We all have our favorites from the Star Wars series. Han Solo, Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jar Jar Binks — but there’s one hero from a galaxy far, far away, who, like Rodney Dangerfield, just can’t get no respect.
I’m referring, of course, to the greatest father figure in the Star Wars Universe; Owen Lars. In a universe full of missing, deceased, or apparently non-existent fathers, Owen Lars was a stabilizing force in the development of the galaxy’s greatest hero.
We all know the story of Luke Skywalker and his daddy issues, but lost in the mythology of the single greatest movie series ever made is the fact that Luke is kind of a jerk to the only man who ever bothered to give the young man the time of day. And that’s got to be tough to do with two suns.
In the original Star Wars film, we’re introduced to Owen Lars through Luke, and it’s quickly evident that Lars is a dictator because… well, because he doesn’t want Luke to leave. Watch out, Hitler, there’s a new face of tyranny.
But Owen Lars’ determination to prevent Luke from flying out to the stars comes from a place of deep love. To those who watched the film in 1977, before the release of Empire Strikes Back, Owen’s actions are certainly questionable. Like most of my ex girlfriends, he seems to just hate fun. Or, adventure, at least. However, once it’s made clear that Luke’s father is *spoilers* Darth Vader, his whole attitude seems a lot more sensible.
Instead of worrying that Luke will become some swashbuckling thrill seeker, Owen is worried that the boy he raised from infancy will become the living embodiment of evil. #FirstWorldProblems
After the Lars family is slaughtered in cold blood, Luke barely mourns it, and immediately goes against his dead father figure’s wishes. In fact, Luke spends more time emoting about the loss of Ben Kenobi, a man he hardly knows, than he does about the gruesome murders of his only known family — the man and woman who raised him. Considering the hell Luke is willing to go through for his friends and estranged family later in the series, this complete lack of compassion is chilling.
The worst part about Luke’s indifference is the fact that Owen had no reason to take the boy in. Watching A New Hope, you may be forgiven for believing that Owen and Anakin Skywalker had a long and likely contentious relationship. The truth, as we see in Attack of the Clones, is that they barely knew each other. In fact, when Owen introduces himself to Anakin as his stepbrother, the future Vader shrugs him off, as if the idea of having a brother is repulsive.
Owen isn’t even Anakin’s half brother. They share no blood whatsoever, yet, when Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives at the Lars homestead with a newborn baby and tales of its’ father’s genocidal outrage, Owen accepts the boy as his own, foregoing any plans the young man likely harbored for leaving the moisture farm himself.
A thirst for adventure is unlikely a trait held only by Skywalkers. Owen Lars likely didn’t find his family’s farm to be that glamorous, but he stuck around, helped his father, and took care of his wife because that’s what a man with responsibilities has to do. Luke had responsibilities as well, and all that Owen ever asked in exchange for raising him was a little help during the harvest season.
Wouldn’t the story of Star Wars be much different if someone showed up at Luke’s doorstep with a baby and asked him to raise it? There would be no adventures among the stars, no lightsabers, and no Jedi training. Luke would have to forget his own desires, possibly marry someone he doesn’t love, simply for the stability, and raise a child that isn’t his own.
Owen Lars did all of that. He took into his care the son of a man he never knew, with their only real connection being that he once lived with the boy’s grandmother. But Luke quickly forgot the man who raised him. Luke never wanted to be a working class hero. He sought the adventure that his father once enjoyed. And when young Luke discovered his father was still alive, he stopped at nothing to save him and honor the man’s memory after his death. Owen Lars didn’t even get a funeral.
We see you, Uncle Owen. We won’t let your memory die with your ungrateful adopted son.