In a recent issue of SFX , there was a list of five reasons why Luke Skywalker is better than Han Solo.
As a life-long Luke fan, I was thrilled to see this (even if it may have been a little tongue in cheek), but I’ve got to tell you that five reasons is selling my guy remarkably short. Now, before I’m burned in effigy on (nearly) every Star Wars site in the world, let me set one thing straight: yes, Han Solo is a sexy beast. Much like Firefly ’s Malcolm Reynolds, he’s got that rogue space pirate with the heart of mostly-gold thing down pat, and it works. Had I come to Star Wars later in life, I would likely prefer Han to Luke.
But I have known Star Wars since I was a small child, and if you force me to choose between the two, I’ll pick Luke every time. Granted, making that choice is just silly, because I love them both, and frankly both are needed in every way in the saga, but when push comes to shove, it’s Skywalker all the way for me. It always has been, and always will be.
These are all valid reasons for Luke to nudge out Han in this eternal debate, but several very important things are left off.
One, Luke is an idealist. Yes, his idealism can be a bit annoying at first, but his youth gives him some leeway. The world does often seem black and white to young people, and while Luke’s rigid views of the universe can make him seem like a bit of a stick in the mud, they also mean that, for him, you save the princess no matter the odds, and you don’t need money to do it. There are no mercenary genes in this kid. He does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because he’s getting paid for it.
I like this trait in my heroes, and I’m not alone. I took a Star Wars virgin to see the Special Editions in 1997. Like me, she was in her early twenties at the time, but she knew nothing of the trilogy. She did know, however, that I was a Luke fan and my best friend was of the Han persuasion. When Han Solo said “better her than me” in A New Hope , she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Well, there you go then. Luke for me, too.” Indeed, Star Wars virgin friend. Han’s realistic, but Star Wars is a fantasy, and I like my fantasy heroes larger than life and in it for the greater good.
Second, lightsabers, baby. The lightsaber is the coolest weapon ever. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. They’re not as clumsy or random as a blaster, but elegant weapons from a more civilised time. They’re also the one bit of continuity from the prequels that makes me squee. When Obi-Wan picks up Anakin’s blade in Revenge Of The Sith, I can’t help but be reminded of what becomes of it in A New Hope and its eventual loss in Empire . And lightsabers are a huge part of why I am what I am. See, there are life-altering moments in this realm, and when I saw Luke Skywalker activate his shiny new lightsaber in Jedi in 1983, I was flat-out smitten with science fiction, and I’ve never looked back. E.T. might have gathered the kindling for that fire, but that green blade ignited it.
Third, Han’s kind of a jerk. He’s full of himself and more smug than really should be tolerated. Sure, it comes off just right most of the time, but to pull from another franchise, this is Jean Grey and Wolverine, and Jean summed it up well in X2 . I’d love to go out with Han sometimes, but it’s Luke I’d take home.
Fifth, Luke’s a badass. No, no arguing, please. Yes, he utters the most whiny line in the history of whiny lines in the trilogy, but considering his father and his age at the time, let’s face it: Toshi Station is not that offensive. And Uncle Owen was kind of a dick to Luke, so it’s understandable that he’d be a bit stroppy. But seriously, Luke Skywalker rescued Leia and destroyed the first Death Star! Yes, he had help, but without him, neither feat would have been accomplished. Even more impressive, Luke survived an encounter with Darth Vader (Darth-freaking-Vader!) when he was just a fledgling. And rather than turn to the dark side, he flung himself into what he had to assume would be his death. That takes balls, my friends. Luke might have gotten beaten up plenty in that encounter, but he lived and he didn’t compromise his principles. And he defeats Vader only a few short years later. Yeah. I stand by my words: Bad. Ass.
Sixth, the Force. Luke is a powerful Jedi. Even Darth Vader and Palpatine are justifiably afraid of him. He is a formidable foe. Even in Empire he is truly impressive, as Vader himself admits. And he only grows stronger later on. Han may be super cool, but Luke could destroy him in a second if he wanted to. He doesn’t, though, and that’s why I love him.
Honestly, I could go on and on, as the more I write this, the more reasons to love Luke come to mind, but I’ll stop here and let the Han fans chew on this alternate point of view for a bit. And to my fellow Luke aficionados, I say this: the Solo-lovers may outnumber us, but we’ve got the Force on our side, and a powerful ally it is. I’ll take that hokey religion, complete with its ancient weapons, over a blaster any day.