Cyrus R. K. Patell

February 14, 2022

We celebrate Valentine’s Day by thinking about love in the old “Expanded Universe,” before moving on to Amrita Anand on love among the Rebels; Isabel Ríos on one fan’s Jedi-themed engagement video; and Lucas Gomez-Doyle's reflection on what watching Star Wars has meant to him and his father.

Those of you who have seen The Last Jedi know that Luke Skywalker’s life didn’t turn out the way he—and many fans of the original trilogy—expected it to. He ended up a disenchanted, grumpy old man, wracked by a sense of failure, living in self-imposed exile from both his family and friends and the Force. Ultimately, he would be redeemed by his spiritual daughter, Rey, who would take his name and his mantle in Rise of Skywalker.
In the alternate universe known as “Star Wars Legends,” however, Luke's life turns out differently, though hardly exempt from tragedy and suffering. He has a wife—Mara Jade—and a son named Ben, after you-know-who. Luke and Mara don't exactly get off on the right foot: in fact, she is the “Emperor’s Hand,” programmed to carry out Palpatine’s final order, transmitted through the Force, as he is plummeting to his apparent death at the end of Return of the Jedi: “Kill Luke Skywalker!” You can read all about it in Timothy Zahn's original Thrawn trilogy, which brought the old “Expanded Universe” into being. It's still great reading, even if it is no longer canonical. Start with the the twentieth-anniversary edition of the first novel, Heir to the Empire, which features a new introduction by Zahn and annotations by Zahn and the book’s editor Betsy Mitchell.
If you're in the mood for something shorter, check out the Valentine Day’s Day comic book shown below, which was published by Dark Horse Comics in 2003 and presents an alternative backstory for the romance between Han Solo and Leia Organa. You can find it on Amazon Kindle and ComiXology.
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Romance is far from the first thing one would associate with a Jedi, who are far more memorable for their lightsabers, their unique robes, and their use of the abilities they are granted by the Force for the good of the general community. Few are the instances of romance that we do see, and while the tragic relationship of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala comes first to mind, Star Wars: Rebels (2014–2018) introduces a functional, healthy romantic relationship between the characters Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla.
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Kanan Jarrus, a tall, human Jedi, holds Hera Syndulla, a Twi'lek Rebel pilot as they stand in a desert-like setting against the sunset.[Source: Rebels 2.20 “The Mystery of Chopper Base”]
Their relationship is a subtle undercurrent to the team dynamics of their ship, the Ghost, with fewer heart-stopping declarations of love and more self-explanatory indications of the trust and respect found in committed relationships. They both also maintain equally important relationships with the rest of the crew and are aware of the demands and possible costs of their responsibilities as leaders of the slowly amassing Rebellion.
Would the Order have disapproved of such a relationship, due to the commitment demanded of each Jedi? It is likely that the relationship would not have been feasible given the lifestyle of the Jedi, as proven by Obi-Wan Kenobi’s own unrealized relationship with Mandalorian Duchess Satine Kryze—both of whom chose their institutional duties to their over their feelings, despite knowingly reciprocating them. Nevertheless, the nature of Kanan and Hera's relationship does align with Jedi ideals of love that is selfless and free without obsession or possession. (See, for example, this excerpt from the episode “Jedi Night,” in which a self-aware Kanan gives Ezra command of the mission to rescue Hera.)
Hera’s missions as a part of the Phoenix Squadron take her through perilous flights and often life-threatening scenarios, and Kanan’s training missions with Ezra often place them in opposition to the Inquisitors—yet neither interferes unless the other’s help is needed, usually recognized on a case-by-case basis. They step up and back accordingly, mutually supporting each other even through differences.
Ultimately, they act as a foil for the Jedi-non-Jedi relationships seen previously, and uproot the notion that Jedi romances are inherently tragic: though Kanan and Hera’s relationship does end tragically, the time it lasts is anything but, supported as it is by the family they build around them.

In Episode II, we see Anakin and Padmé marry in the beautiful and idyllic Varykino lake retreat of Naboo. We also witness their long-awaited declaration of love before they are wheeled into the battle arena. Yet we never see a proposal! For all the romantics, the overachievers, and those unsatisfied by the Jedi romances on the big screen, look no further! 
Here, on the smaller screen of YouTube, Star Wars fan Korey Lewis delivers. Embark on a cinematic journey which will leave you craving another forbidden Jedi wedding.

A few days back, I ran into a friend while at the gym. Due to the pandemic, I had not had the opportunity to see him in quite some time. He noticed me right away, hollering a warm hello. But he also noticed something else, my t-shirt. It was a black and white graphic-tee adorning the words “Star Wars” with a full-length portrait of Kylo Ren and Rey. The shirt had been a gift from my grandmother, who cognizant of my infatuation for the franchise, had sent me the shirt shortly after the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). I think she has always enjoyed that my name is similar to Luke Skywalker’s.
I had not known my friend was a fan. But, as I soon learned, he was an enormous one. He went on to explain the first movie he had ever seen in a theater was A New Hope (1977). Even through his face mask, you could see how excited he became looking back on the memory, a grin that even the surgical mask could not contain. He quickly added that the sequel trilogy was not his cup of tea: “It’s not bad, but as someone who grew up with the original films, these [the new releases] just aren’t the same.” The conversation soon turned to our mutual enjoyment of The Mandalorian (2019) and the newest addition to the Star Wars universe, The Book of Boba Fett (2021). We both agreed that the final episode had its work cut out for it, too many loose ends, too much possibility. We wanted to see it all. Later that day I reflected on the mutual love that both of us held for Star Wars. Over the course of our lives, the two of us had forged our connections with the transmedia phenomena. I started to think about how Star Wars had impacted my personal life.
When I was younger, my dad and I used to watch the Star Wars films together. (I am slowly trying to keep him up to date with a surplus of new books and television shows.) He had shown me the original trilogy, then the prequel trilogy, and when the sequel trilogy came out, the two of us had gone to the theater to see it together. When I was younger, I had not thought much of it. I was happy to spend the time with him, I enjoyed the movies, so I considered it nothing more than hours well spent. But as I have gotten older, my relationships with both my father and the franchise have gotten stronger. In some ways, I cannot help but think the movies brought us closer together. I look back on those memories with an enormous amount of happiness and gratitude that he decided to show them to me. They are stories held together by the love I have for my father and the love I have for the movies. Though it feels like I am a galaxy apart from him right now (despite its only being an ocean), I am wishing my dad, and everyone else who has been impacted by Star Wars, a day filled with hope, warmth, and love.

For further discussion of Star Wars and my book Lucasfilm: Filmmaking, Philosophy, and the Star Wars Universe (Bloomsbury), check out the following:
The Way Podcast, hosted by Bill Troveski; Galina Limorenko's interview with me for the New Books Network; and my session with Skeptics in the Pub Online.

Next Issue: The Vernal Equinox

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