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Saga Are Luke, Anakin, and Han the only ones with character arcs?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by kubricklynch, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. kubricklynch

    kubricklynch Jedi Knight star 3

    Dec 10, 2012
    The three I mentioned have clear character arcs in the saga, although Han's seems to take place only in ANH. I was thinking about it, and none of the other major players appear to have much of an arc. Leia doesn't really change throughout the OT.

    We see Obi-Wan go from Padawan to Master to hermit, but his personality doesn't really seem to be much different. I guess you could say he isn't that mature in Episode 1, but I dunno. Kinda iffy. And Padme is the same throughout the prequels, IMO.

    Am I completely off base here? Are there some major changes that Leia, Obi-Wan or Padme go through that I'm just missing?

    Are character arcs not that important to Star Wars? Is it more about the plot? How about the ST? Is it important to you for there to be clearly defined character changes in the sequels?
  2. Circular Logic

    Circular Logic SWTV Interview Host star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2013
    Yes, I believe you bring up good points. At least in the context of the films (ignoring EU established in C-canon and T-canon), the only characters that get any significant development in either trilogy are Anakin, Luke, and Han. While Obi-Wan is one of my favorite characters and appears in a major roles in four of the six films, he doesn't seem to develop all that much in terms of personality. He does mature a bit between TPM and AotC, but really he retains the same even-keel temperament throughout the PT. That being said, it's what happens to him in the films that makes him a very sympathetic character, not so much his own development. He goes through quite a lot of pain and suffering, having to witness his Master's death before his eyes and then being forced to bring down his former apprentice, whom he considers to be a brother. This ultimately contributes to his decision to live the rest of his lonely existence as a hermit on Tatooine. Leia and Padme don't seem to even get the same level of development, which is unfortunate, as they are the saga's primary female protagonists.

    I do think that character development was never really a strong suit of the saga, which instead focused on the development of the major protagonists, primarily the male Skywalkers, Anakin and Luke. In this case, the films bring forth the elements of the Hero's Journey from Joseph Campbell for Luke's story and elements of classical Greek tragedy for the fall of Anakin Skywalker. Other characters get pushed to the wayside and so we don't get too much character development for them, if any. This I felt was one of the saga's main weaknesses, as the films didn't really get us to care so much for most of the side characters who got minimal development. Many are simplistic and merely archetypes in nature. Mediocre dialogue and subpar acting may have also contributed to the fact that many of these characters felt underdeveloped and forgettable.

    I do think that the plot took precedence over character development in the movies, as Lucas was intent on telling this epic story at the expense of smaller character moments, which is why you saw such a fumbling of many of the character interaction scenes in the PT (namely, the romance between Anakin and Padme, amongst others). I really hope that the ST will provide more clearly defined character development, along with perhaps more intimate moments between characters (not in that sense...), so as to get the audience to better relate to the greater cast of the characters outside of the main protagonist. I think based on their track records, JJ Abrams and Michael Arndt can potentially give us this more sophisticated character development. Though ultimately, I think the ST will focus on the plot more and the elements that make it SW, rather than anything complex like looking into the minds of the characters, what makes them tick. I feel that Star Wars is more plot-driven than it is character-driven.
  3. Samnz

    Samnz Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 4, 2012
    I agree for the most part.
    The only characters with a real focus seem to be Anakin and Luke. They are the ones who are tested and whose journeys carry the films.

    However, I think there is some smaller developement within the films with other characters. You mentioned Han's in ANH, but I'd like to add Obi-Wan's change from disrespectfulness towards others ("pathetic lifeform", "what's this?") to taking one of them as his student (Anakin) which shows some similarities to Han's. There's also Padmé's realization of the Gungan's worth.
    It's not comparable to the big players, but I also don't think it's supposed to be. So much is happening in these films and you have to remember the prime audience.

    I'd also mention Padmé's transformation from very independent and professional in TPM to very dependent and private in ROTS. In that regard I'm a bit surprised at your (Circular Logic's) remark about the romance. You might not like it and I fully understand that, but these scenes clearly focus on the characters and are essential for their future. So...
    I think you also see Leia softening a bit over the films, but yeah, it's quite superficial.

    The focus is clearly on Anakin and Luke and I think it makes sense.
    Visivious Drakarn likes this.
  4. PiettsHat

    PiettsHat Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 1, 2011
    I would actually say that Jar Jar has a similar arc in TPM that Han does in ANH. Initially he doesn't want to get involved and is a frightened coward. Eventually, though, he's thrust into the spotlight when his knowledge becomes crucial to defeating the Trade Federation and has to find his courage to lead his people on the battlefield. It's played more comedically, of course, but it's still there. Jar Jar is presented differently than Han though, because instead of needing him and wanting him to tag along(as is Han's case), he's basically brought along grudgingly and only later do the other characters realize his value.

    I would say that Padmé also has a bit of an arc, but it's quite unusual in that it is largely negative. Lucas likes to tie the personal and the galactic scale conflicts together and so Padmé's story mirrors the diminishment of the balance in the galaxy and the reduction of feminine elements. As this occurs, she herself is diminished and confined to a smaller and smaller sphere. In TPM, we see her successfully liberate her planet. In AOTC, she's still active, but is powerless to stop the war from beginning. While by the end of ROTS, she's trying to run away and escape as she no longer has any power left and can't prevent her beloved Republic from sinking into a dictatorship. I think, too, we see he become less naive (in TPM), but also more self-decieving (throughout AOTC and ROTS) particularly in terms of her relationship with Anakin and what's going on with the Republic (though less so -- she realizes much earlier what is happening on that front).

