Star Wars Character Remix

by Jimmy Akin

in Culture, Film and TV, Science Fiction

star-wars-charactersOne of the challenges J.J. Abrams and company had in making Star Wars: The Force Awakens was making things feel familiar, yet different.

That includes the main cast. Our new heroes needed to evoke Luke, Leia, and Han without being carbon copies of them.

The solution they opted for was to take the character traits of the original team and re-mix them.

(Minor spoilers ahead, but only minor ones.)

This was the same solution that Gene Roddenberry used when making Star Trek: The Next Generation—he took the character traits of the original cast of characters and shuffled and altered them. Thus:

  • Captain Kirk, the leader and action hero, got split into two characters (Picard and Riker)
  • Mr. Spock, the superintelligent alien who’s half-human and has limited telepathy, got split into three characters (Data, Worf, and Troi)
  • Dr. McCoy got turned into a series of women (Dr. Crusher, Dr. Pulaski, Dr. Crusher)

So how do the old Star Wars heroes get mapped onto the new ones?

I made the following table to explore that idea.

Not all elements of the table have the same weight, and some could be looked at more than one way, but I think they did a decent job of the remix.

A few observations:

  • Rey is the most complex of the characters, which is natural, because she is the main character. This, along with her complexity and a number of specifics, makes her most like Luke, though she has obvious elements from Leia and Han.
  • Reviewers immediately picked up on the fact that Poe Dameron is closest to Han Solo in terms of his personality, which makes him closest to Han, though he contains elements of Luke and Leia.
  • Finn’s connections with the original trio are the weakest (in substance, even if this isn’t reflected in the table). This means that he is the most original character of the bunch and may have the most potential to go interesting places as a character.

Doing character trait remixes is most important for the main characters.

In Next Gen, they needed to make sure that nobody was a carbon copy of Kirk or Spock, but after that it became less important to remix character elements.

In the same way, The Force Awakens needed to make sure nobody would be a carbon copy of Luke, Leia, or Han, but after that remixing didn’t matter as much. As a result, the characters in the supporting cast are easier to map onto their equivalents in the original trilogy:

  • R2-D2 becomes BB-8
  • Darth Vader becomes Kylo Ren
  • Emperor Palpatine becomes Supreme Leader Snoke
  • Grand Moff Tarkin becomes General Hux
  • Yoda is like Maz Kanada
  • Boba Fett is similar to Captain Phasma (a comparison the actress herself has made)

Your thoughts?

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{ 1 comment }

Andrew January 4, 2016 at 8:36 am

I think the only thing I’d disagree with is the “scruffy occupation” part of the table. I think Han’s “job” in the OT was more about excitement and adventure and freedom, whereas Rey’s “job” is more about drudgery and survival.

Otherwise this is all pretty much what I thought too. And I like the idea of tables comparing sequel characters to original characters in series; you should do more!

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