Star Wars is truly a film series that links generations together. Fans of the original showed their children the prequels, and some of the children who loved the prequels are now taking their younglings to see The Force Awakens and Rogue One. With these generations of Force-loving fans, it would be easy to think all the Jedi secrets have been shaken out of a galaxy far, far away. Along the way, though, fans have made many assumptions about their most beloved movies and characters that aren’t true … even from «a certain point of view.»
Stormtroopers are terrible shots
This misconception dates all the way back to the first Star Wars movie. Obi-Wan Kenobi serves as a hype man for Stormtroopers and their accuracy when he determines that Sand People couldn’t have killed the Jawas in the desert. «Only Imperial Stormtroopers are this precise,» he said. However, when our heroes rescue Princess Leia from the Death Star, the Stormtroopers seemingly can’t land a single shot, leading to four decades of jokes about these «precise» troopers having absolutely terrible aim.
However, this is proven false by a major plot point of the movie. Princess Leia speculates (and Grand Moff Tarkin confirms) that their escape was «too easy,» and that the Empire simply let them go. This is true, of course, with our heroes unwittingly bringing a homing beacon back to their hidden base. The heroes obviously can’t lead the Empire back to the base if the heroes are fried to a crisp like Luke’s aunt and uncle. Therefore, all those Stormtroopers had to deliberately miss the main characters, in order for the plan to work. Instead of joking about their bad aim, viewers should really be congratulating them on their solid improvisational acting abilities!
Luke would never join the Empire
Here’s another misconception that stems from the first movie. Most viewers assume that Luke would never have joined the Empire. In fact, he practically says so himself, telling C-3PO about how much he hates the Empire, and showing clear enthusiasm for stories about the Rebellion.
Luke gives a bit of a mixed message, though, when he argues with his uncle about being able to join «the Academy» like his friend Biggs did. Canonically, this academy is an Imperial Academy—Biggs joined the Empire before defecting with several others, which is a similar story to Wedge Antilles. This is made clear in some of the deleted scenes from the first movie, as well as some of the extended universe material that later came out. To be fair, it’s entirely possible that Luke would have ended up defecting like his friends did, but the truth remains that, if his uncle had been more lenient, Luke would have been wearing a TIE pilot uniform before he ever flew down a Death Star trench as a Rebel pilot.
«Less than 12 parsecs» was a mistake
Han Solo drove nerds crazy when he bragged about making the Kessel Run in «less than 12 parsecs.» As almost any sci-fi fan will tell you, a parsec is a measurement of distance, and not time. Therefore, this claim doesn’t work in the «how fast can you win the race» sense, because it instead means Han somehow completed this run in less distance. Must be a plothole, right?
Not really. Multiple writers and fans over the years have successfully taken to writing both Han Solo and George Lucas out of this particular corner. The most accepted explanation comes from Star Wars: The Essential Atlas. These books explain that the Kessel Run itself runs really close to a series of black holes known as «The Maw.» The normal run was typically 18 parsecs long, but pilots could get close to the black holes to effectively cut parsecs off their run.
In one particular misadventure, Han pilots right through the heart of the Maw and emerges on the other side. Thus, the nature of his boast is twofold, as it proves his superiority to other pilots (most of whom wouldn’t dare get so close to the black holes) and the power of his ship (it obviously takes some powerful engines to skirt black holes without falling in).
Of course, the science of skimming so close to a black hole also means that, realistically, Han Solo would have time-traveled decades into the future due to time dilation. If you’re feeling generous, this does bolster its claim, as going 40 years in a day really does make the Falcon the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!
Leia was a beloved character from the start
As far as most fans are concerned, Leia Organa is an absolutely beloved character and always has been. She’s a take-charge, badass woman who rescues others as much as she gets rescued, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. There’s a reason that Leia’s a feminist icon — even when she’s put in a weird gold bikini to be an alien slug’s slave, she ends up choking the actual life out of him.
Thing is, according to no less than Carrie Fisher herself, Leia being a beloved icon from Scene 1 on was not the case. In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone magazine (the one with possibly the greatest cover of any publication in the galaxy), Fisher revealed that the writers struggled to make Leia easy to relate to. Because she had lost her planet and everyone on it, Fisher said «all she has is a cause» and that for the writers, the «only way they knew to make the character strong was to make her angry.»
Therefore, the same strength that many fans love about Leia left a lot of early fans cold, and Fisher said they thought she was «some kind of space b****.» According to her, Return of the Jedi involved very deliberate reinvention of her character, where she «gets to be more feminine, more supportive, more affectionate.» (This would explain her more pronounced romance with Han, friendship with Ewoks, empathy with Luke, and so on.)
The ironic downside to softening her character, however, is that because these movies were presented as «basically boys’ fantasies,» the filmmakers felt they couldn’t fully feminize Leia without having «her take off her clothes» — hence, the infamous gold bikini was born.
