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Plot Twist Idea: What if Vader wasn't Luke's father?

Discussion in 'Original Trilogy' started by Kylo Solo, May 21, 2019.

  1. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    But the question for those is if they mattered to the plot. I can say for certain that Joker's scars do not matter to the plot at all. Yes, they added a frightful layer of "this man can come from anywhere or be anyone," but that's subtext, not the actual arc. Joker's origin doesn't matter so much as his existence being a reaction to Batman's arrival.
    And while I haven't seen The Thing, don't they stop caring at the end because they're both dying? So the ambiguity is thrown out in the face of mortality...which is what the Vader reveal is all about - will Vader die or be redeemed?
    Did Donnie Darko achieve his goal? If so, then the state of the world doesn't matter as much as what Donnie feels about that moment. It's like Inception:

    The ending of Inception doesn't matter nearly as much as Cobb seeing his children again does. He leaves the top behind as a sign of that. It's Cobb saying "reality or dream, I am alive and happy." He's at a place where he can see his children's face. Also, since the top is Mal's totem and not is, it doesn't really mater...Cobb's (current) totem is most likely his wedding ring.

    We know what's in the box though...
    But to play along, it's easy to assume that what's in the box - even if we don't see it - plays a big part in Pitt's decision at the end. He finds out, and he acts. There's no ambiguity on his part. (And frankly, because we know what his action is, we know what's in the box.)

    But he'd no longer be the hero if it's left too ambiguous. You can't be the good guy in a fairytale (which Star Wars undoubtedly is) while still killing your father. Luke can't get revenge on Vader for killing Anakin if Vader is Anakin. That's the whole point. And if Vader might be Anakin, Luke is stuck. He can't kill him, because then he might be killing his father. But he can't not do anything, because then he'd be letting his friends down and risking letting his father's killer run free. Can he try to redeem Vader? Absolutely! But how meaningful is that redemption if Vader's manipulating Luke all along? Vader's redemption hinges on the man's love for his son. That arc suddenly doesn't make as much sense if Vader knows who Luke is, and refuses to share it. You'd have to make it abundantly clear that Vader's in love with the idea of having a son, not the actual act of having one, and there isn't enough time in three movies to do that, especially with the twist so late in.


    True and true. Leia's story is tied into the rebellion and isn't about revenge, neither is Han's arc. But Luke's story in the OT is explicitly on one of those paths until the reveal, where it switches to the other, which is why it's important here. If Luke's story was about falling in love with Mara Jade, it wouldn't be a revenge story...unless she killed his parents, then it might be. Luke would have to decide would he avenge his parents, or would he forgive (and ultimately redeem) Mara Jade by loving her regardless of her actions? But that's beside the point. The point is the revelation of Luke's relation to Vader is vital information that changes the whole outcome of Luke's story. Leaving it ambiguous leaves Luke in a narrative quagmire that's neither cathartic for the watchers nor beneficial to the story.

    But you seem to think otherwise, so I ask you - what would Luke do if Vader might be his father, but he isn't sure? What would Luke's actions be?

    Three so far then, with an increasing amount! That still follows the rule however - the ambiguity of the story has nothing to do with the end goal. Vader's goal can be left left ambiguous, because it doesn't affect Luke's actions, thoughts, or emotional distress. "Vader may or may not want to destroy the Emperor" is far less important to Luke than "Vader is my father." One is villain in-fighting, the other is a revelation that casts all you thought you knew into question. Had Luke been an ambitious, power-hungry wild card whose father left for "greater things," that he was ambivalent about, and then Vader said "I'm your father and we can destroy the Emperor," then the situation may be reversed. Vader being Luke's father would be less important to Luke than the attraction of being the next Emperor. It could be left ambiguous because no worldviews were shattered, nothing was changed. It's secondary.
     
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  2. Rusty Cheeseknife

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    They matter to the story. "Plot" is pretty vague in this instance and can rely on any number of things in a story. Plot only involves how we get the characters from point A to Point B, to C, etc. But a writer has the freedom to invent any number of things that accomplish that.

    So, in general sense, they do matter to the plot because they were involved in the creation of whomever the character was and contribute to what the characters do and say. It's never assigned to any singular detail, else every villain would be the same as the next.

    I wasn't aware that was a rule.

    So what of Clint Eastwood's character in A Fistful of Dollars?
    How about Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?
    There's also Pinocchio.
    You should also look up a Greek hero named Thersites.

    So Peter Quill is a bad guy?
    Then there's Bruce Banner, Kratos, Solid Snake, BJ Blazkowicz, Wolverine...

    Luke can still avenge his aunt an uncle. He can avenge Biggs and the other pilots who died in the effort to destroy the first Death Star and all the rebels who died on Hoth to secure their escape from the Empire. There's a lot more that can and should motivate him besides one person in a galaxy full of billions of others who also have fathers, mothers, children, etc.

    In terms of the redemption story, that never factored into ANH or TESB. Luke's motivations for joining the rebellion, fighting the Empire, and later trying to save his friends at Cloud City was never about defeating Vader. In fact, his encounter with Vader on Bespin was incidental to his main mission which was to rescue his friends. Killing or redeeming Vader was never the goal, the security of his friends was the goal.

