Star Wars’ Jedi are some of the most enchanting characters in sci-fi. They have inconceivable powers, carry around lightsabers, and wear really cool hooded cloaks. And while the concept of the Jedi is the most popular thing to come out of Star Wars, you can get too much of a good thing. Over three decades we've become oversaturated with the Force and built the Jedi into overly-powerful combatants who are no longer grounded in the reality of the universe around them. With The Force Awakens essentially rebooting the franchise, now's the perfect time to get a fresh perspective on the Star Wars Universe - one that moves the Force and its lightsaber-carrying warriors out of the spotlight.
In the old movies, the Force is more of a tool to build the Force-sensitive characters' personalities and backgrounds, rather than a weapon the Jedi throw about all willy-nilly. Obi Wan uses his powers sparingly so to not draw too much attention to himself as he hides from the Empire. Yoda shows that it isn't physical strength or size but mental discipline that makes a great Jedi Knight. The Emperor displays imposing power and cruelty in his torturous lightning bolt blasts. Force users are side characters that help develop Luke's character, not battle-hardened warriors that solve the galaxy's problems. But as time goes on, and the Jedi become more popular, Force users become more prominent characters with ever-increasing powers.
It's when we get to play as the mystic Force sensitives in games that the Jedi's abilities really begin to increase and expand significantly. In games such as the SNES's Super Star Wars Trilogy and Star Wars: Jedi Knight, characters like Luke gain the ability to boomerang throw a lightsaber and jump to incredible heights. Kyle Katarn, the protagonist from the Jedi Knight games, uses his lightsaber to block dozens of blaster bolts at a time (Luke never deflected more than two laser blasts at a time in Return of the Jedi), and is able to use the Force to heal himself, turn invisible, and shoot giant fireballs from his hands. Quite a change from the original ability set.
By the time the Prequel movies came out, we'd seen it all. Obi Wan and Anakin do a Dragon Ball Z-style, Force push power struggle in Revenge of the Sith, telekinetics get cranked up to 11 in The Force Unleashed, and blasters become all but useless against a saber-wielding Force user. Yes, it can be a thrill to use all of those powers to decimate your foes in a game, or watch flashy choreography in a fight scene that's more reminiscent of a rave than a sword fight, but at that point, it's gone too far. The Force is no longer the mysterious energy field that binds the galaxy together, it's just the thing these super warriors use to reach the next level of power. The Force isn't interesting or mysterious anymore. The Force, Jedi, and the franchise that has relied on these characters so heavily just becomes predictable and boring. But, everything's about to change.
Now that Disney has taken over the Star Wars license, and largely disregards just about all of the previously established lore of the Expanded Universe, the capabilities of Force users may become much more subdued than we're used to. The Force may even come closer to the way the mystical energy field was portrayed back in the Original Trilogy.
Look at what we know about the Force Awakens - which is certain to be the basis for many more games and movie sequels to come. Based on the theatrical trailers, the Force, the Dark Side, and the guardians of peace and justice seem to be long forgotten, and only old fogies like Han Solo know that it was all legit. So, awakening the Force with Jedi spinning lightsabers around their bodies, shooting fireballs from their hands, and smashing armored walkers with their minds just wouldn't fit in the new timeline. The Force needs to be slowly reintroduced into Star Wars again.
This could lead to tremendous opportunities for the Force to be reinvented for video games as well as the movies. Already, DICE's Star Wars Battlefront (opens in new tab) hasn't fallen into the Force Unleashed mentality. Heroes like Luke, Vader, and the Emperor largely use only the abilities we've seen in the original movies (except, you know, blowing up ships with a lightsaber throw). They aren't bounding around the battlefield, destroying troopers by the dozen. Jedi might be able to become more vulnerable characters again, not just unstoppable, lightsaber-waving killing machines that have zero personality. It's even possible that the franchise might turn its focus from lightsabers and Force powers entirely and move into other elements of the Star Wars universe.
There are rumors that a new Star Wars game from Visceral Games isn't just another lightsaber clashing, Force Unleashed clone, and may instead turn out to be the a game about a smuggler-type, Han Solo character. Not a Jedi. On the movie front, the other known film on the way, Star Wars: Rogue One is about a ragtag group of Rebels fighting against the Empire. No Jedi there, either.
Moving away from the Force focus is far from a bad thing. That means we just get to see more of the Star Wars universe that we've been missing. I want to see games in which we get to smuggle spice through Imperial blockades, fly in the cockpit of the Resistance's crack pilot, or play the part of a run-of-the-mill Stormtrooper that turns traitor and becomes a fugitive of the Empire. And why couldn't those types of stories and characters be as successful as a lightsaber-wielding one? Han Solo and Boba Fett are some of the most beloved Star Wars characters in history and they don't carry laser swords or use space magic.
We've done plenty of the Jedi stuff before, and now's the perfect time to renew our love for Star Wars with something we've never seen. There are character backgrounds to explore, new worlds to see, and exciting stories to experience. The Force will still be there (after all, it's all around us), but I think it could use a break.