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Old 01-15-2017, 05:39 AM   #1
Elayis
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Default TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

I don’t know if this has been discussed before so if it has then forgive me, but this issue has been bugging me since I saw TFA.

I’m really bothered by what Abrams did to the OT characters. As a fan of the series practically since birth, the character assassination of Luke, Leia and Han really rubs me the wrong way. I never delved too deeply in the EU (too fan fiction-y for my tastes), but the taste of it I had (Dark Empire and SotE) felt like a proper evolution of the Star Wars narrative. Mostly new foes, new angles on old enemies, an actual growth of the universe and the characters.

The whole meta aspect of it is also irksome. I get that re-contextualizing their place in the franchise works well with the time jump since we last saw the characters and with a new audience, but it just doesn’t make sense for the characters. It’s not just a simply retread, but just laziness that can seemingly be disregarded using the whole “ring theory” excuse.

It’s almost as if they didn’t have a life from the time Jedi ended to when TFA began. There’s huge swaths of time that are simply swept away, like their lives were on pause. Luke trained Ben for at least ten years, but couldn’t prevent the destruction of his entire academy and then gave up and ran away? Leia and Han haven’t spoken in years, and again, just gave up on their son and didn’t do anything about it? It all seems out of character, and just doesn’t feel right to me.

You can sort of see the filmmaker's hand, putting the characters in the position he wants them for the story he wants to tell, instead of building his plot to fit how the characters would actually react and behave.

Part of it is also just my inner fanboy feeling robbed. We’ll never see Jedi Master Luke in his prime, a Force using Leia, Han maturing into a (mostly) responsible adult and father. For as quick and easy as JJ hobbled the characters, I’m surprised by how little use he actually made of them and the negligible progression they achieved in the story. Han’s still Han (though a bit flatter), Leia’s now a general, big whoop (with surprisingly little screen time) and I’m sure we all remember Luke’s (sole & wordless) appearance (which I’m still shocked by given the fact he was billed second).

But again this all comes back down to Abrams’ lack of real narrative mastery, his continued reliance on flash and style over substance; his “mystery box” concept. The question mark of Luke’s role taking precedence to his actual importance to the film. The hype surrounding Rey’s past and ancestry instead of meaningful character work, along with overpowering her and stealing from her any true source of conflict or peril. Paying lip service to PTSD with Finn only to make him a murder-spree-happy joke cracker.

The film is more interested in being a nostalgia vehicle, reveling in directing a Star Wars movie with all of the iconic characters and imagery instead of challenging himself as an artist to really make a worthwhile addition to the saga.

As with anything, this is all YMMV, but I just wanted to get this off my chest. I feel like most of the discussion I’ve seen about the movie is too circle jerky and lacking in critical debate. Or maybe I just need to get out more and TFA is viewed more skeptical than I realized.

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Old 01-15-2017, 06:10 AM   #2
DarthSkywalker
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Default Re: TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

The character assassination, no real character work with Rey, not a worthwhile addition to the saga...

They literally have scenes that emphasis the time that has passed. Kylo's existence shows they had a life. There are new villains. Force user get more powerful as they get older unless they are on their last legs. They cancel out any physical limitation through their knowledge and strength in the Force. Like how half man Vader would wipe the floor with his Anakin counter part from the prequels. The strongest Luke has ever been is now and I am sure VIII will show that.

Han's character work in TFA is pretty great. It is my favorite take on Han. A man who has lived and seen things, and cares that knowledge with a wry smile. The way he speaks about the Force, his conversation with Finn about Rey, his confrontation with his son. The idea that Han isn't different is rather off base.

More then anything The Force Awakens is about Rey and Kylo. The two "the Force awakens" in. I love the original trio, but this is not their story mainly. Han is a big part of it, and he has his own arc, but it is not his story. For someone complaining about a lack of the new, you seem to have wanted them to ignore the new.

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Old 01-15-2017, 06:32 AM   #3
Elayis
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Default Re: TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

I actually quite like most of the new characters (which Abrams was able to do quite well, to his credit), but it still feels like the franchise missed an opportunity by not doing more sequel films earlier. No matter how powerful Luke may be , he’s not the focus of the franchise anymore and will probably have an Obi-Wan size role in VIII. The journey is no longer his, and he’s taken a backseat. Again, I’m not trying to take away from Rey and Kylo’s story, just bummed we’ll never see another Luke centric film again.

I get that time passed (as I mentioned, the meta references to the absence and almost mythic qualities the OT characters have is too on the nose imo), but it was handled in the wrong way. It doesn’t feel like the characters actually lived their lives in-between films, besides hit the story beats that were required (start and fail at a Jedi academy, have a kid, become a general, go back to pirating etc).

