"The Force?" Luke Skywalker once asked Ben Kenobi a long time ago in a desert hovel far, far away. "It's an energy field created by all living things," Old Ben answered. "It surrounds us, penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." George Lucas's initial concept for the Force has grown far beyond that iconic statement in 1977's A New Hope to be the main component driving most Star Wars media and lore. The Force serves as a gateway for fans to explore the intriguing questions within the Star Wars universe. It perfectly embodies the films' compelling themes and is hugely responsible for the franchise's enduring universal appeal. Discovery, enlightenment, empowerment. A sense of awe, wonder, and mystery -- these are the elements that makes Star Wars great, not this crude CGI matter!
In the years since the original trilogy, the nature of the Force has been extensively examined in countless books, comics, video games, and television shows of the Expanded Universe or "Legends" continuity as well as the newly minted mainstream canon. Surely, Rian Johnson's upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi will answer old questions and raise plenty of new ones about the Force, but since fans can't fly to Dagobah to pick Yoda's brain, here are some of the most intriguing things about the Force that you never knew about until now!
15 SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
After thousands of years of study, the Jedi were considered to have at their command the greatest understanding of the Force in the galaxy. Just like any other widespread religion, especially ones that span an entire galaxy, there were many theological offshoots espousing different beliefs.
The majority of the Jedi Order adhered to a notion of the "Living" Force which connected all organic life in the galaxy together. Focusing on the "here and now," as Qui-Gon Jinn would say, and an individual's intimate connection through the force to the present, was more important than say the past, future, visions or destiny -- all of which are primary concerns of the "Unifying" Force. Another aspect, the "Cosmic" Force, binds the galaxy together through the Living Force.
Most fans balked at the idea of midi-chlorians when the concept was first introduced in The Phantom Menace, but doesn't it make at least a little sense that an advanced galactic civilization would have some scientific understanding of the nature of the Force after thousands of years? In Star Wars: The Clone Wars season six episode "Voices," Yoda discovers a planet at the heart of the galaxy called the Wellspring of Life where the midi-chlorians first originated.
The microscopic, intelligent life forms reside in the cells of all living things and serve as a bond connecting everything and everyone within the Living Force to the infinite Cosmic Force. Those with a high concentration of midi-chlorians receive a stronger connection to the Force. Maybe discovering Force sensitivity through a blood test ruins the magic, but the idea of mid-chlorians was one of the few fresh concepts introduced during the prequel films.
Both the Jedi and the Sith amassed knowledge, wisdom, and secrets of the Force within polyhedral devices known as holocrons. While the Jedi crafted their holocrons into cubes or dodecahedrons, the Sith preferred pyramidal configurations. To ensure greater protection of a holocron's valuable treasure, only a skilled Force user could unseal the data storage device's puzzle-like mechanism.
Hundreds of holocrons were created over the centuries, some forever buried and forgotten inside the tombs of their Sith creators while others could be found within a special vault at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Once unsealed, some holocrons projected the visage of the devices' creator in order to take the form of an interactive teaching tool for the user. The Great Holocron within the Jedi Temple contained an endless trove of wisdom so vast that not even Master Yoda had accessed all of its secrets.
12 THE CHOSEN ONE
The ancient Jedi prophesy of the Chosen One describes how a being would be born that could "bring balance to the Force." Although many in the Star Wars universe disagree over what exactly "bringing balance" means, the Jedi believed that this Chosen One would do so by destroying the Sith. Anakin Skywalker was said by his mother, Shmi, to have been conceived without a Father.
This was considered by Qui-Gon Jinn as a "vergence' of the Force in that Anakin was most likely and quite literally born from the Force itself. Palpatine's master, Darth Plagueis, was said to have mastered the manipulation of midi-chlorians to control life itself and some have postulated that either Plagueis' experiments resulted in the creation of the Chosen One or that Anakin's birth was indeed the will of the Force itself.
