Movie Reviews Thoughts on Fandom(s)

There Is No Other: Leia Organa’s Viability As the Backup Plan

Originally written for Fandom Following

Somebody has probably already written this; I am aware. I personally don’t care. I’m going to talk about it anyway. In the original Star Wars trilogy, one of the big reveals was that Luke and Leia were siblings, and Leia was capable of harnessing the Jedi Force. However, that reveal is basically a throwaway comment when one realizes that Leia was never meant to be a viable option.

If you have not seen Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, and cannot stand spoilers, please just bookmark this article and leave it alone until you’ve actually watched the movie. This article contains spoilers, so please do not read it until you are ready.

I came late to the game with Star Wars. I have no problems admitting to anyone that the only reason I watched Revenge of the Sith was because I thought that Hayden Christiansen’s creeper stance was cute, but I did not bother to watch the original trilogy until about six weeks before The Force Awakens came out. I was excited because I had heard so much about the trilogy, and, for the most part, it lived up to my expectation. However, the decision to invoke The Hidden Backup Prince trope with Leia’s kinship to Luke was poorly executed.

TV Tropes defines the Hidden Backup Prince Trope as a child with royal lineage being taken from their family and hidden as a commoner for safekeeping in the event that their family is wiped out by some catastrophic incident. Leia is considered an inversion of the trope because she is the Princess who is the backup for her commoner Jedi twin brother. However, Luke can also be considered a Hidden Prince since his mother, Padmé Amidala was a queen (though elected). The whole point of this trope is to be a failsafe in case the family, or the main character, is killed off, but it’s still in effect if the character is introduced, but never used. In Leia’s case she is a Hidden Backup Prince(ss) in name only, despite having the potential to do more.

Honestly, my frustration began with the way that Leia’s parentage was revealed. Even though Yoda hints at there being another to Luke, he never actually says it’s Leia. Hell, even Obi Wan Kenobi never outright says that Leia is Luke’s sister. Luke comes to his own conclusion that Leia is his sister after Obi Wan gave him a speech about Anakin, and how the truth is formed by one’s own point-of-view. Obi Wan then affirms Luke’s conclusion, but continues to not actually name Leia as Luke’s sister. So basically, Luke named his own sister, and if it had not been for the prequels – Revenge of the Sith, in particular – that particular reveal could have been disproven at any point. Do you see how this looks a bit unbelievable? Even in a science fiction movie, there’s a point where you have to be concrete about things.

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Let’s look at how other people in the Star Wars series have their parentage revealed. In the original trilogy, Luke’s being Darth Vader’s son was confirmed by Emperor Palpatine, Yoda, Obi Wan, and Darth Vader himself. Luke is even raised by his father’s brother, not as a son, but as a nephew. At every given point Luke knew that Anakin Skywalker was his father. So the big reveal was always that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren’s parentage is revealed by Supreme Commander Snoke, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Kylo Ren himself. Everybody knows who Kylo Ren’s parents are. Everyone knows he’s Skywalker kin; that’s probably why he got so far up in the ranks of the First Order. Before the prequels, the only person who could confirm that Leia was Luke’s sister was the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi, and he had already lied about what happened to Anakin Skywalker, so why should we believe him?

And you might want to say to me “but Eurydice, what about the Force?” The Force is not a DNA test. The Force exists as a power source for all Jedi. It stands to reason that Luke thought that the only other living person that he could reach with the Force, besides his father, had to be his sister. There was no other Jedi around to tell him that 99.9% of Force users are usually not related because Jedi are not supposed to have kids. If Luke Skywalker could scrounge up enough kids to start up his own Jedi academy, only one of which we know was actually related to him, what’s stopping Leia from randomly being Force-sensitive on her own?

In no way am I saying that Leia is not Luke’s twin sister, I’m just pointing out how, prior to the events of Revenge of The Sith, this wasn’t quite set in stone. Even Leia’s acceptance of it can be called into question because the Force is an entirely new concept to her, and the only other person that can talk to her about it is the person telling her that he’s her brother. It’s actually pretty hilarious how the series works to show you how terribly easy it could have been to disprove that claim. I honestly thought that The Force Awakens was going to ruin my theory before I was able to write it out and post it, but it actually strengthened it.

Going back to my original point, by naming Leia as the only other person with enough Force power to defeat Darth Vader, we’ve secured our backup in case Luke dies, right? Wrong. At no point was Leia set up to be a viable backup for Luke. Leia Organa was raised to be a Princess, and proven to be a capable general, but there was no one left to properly train her as a Jedi. It is quite possible that Vader would have killed her with no remorse if he was never made aware of their kinship. Why do I say this? Because of Finn and Rey’s fight with Kylo Ren.

In The Force Awakens it is implied that Finn might be a teensy bit force sensitive with his ability to turn on a lightsaber and hold his own against Kylo Ren (who has been trained as a Jedi by Luke Skywalker). It is also damn near confirmed that Rey was at the same Jedi academy that Kylo Ren studied at. Yet and still, Finn got his ass handed to him by an injured Kylo Ren. Rey held up a little bit better, but it took an act of plot to keep her from being killed as well. Now Leia was a badass in her own right, but if even Luke couldn’t beat his own father, how do you expect Leia’s untrained self to do it?

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I’m going to go outside of Star Wars to explain how this should have worked. In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort has the choice to create his own mortal enemy. Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom both fit the prophecy’s criteria: born in late July, parents defied Voldemort 3 times. Admittedly, this example does not count as the Hidden Backup Prince trope because Harry and Neville are not related, but Neville’s viability as Harry’s backup makes this a valid similarity. It is only because Voldemort chose to go after the Potters himself that Harry is considered The Chosen One, but Neville’s still not completely taken out of the running.

You have to consider the fact that Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter were both given the same amount of training, and both repeatedly put into life-threatening situations, even if Neville’s was to a lesser extent. And while Harry was always expected to be the hero, Neville chose to be brave on multiple occasions, which gave him a few heroic moments. In fact, had Harry not come back from the dead, Neville Longbottom could have still gone on to be the hero of this story. Neither Lord Voldemort nor Harry Potter could live while the other survived because Harry was always one of Voldemort’s horcruxes. However, once Neville took out Nagini – the last of Voldemort’s horcruxes – Voldemort was as good as mortal, which meant that Neville could have just as well killed him with the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Neville Longbottom was, at all times, a viable backup for Harry Potter.

If Leia Organa had been given the opportunity to be trained with a living Jedi, or was even just trained at the same time as Luke Skywalker, she would have been able to truly continue the Rebel fight against the Empire. In fact, Leia’s story would have been a lot more poignant had Luke died because she would not only have been invoking The Hidden Backup Prince trope, but she would also have been fighting her father to get revenge for her mother, her brother, her people, and the man that her father had once been.

By not allowing Leia to be great, the Star Wars series makes Leia’s viability as Luke’s backup damn near impossible. She would have always been a thorn in the Empire’s side, but she would have never been able to get rid of them completely. And that is what makes Luke and Leia’s kinship an ultimately wasted reveal.


 

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