Why Luke Skywalker is Actually a Terrible Hero

Jeff Lombardi

Jeff is a former high school English teacher who got out of the business for several reasons. He enjoys watching all sorts of movies and television shows and playing video games when his wife allows it. He credits Mystery Science Theater 3000 for developing his critical eye for film, and admonishes it for alienating him from kids his age because he couldn't just shut the hell up and watch the movie. You can find him on Flickchart under the username barrylutz. He tells me he would like to thank you for your interest in his profile. That is all.

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23 Responses

  1. Charles Does says:

    Great write-up Jeff!

  2. David Conrad says:

    But wait, what about Joseph Campbell? As a former English teacher, surely you must address that!

  3. dfmidesigns says:

    Entertaining as usual. :)

  4. Luke Westin says:

    Entertaining and fun read, lol, when you put it in perspective like that.

  5. Nonya says:

    Fair enough. One could say that the sum of the parts is what counts and he did choose the parts, “your faith in your friends is yours” He did commit himself to turning his father from the darkside and he did accomplish that with no help. I do have to give you credit where credit is due . You are 98% correct and win the argument thus. You also made me laugh .Thank you .

  6. Black Jedi says:

    I guess. But I think the Idea of what sets Luke apart from other Jedi is his ability to use the force to “out think” rather than “out fight” evil. If all the prequel episodes tell us anything, Jedi’s can die pretty easily, when put in a situation where they have to “out fight” their opponent (a sith lord) or enemy (say a platoon of clone with blasters) I think Luke plays chess using the force. To steal a line from LOTR, Luke is never “late” or “early”. He precisley where he wants to be WHEN he wants to be. IE showing weakness to make a companion grow in to a stronger individual or weakness to draw out an enemy. Something he would learned from Obi won that Anakin didn’t remember.Anakin – “This feels like a trap”. Obi wan – “Then let’s spring the trap”. As far as Luke knows, he is the last. Unless he can turn Vader back to good, which he did. If Luke died evil reigns forever in the galaxy. So from episode 4 forward,using tact and guile NOT force was the best way to advance the JEDI agenda. He must live above all else.

    • I see your point, but I think you overestimate our good friend Luke. I don’t think he was intentionally showing weakness in order to allow his allies to grow; rather, I think he was just a weak character. I also don’t think he was using tact and guile – the way he is portrayed makes it seem like he is trying to turn his father out of a need to make a connection with his father emotionally. Just thinking about the duel in the throne room, Luke allows his emotions to get the best of him – that is not tactful at all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lombardi, you’ve got no idea what you’re writing about. Think about story telling and how characters connect with the audience. Luke is the greatest hero because he doubts himself all along yet he succeeds in those inner struggles. Luke counts on his friends because that is how life works. He ain’t no Superman. Luke incarnates the audience: flawed and hopeful.

    • I am not refuting that Luke has a connection with the audience. The audience shares Luke’s wonder, uncertainty and even sometimes fear throughout the entire saga. I also am not refuting that he is able to overcome his inner struggles, just as the audience has to overcome daily struggles in their own lives. While Luke is overcoming his inner struggles in the throne room, his allies are taking down the shield generator on Ender and destroying both the second Death Star and the Super Star Destroyer. Luke doesn’t really succeed in much throughout the saga that is quantifiable in terms of progress in the Rebellion’s efforst against the Empire, at least not without a great deal of reliance on other people.

  8. Anonymous says:

    looking at it from that perspective, I totally agree with you, nothing he did accomplished much except for his lucky shot to destroy the Death Star. Everything that happened to actually win the battles was accomplished by others.

    • David Conrad says:

      It wasn’t a lucky shot, though, it was the Force. Of all the people in the Galaxy, only Luke or Leia could have made the shot without relying on very unlikely random chance. Even people who can bullseye womp-rats would have had a damn hard time.