Character assassination was probably to strong of a phrase, more like wasted potential. Rey had development, I just wish it was a little more well rounded. All-powerful characters can be done well, but it a lot more thought and care than someone more relatable and I don’t think TFA managed it. To me, Abrams couldn’t quite nail the voice of the OT characters (along with the drastically different performances from the actors, given the span of time since Jedi) so their parts felt off. Personally I just disagree with the way Han was handled, but like I said, YMMV.

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Old 01-15-2017, 07:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elayis View Post
I actually quite like most of the new characters (which Abrams was able to do quite well, to his credit), but it still feels like the franchise missed an opportunity by not doing more sequel films earlier. No matter how powerful Luke may be , he’s not the focus of the franchise anymore and will probably have an Obi-Wan size role in VIII. The journey is no longer his, and he’s taken a backseat. Again, I’m not trying to take away from Rey and Kylo’s story, just bummed we’ll never see another Luke centric film again.
This is where the Anthology movies come in. They'd have to recast Luke anyways, right? So eventually, when the 30 year period is no longer shrouded in mystery, I am sure we will get a look a Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker.

One reason I am a big fan of them going in this direction is because we don't know how long we will have these actors. The chance to original trio in these roles again is a gift to me. One I have sadly learned to appreciate more with the loss of Carrie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elayis View Post
I get that time passed (as I mentioned, the meta references to the absence and almost mythic qualities the OT characters have is too on the nose imo), but it was handled in the wrong way. It doesn’t feel like the characters actually lived their lives in-between films, besides hit the story beats that were required (start and fail at a Jedi academy, have a kid, become a general, go back to pirating etc).
Consider where they left off in RotJ. All three were content. That is not where we find them here. This isn't the same characters from the end of RotJ.

But lets consider who we are talking about here,

Luke: The last Jedi. Outside of being the king of zen, what do you expect from his character at this point?

Leia: There is a war, she's fighting it. Leia wouldn't sit back in such a situation. That her son is on the other side only intensifies her need to be involved.

Han: Ashamed by what happened with Kylo, walked away and fell back into his old ways.

What about any of this is strange considering who we are talking about? What about this is wrong? And we haven't even spoken to Luke yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elayis View Post
Character assassination was probably to strong of a phrase, more like wasted potential. Rey had development, I just wish it was a little more well rounded. All-powerful characters can be done well, but it a lot more thought and care than someone more relatable and I don’t think TFA managed it. To me, Abrams couldn’t quite nail the voice of the OT characters (along with the drastically different performances from the actors, given the span of time since Jedi) so their parts felt off. Personally I just disagree with the way Han was handled, but like I said, YMMV.
Rey is not an all-powerful character. If she was, there wouldn't be a need to find Luke Skywalker to train her.

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Old 01-16-2017, 02:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

Is it sad that there was no happily ever after for Han and Leia? Yes. But that's how life is sometimes. We know they were together and for a while they were happy. But Leia is still very much a soldier and a leader. Han is still a smuggler. At the end of the day, old habits die hard.

I can definitely buy that Luke could go into exile. Maybe he was just ashamed and couldn't deal with it anymore.

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Old 04-20-2017, 10:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

I agree completely.

The market on Jakku. BB-8 spots someone else wearing his master's jacket and Rey confronts him. Finn reveals that Poe has died. Then TIE fighters come and begin bombing the market. HERE IS WHERE THE FILM WENT WRONG In the chaos, instead of finding and stealing the Millenium Falcon, they are hailed over and invited onboard by an old man named Han Solo.

Han flies the Falcon as Finn and Chewie use the guns to shoot down the fighters. They fly off the planet on make the jump to Maz Kanata's cantina. They have escaped, yes, but during the fight Leia took a bad tumble and has become injured.

Han reveals that he noticed BB-8 because the First Order is searching for it and that he and Leia had been in the market trying to track down his son. Although they greatly wish to find him, they realize that they are getting too old for thi sort of action. You could have a scene between Rey and Leia in the quarters Han had set up for her in the Falcon. This area is neater and cleaner than the rest of the ship. Here Leia could tell Rey about how she and Han had drifted apart when their son went away to train with Luke Skywalker. This could be perhaps where you reveal that Kylo is their son.

This may seem like a small change but it treats the old characters with much more respect in my opinion. Han should never have returned to being a lowly smuggler when Leia needed him so badly. You can have them "divorced" or whatever...that's believable enough considering their personalities. But once their son was in such turmoil, only the very coldest of divorcees would not work together to solve that problem, especially when it doesn't seem either Leia or Han had found someone new yet.

I also do not think Leia would remain part of the military effort once her son became part of the First Order. Again, this would be so cold for any parent.

So that's Han and Leia...what about Luke? Well, for what we got, it would have been more appropriate to leave him out of the film. It easily could have ended with Rey taking off from the Resistance Base and jumping into hyperspace. Everything past that was such obvious sequel-bait.