    I also think Obi-Wan gets more character development than people give him credit for, as Samz said. He transforms from a very wet-behind-the-ears padawan (who is a bit of an elitist) to a strict, critical (but kind at heart) Master, to a gracious, understanding, and confident leader. Then Anakin's betrayal breaks him and he becomes more manipulative in some ways (such as through his interactions with Luke). I would say, though, that while in any individual film, Obi-Wan gets less development than Han did in ANH, his entire arc is far more complex and developed than Han's.
  5. drg4

    drg4 Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2005
    The problem is that the character beats are somewhat muddled, so it's difficult to track clean arcs.

    For example, you could say that Kenobi and Yoda were humbled by the Order's myriad PT bungles, but they're still lying to Luke, advising against attachments, and resolute on the need to kill Vader.

    Then there's Mace Windu, who is apprehensive about Anakin in TPM, then encouraging of his role in the prophecy in AOTC, and then distrustful in ROTS.

    And then there's Vader, who becomes indentured to Palpatine in the wake of Padme's death, then seeks to overthrow him in TESB with the emergence of his son, and then reverts back to a slave in ROTJ.

    My love of SW owes more to Lucas's immense talents as a visual virtuoso than to any internal logic.
  6. Alexrd

    Alexrd Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 7, 2009
    Although I never saw him as a traitor (who could blame him for trying to protect his people?), one could claim that Lando has an arc as well.
  7. DarthBoba

    DarthBoba Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jun 29, 2000
    Han and Anakin basically travel in reverse on-screen, IMO- Han starts out in ANH as a greedy, egotistical jerk, and ends ROTJ in humble gratitude to his friends; Anakin starts out in TPM as a compassionate boy, and descends into greed and egoism by ROTS. Then they slap hands and Han and Vader parallel each other in the OT. :p
  8. VanishingReality

    VanishingReality Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 21, 2013
    Also, Boba Fett who starts out as a wimpy kid, then gets obsessed with revenge against the Jedi, and matures into a fairly indifferent bounty hunter. This is focused on a lot more in EU/TCW/etc, but obviously there's some giant change from the PT and OT.
  9. Darth Chiznuk

    Darth Chiznuk Superninja of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 31, 2012
    I'd disagree with Padme not having an arc. In TPM she matures from a very naive ruler who is very dependent on her advisers and is easily used and manipulated to a very independent and strong leader who is willing to fight for her homeworld even though everyone is telling her it is suicide. In AOTC she goes from someone who only has room for her work to someone who recognizes the importance of love and opens herself up to it. That is what I see at least.
  10. kubricklynch

    kubricklynch Jedi Knight star 3

    Dec 10, 2012
    Awesome responses so far!
  11. Darth Vader's Chest Plate

    Darth Vader's Chest Plate Jedi Knight star 2

    Mar 18, 2013
    Palapatine, huge arc from TPM to RotJ.

    C3-PO and R2-D2 are pretty standard from start to finish tho! Pretty robotic really!!;)
  12. mes520

    mes520 Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 3, 2012
    Threepio has a bit of an in the prequels

    His parts are showing to the gold plating
  13. The Supreme Chancellor

    The Supreme Chancellor Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 4, 2012
    I think Obi-Wan has a pretty strong arc. He goes from being a witty padawan, to a father figure to Anakin and then finally a brother to him. His role within the Order also expands as he keeps excelling forward and forward. We are never informed of it verbally but you'll notice that he is a padawan in TPM, a Jedi Knight/Master in AOTC, and then suddenly a council member in ROTS. Skip to the OT and you have an old and weary Obi-Wan who hopes to redeem himself by training the last hope of the Jedi. And in ROTJ he finally accepts Anakin back into the fold of the Jedi and his assumptions about Vader are proven wrong by Luke. He is my favorite character in the saga by far.
    Darth Chiznuk likes this.
  14. Alexrd

    Alexrd Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 7, 2009
    I don't think so. The character itself never changed. We merely got to see more of him and his machinations...
  15. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
    Character development? **** that ****! HUGE....SPACE....BATTLES
  16. Darth Vader's Chest Plate

    Darth Vader's Chest Plate Jedi Knight star 2

    Mar 18, 2013
    He went from sceming manipulator playing both sides to his advantage to a pure force of darkness by RotJ. His character develops there's no question, compare him as a senator in TPM to what he becomes by the RotJ.
  17. Darth Nerdling

    Darth Nerdling Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 20, 2013
    Leia progresses, though I think it's more subtle. She goes from an entitled, superior, emotionally repressed princess in ANH to more of a regular person at the beginning of ESB, but still repressing her feelings, to being honest with herself about her feelings by the end of ESB. And by the end of ESB and through ROTJ, she doesn't feel like she's superior at all. In ANH, she refers to Chewbacca as a walking carpet. At the end of ROTJ she's partying with a bunch of furballs.

    Jar-Jar also progresses. As the movies progress, he learns to be more and more quiet. (And I think that's very hard for him! :))
  18. DRush76

    DRush76 Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 25, 2008

    Even though characters (or people in real life) either develop, regress, or remain stagnant; their personalities basically stay the same.