  9. This is a load of _bantha pudu._ When Luke disobeyed Yoda, he arguably saved his friends from death by torture or a life of slavery. And he did it–impulsively or not–knowing he was at great risk. I suspect he would have done it even had he known he would lose a hand, and nearly his life, in the process. He showed loyalty to his friends and compassion–things two of the wisest Jedi masters were all too insensitive to, if you ask me! Similarly, Luke is the only person who believes his father is not beyond redemption. He saves his father instead of murdering him as his mentors want him to do (!), and gets the Emperor killed in the process. So his father helped him–so what? How does this diminish his accomplishments? He showed faith in the Force and faith in the power of Good to conquer Evil.

    You think having a Force Spirit mentor diminishes Luke’s accomplishments? How many people can even sense the Force? Do you think Han could have made the shot that destroyed the Death Star, or that Ben could have guided him? Yes, Luke was impulsive in the first two movies, but he grows over the course of the story. And what makes you think that he “could have freed his friends without murdering anyone”? He tried that; Jabba wouldn’t play ball (and wasn’t susceptible to the Mind Trick). Leaving his lightsaber hidden inside R2 and planting allies in Jabba’s lair was the result of foresight and excellent planning. And in turning Vader back to the Light, he achieved more than his own teachers thought was even possible.

    You, sir, are a very harsh critic–and in my view, a blind one as well.

    • I’m going to be honest. I didn’t read all of that. I stopped at bantha pudu because I don’t know what that means and I blacked out, regaining consciousness at that last sentence. So I guess I’m a harsh critic, blind and also susceptible to the Jedi mind trick.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jeff Lombardi claims not to have read the above comment yet still feels compelled to respond to it. Also, if he honestly doesn’t recognize the term “bantha pudu” then he didn’t see the above films. What I make from both these points is that he has an enormous ego and is essentially a lazy op ed contributor. One would suggest that better writers and thinkers are common and should be sought to replace this column.

    • Dear Anonymous. You’re right. I read it. Well, enough to get the gist. I also know what bantha pudu is – context clues (I was an English teacher, blah, blah, blah). I was attempting something called “snark.” I don’t know what that translates to in the Star Wars Universe. And yes, of course I’ve seen them all. I do, after all, have a heart capable of human emotions. Finally, I agree that my ego is enormous. That is surely the only explanation here that you have so bravely pointed out. I say brave because you posted your comment with your name and picture and everything. So long, I’m off to sit on the couch for the rest of the night and use a rag on a stick to swab under my lazy stomach folds.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m not a huge Luke Skywalker fan but it’s amazing how you can see every obstacle in Luke’s path and not understand why they are there or what they represent to the hero’s journey. More than anything else, Luke is a hero for simply not turning back. This is the entire point as paraphrased by both Lucas and Campbell. I understand that this is a humorous article but basically nothing in it is more than superficially accurate. By the same logic, Captain Kirk and Indiana Jones are both awful heroes who managed more harm than good during their tenure. Also, Luke was supposed to be tempted, tested and in the end able to refuse the call to the dark side. This is more than a mere detail, it’s the underlying premise of his arc.

    • So Luke’s big accomplishment is not throwing in the towel? Listen, my major point here is that compared to his allies, he affects little actual change in the galaxy they all inhabit. The Emperor is dead, yes, but mainly because Vader dead-lifted him and tossed him down the exhaust pipe or whatever chasm that was supposed to be. If Vader hadn’t done that, Luke would be as dead as moths that fly toward the light.

      And to your second point, Kirk is nothing more than a poon hound who is constantly reeled in by Spock, et al, and Indiana Jones basically destroys every foreign land he enters in pursuit of his own goals – just like America!

      Lastly, and I believe I pointed this out in an earlier reply to a comment, Campbell can suck it.

  11. Alban says:

    FINALLY. I’ve been saying this since watching the original trilogy as a child. I was always mocked and beaten up for it. Thank you for finally putting together an argument and validating my bullied childhood.

    Next, please put together an argument on why Harry Potter is a sucky hero. Thank you.