When I was growing up in the 1980s, Star Wars was about as cool as it got.
There wasn’t anything else like it; comic book movies were still in their infancy with essentially just the Superman offerings and some other small releases toward the end of the decade (Captain America, The Punisher) – until Batman showed up and blew all of our minds. But if you wanted escapist adventure in the 80s, you just popped in the ol’ VHS tape of the Star Wars movies.
As a boy, you could essentially pick out somebody in the Star Wars universe who you wanted to be, even if you didn’t realize you were doing it. There was Han Solo: rash and brave, a good blaster at his side and a powerful, hairy sidekick that bellowed like a golden retriever – and the owner of his very own spaceship. There was Luke Skywalker: space fighter pilot, Jedi powers and a lightsaber, and a little robot buddy that was half Swiss Army Knife. I guess you could also want to be Darth Vader… but we’ll get back to that.
Personally, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. The dude was essentially a samurai with super powers and an intergalactic fighter jet. That, in my mind, kicked ass. Who didn’t want to sword fight with a sword made of laser? “Yes, please!” So what does that say about me? So what does that say about me for picking Luke? Say about you if you picked Han? Vader?
If you picked Luke: You want to be the hero and what’s more, you want it to be easy. Imagine what it must be like to foil a bank robbery if you’re Superman. Some asshole with a gun… that’s no threat to you. You just rip the gun out of his hand, squash it into a metal ball and pick him up over your head and crack his crown on the ceiling so hard that he passes out – drop him on the ground so the police can pick him up, and you’re almost done… “I hope this experience hasn’t put any of you off banking… statistically speaking, it’s the safest place to keep your money. Bye now.” Then you fly away. Being a Jedi isn’t much different; look how easily the Jedis handle somebody with a blaster – it’s pretty much no contest when you have force powers and can see into the future. Besides, what little boy doesn’t want to be a super hero?
If you picked Han: You want to be the hero, but on your own terms, when you’re ready. If people don’t like that, they can piss off! (British style.) But even more important than being a rebel and a hero is getting the girl, and Han gets his woman. Sure, you’re brave, brash, and self employed with your importer/exporter business (Costanza style), but in your ultimate fantasy, you get the girl… Uhm, why is that fantasy? Dating is rough, don’t get me wrong, but if you wanted to be Han, you figured that out at a young age and you figured that you were going to have more trouble than most people… so in your wildest fantasy, you get the girl. That’s kind of sad.
If you picked Vader: What the fuck is wrong with you? You want to be the bad guy? Didn’t you see Empire Strikes Back? He’s all messed up under that costume! The suit he’s in breathes for him! You think he gets chicks in that thing? And if he does, what could he possibly do with them? So yeah, if you wanted to be Darth Vader, I guess you’re reading this from inside a prison cell. Hope the food isn’t as bad as they say… or the shower.