May The (Friendship) Force Be With You

This next post about friendships from fantasy and adventure literature may surprise you. Did you know the Star Wars franchise started as a book before the first movie was even released? It may also surprise you that even these examples of friends from a galaxy far, far away had a “force” that makes their relationship special.

The Book Not Written By George Lucas

Did you also know a paperback novel titled Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker appeared in bookstores a full 6 months prior to the first movie’s release? Did you also know the original book was not penned by George Lucas?

According to several sources, George Lucas hired 29-year-old writer Alan Dean Foster to ghostwrite a book on the original screenplay for Star Wars, along with a sequel that could easily be spun into a second, lower-budget film if the first underwhelmed at the box office. Foster already enjoyed a career as a science fiction author but did more than simply adapt Lucas’ screenplay into a book. He fleshed out much of what would become the franchise’s world – from its planets to its technology, to its history. In just six weeks, Foster produced a 272-page book that went on sale in November 1976. After the initial success of Star Wars, Foster found himself a go-to person for other movie novelizations. Over the years, he penned dozens of books for franchises like Aliens, Star Trek, and others. 

The story also has a dark side. Disney’s relentless string of acquisitions (including Lucasfilm back in 2012 and 21st Century Fox in 2019) led them to believe they purchased only the rights to the franchises and not any associated contracts. Disney also claimed they negotiated with Foster and his agent for a year over the Alien novelizations but were unaware of any issues with Star Wars. While the discussions continue, it appears Disney may pay Foster after all. But this situation could set an alarming precedent for how contracts work under U.S. law. 

Friendships Are Made for Adventure

One of the hallmarks of fantasy and adventure literature is how writers provide escapism from everyday life by creating characters that inhabit a recognizable world and speak to the human condition. They embed love and sacrifice, a sense of morality, and the theme of good and evil in their writing. They provide lessons that apply to life today, regardless of whether the setting or characters are real or fictional.

Just like my posts on the friendship of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of The Rings trilogy, and the trio of friends in the Harry Potter books, the Star Wars franchise also includes several fictional characters. They also reflect great lessons about friendship.

Also, men need adventure with other guys as I described in Men Need Get-Aways and Retreats. Sometimes, we just need to get out into the wilderness and “blow the stink off.”  

The Forces of Friendships 

Here are some of the pairings in the original Star Wars trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and the sequel trilogy that demonstrate the qualities of a good friendship. These examples show how the heavenly forces (or “intergalactic forces” in Star Wars terms) of staying loyal, overcoming and resolving your differences, repaying debts with kindness, and accepting the fact that your friendships will change, can exist in all types of friendships, human or not. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker

Many characters help make Star Wars a great franchise but few are as important to the stories as the Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He is played on screen by two incredible actors:  English actor Alec Guinness in the original trilogy, and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, who portrays the younger version.

Obi-Wan serves as a mentor to Luke Skywalker by introducing him to the ways of the Jedi Knights.  Obi-Wan was like a father to Luke. In the prequel trilogy, set two decades earlier, Obi-Wan is initially a Padawan (apprentice) to a Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Later, he is a mentor and friend of Luke’s father Anakin, who falls to the dark side of the Force. After sacrificing himself in a duel against Darth Vader, Obi-Wan guides Luke through the Force in his fight against the Galactic Empire.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the ideal archetype of a mentor. His experience is invaluable to the young Jedi. Luke was lost without his family, who was murdered. Luke desperately needed someone or something to inspire him. Obi-Wan teaches Luke about the force and gives him information about his father during their journey, which guides Luke to become a hero. He inspires and guides Luke to embark on a journey to save Princess Leia and the Empire. Even though the two of them frequently disagreed on things related to the Jedi Order, they became the best of friends.

Luke Skywalker and R2-D2

We first meet R2-D2 (“Artoo-Detoo”), a short blue and white droid in Star Wars: A New Hope, a republished book reflects the retroactive addition of a subtitle on the original 1981 film. Luke is just a young wide-eyed farmboy with a dream of leaving Tatooine. Artoo appears before Luke with a special hologram message from a princess to a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi that Luke does not know. “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” the princess begs. The message changes Luke Skywalker’s life forever. 

