Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope is one of my favorite movies. I watched it 17 times the year we got HBO (circa 1983). For those of you who haven’t had it etched into your memories, here’s a brief recap of the entire six part (so far) saga:
Anakin Skywalker is born a slave on Tatooine. Anakin meets Qui-Gon, a Jedi Knight, and his apprentice, Obi-Wan, who discover that the Force is strong in him. They manage to win Anakin from his owner, but his mother, Shmi, is forced to remain a slave on Tatooine. Shmi marries Cliegg Lars, who already has a son, Owen. She is kidnapped by Tusken raiders, who torture her to the point of death. She dies in Anakin’s arms. In response, Anakin kills everyone and everything in the camp.
Later, Anakin secretly marries Padme Amidala, who becomes pregnant. Terrified of losing her too, Anakin is seduced to the Dark Side of the Force by Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious). He becomes convinced that the only way to ensure that he and Padme live a long, happy life is to kill all the Jedi.
Through a poorly conceived plot device, he places a Jedi mind chokehold on Padme. He battles Obi-Wan on the planet Mustafar and falls into a pit of lava. Palpatine rescues him and outfits him with cybernetic limb implants, thus creating Darth Vader. Padme survives just long enough to have twins, Luke and Leia. Luke is adopted by his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and grows up on Tatooine, while Leia is adopted by Bail Organa and Queen Breha and becomes the Princess of Alderaan.
Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine take over the galaxy. Luke meets Obi-Wan, who hires Han Solo and Chewbacca of the starship Millennium Falcon to rescue the imprisoned Princess Leia. Obi-Wan knew Luke’s father, and starts teaching Luke about the Force. Later, Luke uses the force to destroy the Death Star, but Vader escapes. During a light saber fight, Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father. While training with the Jedi Master Yoda, Luke learns that Leia is his sister. In the final battle, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Billy Dee Williams, a pack of Ewoks, and the entire Rebel Alliance come together to defeat Vader and Palpatine once and for all.
So now that we’re all on the same page plot-wise, let’s talk about adoption.
Luke is shocked and devastated to find out that Vader is his father. Luke’s aunt and uncle did not tell Luke of his parentage because they did not want Luke to follow in his father’s footsteps. Obi-Wan tells him a half-truth by saying that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father. Luke knows absolutely nothing about his father, other than his original name, and he doesn’t know he has a sister until after he’s already been passionately kissed by Leia. (Which has always greatly disturbed me.)
But what if . . .
An open adoption is absolutely out of the question. Luke’s father is pure concentrated evil. Luke and Leia are separated so Vader won’t even guess that Padme had twins. (Does it bother anyone else that this galaxy doesn’t have ultrasounds?) It could definitely be argued that Luke and Leia should remain separate for Leia’s safety. However, there’s no reason that Luke couldn’t know who his father was, and he could know that he had a sister, even if he wasn’t able to see her.
If Luke knew that his father was Darth Vader, chances are, he’d be told his entire life how he could never, ever, ever use the Force. That he must be a moisture farmer (yeah, that’s a thing on Tatooine) like his aunt and uncle. And if that happened, you can bet he’d be sneaking over to the Dune Sea for Jedi Knight lessons from Obi-Wan Kenobi as soon as he could operate a speeder.
Luke knows that his father was Anakin Skywalker, who killed his mother, and became Darth Vader. He also knows that he has a sister, but he’s not allowed to know anything about her, in case Vader should become suspicious about this kid with the last name Skywalker on Tatooine visiting this Princess of Alderaan. The reason the plot can get away with Luke Skywalker being on Tatooine in the first place, is that Vader thinks he killed Padme before she gave birth. Yet, it’s clear in Episode V that Vader and the Emperor know that Luke is Vader’s son. At what point they figure that out, we don’t know. It’s safe to assume that Luke will be told that his father may not even know he’s alive, and really, that’s a good thing, because Vader would likely kill him too.
But will it seem like such a good thing to Luke? If he is constantly told about how evil his father is, and that he cannot use the Force for fear that he will also become evil, wouldn’t that become a self-fulfilling prophecy? How could Luke be sure that Vader would kill him? Perhaps, Luke might think, if Vader knew he existed, Vader could be redeemed. And, why, exactly, did Anakin kill Padme in the first place? What’s up with that, Dad? Yes, Luke would have many conflicting emotions.
By the time Leia got herself captured and the droids landed on Tatooine, he would be ready to confront his father . . .
Ultimately, Luke would be a much more conflicted character when he learns his adoption story. Growing up, knowing you’re the son of the baddest dude in the universe, constantly being told that you can’t be special because you’ll either a) become evil too or b) give yourself away and get killed by your father . . . this would not be not psychologically healthy. He wouldn’t be the 100%, white bread, shining hero in white (or black). Given Luke’s upbringing knowing his story, Episode V would not to be about Luke in training with a wise old Muppet in a swamp. It would be about Luke turning his back on the Rebellion, and his sister, to fulfill his destiny at his father’s side. Episode VI could still feature those cute and cuddly Ewoks, but redemption for both characters will come when they can sort out their feelings about being cut off from their families, distrusted by the people around them, used by authority figures, and hosts to a powerful Force they don’t fully understand.
And then Leia can save the known universe. Girl power!