    In retrospect, this makes his actions in RotJ very strange in comparison given he has given up the pilot's seat he had in ANH to join the strike team on Endor, thereby denying the Rebel Alliance one of their best pilots and the one responsible for the destruction of the original Death Star. He's also leaving Han, Leia, Chewie, and the Druids without his aid on Endor while they fight the Imperials on the ground.

    TESB Vader also said, "Luke, you can destroy the Emperor...join me and we can rule the galaxy as father and son!" Clearly Vader wasn't motivated by "love" but by greed. It absolutely makes sense for Vader to want to manipulate Luke in any way he can, including lying to him about his heritage (which is ironic considering Vader was also responsible for the deaths of his aunt and uncle.) The arc makes complete sense if Vader knows he can manipulate Luke with false information. It's how he plans to gain an edge against the Emperor and overthrow him--he'll use Luke to do that.

    There's any number of scenarios that could play out next. Luke could dismiss the claim because it wouldn't matter--he never knew his father, after all. He was raised by his aunt and uncle. However, he might mistrust Obi-wan, Yoda, and start to question himself as a result. This would leave him open for exploitation by other powers such as the Emperor. The idea behind all this would be to expose our hero to shades of grey and grow as a result of that.

    If Luke were more clever, he might use such an "alliance" with Vader to gain the upper hand against his enemies. That might be a morally grey scenario in and of itself--Luke chooses his own path of subversion to overcome his enemies. Another avenue, however, is that Luke calls Vader's bluff and tries to expose Vader for treason in the eyes of the Emperor, thereby pitting the two against each other. However, since Luke might not be as clever as all that, I'd suspect a better story path would be to have Luke tell Leia and Leia gives that information to the Rebel Alliance. The Rebels then spread propaganda hinting at Vader's betrayal and that leads to Vader and the Emperor dividing the Empire against each other.

    All the while, Luke feels like he's being used. He doesn't know who to trust anymore. That would be the nature of the dark side because it would cloud his judgement, make the path forward less clear than it was before. The simple farm boy would have indeed have stepped into the "larger world" as Old Ben had told him. And, indeed, the galaxy is far more complicated a place than Luke would have ever imagined.

    Again, ambiguity is the end goal if the villain of the story wants to throw doubt into the mind of the hero. That's dramatic in the sense that the hero will be made to question himself and others in the future.
     
    #42 Rusty Cheeseknife, Mar 30, 2021
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  3. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    Pinocchio is the closest to a fairytale out of all of those, and the whole point of his story was to travel from moral ambiguity to morally upstanding. If being a good person wasn't at the center of the story, his nose growing with each lie wouldn't matter. The Man With No Name is morally ambiguous in a morally ambiguous world, but he still doesn't harm innocent people. He plays both sides against each other for the good of the town and a paycheck. Oh, and it's definitely not a fairytale.
    I'm not going to touch Huck Finn because I have unresolved issues with his story, but Huck's ambiguity in Tom's book doesn't matter as much because he's not the main character of that book. And Huck's actions in his own titular book are things he believes are right.

    You're talking about characterization and motive, right? Let's take your Joker example. Joker's motive is to spread fear and to prove that everyone is just like him at the end of the day. His multiple backstories are a step in that. Which is true? It's left ambiguous, because again, at the end of the day, they don't matter. What matters are his actions and his motive. His backstory, his scars? Those are just tools to accomplish his actions. They aren't something to ponder on or something that drives home the philosophical debate at the heart of this movie. They're tools.



    Different type of story, and you know if it was ambiguous like you're asking it to be, then Peter wouldn't have entertained the thought. If Ego had said "I might be your dad," Peter would have gone with him. Oh, and yeah, it's a revenge story.
    As for some of your other examples - Banner is shown to be a victim in his case (to which I assume you're referring to the Ang Lee early 2000's movie), Kratos is most undoubtedly NOT A HERO when we meet him in this first game, and doesn't really turn into one until the PS4 game. He's our protagonist and fighting people who are far worse, yes, but that doesn't make him a hero.
    Wolverine is a tough example since he's been both hero and villain. His morality isn't guided by the same rules as Luke's is.

    No, Luke's journey was "I want to become a Jedi, like my father," which put him on a collision course with the man who killed his parents, which factors greatly into his story. Luke's journey is adjacent to the rebellion story, but that's Leia's path. Luke frankly doesn't seem to care that much about Biggs, or those who died fighting the Death Star, or his aunt and uncle. He is focused on becoming like his father. THAT IS WHY VADER BEING LUKE'S FATHER MATTERS - BECAUSE LUKE'S JOURNEY CENTERS AROUND THE IDEA OF BECOMING JUST LIKE HIM.
    Luke knew going to Bespin would mean confronting Vader and (hopefully) defeating him. Yoda and Obi-Wan explicitly warn him of this.


    Ambiguity is an obstacle to overcome. A villain who never lies? That's still scarier to me because you know they are saying something true. Ambiguity works best if 1) the point of the story is about ambiguity (The Thing) or
    2) it's not related to the story in a major way (Joker's origin)

    That would totally undermine Luke's entire character though. Luke's entire self-worth is tied to his father's identity (which definitely isn't healthy, but it does make for great story moments). He doesn't want to be a farmer like his aunt and uncle, nor did they seem to be close, so why would he find a form of solitude in the identity of a life he never wanted?