Ewoks are cute and harmless
Ewoks are some of the most reviled aliens in all of Star Wars fandom. Some fans resent what might have been (originally, Return of the Jedi was going to feature Wookies instead of Ewoks), while others resent that they are a clear marketing ploy to children (for instance, the word «Ewok» is never used in the movie, but the never-ending bevy of merchandise and crappy cartoons made the word universal).
Perhaps above all, fans resent that the Ewoks are presented as cute and harmless. Here’s the deal, though: Ewoks aren’t cute and cuddly at all. Canonically, they hunt and eat other living creatures, like humans, which is what they tried to do to Han (as shown here) — C3PO even tells Han that the smuggler will be «the main course at a banquet in my honor.» Remember the cutesy scene at the end, with the Ewok drumming on those Stormtrooper helmets? He almost certainly cooked and ate that soldier before doing a Stomp routine with his armor.
If that’s not enough, Lucas revealed on the commentary to the 2004 re-release of the Star Wars movies that the Ewoks and their guerrilla fighting are modeled after the Viet Cong. In addition to the uncomfortable fact that this basically makes America the Empire, it means that those cutesy teddy bear creatures are modeled after a military force that killed nearly 60,000 trained soldiers. Next time someone tells you Ewoks are cute, ask them how they can casually admire an alien metaphor for cannibalistic Viet Cong soldiers.
Vader said «Luke, I am your father»
Darth Vader’s famous for many things, perhaps the biggest being the revelation that he is Luke Skywalker’s father. Hence, everyone working their best Darth Vader imitation voice and uttering the famous line, «Luke, I am your father!» Like you just did. It’s OK to admit it.
There’s just one problem here: Darth Vader never said that. Joining the ranks of quotes like «Beam me up, Scotty,» the line «Luke, I am your father» has been misremembered and misquoted by countless people for decades. The actual line that Vader utters is, «No, I am your father.»
Now, in the context of Empire Strikes Back, the real line makes a lot of sense, as it’s a retort to Luke accusing Vader of betraying and murdering his father. The misquote, on its own, also makes sense because people saying «no» unbidden is very confusing, while adding «Luke» gives an otherwise out-of-place quote some much-needed cultural context. Or, if you subscribe to the online cult of the Mandela Effect, Vader did say «Luke, I am your father,» and people are simply experiencing shared memories from a parallel universe.
C3PO was always completely golden
When The Force Awakens came out, audiences were happy to see the return of C3PO, even though when he was on screen, it was clear that something had changed. Specifically, he now had a red arm, instead of his typical golden appendage. Many fans were surprised, as they remembered C3PO as being entirely golden in the Original Trilogy. However, that’s not true at all.
In the Original Trilogy, C3PO actually sported a silver leg throughout his adventures that broke up his otherwise-uniform golden body. Older, non-canonical stories attempted to explain that his original golden leg was blown off by a bomb and then replaced, but it’s far more likely that the droid — like everything else in the original movie — was meant to have a «used» look that contributed to the feeling of a lived-in universe (which contrasts starkly with the pristine look of the Prequel Trilogy).
Visually, the presence of that replaced limb also helps prove his claim to Luke that he and R2D2 have been traveling around the galaxy in the company of Rebels, which is a very dangerous occupation. Also, the prequel revelation that C3PO was actually created by a young Anakin Skywalker, from the various parts he cobbled together, helps explain that the character has always been a bit of a patchwork creation that gets additions and replacements from time to time.
Tatooine is remote and unimportant
Audiences see Star Wars through the eyes of Luke Skywalker, which unfortunately means our perceptions are limited by Luke’s biases. For instance, like most young people stuck with the people who raised them, Luke hates where he lives. He describes Tatooine as being the «planet farthest from» any kind of «bright center to the universe,» and constantly pesters his Uncle Owen to let him enter the Academy, so as to eventually leave the planet. Because of all this, viewers get the idea that Tatooine is remote and unimportant. However, there’s plenty of evidence that this is flat-out wrong.
Canonically, Luke lives in the boondocks on a farm. However, Tatooine seems filled with cities like Mos Eisley and Mos Espa, both full of life and commerce. The very presence of smugglers like Han Solo and the other denizens of the Cantina means there’s plenty of business (both legal and otherwise) for them to procure on the planet. Then there’s Phantom Menace, which made it apparent that Tatooine hosts numerous events sponsored by influential beings like Jabba the Hutt — including major podraces — that seem to attract tourists and participants from all over the galaxy.
Why, then, do other characters sometimes comment on how remote Tatooine is? Consider the source, as these are usually Republic characters who view anything outside of their boundaries (and, therefore, outside their control) as far away and unimportant, despite all the apparent tourism and commerce happening.