11 AWESOME POWERS
Most people are pretty familiar with the array of powers most Force-users have in their repertoire: push, pull, speed, mind trick, lightning -- but there are also some nifty lesser known abilities out there. The "Sever Force" power was used to completely separate a being's connection the Force. In the Star Wars "Legends" novel Legacy of the Force: Inferno, Jacen Solo tears his brother Ben from the Force while torturing him, Yuuzhan Vong-style. "Tutaminis" or energy absorption has been utilized by Darth Vader and Yoda, respectively, when deflecting blaster bolts and Sith Lightning with their bare hands.
In the 2003 game Knights of the Old Republic, Bastila Shan would slip into a deep, Force-powered trance known as "Battle Meditation" to boost the abilities and morale of her allies during battle. Plo Koon even unleashed a Light Side version of Sith Lightning, "Electric Judgement," against his foes.
10 PHYSICAL CORRUPTION
The powers of the Dark Side call upon a user's rage and pain, and although not more powerful than the Light can be quite tempting to those looking to obtain strength quickly or as a means to an end. Prolonged use of the Dark Side was not without its negative effects. Skin and hair loses pigmentation, a user's eyes become a vile, glowing yellow, and the voice grows deeper and raspier. In James Luceno's novel Darth Plagueis, the Sith Master likened the Dark Side to a disease whose physical and mental toll was a small price to pay in order to obtain such immeasurable power.
Darth Sidious may have used a form of Sith Alchemy to create a "Force Mask" to hide his own physical corruption. During his duel with Mace Windu, it's possible the reflected lightening from Windu's lightsaber destroyed that mask, revealing the true "scarred and deformed" Sidious.
9 DEATH IN THE FORCE
In death, force users may become "one with the Force." Through his training on the Wellspring of Life, Qui-Gon Jinn was the first Jedi known to have used his connection to the Living Force as a way to preserve a corporal form or "Force Ghost" after death, later teaching this technique to both Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also, it appears that selfless sacrifice, such as the case of the redeemed Anakin Skywalker, is enough to allow a user to obtain this particular form of immortality.
Immortality was not beyond the reach of the Dark Side. Darth Sion called upon all of his rage to rise again; his decomposing, rotten body burned with endless pain, but held together with the powers of the Dark Side. Palpatine planned extend his life in order to rule the galaxy forever, believing himself the pinnacle of Sith power.
8 BEYOND THE JEDI AND SITH
The study of and ability to use the Force was not exclusive to the Jedi and Sith. The powerful family of godlike Force wielders known as the "Ones" who inhabited Mortis existed beyond the temporal realm and represented the balance between the Light and Dark Side. The Potentium Order of the New Jedi Order novel series pushed to test the limits of the Force and viewed it as inherently good and the Dark Side as a corrupting potential influence within the individual only.
2016's Rogue One portrayed a religious order devoted to the Force, the Guardians of the Whills, who protected Jeha's sacred Temple of the Kyber. The Nightsisters of Dathomir were a powerful Force-using clan that used the power of their home world to fuel ancient magicks.
7 WOUND IN THE FORCE
In 2004's Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords the concept of a "wound in the Force" was introduced. When death occurs on a large enough scale, the Force itself could suffer from a sort of injury or wound far beyond a simple "disturbance." Tangible effects of the wound could be felt as echoes in the Force like ripples upon the surface of a pond. The Sith Triumvirate of Darth Traya, Nihilus, and Sion utilized such Force wounds to drain the lifeforce of beings they destroyed to enhance their own power.
In the era of the Galactic Civil War during the events of A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi was completely doubled over after the destruction of Alderaan where the sudden death of billions of beings could be felt across the galaxy.
6 OUTSIDE OF THE FORCE
Surprisingly, there are many beings and organisms in the galaxy (and outside of it) that remain beyond the influence of the Force altogether. All artificial beings such as droids are indifferent to midi-chlorians and have no connection with the greater energy field. Although, a Force-user can of course use their powers to manipulate inorganic matter such as using a Force-powered push to knock over a battle droid.
Some organic species can resist the Force as well. In response to Force-sensitive predators on their home world, the lizard-like Ysalamiri could project a Force-resistant bubble around themselves. One of the greatest threats to the New Republic in the Star Wars "Legends" continuity, the Yuuzhan Vong, invaded from outside of the galaxy and, to the New Jedi Order's shock, existed completely detached from the influence of the Force.