    Luke is fascinated by his father and his heritage. Just look at how attentive the boy is when Obi-Wan mentions that he knew Anakin. Look at how little effort it took Luke to believe Obi-Wan's version of things compared to Owen's version. (Where he probably was something of a taboo topic as well.) Luke wants to become a Jedi to be like the man he never met. He proclaims himself as Luke Skywalker to Leia as a way of declaring himself to the world. Luke is fascinated by the Jedi in the same vein. He shows very little attachment to his aunt and uncle (much to both of our annoyance I assume; although that's not uncommon with adoptees and adoptive families).

    Luke's first lines after the death of Beru and Owen are:
    "I want to come with you to Alderaan. There's nothing here for me now. I want to become a Jedi and learn the ways of the force like my father." (42:00 in ANH)

    For Luke to say "yeah, the guy whose path I've been following for three years and inspired me to leave my home instead of rebuild? I don't need to follow his footsteps anymore," is the antithesis to everything he's been building up to. Luke's story isn't one about found family or seeing the big picture; it's about him becoming like, discovering, and eventually redeeming his father. (Although yes, in later material, he should (have) learn(ed) to forge his own self-worth outside of his father.)

    We saw that in ROTJ, so it turns out we don't need ambiguity for this to happen - the villain telling the truth is just as effective.

    What shades of grey would this be? That the Dark Side isn't that bad? That power can be used for good? That there are times that rushing to save the day isn't the right call? Neither of those are the right lesson to learn from a shade of grey that is entirely unnecessary. And frankly, some stories don't need shades of grey or moral ambiguity. It's fine to have good guys and bad guys every now and then, especially in a fantastical tale such as the original trilogy.

    That's a very risky game to play, but I'll admit, it's intriguing.
    However, guess what? Luke could do all of that while still having Vader as his actual father and both of them knowing that. Heck, it would probably even work better if they were biologically related. Not unlike Young Justice Season 2, where a character does exactly what you claim.

    I don't think the propaganda angle would work for a couple of reasons though. First is that, again, this is a fairytale. It's fantasy. The good rebels against the Big Bad Empire. Wizards, good magic and bad magic, princes and princesses, etc. The point is that the OT is morally simple. And that's fine! But introducing this type of narrative is the benefit of hindsight and more nuanced storytelling than what the OT was going for. Propaganda warfare may work in the PT, but definitely not the OT. Besides, those who spread it would have to be willing to risk the overwhelming might of the Empire. Remember, the Rebellion wasn't an equal force. It wasn't even close to equal.
    Besides, when you know the Empire is breathing down your back, what are people most likely to believe - that there's infighting within the Empire between the Emperor and some henchmen you've never heard of? Or that this is a ploy to see who's loyal to the Emperor or not?

    Second is that Luke is put in a lose-lose situation. Either he helps defeat the Emperor and puts Vader in charge, or Vader is disposed of and the Emperor is still in charge. It's not some mutual kill that leaves Luke as the last piece standing. At the end of the day, the Empire is still a threat because a Dark Side Force User still runs it, and the Rebellion is still its enemy.

    I still disagree with this. Ambiguity is a tool the villains can use, but keeping it as the end-goal isn't a good option in most cases. Doubt can be thrown with the truth just as easily as it can with the ambiguity, so why leave it ambiguous when you don't have to? Would T'Challa thinking Killmonger might be his cousin more effective than the truth? Or is the truth scarier, because it means confronting that the man he idealized - the type of man and king he wanted to become - was wrong? Is Loki scarier than Thanos? To me, that's what's scarier, because now the hero can't ignore it. If the villain is bluffing or its ambiguous, the hero doesn't need to change, because the villain is by their nature untrustworthy. But if the villain isn't lying...well, now the hero can't say "I can call the villain's bluff" because they know this villain does not bluff.


    From the Iliad, right? I read it a couple of years ago for fun but I was mostly focused on the sheer amount of brothers and sisters Hector seemed to have...
     
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  4. Rusty Cheeseknife

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    Not sure what you mean. Why wouldn't it matter? A hero is a hero, regardless of what kind of player is he in the story. Han Solo is a hero, even though he isn't the main character. In fact, one can argue that Luke Skywalker isn't the main character anyway.

    If we're going by Akira Kurosawa's story structure, the Droids are the main characters in Star Wars since much of what happens does so from their perspective.

    Nevertheless, your statement seems rather arbitrary. Is this a rule set down somewhere?

    I think that's the point I was making...

    It matters where he got those scars because that's where his motive comes from. Yet we don't know the answer so it makes him far scarier when we're not entirely sure where this is all coming from. He doesn't have an origin story. His history isn't at all clear to us and yet something drives him. In large part, he's compelling because his motive is almost entirely unknown to us. Sure, he tells people what motivates him and Alfred tells Batman what he believes motivates him. But, by the end of the day, nothing is really set in stone. That's what makes him such a great villain at the end of the day.

    He said that to Obi-Wan after the Empire had killed his aunt and uncle:



    In fact, this event actually spurred him to take action at that point in time. He's kind of compelled to do justice for them.

    He was also really good friends with Biggs:



    The two have known each other since Tatooine.

    Now, maybe I missed something in TESB, but can you quote for me the instance where Luke voices his intention to confront Vader? I realize Yoda and Ben told him that would inevitably happen, but Luke clearly didn't heed them. I even went back and read the script and nowhere does Luke say he wants to fight Vader. In fact, Vader tortured his friends because he knew that was the motivation Luke needed to take action. Luke stayed and trained on Degobah until he realized his friends were in danger and then left.