Beyond that, it would have been far more satisfying for Rey to locate the ancient temple and find Luke there with all of the Jedi he is still training. You could easily establish that he has been unable to leave due to some "contract with the Force" where leaving would allow Kylo and Snoke to find them and return. The temple could be sort of "unplottable" through something like the Fidelius Charm if you're familiar with Harry Potter.

Honestly, there could any number of good reasons for Luke to be in hiding alone, but they better be damn good to explain why he has abandoned the Jedi and his sister/friend when their son has done something so awful. I guess we'll see but I have my doubts after TFA.

....

Other relatively small changes I would have made.

1) The First Order should have been like a small terrorist group instead of a repeat of the Empire. The entire end battle could have been a fight with Kylo's Star Destroyer instead of Death Star 3.0 This would have given Finn a more believable role in the final battle (because he'd only have to understand the workings of a ship he's lived on instead of an entire planet)

2) Once Rey was captured, the final battle should have started with Han, Chewie and Finn sneaking onboard Kylo's ship to rescue her. Of course, Han's true objective is to talk to Kylo, similar to how Kenobi's real objective on the Death Star was to meet Darth Vader in Ep 4.

3) The "map" should have been a key that, when inserted into R2-D2, woke him up and direct him to pilot a ship to the Jedi temple. This explains why R2 suddenly becomes active and gives him a reason to actually be in the plot.

4) In this version of events, it should also be established that Leia is tracking her son using the Force.

5) When the Falcon escapes Jakku, Finn and Chewie shoot down a few TIE fighters but the rest back off. This isn't explained, but you can read between the lines to figure out that Kylo would have recognized the ship and let his mother escape (only to track them to Maz's cantina.)

6) I've offloaded several abilities off of Rey in this version of events. In the Falcon/TIE fight, Rey is neither piloting or shooting. There is zero reason Rey should be good with either aiming or piloting.

7) Kylo shoud have won his fight with Rey at the end of the film. Sure, show Rey learning how to use the Force to fight, but she definitely should not have won.

8) Fight ends with Chewie or someone closing a door between Rey and Kylo so that she is able to escape to the Falcon with Finn's body.

9) Do more to establish that Finn is a coward. A lot of people seem confused about Finn in this film, but nearly everything he does can be explained if he is a coward who then overcomes his fear when Rey is captured.

10) Captain Phasma needed an entirely different final confrontation. Nothing makes sense about it.

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Old 05-21-2017, 07:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: TFA's mistreatment of the Luke and the other legacy characters

I agree with you OP. I am heavily disappointed in the direction TFA took with characters and story. For what it's worth I will say that I fully understand (and agree with) the idea of putting the aging original characters in the background and letting the new generation take lead, but it was all executed wrong.

I thought Han's death was sad and handled fairly well, (although it's an absolute sin that Abrams never allowed Luke and Han to reunite one last time) I suppose I was fine with the way Leia was handled too, but the dynamic was all wrong.

TFA makes it look like the galaxy hasn't progressed since ROTJ, which is ridiculous. Episode VII should have started with:

A New Republic firmly in control of the galaxy

Han and Leia happily married with children

Luke training up a new Jedi Academy

(possibly) Luke married with children, maybe having abolished the old Jedi code since it was implied to be misguided anyway.

THEN a villain comes in and the heroes have to defend what they've worked to build up. Just skip the silly Resistance/First Order nonsense since it was a barely disguised rehash of the OT dynamic. Either have a new villain team come in, or maybe even an army of Sith (or other dark side users if they want to stick with the rule of two thing - which I personally think they should abolish).

Abrams and co. stated many times that they soft-reboot Star Wars and copied the original dynamic for the benefit of people who have never seen the other movies or haven't watched them since release, but in my opinion this is an incredibly ridiculous thought process. We're living in a day and age of DVD players, VCRs, online steaming, and Wikipedia synopsis; and Abrams is telling us we need to be reminded what Star Wars is about? Also, a talented writer could have written a story that both progressed the story in a realistic way AND introduced Star Wars to people who hadn't seen it before. Keep in mind that an audience doesn't necessarily need to be familiar with the original storyline in order to enjoy the new films - as long as they were written well.

I also agree about J.J.'s whole mystery box thing being misguided. The original Star Wars had an element of mystery to it, but it came from stuff like Han's past (which was unimportant to the main story), or the lived in feel of the universe which made us feel like everything had a past (again, unimportant to the story). Abrams' idea of mystery is withholding important plot points and letting us speculate for two years until we're sick of hearing "Who are Rey's parents?" The only mystery to me is whether or not this is done intentionally as a strategy to get people coming back to see the next movie, or Abrams actually thinks this is good storytelling. Either way, it feels cheap to me.

One more thing I will say: If I had my way, Han, Chewie, and possibly Leia would die in the Falcon, sacrificing themselves in a battle for their children while Luke watched. Of course this is purely my preferred death for them, it wouldn't necessarily make the storyline any better.

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