PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – Happy Star Wars Day, a day that only exists because of a peculiarity of the spoken word! As you lean in to your geekery this May the 4th, take some time to ponder some of the biggest mysteries of the Star Wars canon.
Granted, there are innumerable little questions from across the franchise, and plenty that deal with the upcoming Episode IX, but we’re talking big picture here. The kind of stuff that makes you want to stare pensively at the triple moons of Tatooine in the distance and just wonder.
1. What was Yoda, anyway?
Come on, it’s Star Wars. Even the background creatures that flash across the screen for two seconds and are never seen again have entire Wikipedia pages devoted to their taxonomies. But Yoda is just… a frog gremlin human with a predilection for the Force? There are more individuals of Yoda’s type that appear throughout the Star Wars canon, but the species is never given a name or direct origin or any concrete biological information to tie them all together. Weird.
2. Why are the Stormtroopers such bad shots?
This may seem like the oldest joke in the universe, but the Stormtroopers’ notable inability to hit anything smaller than the side of the Death Star itself far transcended the original trilogy, in which conflict-oriented shortcomings can be forgiven on the grounds of technology. (Never forget the series’ first lightsaber battle, which is 70% just Obi-Wan and Darth Vader standing around, two-handing their weapons like they’re wild snakes.) Anyway, there’s a pretty good theory about the Stormtroopers’ poor aim that draws on Chirrut Imway’s death in “Rogue One.” Basically, the theory goes that the Force acts in some way to deflect bullets. Depending on how cynical you are, there’s another another name for this phenomenon: plot armor.
3. We’re really cool with the idea that Darth Vader just didn’t have a dad?
Right, so. Darth Vader, whose name literally means “Dark Father” in German, doesn’t have a dad? His mother Shmi and Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn just explain this away in “The Phantom Menace” via some Midi-chlorian mumbo-jumbo, and everyone is just fine with the idea that Anakin Skywalker’s other parent was essentially a bunch of microscopic beings attracted to the force. Does this happen often on Tatooine? The concept is expanded upon in other Star Wars literature, but still with the same central notion: No dad. By the way, if we’re talking prophecy here, virgin births are a pretty big Messianic signifier. It’s no wonder Qui-Gonn was sure Anakin would be the Chosen One (more on that later).
4. Why didn’t Darth Vader just force choke anyone who bothered him?
It’s established pretty early on that Darth Vader is capable of executing the Sith force choke (he handily dispatches Admiral Motti in “A New Hope”). If you could choke someone with your mind, why would you ever commit murder any way else? It’s most likely because lightsabers just look cool. Understandable.
5. What was Han Solo’s real name?
In “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” it’s revealed that Han Solo wasn’t born with that cool surname, but rather randomly assigned it by an Imperial Navy officer. It’s a minor thing, but come on. The man should be fully known. (Plus, this also means he passed on this adopted surname to his biological child. Not completely out there, but still an odd thing to note.) And yes, other characters have only been known by their first name, but some, like Rey, ostensibly have last names that just haven’t been revealed yet.
6. What’s up with Snoke?
Ever since he appeared in “The Force Awakens,” Supreme Leader Snoke had some serious big bad guy vibes. He has that same mottled reptilian Emperor Palpatine look, he is allegedly ancient and deeply understanding of the history of the Force, he is the reason Kylo Ren was pushed to the Dark Side, and now he’s…dead. Seems like a waste. There are plenty of theories about this one, too, including that he is actually Darth Plagueis, Emperor Palpatine’s mentor who is mentioned in the prequels. However, this has been disproven. The mystery continues. (Or does it? Oh no, is Snoke Star Wars’ Night King?)
7. Who is Rey, really?
This is perhaps the biggest mystery at the forefront of fans’ minds going into Episode IX. Is she a Skywalker? A Palpatine? Just some rando from Jakku? Every spoken indication in the movies has pointed to the last explanation, and if she does turn out to be from a Force-rich bloodline, it’s either going to immediately make perfect sense and be mind-blowing, or take some serious mental retconning to make sense.
Remember, while certain families have been shown to have a propensity for Force abilities, Jedi methods of training and recruitment confirm the force doesn’t necessarily need to be strong in someone’s family tree Maybe her dad is just a bunch of Midi-chlorians. Who knows.
Also, something to think about, and it could be a coincidence: Names mean a lot in the Star Wars universe (again, VADER). You know what Rey means? King, from the Latin regere, meaning to lead or keep straight. Carry on.
8. If the Jedi prophecy foretells of a Chosen One who will balance the force, doesn’t that mean the Dark Side shouldn’t be destroyed?
According to the prophecy, the Chosen One will bring order to the galaxy by destroying the Sith. But if the Sith is representative of the Dark Side, wouldn’t that just create a new imbalance in the Force? And if Anakin was the Chosen One, why is the Force so out of whack in current Star Wars time, with a new Sith order rising under Kylo Ren and the Jedi all but wiped out (or so we think)? Are light and dark ultimately meant to exist alongside each other, or is the galaxy just going to continue to switch from one to another until Disney gets tired of making movies? This is the stuff that keeps us up at night.
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