    Whether or not it's a revenge story doesn't seem relevant considering you submitted a blanket statement. That and your other exceptions seem arbitrary and the Wolverine one at least sees you admitting your previous statement might not be entirely true. I'll grant the benefit of the doubt and say you're correct, but I'd love to know where all this is coming from. I like figuring out the how's and the why's.

    This would be reliant upon a protagonist that somehow knows he isn't being lied to. And true, Vader told Luke to search his feelings but we also know that a Jedi Mind Trick exists as well. That and Luke even had to confirm later with Yoda means TESB did indeed leave things in ambiguity--Luke didn't know if Vader was lying or not.

    Also the entire conception of the creature in The Thing would never work if the creature didn't lie. Essentially it is constantly pretending to be something else and hiding itself. That would never be possible if the creature didn't lie. If it just told the truth all the time, the movie would have ended almost immediately. :D

    Taking a different story path doesn't necessarily undermine a character, a character is and can be a lot of things depending on how a story is being written.

    I think it's also worth mentioning that Luke's self worth was tied to his becoming a Jedi like his father. In other words, Obi-Wan mentioned a few traits Anakin had including being a great pilot. But Luke says he wants to be a Jedi like his father, not a pilot like his father. Aside from that, he also voiced his desire to join the academy and join the rebellion. I also have assumed he acted formally in front of Leia because she's royalty. It was kind of an awkward moment he had to recover too since she's noticed he was "a little short for a stormtrooper."

    What? Moral ambiguity is synonymous with shades of grey. You say "some stories don't need" then you basically say it's fine to have this in the very next sentence. Sorry, just confused is all.

    Which ultimately means that Vader being his father is moot. Works with or without it.

    Now, whether or not propaganda works isn't necessarily reliant upon the genre or setting of one's story. Sure, the OT is morally simple, but that doesn't mean it needs to be. In fact, that's one of the frustrations that Gareth Edwards experienced when making Rogue One. He tried to add this complexity and I think Disney messed with his project so that it didn't turn out quite that way. But that's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Spreading propaganda for the sake of crippling the empire would be no different than securing plans for the Death Star or Bothans finding out about the Emperor's whereabouts during the attack on the 2nd Death Star.

    And yes, more and more people would be apt to jump on that bandwagon especially given the first death star war destroyed. Tarkin was pretty clear about that the politicians were only kept in line because they feared the battle station. Now destroyed, the Empire's hold is weakened and gives way for more people to rebel.

    Like is not put in a lose-lose situation. Helps the Emperor or Vader fight the other and the ensuing conflict weakens both. No matter who wins, the Rebel Alliance stands to win as a result of either side losing against the other.

    Depends on what "scary" entails. Thanos had more power, sure, but the solution to Thanos is quite simple. Loki has far less power but at least he can boast having survived the Avengers, right?

    Among other works, yes. He's remarkable because he is considered quite grotesque in comparison to many of the other heroes of the Trojan War. Remember that many of these heroes are supposed to be noble and handsome, so Thersites stands out among them. Not only that, but he is also insubordinate to his superiors and was very vulgar in his language. Interestingly, his vulgarity came in use as he became the "voice" of the common soldier.

    As the war had dragged on, many soldiers had died and suffered while Agamemnon had become far richer, looting gold and taking many concubines. Thersites was add odds with Agamemnon because of this. He basically told Agamemnon that the common soldiers were unhappy and their discipline had wavered because of this disparity. The soldiers wanted to go home. Although Thersites was just being honest, Odysseus responds by striking down Thersites, ending the argument.

    In tragic turn of events, instead of pitying poor Thersites, the common soldiers just laugh at him as he lay there crying!

    True he was insubordinate, but that hadn't diminished the fact that he was just being honest.
     
    #44 Rusty Cheeseknife, Mar 31, 2021
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  5. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    But you're missing the point. It's not the ambiguous nature of the scars that matter! The scars are just set pieces. Batman's future doesn't depend on Joker's scars like how Luke's future absolutely depends on his relationship to Vader. The ambiguity has NOTHING to do with Batman's decision. He doesn't care where the scars came from, or eventually where the Joker came from. Batman cares about stopping the Joker, because that's what matters. The ambiguity is treated as secondary. That's the point. Luke can't treat Vader's claim as secondary in the long-term because that true determines his own path.

    The revenge vs redemption was in the context of Luke. You ballooned it to other contexts so I tried to fit it. If you want to know why I think of it that way, I suggest you watch The GM's Guide's video about plot twists if you have time. (It's an amazing video.)




    He also has an excellent podcast episode on how to make a great villain, which touches on TDK's Joker, but mostly uses The Long Night's Joker. The key takeaway from it is that the best villains are ones who are logical from their perspective - they have a mindset that makes sense so long as you buy into their initial premise. For TLN's Joker, it's that everyone is just as insane as he is, all they need is one more bad day to reach that level of acceptance. For TDK Joker it's that nobody is better than he is - look at where people place their priorities about who lives and dies. And he's going to prove it. For someone like Thanos it'd be that life is propagating too fast, using up too many resources, and unless it's regulated by a randomly displaced system, then resources will run out for everyone.* For someone like Jaimie Lannister, it's that the oaths of a knight are hypocritical, and the only ones that matter are the ones you make to yourself. Do you see how much more interesting that is than "were they telling the truth? You'll never know!" Even Second Sister and Kylo Ren get in on this, which adds depth to them beyond anything Snoke or the Emperor had. But I digress.

