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Bae Watch Wednesday: Luke Skywalker

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Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. In honor of The Last Jedi coming out this month, all my December baes will honor my original fandom, Star Wars. Up first is my very first crush, Luke Skywalker.

Who is Luke Skywalker?

What, have you been living under a rock? Luke Skywalker is one of the most famous characters in cinema. Luke is one of the leading characters of sci-fi/fantasy mainstay Star Wars. He features prominently in the original trilogy of movies, is seen very briefly in Revenge of the Sith, and seems set to play a significant role in the newest trilogy of stories.

Luke Skywalker
Werk that poncho, kid.

We first meet Luke on his home planet of Tatooine. He lives with his aunt and uncle, who are moisture farmers. Luke seems highly unfulfilled with his farmboy life. He wants more — specifically, he wants to go to the Imperial Academy and join the military. To Luke, this is less about any sort of patriotism than it is about a desire to see new things and get away from home.

Luke’s wanderlust is eventually given flight, though it is through unfortunate circumstances. He finds himself caught up in a larger struggle when his family is murdered after buying Rebel droids. Luke teams up with mysterious “wizard” Ben Kenobi to save a captive princess and help defeat the evil Empire.

Ben tells Luke that he is not a wizard, he is a Jedi — a sorcerer-esque figure who uses the Force to achieve his ends. He also tells Luke that Luke’s father, Anakin, was once a Jedi and that he can train Luke too. For Luke, who has never known his father, this is a dream come true.

New Hopes

Ben and Luke set out to return the Rebel droids to the base. They enlist the help of smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca. On the trip, Ben begins teaching Luke the basics of the Force, though before long our team runs into the Death Star, the Empire’s superweapon. On the Death Star, they find and rescue Princess Leia, a prominent Rebel.

Unfortunately, Ben is killed by mysterious bad guy Darth Vader. Luke is heartbroken by the death of his mentor, coming so suddenly on the heels of his family’s deaths. He dedicates himself to defeating the Empire, and is integral to defeating the Death Star.

Luke Skywalker
Defeating Death Stars (and my heart).

The next movie finds our heroes living in the frozen world Hoth, hiding from the Empire. On patrol, Luke runs afoul of an abominable snowman-like creature, a wampa. He is injured and collapses in the snow, running the risk of dying from hypothermia. It is at this point that he receives a vision of Ben, telling him to seek out a Jedi teacher, Yoda.

The Empire inevitably finds the Rebels, and Luke is integral in helping them escape. Once they are off planet, however, he briefly leaves the Rebellion to seek out Yoda. On Dagobah, Luke begins training under Yoda, a quirky and mysterious alien. In his training, Luke has a vision of his friends being tortured and sets out to rescue them from the clutches of Darth Vader.

Yoda warns that his training is not complete, but Luke goes anyway. Luke’s impetuousness comes back to bite him when he duels Vader himself. Vader shocks Luke (and the viewers) by revealing that he is Luke’s long-lost father. This completely shakes Luke’s worldview, and he loses the duel — along with a hand.

The Last of the Jedi

Luke returns to Dagobah and Yoda, only to discover that his teacher is dying. Yoda tells Luke that, as the last of the Jedi, he is vital to the future of the galaxy. Luke is now burdened with the weight of destiny and his own heritage. The carefree, easygoing kid we met in the first movie is long gone, replaced by a far more serious character.

Luke can approach his father with this newfound maturity, willingly confronting him in the hopes of redeeming Vader. In the end, Luke’s faith in his father and innate core of goodness is successful. Vader turns against his master the Emperor to save his son, thus ending his tyrannical reign.

Luke Skywalker
EU Luke kicks ass, takes names.

What happens next is up for some debate. If you follow the Legacy Universe, Luke has countless more adventures. I’m a huge fan of the Expanded Universe novels, which only built up my love for Luke. In the EU, Luke encounters new challenges, meets great new characters, saves the day many more times, and establishes the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV to train the new generation of Jedi.

If, however, you discard the Legacy Universe (looking at you, Disney), Luke’s future is, as of this moment, somewhat unclear. We know from The Force Awakens that Luke founded a new academy, but was betrayed by his nephew Ben Solo — better known as Kylo Ren. Ashamed of his failures, Luke goes into hiding, sparking the events of the new trilogy.

