From Han to Thrawn: Celebrating the Force-Free Characters of Star Wars

Jennifer Heddle | November 1, 2013

Star Wars: Legacy Vol. 2 - Prisoner of the Floating World

In an earlier blog post I pointed to our new Legacy comic book series as an example of a story that I believe has all the classic elements of Star Wars. But there’s something else that I love about the series, too, that I didn’t mention at the time: the main protagonist, Ania Solo, is not a Force user.

Don’t get me wrong, the Force is an integral part of the Star Wars mythos, and I like the Jedi as much as anyone. But there’s an important role to be played in the galaxy far, far away by regular folks who get by without the help of mysterious powers. Not just because those characters bring their own set of skills to the table, but because they are the characters it’s often easier for us to relate to.

Han Solo is probably the most obvious example of this. While Luke drinks up what Obi-Wan is selling in Episode IV wholesale, Han exhibits the skepticism that most of us probably would if a crazy old man in the desert started telling us about mystical energy that helps you move things with your mind. You can’t really blame a guy who’s had to get by on his wits, and who hasn’t always gotten the best end of what the galaxy has to offer, to be a bit more reliant on the things he knows to be true.

Han Solo in the cantina.

Luckily, it’s those very wits that make him such an asset to the Rebellion, and to his friends. He brings a special set of skills that may not involve the Force, but which benefit the cause regardless. As does Princess Leia — sure, we see hints of her Force sensitivity in the movies, but it isn’t used in the cause of the Rebellion. And she still helps save the galaxy without it.

(I said on Twitter that I would mention my potentially controversial opinion here that I kind of wish Leia had never become a Jedi in the EU — I can understand her exploring her Force sensitivity a little bit, but I feel like overall she would think “that’s Luke’s thing” and follow her own path. She doesn’t need the Force to be awesome, after all. That’s just one person’s opinion, of course. Wait till you hear my rant about how there’s no evidence in the films that she’s any good at diplomacy!)

But I digress! One of the great things about Star Wars is that everyone has something to contribute, whether they can tap into the Force or not. (I mean, if everyone could use the Force, how boring would that be?) And to bring it back to the fiction, there are some great EU characters without Force powers: the aforementioned Ania Solo, the members of Wraith Squadron, Theron Shan, Admiral Thrawn, Jahan Cross, Winter, Jagged Fel, Dani the Zeltron (I had to get an old school reference in there), and so many more. It’s fun to imagine oneself having Force powers and being a Jedi Knight (or a Sith), but odds are that we’d be more like one of these folks, just doing our best to survive and fight for what we believe is right.

And sometimes it’s just more fun, and adds to the suspense, to follow a hero who can’t fall back on the Force when he or she is in a tough spot. There’s something exhilarating about only being able to rely on oneself, and Star Wars writers have executed that well since the beginning. Ania Solo may not have the Force, but she sure comes up with creative ways to get out of a jam.

So let’s raise a glass of blue milk to those characters who have to make their way through the galaxy without the Force — Star Wars wouldn’t be the same without them.

Jennifer Heddle is senior editor for Lucas Books.

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