    The point is that ambiguity can create interesting moments, but it doesn't create life-changing obstacles in the way you desire.

    And we know that Jedi Mind Tricks don't work on the weak-willed, which Luke is anything but.

    But they didn't leave it ambiguous. They confirmed it right there, and then Luke had to decide what to do, which is the crux of the argument. Luke's actions were predicated on an unambiguous truth.

    Heh, fair enough.

    I completely agree, but you also have to keep in mind the genre of the story, what you're trying to accomplish, and what parts of the story have already been set up. Trying to turn a an action story into a Shakespearian drama - monologues and iambic pentameter included - is a recipe for disaster, especially if your audience doesn't want that. Turning a simple story based on the Hero's Journey into a sort of psychological thriller isn't going to go over well with fans, especially if it betrays the characters' previous mindsets. Luke it's the type of person to partake in skullduggery. He isn't going to play mind-games with evil. That's not his fatal flaw or his arc, and putting it in would feel like a betrayal to who he is, because we haven't brought him to that point, because it's not necessary for the type of story we're trying to tell.
    Or take Finn in TLJ. His story path was predicated on how RJ perceived him, which was vastly different from what fans did. I wouldn't say it ruined his character and I certainly understand RJ's perspective on things, but it far from helped. This isn't to say that fans are always right or the predictable path is always the right one; but predictability isn't a problem if done well. The quality of an idea and the quality of a story aren't related. In some cases, if your fans can predict where a story is going, that's a good thing. It means they're picking up the signs you're laying down. Look at Game of Thrones for an example of a story that tried so hard to go a different story path that it ultimately destroyed itself and its franchise as a result. Sure, HBO can make all the sequels it wants, but it certainly won't have the fanbase it used to...or should we take Star Wars as an example of that as well with the ST? (Admittedly, the ST had more than just a fractured story to contend with, but that perception has played a part.)

    And learning that his Jedi father is alive and turned to a big bad is a giant blow. Now look back at why Yoda didn't want to teach him. Now look back on the path he's on. Anakin isn't a Jedi anymore is the point of the reveal. He's something worse, something that Luke himself is on the path to becoming, because he wants to be a Jedi like his father. Not like Obi-Wan who hid, not like Yoda who can help him but doesn't understand him (from Luke's point of view), but Anakin the Martyr. Anakin the Jedi. Anakin the Warrior. And now Anakin is none of those things, because he's alive, a Sith (or in the OT a Dark Side Force User), and a conqueror for all intents and purposes.
    Is he going to be the Luke we know, and fall to his fatal flaw of loving his friends to the point of anger and strike down evil (and become evil himself)? Or is he going to find a new path, a path honoring the man who his father was and wants to be again? A man who his father wouldn't let himself be if not for the love of his son?

    As a way to get off the planet. Which leads back to one of your original points about Luke's relationship to Owen and Beru. Luke frankly wants nothing to do with them, and only stays out of obedience and obligation. He doesn't want their life, he dreams of bigger, grander things. That's why being raised by them doesn't mean anything to his value, because he doesn't want to be like them. Accepting their influence on their life means accepting his dreams were failures.

    No it's all good! I'm trying to say that morally simple stories such as "good guys vs bad guys" are fine at times. We don't always need shades of grey in those types of stories. Not every hero needs to be tortured with self-doubt and not every villain needs to have good intentions. Introducing moral ambiguity for the sake of moral ambiguity can be just as bad to a story as trying too hard to subvert expectations can be. Sometimes a simple story about Good vs Evil is all we want or need. It's sort of the same problem that Disney has done with Maleficent. She was known for being the most insidious villain, and giving her a sympathetic backstory threw a lot of people off. And while I imagine many of the most vocal detractors were the same type of people who hate Rose and Rey, I do understand some of the backlash - some stories are fine with having the bad guy being bad for the sake of being bad, and the good guys be good for the sake of being good. (The 2015 Cinderella remakes and the first few seasons of Once Upon a Time do a better job of adding those shades of grey, but they also do so in a way that keeps the spirit of the original (read: Disney version) story.)

    Which part of it is moot? Vader wouldn't have tried to appeal to Luke the way he did had he known Luke wasn't his son. And the plan still falls apart regardless.

    Or are you saying that the alternate version where Luke is more power-hungry, the father reveal is moot? Because in that case, that's the point. The ambiguity doesn't ultimately matter there because Luke doesn't care about it. The truth is secondary to the power the position brings.

    That's a revisionist way of thinking, and while I'm all for recontexualization*, I don't think it should necessarily change the genre of the story unless it adds more than it takes away. The problem with your plan is that it doesn't add anything. We see what spreading propaganda - or even standing up to the Empire - has looked like. We see it in Rebels, we see it in Jedi: Fallen Order, we even get an inference of it in ESB. Did the destruction of the Death Star stop the Empire from total domination? In the comics, Vader has had spats with the Emperor before IIRC, and nothing but even more loyalty came out of them. The only time the Empire fractured was after the Emperor died. Talk about Vader starting his own faction wouldn't do anything, because the Emperor had back-up apprentices in place and probably expected Vader to rebel eventually - Rule of Two, remember?

