I remember it like it was yesterday. After a childhood enamored by the magic and mythos of Star Wars, Lucasfilm announced Episode I. My eyes got as big as cantaloupes. I turned to my wife, who was never a Star Wars fan, and smiled a wicked grin. Modern special effects, a story going straight to the beginning, the start of it all… yeah, she was gonna fall hard.
No surprise how that turned out. I felt like shaking my fist at the screen. “Lucas, I thought we were boys! I vouched for you!!”
Neither one of us liked it (and I really really wanted to like it). Her angst lay with Jar Jar Binks and I couldn’t blame her. He was an alien in blackface, Steppenfetchit in space. I didn’t like the bastard either. But he wasn’t the one that got my pot boiling. That was Anakin freaking Skywalker.
Everyone who went to see this movie knew Anakin was going to grow up to be one of the greatest and most memorable fictional characters of all time. He didn’t need a pedigree. But what’d you do, Lucas? You made him not only the Chosen One but also the direct son of the Force itself.
Anakin leaves the bitterest taste from it, but I’ve seen this way too much in fiction. There’s a Messiah in Anakin. And Neo. And Aslan. And Rand al’Thor. I’m trying to figure out why. I imagine the writers sitting around saying “Well, he’s not really likeable as a character. Maybe if we can mimic the life of someone a lot of people really really like he’ll be better.”
Or maybe they’re saying, “You know, this character is awesome. But as awesome as he is, and boy is he awesome, he’s just not awesome enough. He needs to be better than any man EVER.” I guess the character adopting a highway just won’t cut it.
Whatever it is you’re thinking, stop it. Here’s a tip for you, writer. People love characters in fiction because of what they DO. Anakin’s father being the Force doesn’t show me Anakin’s mettle. That just tells me that sometimes the Force gets lonely too. We love characters because of their own actions. No amount of prophecies foretelling their glorious coming and utterances of how they are the Chosen One is going to change that.
What all that stuff does do is piss me off. When I was born, there was no star in the east to herald the occasion. Three wise men didn’t give me any gifts. I got a smack on the ass from the doctor and I was off on my way to face the world.
A lot of us are like that. No silver spoon. No predestination. Just ordinary people, with ordinary parents, trying to become more than what we once were. Do you think The Chosen One is a relateable character to us? Is anybody out there watching the Matrix saying “I know how you feel Neo, they all want you to save the world on their schedule… give that man some space!”
Here’s a prophecy for you. I foresee all this lame foreshadowing as actually weakening your story draw… I see people emotionally distancing themselves from the characters and plot because subconsciously they already know what’s going to happen. The reason I put down the Wheel of Time series after like the third or fourth book is because Robert Jordan had a bad habit in the first two chapters of giving the reader a road map to the end of the book with all that stupid foreshadowing.
Characters speak for themselves. Prophecies are the fortune cookies of fiction.
And leave Jesus alone already. I know he said he’d die for your sins, but you’re stretching it along with his copyright.