Darth Vader’s reveal to Luke that he is his father must be one of the most well-known plot twists in cinema history at this point. From various media parodying it for years to cheeky references in other related projects, this pinnacle moment is without a doubt one of the most iconic and memorable in the Star Wars franchise. In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d take a look at just how impactful this quote is, at least where Star Wars is concerned.
After the original Star Wars came out in 1977, the world was obsessed with it. For three whole years, everyone anticipated a sequel and, when one finally came, they approached it very differently than we do today. In the modern day, not only do we have the prequels, most of us already know that Darth Vader was once Anakin Skywalker. So, back in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back first released, everyone was still under the assumption that Vader murdered Luke’s father like Old Ben had told us.
The amount of shock and awe surrounding the revelation that rather than killing Luke’s father, Vader WAS Luke’s father shook the world. From there, George Lucas wanted to recapture that effect with the next film, Return of the Jedi. In the very beginning of this next entry, the big “I am your father” was meant to be overshined by the new “I am your sister” reveal. That’s right, in an attempt to shock audiences once more, Lucas retconned Leia’s backstory and made her Luke’s long-lost twin sister.
Despite causing an insane amount of incestuous and cringeworthy issues with scenes in previous films, it set the standard for what Star Wars would become: a series about family. George Lucas has gone on record to say that the entirety of the series is about the Skywalker lineage and due to the fact that every single film to date has a Skywalker in it, I’d say that’s pretty accurate.
Every film then on had a good amount of plot dedicated to family as well. In The Phantom Menace, Anakin is said to have been born without a father and Qui-Gon briefly plays that role for him. In Attack of the Clones, Anakin’s first major tip towards the dark side happens when he can’t save his mother from the Sand People. In Revenge of the Sith, the entire plot of the movie is centered on Anakin fearing for the death of Padmé and his unborn children. The main villain of The Force Awakens is the child of Han and Leia, who was seduced to the dark side because of family issues. Rogue One focuses on Jyn Erso struggling to make sure her father Galen’s many sacrifices aren’t in vain. Even The Clone Wars movie focuses on Jabba the Hutt’s son being kidnapped.
With The Last Jedi right around the corner, there are still many questions regarding family and heritage. Who are Rey’s parents? For that matter, who are Finn’s? How will Leia and Kylo Ren interact with one another after the latter committed patricide? Star Wars has been about family ever since Darth Vader dropped that bombshell on Luke back in 1980.
Happy Father’s Day!