Reimagining Anakin Skywalker: A Deeper Dive into the Tragic Hero of Star Wars

Reimagining Anakin Skywalker: A Deeper Dive into the Tragic Hero of Star Wars

Anakin Skywalker: The Tragic Hero We Deserved

Star Wars was meant to be the story of Anakin Skywalker. When George Lucas wrote the very first script, he intended it to be the adventures of Anakin Starkiller. Anakin got the name Skywalker, but that’s okay, because the very cool name Starkiller went to Galen Marek, the protagonist for The Force Unleashed video games. Skywalker is a cool enough name for a science fiction protagonist, but there’s one critical flaw: The protagonist himself wasn’t very cool. Saying he wasn’t very cool is putting it lightly, considering how he was developed in the prequels. I won’t go too deep into why he was a bad character, because that’s been done many times. Yes, his character development was bad. Lucas’ execution of that proper development failed, but what he intended goes far deeper than we thought.

The story of Anakin Skywalker is one of tragedy. He was meant to be the chosen one, destined to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the force. Although he eventually destroyed Darth Sidious (almost) and sacrificed himself, his betrayal of the Jedi brought them to their knees. As Darth Vader, he slaughtered many Jedi and oppressed the galaxy for years. What was the cause of this betrayal? The love of a woman named Padme Amidala. The fear of losing her drove Anakin to the dark side as he grew increasingly desperate to save her. After becoming Darth Sidious’ apprentice and betraying the Jedi, Anakin still believed he could save her from death. Padme, however, refused to follow him and he basically killed her. Yes, I didn’t forget the whole broken heart mumbo jumbo, but let’s just ignore that.

The tragedy of Anakin’s whole story was that he ended up killing what he loved. He became what he swore to destroy. His love for Padme clouded his reality and made him an easy target for manipulation for Darth Sidious. It was a sad story to witness, but it was a story that could’ve been told much better. Out of all the prequels, Revenge of the Sith did the best of job of developing Anakin. That’s not saying much, but it did explain why he chose to betray the Jedi. The message it delivered was basically saying why Jedi weren’t allowed to get too attached. It causes problems, to say the least, and for Anakin, it created something close to hell.

Reimagining Anakin’s Development

So how should’ve Anakin Skywalker been developed? Like I said, Revenge of the Sith did it the best, but even that was hit-and-miss. I’ll start with what was good. The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan was much better developed. They were no longer teacher and student, but brothers in arms. They worked well together as a team and had some funny banter between them. This was some good development that would eventually lead into a bitter rivalry, and that adds on the tragedy. Sad? Yes, it was, but let’s talk about the bad.

Anakin constantly talked about his frustration with the Jedi Council. The reason? They denied him a promotion to the rank of Master. This made Anakin angry. Very angry. He complained about it for a while until Obi-Wan had to tell him to basically suck it up. This reminded me of the Anakin Skywalker we got from Attack of the Clones, the insufferable whiney and egotistical brat who just complained. This was how we were first introduced to the Hayden Christensen Anakin Skywalker and it’s exactly why it was almost impossible to sympathize with him. Revenge of the Sith fixed that problem a bit, but not enough to fix the damage that had been done.

Whiney Anakin Skywalker was annoying, but he lost his mother and was going to lose his wife. This gave him somewhat of a reason for us to feel sorry for him, but there was still something that was lacking. He often complained about the Jedi, but still followed them. He was denied the rank of Master and that made him mad, but why? It was honestly more than just being passed up for a promotion, as what Anakin desired most was power.

In Attack of the Clones, he talked about how he aspired to become the most powerful Jedi and how Obi-Wan was even holding him back. This could’ve been out of anger, but it did reveal some truth to his true desires. There was a conversation he had in Revenge of the Sith where he tells Padme that he wanted more even though he knew he shouldn’t. This confession reaffirmed that his lust for power is what greatly motivated him to pursue the rank of Master. The Council recognized this and denied him the rank as a result. Lucas should’ve emphasized more on Anakin’s pursuit for greater power, instead of his love for Padme. Yes, his love for her was his downfall, but emphasizing on his more selfish intentions would have made his development more interesting and downplayed the cliche love story. Plus, their love story wasn’t all that convincing.

Anakin’s Relationship with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon

Let’s go back to his relationship with Obi-Wan. As a student, Anakin was the worst of the worst. But was it entirely his fault? Let’s not forget that it was Qui-Gon, not Obi-Wan, who found Anakin and wanted to train him, as he firmly believed he was the chosen one. Qui-Gon was a wise and powerful Jedi Master, whereas Obi-Wan was a Padawan. If Darth Maul didn’t kill him, Qui-Gon would’ve taken Anakin as his Padawan and Obi-Wan would’ve taken a different path. Anakin needed Qui-Gon as his Master, because he was the father figure he needed to properly guide him. Obi-Wan served more as the big brother who wasn’t prepared to teach him the ways of the force, especially since he was a learner himself when he took Anakin as his apprentice.

Qui-Gon most importantly knew about loss, something that Obi-Wan knew little of, and it’s a vital lesson he could’ve taught Anakin to help him overcome his fear and accept loss. Obi-Wan simply wasn’t the instructor Qui-Gon was, and when he told Anakin he failed him, there was some truth to it. Anakin Skywalker was a troubled child and needed the right mentor to help mold him into a great man. Qui-Gon should’ve been that mentor and things might’ve been different if he was his Master. This element should’ve been emphasized more in the prequels and would’ve led to some interesting conflict between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

The Love That Destroyed Anakin

The main Achilles heel of Anakin Skywalker was his love for Padme. He killed for her, committed treason for her, and he paid the ultimate price. He married her in secret because Jedi are forbidden to love. The Jedi Council, who are supposed to know everything, were seemingly unaware of this and therefore didn’t object to it. Imagine if they did and gave Anakin an ultimatum.

How about instead of denying him a promotion, they consider expelling him from the Jedi Order unless he leaves Padme? If Obi-Wan was hesitant to keep him on the Order, that would’ve really sparked Anakin’s rage. This would’ve been a perceived betrayal by Anakin’s standards and showed how flawed the Jedi’s philosophy truly was. The Jedi were meant to be the good guys of Star Wars, but their Order was rife with noticeable flaws. These flaws needed to be shown more in the prequels, which would’ve made us sympathize with Anakin more.

Anakin Skywalker is one of the big heroes of Star Wars. He also became its most iconic villain and the path to becoming that villain was rocky, but I get the story Lucas wanted to tell. Yes, he could’ve written it better, but it’s what we got. Perhaps future Star Wars protagonists will fare better.

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