When George Lucas gave us the beginning of his Star Wars Saga in 1977, he introduced a series of mystifying concepts that were both confusing and exciting. Laser swords, Jedi Knights, Sith, and tying them all together: a unifying energy field called “the Force”. It’s known that George Lucas was a big fan of historian and scholar Jonathan Campbell, and he incorporated a wide variety of mythological concepts and Eastern philosophies into his films to give them the spiritual grandeur and providence he felt they needed.
The Jedi use the Force to be guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, while the Sith use it to cause chaos and destruction. It both “controls your actions” and “obeys your commands”. According to Qui-Gon Jinn, midichlorians (microscopic life forms) inside living cells convey the “will of the Force”, and can only be heard when the mind is calmed. All of this presents a series of contradictions, as the Force is viewed as both a quantifiable entity and a religion by its followers. Whether the Force is being used to levitate a starfighter, help a character escape a death-defying situation, or simply as the deus ex machina in a plot quagmire, its inherent ambiguity make it as perplexing as it is awe-inspiring.
20 IT HAS TWO SIDES
The Force has always been described as a duality, with both a Light Side and a Dark Side. This can’t be reduced to a simple yin-yang philosophy -- that would dictate that the two sides bring the Force to a neutral state, which is never the case. The Force is constantly in a state of fluctuation. It’s Dark and Light sides move in constant opposition, and Force sensitive individuals are drawn to them more often because of personal experiences in their past than because either side is “correct”.
Since it’s established in the Star Wars Universe that the “users” don’t create that which is Dark or Light about the Force, but that there are two inherent sides, what dictates their presence?
The Force has been described by Obi-Wan Kenobi as an “energy field”, and like electricity, has two opposite poles. That’s how electrical current can function. Do the midichlorians, the microscopic life forms in all living cells, convey the Will of the Force as positive and negative? Simply because the state of duality is the only state in which the Force can exist? If that were so, then achieving a “Balance to the Force” wouldn’t be the end goal of any Jedi, as that would deprive them of the Force altogether.
19 IT HAS NO POWER CAP
Throughout the Star Wars films, there have been instances of Force usage large and small. From floating fruit to floating an X-Wing, the abilities of the Force sensitive (most notably Jedi and Sith) have displayed an impressive range. That being said, the range does not logically progress with a correlation of ability to age or even to training. In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is able to, after a few minutes, predict the movements of a training droid so that he can defend against its blasts with his lightsaber and a blast shield obscuring his vision. That’s a far cry from Rey, in The Force Awakens, being able to call a lightsaber to her hand or resist the mental interrogation of a Dark Side user like Kylo Ren. The former had guidance from a Jedi Master, the latter had none.
The Phantom Menace introduced the concept that those born with a higher midichlorian count would have greater sensitivity to the Force. Their abilities would be greater than those with less, even among Jedi with similar training. However, even Anakin Skywalker, with a midichlorian count off the charts, would have wasted his Force abilities podracing on Tatooine if he wasn’t properly trained. Later films proved that if the novice and the master can have the same abilities, there is not point to formal training.
18 IS IT RELIGION OR IS IT SCIENCE?
The debate about whether or not the Force is a scientifically quantifiable entity or a religion based faith has waged since A New Hope came out in 1977. In essence, it is both: a religion sprung from the concept of an energy field that binds the universe together. Devotees to it are not critical of its inception or its logic -- it simply is. Like with many religions, it relies on blind faith to exist. However, if it is an energy field, or similar in some respects to the atom, then it would exist whether people “believed in it” or not.
Whenever it is referred to as a religion in the films, as it was in A New Hope, it’s done so with derision.
“Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion hasn’t helped you conjure of the stolen data tapes” says one non-believer promptly before Darth Vader nearly Force chokes him to death. The Jedi and the Sith erected temples to the Force as though it were a deity, yet it takes no corporeal form. Since it cannot be defined with any certainty without being a contrivance, it might as well be a religion based on gravity.
