One of the debates that I’ve heard the most in the Star Wars fandom is: Who brought balance to the Force in Return of the Jedi? This question leads to another, even more puzzling one: Who is the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker or Luke Skywalker? What does being the Chosen One and bringing balance to the Force even mean?
There are many theories on the latter, but I am not going to go through them all here. I do have a theory on who the Chosen One is, and what this may mean for the new generation of heroes debuting in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. And it all begins with Avatar: The Last Airbender.
For those of you have never heard of and/or have never seen Avatar: The Last Airbender (I myself only started watching it a few months ago, though I have enjoyed every bit of it), the Avatar is a special person designated with the ability to control all four elements (Fire, Water, Earth, and Air) and also serve as an intermediary between the world of humans and the world of spirits. The Avatar spirit is renewed in a new, unique individual after each previous incarnation’s death, allowing for there to always be an Avatar to keep the world (on both a human level and a spirit level) in perfect balance.
In Star Wars, the Chosen One, according to the Jedi, is meant to be someone a little like the Avatar. The Chosen One is supposed to bring balance to the Force, which we have assumed means to cause the light and dark sides of the Force to be equal with one another. This is exactly what the Avatar is supposed to do, only the names are different. With this similarity in mind, let’s jump to my main point, which is…
What if the Chosen One is not just one person (such as Anakin or Luke), but rather is manifested ALL of the Skywalkers, from Anakin to Luke to any future descendants? What if the Chosen One is a legacy, as opposed to any one individual?
Let’s sort this out one step at a time. First of all, we have to consider the saga itself. What is the underlying story of episodes I-VI? To my mind, it is the story of Anakin Skywalker, of his maturation, his fall, and his redemption. George Lucas himself has always said that the Star Wars saga is the story of the Skywalkers. Since Anakin is the only Skywalker who appears in all six of them, it would make sense that he is the main focus of those first six films. And if he is indeed the Chosen One, as we have come to believe, then he would have had to have brought some measure of balance to the Force before his death. For myself, I believe he did this first through the extermination of the Jedi order, and second through the casting down of the Emperor, his former Sith master, into the core of the Death Star in order to save his son. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, he comes to accept that even though he has faults, he still has good in him, and therefore he also achieves balance within himself.
Now, here’s my question: if the entire point of the Star Wars movies so far has been to tell us Anakin’s story, at the end of which he brings balance to the Force, why bother making a sequel trilogy at all? What story could you possibly have to tell that would connect seamlessly with the rest of the saga? If we were to assume that Anakin brought complete balance to the Force upon his death, and that was meant to be the ultimate culmination of the films, then there would be no room for another trilogy. It would be like an afterthought, a purposeful drawing-out of a story that had already been closed.
Unless…we take our Avatar analogy and put it to further use. Of course, it seems a bit overly optimistic to assume that the galaxy and everyone in it following the events of Return of the Jedi are perfect and reside together in peace and harmony. We have already had it all but confirmed through photo leaks and teasers from JJ Abrams that the Empire is going to come back in the sequel trilogy in some form. Not only that, but you cannot create a new trilogy of Star Wars films without having a strong, powerful antagonist (like Darth Vader or Palpatine or someone of that ilk) who will propel the conflict. So, it is safe to assume that we will be seeing both an evil regime and an intimidating villain (or villains, perhaps) in the sequel trilogy. If this is indeed the case, then won’t the balance of the Force be once again set askew in one side’s favor (likely the dark side’s)? And if this were to happen, then wouldn’t Anakin being the Chosen One be a moot point? He may have restored balance for a few decades at best, but now there is a new threat and he is not around. We only have Luke and Leia and their would-be descendants.
Which is why the idea that the Chosen One is an inherited entity, rather than being exclusive to just one person is, to me, so plausible. With Anakin gone and the balance of the Force in constant danger every generation, there has to always be someone who can be around to restore the light side and the dark side to their proper levels. There has to be someone who, much like the Avatar in Avatar: The Last Airbender, can keep the peace on both a physical and a spiritual level. And unless the galaxy were to undergo a tremendous transformation (almost like the religious coming of the Messiah) to alter the galaxy and its denizens to become wholly good and peaceful, there would always be a need for someone like the Chosen One. Because the dark side will always rise again, even if it is defeated for a little while.
To further prove my point, I would like to hearken back to the idea that Anakin Skywalker was basically the child of the Force. According to the book Darth Plagueis by James Luceno (which may or may not be a part of the story group-approved Star Wars canon), Darth Plagueis (the master of Emperor Palpatine) managed to gain the ability to raise the dead using only the Force. Energized by his newfound power, he tried to assert a dominance over the midi-chlorians across the galaxy. The Force resisted, and as a result the midi-chlorians “acted of their own accord and conceived a child” (from Anakin Skywalker’s Wookieepedia page). That child was, of course, Anakin Skywalker.
If Anakin can truly be considered a child of the Force, it would make sense that he would be the Chosen One. After all, if Plagueis and Palpatine were able to tip the balance of the Force in favor of the dark side by their dark arts (which is also explained on Anakin’s Wookeepedia page), the Force would immediately formulate a back-up plan to deal with this disparity. That back-up plan was Anakin. But, as I mentioned earlier, evil will always rise again, even after it is defeated. The Force would have to plan for this possibility. And so the Force would plausibly enable its “child” to pass on the responsibilities of the Chosen One through his descendants, who are just as strong and connected to the Force he is. As Luke Skywalker himself says, “The Force runs strong in my family.” Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of something greater than mere Force strength and skill, something awesome that touches every Skywalker born. And this idea of the Chosen One passing on through the Skywalkers (and/or possibly the Solos, Leia’s family) would set up the plot for the sequel trilogy and any other trilogies they may decide to create in the Star Wars galaxy. The great thing is that they would all connect back to the concepts of the Chosen One and the balance of the Force in the prequels and the originals, creating one seamless saga about the Skywalkers and the Force.
The Chosen One and the Avatar: the same principle, just with different names for their purposes and different ways of carrying on their legacies. But it’s a new perspective for Star Wars, at least for me, and as such it is an exciting one.
Again, this just my theory. This is in no way backed up by any rumors or official information from Lucasfilm (to my knowledge). If you want to talk about this further, shoot a Tweet at my Twitter handle, @tveitlight25.