R2-D2 is with Luke throughout the books and films. From discovering that an old hermit (Ben Kenobi) is actually Obi-Wan, to finding out that his father (once a powerful Jedi Knight) is Darth Vader, Luke’s journey is a wild ride. When Luke hops into an X-Wing fighter, R2-D2 helps him navigate. R2-D2 is there with Luke as he travels to Dagobah to train under Yoda, the small, green humanoid alien who is powerful with the Force and is a leading member of the Jedi Order. R2-D2 is there when Luke’s Jedi temple is destroyed. They are an inseparable team in search of the greater good of the galaxy.

Luke and R2-D2’s relationship shows how friends stick together through all types of journeys and battles. 

R2-D2 and C-3PO

These two are the most lovable droids in the Star Wars franchise. Their friendship spanned four decades, six movies, multiple adventures, and much bickering. They are like two grumpy old men who have been friends all their lives.

R2-D2, an astromech repair droid (kind of an automated mechanic on starships) who isn’t afraid to go against the rules and help his friends. C-3PO (“See-Threepio”) is a humanoid robot that appears in all three trilogies. Built by Anakin Skywalker (before he became Darth Vader), Threepio is a protocol droid intended to assist in etiquette, customs, and translation. He is a mildly irritating, purely logical droid who unwillingly entered into a massive conflict. Threepio boasts that he is “fluent in over six million forms of communication” and provides comic relief for the films. 

There’s something about their snippy, candid insults which makes you realize they must be truly great friends. They bicker almost endlessly, but when it counts the most, their loyalty doesn’t waiver.

All good friends have the right to enjoy a little ribbing every once in a while! 

Luke and Han Solo

There’s the bond between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in the Star Wars films that has a classic “little bro/big bro” feel. But their friendship is complex and realistic. On the one hand, Han sees Luke as a younger, inexperienced brother. Han takes responsibility for Luke, even though part of him sees Luke as the competition. In the opening scenes of Empire Strikes Back, Han risks everything to save Luke’s life. Later, Luke risks it all to save Han at the end of the film, and at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. 

But they’re also romantic rivals for the same woman, before it’s revealed that Luke is related to Princess Lea in Return of the Jedi. Han falls behind on the love triangle because it takes him a while to understand the meaning behind Luke and Leia’s strong connection to the Force. Both Luke and Han exit in Return of the Jedi with the same respect and love for each other at the start.

Their relationship shows how good friends resolve and overcome differences. 

Han Solo and Chewbacca

Another example is Han Solo’s relationship with Chewbacca, perhaps the most iconic duo in all of science fiction. Han is a no-nonsense smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon. His first mate, Chewbacca, is a Wookiee, a tall, hirsute, bipedal, intelligent species originating from the fictional planet of Kashyyyk. 

Their friendship is fun to watch. From the beginning of A New Hope, we see Chewbacca’s loyalty. Even if you can’t speak Wookiee, you realize that Chewbacca would die for Han and vice versa. Their friendship started because of a life debt, but Chewbacca would stay by Han’s side even without that obligation hanging over his furry head. They’re devoted to each other. They show affection towards each other. And they save each other’s skins repeatedly. Though separated at times in the films, Han and Chewie are back together again in The Force Awakens, which goes out of its way to highlight their relationship. They are still best friends after all this time, even though Chewbacca is always calling Han out on his foolishness.

Every man needs someone who will call out his foolishness. 

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GodBuddy Focus

Fans of the Star Wars movies and literature can probably find more friendships among its characters. But I believe that the “force” that is with them is part of the Formula for Turning Good Friends into GodBuddies that I presented to the leaders of the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries.

Those examples also show us four things about friendship, according to this post from RealMash:  

  1. Stay Loyal To Your Friends
  2. Overcome And Resolve Differences
  3. Repay The Kindness Of Others
  4. Accept That Friendships Can Change

These are among the Traits of a GodBuddy Relationship that I wrote about earlier.

So find yourself a GodBuddy friendship since it will help you become a better man and better friend. It may also help you win the fight against the “Evil Empire”!

My next post is an example of the friendship from Clive Cussler’s books 

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