    Also, Disney let Gareth kill his entire cast and is bringing back Cassian for his own show. I don't think the problems with Rogue One were their fault.

    ESB shows otherwise. The Rebellion is on the run with fewer supplies than before, and no allies to help out. It literally states this in the first opening paragraph.

    And then was promptly killed by Thanos. Loki lost against the Avengers, where Thanos won. Loki was killed by Thanos like multiple Avengers were. Loki's reign on Asgard led to Thanos using and then destroying the Dwarves' homeworld. Thanos on the other hand inspired loyalty and fear. Loki is fun to hate because he's a megalomaniac. Thanos is scary because you understand why he's doing what he's doing, that his threats are not empty, and that he won't stop until he accomplishes he goal.
    The Terminators in the first two movies are scary because you don't know how to stop them, not because you don't know what they are or what their goals are.

    No, they were holding him back. He wanted to go before, and he said he couldn't out of obligation. Now that he has no obligation, Luke can go and become the man he always wanted to be.

    The cave tells us that fighting Vader (and the potential to become Vader) are the paths ahead of Luke by the cinematic language. After Luke is warned by Yoda and Ben, Luke goes anyways into a fight he only thinks he's prepared for. If that doesn't tell you he's willing to fight Vader, I don't know what else is.
    "If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere."
    "I understand." And then Luke goes anyways. Luke knows the risks, and he goes anyways. He understands that he will face Vader, and knows that he will ultimately have to fight the Emperor too by the context of the quote.

    Biggs was the type of person Luke wanted to become, and when he did, his purpose in the story was over. Justice for Biggs wouldn't mean anything because Biggs fought and died with a purpose. Ironically, how Luke treats Biggs is how he probably should have treated Han and Leia during ESB.


    So, are you saying that there's something intimately more interesting about an honest villain? ;)


    *Thanos is a little more complex than that. He's a narccist whose main lesson is to say "do better next time," and have the universe be grateful for it all.
    *Recontexualization and head-canons are the only ways I can make it through TROS...
     
  6. Rusty Cheeseknife

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    The Joker wouldn't be Joker without whatever happened to the man who became Joker and therefore confronts batman and gives Batman a reason for stopping him. The details of the package just as much as the package itself because the package wouldn't exist without the details. But the details of the package are a mystery to us because the Joker lies about everything. Whether or not Batrman cares or not, he wouldn't be facing the Joker at all if the Joker wasn't...well, the Joker. And Joker wouldn't be the Joker if he didn't have his scars--scars which tell of a history we know nothing about and the Joker constantly lies about.

    The greater whole constitutes the particulars but is nothing without the particulars.

    I still don't understand what this is all about when you say he can't treat Vader's claim as secondary. These are two people talking with each other and what I'm suggesting is a story path where Vader is attempting to lie to Luke for the sake of manipulating him and eventually betraying his Emperor.

    I'm, sure it's a fun video and he might have some great ideas. But I was more interested in why you thought they were necessary. Again, a lot of what you've said seems arbitrary and you haven't really gone into any depth as to why. Can you go into more depth as to where these particular processes come from and why they're necessary?

    And this "GM" guy, does he have academic sources he cites that back his claims that his ideas work or have worked in practice throughout story-writing? I'd be more interested in that.

    Of course it does! Ambiguity leads to uncertainty and uncertainty is majorly what makes a lot of tragedies...well, tragic. Death is a pretty life-changing obstacle.

    I believe Obi-Wan said "weak-minded" and not "weak-willed." Luke's pretty headstrong, but then again he also decided to fight Darth Vader with only a few days' worth of Jedi training under his belt. Can't say that was very smart of him.

    Not to say Luke is stupid, but he may be weak-minded.

    Right, it was confirmed in RotJ, but the very fact that it even needed to be confirmed means that it was ambiguous beforehand. Otherwise Luke would not have needed to confirm it. If he knew then he would never have asked Yoda. He would have just gone on assuming it was true.

    There should be room for your fans to grow, however, which means introducing them to concepts that might not be popular or sit well with them. But that's part of growing up. Maturity is a painful process but there's long-term gains at stake. TLJ is a great example you've brought up here and I agree, I think RJ did a lot of things sloppily. But I can see what he was trying to do. I can see why his film was so divisive but I can't say divisive is a bad thing. Generally-speaking, I think a director ought to challenge his audience with new ideas, story beats, etc.

    Yoda tried at first when he tested Luke's patience. He didn't reveal that he was Yoda at first to see how Luke would react and found Luke was stubborn and hasty. After Luke gets angry and shouts, "We're wasting our time!" Yoda then sighs and says he can't train Luke.

    And also, I wanted to point something else out. You ask specifically "is he going to be X or is he going to be Y?"

    That's ambiguity. It's uncertainty. It's exactly what I'm talking about.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say he doesn't want to be a farmer means he doesn't want anything to do with his aunt and uncle. I'm sure he loves them.

    I agree, although I will say that morally complicated stories are more something for adults than for children simply because the world becomes far more complicated as one grows older. Things that we once thought were black-and-white begin to turn shades of grey because we learn more about people and about ourselves. This is why you don't insert moral ambiguity for its own sake--the purpose is to make a situation more complicated because maturity is often a complicated process. Life isn't often generous enough to leave us with a clear path forward and if life was that so simple then it'd be pretty boring.