Now that Rey has found him, we can expect a lot more Luke in the future. The trailer for The Last Jedi indicates that Luke will be a major player — the title even refers to him. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next for my bae.

Why is Luke Skywalker Bae?

Luke Skywalker may not have the over sex appeal of some Star Wars favorites like, say, Poe Dameron. But he’s not a bad looking guy. With blond hair, blue eyes, and a winning smile, Luke has a wholesome appeal that’s perfect for his farmboy past.

Luke Skywalker
Actual ray of sunshine Luke Skywalker.

Hero

Luke’s more than just a pretty face, though. He’s definite hero material, and is really compelling to watch. Luke has an innate charisma that actor Mark Hamill really brings to life. It’s hard not to like Luke Skywalker. Some may claim that he is whiny and immature, which is a fair point if you’re talking early A New Hope. However, we watch Luke grow and develop over the trilogy. Return of the Jedi Luke is a whole new character.

By Return of the Jedi, Luke has grown in power alongside his newfound maturity. This was always, in my opinion, peak Luke Skywalker. He has come into his own, symbolized by his new green lightsaber. This shows a break away from his past (his previous lightsaber was once his father’s) and the start of a new Jedi way. Green, the color of rebirth, was a perfect choice.

Luke Skywalker
He looks good in green… even in a swamp.

Luke is a hero in more ways than one. He was an excellent pilot, even before Jedi training, which allowed him to defeat the Death Star. He was always willing to put himself at risk to save others. Although this came back to bite him in Empire Strikes Back, it’s a very likable quality. We see it again when he submits himself to Imperial capture to try and save his father.

Loyalty is another great quality of Luke’s. Perhaps because he was raised as an orphan, family means a lot to him. While it’s terrible that his father is the biggest bad guy in the galaxy, he won’t give up. Luke is more than ready to accept Leia as his sister as well. Luke creates his own family in the Rebellion and gives them his all.

Better in the Books

As great as Luke is in the movies, however, he’s even better in the EU novels. Part of this is simple matters of practicality. There are countless EU novels that take place after Return of the Jedi, which allows for far more storytelling than the original three movies. Plus, the books are longer and more introspective, which allows the authors to dig deeper into these characters.

However, in some ways, the EU Luke is better because the authors do a great job portraying him. Timothy Zahn’s EU novels are pure masterpieces. Zahn explores the struggles Luke faces in restarting the Jedi Order. He also gives a great look at the darkness that grows inside Luke as he grows in power.

Luke Skywalker
BAE. GOALS.

Zahn also gives us one of my favorite relationships in fiction when he introduces Luke’s nemesis, Mara Jade. Mara, who was a pseudo-apprentice to the Emperor, holds Luke responsible for the destruction of her life. Over time, however, the two grow to trust and rely on each other. This develops into a romantic relationship, though it by no means comes easy. Luke and Mara are, honestly, bae goals.

The EU also creates new challenges that push Luke to be his best. When the Yuuzhan Vong invades the galaxy, Luke is forced to reevaluate the position of the Jedi, while at the same time trying to save his family and the entire galaxy. This adventure pushes Luke to achieve his full potential, something that I suspect future movies will fail to do.

What’s Not To Love?

Luke Skywalker was my first crush. While other girls swooned for scoundrel-with-a-heart-of-gold Han Solo, I was all about that Skywalker. To me, Luke represented goodness. Han is good, sure. But he’s good beneath a layer of sarcasm and grit. Luke was a breath of fresh air, or perhaps sunshine, in a dark galaxy.

Luke is a powerful character, but he’s not infallible. He makes mistakes, and we actually see him pay for them. Rather than being beaten down by failure, he learns from his mistakes and moves on (or, at least, he did before The Force Awakens). Luke develops gravity to match his overwhelming destiny, which is pretty inspiring.

Luke Skywalker
What a great movie.

While the new trilogy has only begun to explore what happened to Luke after Return of the Jedi, the EU gives a great treatment to this fantastic character. No matter what comes next in The Last Jedi and Episode IX, I have already experienced the best Luke Skywalker fiction can offer. I highly recommend reading Timothy Zahn’s EU novels if you too love this character.

In the meantime, I have my fingers crossed that The Last Jedi does right by my original bae.

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