wants to be an asshole like his grandfather. He’s basically a 4chan asshole who just wants to make everyone miserable. A thirty year-old teenage rebel.
That doesn’t mean it needs a detailed explanation.
Archetypes (and cliches) exist because we bring previous knowledge to them. When we meet a cop in a movie we don’t need an explanation of why he or she became a cop. We might get one if it’s relevant to a plot or character development, but it’s a waste of our time to have every protagonist give us a potted life story up to this point. Efficient writing will use archetypes etc. give us exactly as much as we need to know and nothing more.
Luke’s a young guy who wants more than he’s got out of life so far. Billions of people can relate to that just fine.
You may recall that when Obi-Wan asks him to travel to rescue with him, Luke says no.
His ambitions are actually pretty small. Join the academy, become a pilot.
He only goes with Obi-Wan after his aunt and uncle are murdered.
And again, it’s an archetype. That’s why it’s relatable.
And again, it’s not a bad thing that Luke is written this way.
i addressed that in my post.
As I said, the difference is that Kylo’s plot is driven by his motivations and emotions. He kills Snoke because he’s been abused for years by the man he turned to when he felt betrayed by Luke.
Jon Snow is an interesting comparison because when his story begins he is totally in the power of others, and for a time he is going along with the plot. He’s joining the Night’s Watch because he idolises his uncle Benjen, and there’s very little for him in Winterfell. He wants to be a Ranger but is named a Steward, he’s given no choice in pretending to go rogue and kill Quorin Halfhand. But as the story progresses he does gain agency and his motivations and agency comes to the fore.
This is the difference between “a thing is bad” and “I don’t like this thing.” Kylo Ren is an asshole. He is a 4chan rebel, he’s a magic space samurai version of an incel. You’re meant to hate him and I really, really hope that Episode XI is not the story of his redemption because of this.
I think you’re arguing against something I’m not saying.
Yes, I really don’t think he is, or should be, redeemable.
But I suspect that they may end up going “Reylo.” (Which takes the gross incel/4chan business up another level if Rey ends up romantically involved with the creep who kidnapped her and abused her.)
I’d be more upset at the prospect if I hadn’t already written off the sequel trilogy. Abrams might be able to pull out a miracle, but I’m going in expecting to be disappointed. (Aka, what I learned from The Phantom Menace.)
Then what are you saying?
We’re all using multiple examples of things and sometimes more is not better, it’s actually confusing.
I mean, I’ve had very low expectations for the sequels overall, but I’m more willing to watch them than the prequels (still haven’t seen Episode III, no desire to change that), but like the movies are fine, nothing special. Ren’s story is really the only part that intrigues me.
That the characters of the Original Star Wars Trilogy are all archetypes driven by the plot rather than their motivations and desires. And that Kylo Ren is the first character in Star Wars is the first person in the saga to be written otherwise.
Well, the truth is that none of these characters is truly driving the plot with their own core feelings and desires, because they’re fictional characters and they don’t really have any.
What I think we’re really talking about is how well the film convinces you that there is something going on under the surface, that there’s an inner life there, a real character who is truly engaged in the story and has investment and agency - rather than a prop being moved around as the writer chooses, based on what they want to happen in the story. (Which is always what’s really happening, obviously.)
And part of that is writing and the script, but part of it is also performance. And while you can boil Luke and Han and Obi-Wan down to basic ‘hero’s journey’ archetypes on paper, each actor adds a huge amount to the character with their performance, in terms of hinting at greater depth and inner feelings, even (especially?) when those aren’t present in the script.
That also means that a lot of this is subjective, and so difficult to argue in absolute terms. (Besides, only a Sith deals in absolutes.)
As far as Luke is concerned, my feelings have changed as I’ve watched and rewatched the movies from childhood through my teens and into to adulthood.
At one point I used to consider Luke a two-dimensional whiny character who only really got interesting once he got Jedi powers and was fighting Darth Vader, with Han always seeming like the cool one.
But more and more I’ve come to feel that Hamill’s performance, especially in the first movie, is actually something quite remarkable and magical. There’s a youthful naivety and sincerity to it that is exactly what the character needs, and which works particularly well for young audiences in terms of giving them a character they can relate to who can pull them into this outlandish new world.
Hamill’s performance anchors the whole thing - certainly the original movie, probably the whole original trilogy and maybe even the entire saga - even if on paper Luke is a fairly shallow archetype.