    And, indeed, I think DIsney really messed up with Maleficent although I don't necessarily attribute that to what they tried to do with it. There's a lot of problems with that film, but I won't get into all of them here.

    I'm more saying that whether or not Vader is Luke's father is moot considering Vader's intent wouldn't have changed. The goal is to overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy. Whether or not he's Luke's father, he'll use any means to get it include lie (if he isn't the father) or tell the truth (if he is the father.) In the end, it's all about manipulation.

    I guess I'll simply the question: how is the ability to spread propaganda necessarily tied to a entire genre?

    I've always assumed the opposite. Understanding something just makes dealing with it that much easier. Know your enemy, know yourself. But that's just from my reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Not understanding something leaves you in doubt, without a clear goal in mind, and having to experiment. It means your enemy can take advantage of you.

    He's not sighing with relief at their passing. He's clearly torn up about it and he's very somber when he addresses Obi-Wan later on. It's not like he said, "Oh well, I guess they're dead now so I can go do what I always wanted to do!" I'm just saying this in response to your issuing that Luke didn't care about them. To a great degree, I think he does.

    I don't think you can definitively say Luke's vision in the cave can be definitively defined one way or another. That's the thing about visions--they're open for a great degree of interpretation. For instance, I think the image of Vader is actually a symbol of Luke's pride. Luke asked Yoda what was in the cave and Yoda says, "Only what you take with you." What did Luke take with him? His arrogance. His pride. He's not trusting in the force. He trusts his weapons.

    And, again, Luke never indicates his intent to face Vader. He realizes this may happen and Obi-Wan says so, but nowhere there does Luke announce that this is his intent. He is going there to save his friends. Facing Vader is not his intent.

    All of this seems very arbitrary. If not for the Empire and the war, Luke's friend would still be alive.

    So, are you saying Thersites is a villain? ;)
     
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  7. Meister Yoda

    Meister Yoda Your Little Green Friend
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  8. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    But the package doesn't matter so much as who sent it. A package sent by a random group who wants my support on something or as a "thank you" means far less than a package sent by someone I love. If the package is a surprise, it's even better, because now it's the act of sending the package that matters, not what's in it.

    The same thing is true about ambiguity. Joker's past doesn't matter so much as his actions do, because his actions inform us on what type of person he is. It's the actions, not origin or background.

    (This gets into some character building when it comes to writing, be it games, books, shows, or anything else - the audience will care most about what the characters care most about. Rey cares about her family, so we care about her family. Finn doesn't care about his past, so we don't care about his past. Odysseus cares about getting home after the fall of Troy, so we care about that. The Joker doesn't care about his past, so we don't care about his past - it doesn't matter to him.)

    Because it makes sense in the context of Luke. Luke goes from "I'm going to be like my father" and is put on the path of vengeance - something he's aware of considering his dialogue with Vader and choices when rescuing his friends - to "I'm going to redeem my father." My point is that the one simple truth, that one simple fact of who his father has become changed his whole outlook on his mission and what he needs to do. Redeeming Vader was never part of the original plan, but because of that plot twist, because of the fact that it's a verifiable truth that Luke has to deal with, it now will shape the man he is going to become. Because now, striking down Vader is killing his family, not just killing the man who killed his father. Because now, striking down Vader may lead to the Dark Side in a way that wasn't fully clear before. Because now, there's a new path.

    Because everyone who does anything has to be a scholar, and somehow theoretical knowledge is better than practical experience, especially in writing. :rolleyes:
    I've been through my share of writing classes, and I can count on one hand how many were actually beneficial to my writing goals.
    But since you're curious - the guy is someone who spent his entire high school career studying how to be a writer, learning from poems, plays, performances, television scripts, and movies. He was going to go to school to be a writer when one of his friends accidentally convinced him to study game design, and he ended up going to college for that instead. He's been working in the professional game industry for companies like Fantasy Flight Games ever since, and has been running table top game campaigns for years. And if you've never tried to put a TTRPG together, it's a LOT of work. More than you'd ever think, even if most of the stuff is premade. You're not just designing a game, creating a world and filling it with characters, you're co-creating a story. You need to know what your players like, what they don't like, what's good for them and for you, and the differences between a good story for TTRPG and a good story to read. Where are the overlaps? What works with what type of players? Why are people here? And if you mess up, there aren't any second chances.

    ...death isn't ambiguous. The finality of it isn't ambiguous. The not-knowing isn't life-changing, because you always have that option of just ignoring the negative. Hope is a powerful drug. "Oh what if I killed my father? No, I have hope that my real father is out there somewhere!" (Queue in someone else bringing in Luke's real biological father in a different story, and Vader's whole ambiguity theme is ruined.)

    Thank you for the correction. Luke still isn't weak-minded. He's done nothing to prove he's weak-minded. He took on Vader and did better than virtually every other character while still not fully trained (and missing years of experience that Vader had). He didn't lose his cool like he did in ROTJ, he fought cleverly, and he didn't give in when Vader offered him ultimate power. A weak-minded person would have considered the offer. Luke would have rather died.

    And you've never asked things you've known about before, just to verify? But you're still missing the point. The point is that even if it was ambiguous between movies, the main story didn't leave it ambiguous throughout the trilogy, because it's critical information. Yoda didn't say "Matter not, it does," and die, leaving Luke alone in that state of ambiguity. Because Luke's fate - the fate of the galaxy - depend on that critical knowledge. Leaving critical information ambiguous is as dangerous as not knowing something, because in many ways it is the same as not knowing something.