17 IT LEADS TO IMMORTALITY
In Revenge of the Sith, Master Yoda reveals to a weary Obi-Wan Kenobi that an “old friend” has learned to manifest consciousness from beyond the grave. Apparently Qui-Gon Jinn’s attunement with the Living Force allowed him to manipulate its incorporeal properties, a skill which he passes onto Yoda, who later gives that option to Obi-Wan. It’s in this way that Obi-Wan is able to appear to Luke Skywalker in both The Empire Strikes Back with a brief but important message, and in Return of the Jedi for a more prolonged chat. It could also be why both Yoda and Obi-Wan don’t fear death -- they have a supernatural ace in the hole.
For all of Qui-Gon Jinn’s talk about midichlorians and their usefulness to a Jedi in determining the Will of the Force, we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief enough and believe in “Force Ghosts” who have no living tissue. Since midichlorians live inside living cells, the basis of their communication is firmly planted in their host being alive. Qui-Gon’s transcendence into some other plain of existence only serves to contradict his early statements, and doesn’t support what little evidence we have about how the Force actually works. If a Force Ghost is no longer alive, how are they using the Force to appear to the living.
16 IT’S SOMETHING YOU CAN BE BORN WITH
When someone is born into the Star Wars Universe, the Force is already all around them. The microscopic life forms inside their cells speak the Will of the Force, and only those who choose to listen to them will understand its mysteries. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn explains to little Anakin Skywalker that only when he “quiets his mind” will he hear them speaking to him. Anakin’s midichlorian count is exceptionally high, so no doubt their voices would be deafening.
Anakin has a notoriously difficult time silencing his inner demons, yet his abilities progress and he is considered one of the greatest Jedi of all time despite his recklessness.
Rey, by contrast, is able to concentrate easily once she’s made aware to do so, and her inherent Force talents grow at an exponential rate throughout The Force Awakens with no formal training. Yet being born with a higher midichlorian count is supposed to make you naturally more powerful in the Force. Luke Skywalker, by contrast, the son of Anakin Skywalker, only conveys his greatest feat of Force usage by The Last Jedi, when those with a quarter of his bloodline (Kylo Ren) have mastered the ability to freeze objects in motion. Meanwhile Leia, Luke’s sister, who has showed only small signs of Force awareness, can keep herself from expiring exposed to the cold vacuum of deep space.
15 INANIMATE OBJECTS ARE “STRONG WITH THE FORCE”
There’s a scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is training with Master Yoda and comes across a giant gnarled tree and beneath it’s massive tangled roots was a cave. He feels a sudden wave of coldness, and Yoda explains the cave is strong in the Dark Side. Obviously, this film came out well before the prequels George Lucas would make decades later, but it posits that inanimate objects or places can be strong with the Force despite having no midichlorians inside them.
In The Force Awakens, Rey comes across a chest in the bowels of Maz Kanata's palace with the lightsaber of the Skywalker dynasty in it. When she picks it up, her mind is flooded with chaotic imagery, and she hears the voices of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and Qui-Gon Jinn. Scared, she drops it, a sacred relic strong in the Force. Yet when Luke received the lightsaber that once belonged to his father, Anakin, he received no such flash of imagery. Supreme Leader Snoke wore a ring with an onyx gem that was found beneath Vader’s palace on Mustafar because he believed it strong with the Dark Side. It’s illogical that an object can be considered powerful if it’s not a part of the Living Force and therefore devoid of a midichlorian count.
14 WHAT ARE MIDICHLORIANS EVEN?
“What are midichlorians?” a cherub-faced Anakin Skywalker asks Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. He’s heard the Council of Jedi Masters discussing the term with grave reverence. The Jedi explains to the boy that they are living beings, microscopic life forms that live inside his cells. They communicate the “will” of the Force, like miniature prophets. To hear their words, one has to find a place of inner tranquility and concentration. Anakin’s midichlorian count is unusually high, the highest of any Jedi, logically confirming that were he to find a place of serene calm, he would have the greatest living knowledge of the Force.
