Is it just me, or is the lightsaber a useless weapon?

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

A long time ago… knights used swords in battle. Then humans learned to slaughter each other from ever-increasing distances and the blade fell out of use. When George Lucas decided to put knights in space, he gave them swords with an ingenious twist: they are made of lasers and completely impractical.

I get the cool factor. But any weapon that needs magical powers to wield negates its usefulness. Put a lightsaber in the hands of a regular Tatooine moisture farmer and they’ll lop their own head off quicker than you can say “use the Force”. I suspect Anakin Skywalker didn’t really kill the younglings in Revenge of the Sith. He just allowed them to practise in a confined space and let Darwin’s Law take care of those terrible child actors. 

A good weapon should intimidate. Jedi wear them like a torch dangling on the belt of a nightwatchman who patrols the site pretending he’s a cop. Not to mention the inherent flaw of the clickable on/off button. Sit down the wrong way and… Kwishuuuuu! Adios, future children. Fight a Force-sensitive opponent and they can turn it off with a thought. If you’ve already mastered telekinesis, then just pull your foe’s head off with your mind.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

It’s said that ninjas move silently upon their targets. They could kiss goodbye to the element of surprise if their preferred weapon lit up like a metre-long Glastonbury glowstick and announced itself with a loud Schvrmmmmmm. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi swallows his pride and uses an “uncivilised”, “random” blaster to defeat General Grievous (who had four sabers and still lost!) with pinpoint blasts to the heart.

If a weapon is powered by an extremely rare crystal and is only useful for fighting something similar or bouncing away blaster shots, it needs a rethink. Try deflecting a flamethrower with it and you’ll end up as crispy as Darth Vader. Kylo Ren adding Peter Griffin’s Blue Harvest cheese knife to the hilt of his saber for style just doesn’t cut it. Lightsabers are props for intricately choreographed dances, not the battlefield. Or is it just me?

Paul Tanter is a British director, writer, and producer. He produces and directs the cult Amazon Prime series Age of the Living Dead, and Fox's No Easy Days. He has also written, directed, and produced over 15 feature films, alongside several graphic novels. He's also written about movies for publications including Total Film, Digital Filmmaker, and Film Stories Magazine.