    You still have to be very careful with it, and know when and where to place it. Placing this sort of ambiguity wouldn't grow fans up, it'd just add needlessly complicate things. I'd rather say keep the story simple but mature enough for kids to not feel talked down to, but also well-done enough that as adults they can return to and still enjoy.

    Same. He was trying to break the mythic chains Star Wars was held by. It didn't go over well, but I respect the idea. TLJ was definitely the right time for that type of story, but ESB and ROTJ were not. They were trying to tell a different type of story (in theory). It's like the difference between the Evil Queen in the old Disney Snow White and the one in Once Upon a Time. In one you can do more than you can in the other, and trying to force that first to be like the second ruins both.

    But Yoda didn't leave it ambiguous long-term either.

    But at the end of the day, fans want an answer. It's okay if the answer isn't X or Y, but leaving it ambiguous doesn't create a sense of catharsis we want for our stories. Part of the reason stories are great is because they can give us the finality that the real world can't.

    I mean...he really didn't want anything to do with their lives or their lifestyle, so why would their identity as farmers be of any comfort to him when things are down?

    And there are stories about that complicated process. The OT isn't that. Fitting something like a message about the complexity of teenage pregnancies into Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra because there are teenagers who are sleeping together doesn't fit the theme, tone, or message of the story. Likewise, adding in moral ambiguity into a fairly black-and-white story like the OT doesn't fit the theme, tone, or message.

    Okay, I think I finally understand what you're going for. You're looking at it from the point of Vader, right? From the outside, Vader's words don't matter because the intentions are the same, so why bother with it?

    My point is that it's not Vader who we should be concerned with - it's Luke.

    To Luke, this truth matters, so he needs to know. Vader's goal is secondary, possibly tertiary. This truth about Vader and Anakin determines who he's going to become, so he needs to know all the facts. If Vader's story was about his struggle with the Emperor, then it could be left ambiguous because the ambiguity isn't the main factor, it's his goal that matters. (And then your propaganda storyline would make sense.) So again, ambiguity is secondary. But that's an entirely different genre. That's not "Good vs Evil," it'd be "Evil vs Evil" at its simplest.

    Propaganda is tied to a particular style of warfare that the OT doesn't engage in, due to it not being a war film at all. It's a fairytale/fantasy story. Those don't deal with propaganda, and adding it into the story changes things unnecessarily. (And, as I've said, it won't work due to how the Empire works.) It's like adding aliens to a ninja fantasy story - people will feel like it's not what it's supposed to be and you've jumped the shark.

    Ah, gotcha. Yeah, I think I'm understanding your point more. I still disagree, but I understand a bit more.

    My thing is that I feel completely the opposite. When dealing with ambiguous situations, I believe people do what they think is best. When faced when an uncertain outcome, you do what's worked in the past (or what's true with you). But when faced with something certain, unavoidable, and true, falling back on old patterns doesn't always work. "I might live" is easier to deal with than "I won't live." "I might be fighting my brother in a duel to the death," is easier to deal with than "I will fight my brother in a duel to the death." "Did I cheat on my lover? I don't remember anything." allows for justification. Knowing you've cheated on your lover is a different set of problems.

    Or to look at a popular culture example, let's examine KIllmonger from Black Panther. T'Challa is a fair man. When it's his time to take the throne, he lets anyone who desires the throne challenge him. When confronted one what to do with Killmonger, and what that means for his own rule - when put in an ambiguous situation - T'Challa falls back on what he believes is righteous and just. And at the end, when confronted with the truth of Killmonger's past, he must find a new way forward for his country.

    Or The Dark Knight. When the Joker first appears, Batman treats him like he does every other criminal. But his methods don't work. No amount of bullying, bribing, or beating will defeat the Joker, because he's not that type of villain. Only when Batman comes to realize this does he start to win the fight against the Joker (and only with the help of a few allies who believe in him).

    Or in Fist Fight, that stupid R-rated movie with Charlie Day. When there's a chance that Charlie's character may escape the fight, he takes every chance, resorting to more and more dubious things. But when the fight is guaranteed, Charlie's character finally rises to the challenge.

    In all three cases cases, it was the truth about who they were facing that ultimately challenged them and made them grow.


    I think Luke loved them, but he certainly wasn't friends with them or like them. They were a tether to Luke, and free of that, not matter the circumstances, was a good thing for him. But even with all of that, he's not going to default to having found solidarity in a life he never wanted. Very few people would.

    If not for the Empire and the war, Luke would still be on Tatooine, dreaming of bigger things.

    I mean, in the Iliad I'm pretty sure he is. ;)
    That doesn't mean he's wrong, simple that he's not the hero of the story. And isn't an honest villain more engaging?


    @Rusty Cheeseknife I think I'm starting to understand your point of view a little more than before, so thanks for the discussion! I still don't think we're going to see eye to eye on this, but it's been really fun.
     
  9. DarthPlagueis.TheWise

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    This is an awesome post! I actually wanted to explore the connection between Luke & Vader in Empire Strikes back while I was making my History of HOTH post on insta. Feel free to check it out:
     
    #49 DarthPlagueis.TheWise, Apr 1, 2021
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