5 FORCE-POWERED TECHNOLOGY
Formed in the Unknown Regions, the Rakatan Infinite Empire developed and utilized technology in part powered by the Force to conquer worlds and enslave countless races 35,000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire. Aggressive and cannibalistic, the Rakata used the Dark Side of the Force to power hyperdrives although such technology could only be used to travel to worlds strong with the Force.
The Infinite Empire also constructed a massive space station and weapon called the Star Forge which drained the energies of stars and combined with the Dark Side, could churn out an endless supply of military arms for the Rakata's ceaseless and bloody wars of expansion. Ultimately, the Star Forge's energy needs caused it to begin corrupting the Rakata themselves and greatly contributed to the downfall of the mighty civilization.
4 GEORGE LUCAS' ADOPTION OF EASTERN PHILOSOPHY
George Lucas has stated in multiple interviews that he originally conceived of the Force as a way to distill universal religious concepts into a science fiction story that would prove compelling and relatable to audiences and viewers across the world. Some of its more prominent real-world influences include various Eastern theologies and philosophies such as Shinto, Taoism, and Buddhism.
The Force draws inspiration from Hinduism's Brahman energy, which composes, defines, and unites existence and experience itself. Elements of yin and yang can be seen in the nature of the interconnectedness of the Dark and Light sides of the Force. The notion of balance between good and evil is also found in Zoroastrianism. The concept of a Chosen One within the Jedi Order also directly parallels Judaism's belief in a coming savior or Messiah.
3 MIND OVER MATTER
Traditionally, the Force can only reside within living matter. After sustaining terrible injuries in his duel with Obi-Wan, Vader found himself without three of his limbs, horrific scarring to his skin and internal organs, and trapped for decades within the confines of his armor's life support system. James Luceno's 2005 novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader describes Vader's self-doubt at his diminished ability to use the Force. Palpatine scolds his apprentice and echoes Yoda's firm conviction that they are beyond "this crude matter" and that Vader's only limitations are the ones he sets upon himself. Over time, Vader's powers grew formidable despite being more machine than man.
In Marvel Comic's Darth Vader #24, Vader's life support suit is disabled by Dr. Cylo. As he kneels dying, the Dark Lord manages to call upon the Force to power his armor. The Dark Side is a powerful ally indeed.
2 THE NAME OF THE FORCE
In the new Star Wars canon, the Force has been around as a concept in the galaxy for over 25,000 years and has gone by many names in the past. In Star Wars Rebels episode "Legends of the Lasat," one of those such names is revealed as "The Ashla." Jonathan Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith book reveals that George Lucas' original concept of the Force involved the term "Whills."
In a deleted scene from the Revenge of the Sith screenplay, Qui-Gon Jinn's Force ghost refers to the "Shaman of the Whills." This name would later be used as the title of the religious order in Rogue One protecting the kyber crystals on Jedha. In the Star Wars Rebels season 3 episode, "Steps Into Shadow," the Force-sensitive being known as Bendu reveals that "Bogan" is another name for the Dark Side.
1 FORCE-SENSITIVE LOCATIONS
Worlds can also be strong in the Force in the same way as individual Force-users. The remote swamp planet of Dagobah which served as a refuge for Master Yoda after the Clone Wars was powerful in Light and Dark Side energies. The Cave of the Dark Side, where Luke ventured in The Empire Strikes Back, was itself a "nexus" of the Dark Side. As the base of operations, training, and education for the Jedi Order, the Jedi Temple on Coruscant was also a place brimming with force energies. The temple was also constructed atop an ancient Sith Shrine which may have contributed to the Jedi's waning power and downfall.
The Wellspring of Life and Mortis where the midi-chlorians and "Ones" originated, respectively, were also concentrated areas of power for the Force itself. Moraband/Korriban, ancient world of the original Sith, was also a nexus of evil, Dark Side energies.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15th, 2017. Let us know in the comments if you plan on seeing it!