Star Wars is a story about heroes and villains, good and evil, love and hate, but most importantly, the tale of Star Wars is about family. From the original trilogy to the current one the stories have centered around the concept of family; from Darth Vader being Luke’s father to Rey being the daughter of, well, nobodies and all of the other family drama in between. But here’s the thing, out of all of the shocking heritage plots and devastating betrayals the mothers of Star Wars have been written with little respect, or purpose for the movies other than to further the stories of other (all male) characters. Let me explain.
Shmi Skywalker, mother of Anakin Skywalker, sounds like an important character right? Wrong. Her main appearance was in The Phantom Menace and she brought absolutely nothing to the story, except one of the dumbest lines in Star Wars, “There was no father,” as Qui-Gon asks her who Anakin’s father had been. She was a devoted slave mother to a destined child, a piece to Anakin’s progression from slave boy to Jedi to eventual Sith, nothing more. She had no business being in the movie other than to give a back story to Anakin and his past on Tatooine. And how did they end her story in Star Wars?
Anakin found her nearly tortured to death in a Tusken Raider village barely able to utter any words whatsoever. She finally died in the middle of trying to tell her son that she loved him but this is just a waste of a character who ended up not mattering that much and only elevated Anakin’s story.
Padme Amidala, mother of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, she should’ve definitely been a character as important as Darth Vader himself but alas, she wasn’t. She had three movies to be awesome and she was only utilized in a respectable and worthy fashion in one of them. The other two films forced her into being a love interest/worried mother-to-be for the rest of the trilogy. Her story was stripped for Anakin’s…and Obi-Wan’s! and she became simply the woman of the movie spitting corny lines like, “You’re breaking my heart” and “So this is how liberty dies. With thunder’s applause.” (uggh.) And how did she find her demise?
By getting a broken heart and dying in childbirth. So that’s how the mother of Luke and Leia died? Like a damsel in distress!!!
Lyra Erso was in Rogue One for a matter of about five minutes and though she wasn’t a damsel in distress she wasn’t a central character to the movie whatsoever. She was just a piece to Jyn’s unfortunate past.
Leia Organa is the only mother who has been given a decent story line in context with her involvement in the film and her son, Ben Solo. She wasn’t utilized as a damsel in distress or someone whose story line only furthered the arc of another character. She was actually given a role that mattered and, to my great surprise, she didn’t die. Now unfortunately Carrie Fisher actually passed away so we have no idea what The Last Jedi was setting up between her and Ben Solo but she was, thankfully, given her due.
And there are other mothers in Star Wars who have come to rather grisly ends as well!
Leia’s adopted mother, Breha Organa, came to a terrible demise as she got blown up by the Death Star on Alderaan.
And Luke’s adopted mother, Aunt Beru Lars, got burned to a crisp by the Empire’s stormtroopers, one of the grisliest deaths in Star Wars. The constant story of mothers in Star Wars is death and despair. Now let’s think about the fathers in comparison.
Darth Vader was the big bad of the original trilogy and was Luke’s father, making him one of the most important characters in Star Wars. He had a three movie story arc that ended with him becoming a hero, saving the life of his son, defeating Palpatine, and saving the galaxy in the process. And even thirty years later his legacy still lives on as Kylo Ren worships Darth Vader’s burnt mask and tries to become as powerful as the Dark Lord. He is written with respect and thought, not lack of care or imagination.
Galen Erso, compared to his wife, had so much larger of a story. He literally built the weapon for the Death Star for crying out loud! He wasn’t put into the movie to only further Jyn’s story. He was an actual character who meant something to the film.
And Han Solo
Of course Han Solo is going to play a major part, it’s Han Solo, but that’s the thing. He’s another man who had a very important role as father to an already important character, Kylo Ren. He came to a terrible end as he got run through by his son’s lightsaber but he was a hero in death, not a damsel in distress. He could’ve easily been treated the same as characters like Shmi and Padme but because he’s a man they gave him a purpose in the movie that the mothers of Star Wars have never been given.
The difference between mothers and fathers in Star Wars is kind of disgraceful and while the story of Star Wars is becoming more and more progressive as the movies continue to introduce fascinating heroines and characters of color the mothers still have a long way to go in the realm of representation in this wonderful franchise.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day. May the Force Be With You.