Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Jedi (Supposed Most Powerful Beings)
Remember when we first met Ben Kenobi? Well, to be fair, I wasn't born yet, my parents weren't even married yet. But I can imagine how it felt to be a new goer to this wonderful movie that is the first Star Wars movie. Even watching it now, my favorite character next to Yoda is Ben. He's the wise old sage. He taught Luke how to wield a lightsaber without seeing. He sacrificed himself to be able to make ghostly contact with Luke. He was our introduction to the mysterious beings that are Jedi. While not being overly menacing, in fact being very friendly and warm, he seemed like the most powerful being in the Galaxy. Other than Vader of course.
But next, we're introduced to someone who's even less intimidating. Yoda personifies the wise old sage. He knows how to be playful and silly, but serious and strict when necessary. Yoda was so mysterious, but when he lifted Luke's X-Wing out of the swamp, we realized how powerful he must have been in his salad days. Then we are shown an even more powerful side to a force wielder: The Emperor. This guy is one bad dude. He can shoot lightning from his hands! The full power of the darkside for sure. Being a Jedi, or conversely a Sith, obviously has it's perks. But since there was only four people in the galaxy who were fully trained in the force, and a boy who was learning, audiences figured that being able to "Use the force" meant you were pretty special.
Fast forward to 1999. George Lucas releases a whole new Star Wars movie, one that would become such a tarnish on the Star Wars name that everyone has decided to pick it apart. I don't deny that the movie is bad, but that's not what I'm writing about. In the prequel trilogy, we are introduced to the Jedi at their peak, the Jedi being stretched thin, and the ultimate demise of the Jedi. But it's still kept that the Jedi are special people. They are automatically Generals in the army. Their numbers are decreasing faster than they can train new jedis. Their code is strict; you can't be any older than like 4 to become a Jedi padawan, no relationships, etc. Their ranks are still considered to be legendary, even the slaves on an outer rim planet view them as some sort of saviors.
Where am I going with all of this? Over the course of history, the Jedi have gone from being mysterious people with superhuman powers, to something of a joke. Hear me out on this. When you go from having Yoda and Obi-Wan/Ben Kenobi being the only jedi in existence to everyone being able to do it, how special is being a jedi?
One of the first things I can think of, is their weapon. Remember Han? "Ancient weapons and an old religion is no match for a good blaster at your side." But a sword of pure energy that in the hands of a skilled Jedi can take on even the best blaster? Epic. It was said that someone who isn't a jedi can't even turn on the weapon, let alone use it. I don't remember where, but I remember reading in one of the expanded universe things that Han Solo showed a high level of skill being able to not only turn on Luke's lightsaber, but use it to skillfully dissect a taun-taun. But if you're not a jedi, don't even think of touching a lightsaber.
Until we get to the expanded universe. The best example I can think of is in the animated series. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has used a lightsaber at one point. Padme nearly uses one, bounty hunters use them, random people off the street use one. Even a mandalorian warrior uses a lightsaber, and quite skillfully as well. He takes on Jedi MASTER Obi-Wan with it, and defeats him in a duel. I can imagine being able to turn it on, maybe even swing it at people, but deflect blaster shots? Come on people, this weapon was meant to be legendary.
The next big thing that the Jedi no longer have going for them, is their connection to the force. Sure, Yoda explained all the way back in "Empire" that the force binds all living things together. But I always figured that was more in a spiritual sense, rather than a literal one. But George Lucas decided to screw that idea up by introducing midi-chlorians.
In this sense, if the living force flows through all living things, and are also responsible for the astounding powers that they give to people, then it would make sense that everyone, EVERYONE has the ability to use the force. Leah is Luke's sister, so it makes sense that she too would have a strong connection to the force. Any kids they would have also would have a connection to the force. But in the expanded universe, anything and anyone has that same connection, and in the weirdest times is able to tap into that power.
Let's look at the animated series again. Dooku turns on his apprentice he has been training, and gets himself a new Zabrak. The planet they were on was ruled by witches, who used probably a darker, mysterious version of the force. But the males were completely dominated, and not at all trained in the ways of the force. However, Ventress hand picks a male to be her successor, who after not a lot of time, (The clone wars only lasts 3 years so in reality most of the events that occur can't go on for THAT long) shows such a strong ability with the force, that he can actually grip Dooku. And Ventress. At the same time, as well as overcome the devastating power of Dooku's lightning. Wow. In only a matter of months, he surpasses most Jedi in sheer power. Huh? What happened to force users being an elite class?
This brings me to my next point. Anyone who has played the Force Unleashed can probably relate to this. While I agree that the Emperor, Yoda, even Vader are very powerful with the force, none of what we have ever seen them accomplish can even compare to what Starkiller can do. He takes on Rancors, AT-STs, steals Vader's lightsaber as a boy, pulls a Star Destoyer out of the sky, and bests both Vader and the Emperor in a duel. He is without a doubt the most powerful being we have seen in Star Wars lore, other than the Force Wielders. (More on them later). I don't have a problem with his power, it brings us back to that idea that the Jedi (or Sith) are an elite set of people. But in comparison with all others, his power greatly exceeds all others.
So let's look at some people in comparison. Starkiller killed hordes and hordes of people with nothing other than his lightsaber and force powers. But, a JEDI MASTER, Plo Koon, cannot take on a few battle droids attacking his escape pod. While I'll admit that using the force to keep space from killing him is pretty cool, he should still be able to quickly force push them off the pod and no problem. The Jedi seem to be selective in their ability to use the force. They have performed amazing feats when necessary, but other than that seem to stick with the idea of "Don't abuse the force." Sad really.
That leaves me with one last discrepancy, Force wielders. They were introduced in the animated series (yes I'm referencing it a lot). They go from being insanely powerful, to weak, to powerful, to weak, to dead, in a matter of three episodes. At first, the dad could grab and disarm Obi-Wan's lightsaber with his hand. (Oh before I forget, Satele Shan can do that too! And Vader blocks blasters with his hands! But don't you dare try to take on one little battle droid.) But in the arena, Anakin shows his true place as the Chosen One by being able to subdue both Son and Daughter. Next episode, Son is being a bad boy and turning Ahsoka, pure hearted Ahsoka, to the dark side with a love bite. Son, Daughter, and Father wield the force with such power that Obi-Wan and Ahsoka can't comprehend it, and Anakin can't control it (yet). Then once Daughter is dead, this pretty much kills Father, and then Son also becomes weak and gets his face killed. Weird. Lucasarts completely changed Anakin's role as the Chosen One with those three episodes, but he killed the physical incarnations of the light side, dark side, and neutral side of the force. Balance?
I could go on about the apparent lack of credibility that the Jedi seem to continue to be losing. Just looking at the class differences in The Old Republic seems to show that the Jedi aren't going to be the dominating class. Looks like a bounty hunter will be able to take him on. Or a guy with a rifle. Nevertheless, long gone are the days when being a Jedi meant being part of something much bigger than yourself.
Next up, The rise and fall of Vader (but not the way George Lucas intended).