What’s never explained is just what is meant by the dialogue between the midichlorians and individuals.
It stands to reason that Qui-Gon Jinn doesn’t imply that the midichlorians are literally sentient, but that it’s useful to achieve a meditative state amidst the chaos of existence. It opens a person’s mind to all the possible outcomes associated with Force use. In doing so, they become a better person of even temperament, judicial morality, and conscience. Midichlorians as a concept have always been intentionally vague, but their introduction created more questions than answers when it came to understanding the presence of the Force.
13 BRINGING “BALANCE TO THE FORCE” MEANS ONE SIDE WINS
“You were supposed to bring Balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!” shouts a despairing Obi-Wan Kenobi as he faces off against his former apprentice in Revenge of the Sith. His former pupil, a now twisted and depraved Anakin Skywalker was, according to ancient Jedi prophecy, the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Balance is usually achieved when there are equal parts of something in synchronicity -- like the exact amount of tension placed on both sides of a see-saw. Both sides still exist, one simple doesn’t have the high ground.
This is exactly what Obi-Wan gets, when he vaults to a literal higher position on the embankments of one of Mustafar’s lava flows. It’s symbolic of the dogmatic Jedi mindset -- the one who will bring balance to the Force will be a Jedi, and good will prevail. In their prophecy, it has to be the Light Side. It can’t be the Dark Side, because that’s chaotic, and the Sith crave that above order. But the Light Side prevailing isn’t “balance” -- it tips the scales in favor of the victor. Criticizing Anakin for leaving the Force “in darkness” simply means the Dark Side would do the same. It presents the Jedi as hypocrites, who aren’t interested in balance so much as they are interested in rewriting history.
12 REY USES THE FORCE WITH NO FORMAL TRAINING
One of the biggest critiques levied on The Force Awakens was the Force abilities inherent to the main character Rey. Her character arc begins with a young woman living as a scavenger on a planet so remote that she believes the Jedi and the Force to be mythological, and quickly crescendos with her mastering aspects of the Force that took other Jedi much longer. With Obi-Wan Kenobi’s minimal tutelage, Luke learned to trust his instincts. The Force helped him switch off the targeting computer on his X-Wing when the moment counted to destroy the Death Star, and call a lightsaber to his hand during a Wampa attack.
The concepts had been explained to him, and they were improved upon with Master Yoda.
Rey is able to withstand the interrogation techniques of a skilled Dark Sider user in Kylo Ren, a would-be Sith who should be her superior when it comes to utilizing the Force to prove her thoughts. That aside, she’s able to manipulate a stormtrooper on guard duty to let her out of her detention cell, and later fight Kylo Ren with a lightsaber as competently as Luke did when he faced Darth Vader in Cloud City. These actions serve to move the plot forward, but aren’t based in the logic of how the Force should work.
11 DARTH SIDIOUS CONCEALS HIS PRESENCE FROM JEDI FOR YEARS
One of the biggest plot holes in Star Wars canon centers around the fact that Darth Sidious, one of only a pair of Sith allowed to exist at a time, was able to conceal himself from the entire Jedi Order for years. He was able to orchestrate an entire trade blockade, see the creation of the Confederacy of Independent Systems and their armed forces, and instigate the Clone Wars all without detection. While the Dark Side focuses on abilities “some consider to be unnatural”, according to his musings, it would take a Herculean effort to cloud the judgment of thousands of Jedi, especially Masters Yoda and Windu.
Like a Jedi Mind Trick en masse, Darth Sidious would have had to either be constantly subjecting Jedi to mindwipes, or somehow concealing the darkness that would no doubt be emanating from his very fibres on a constant basis. Someone with such a concentrate of evil, who wishes to bring about the destruction of the Jedi Order and rule the galaxy, seems like they couldn’t remain hidden for long. It’s indicative of both the grandest, and the most subtle, use of the Force by any one person, especially since the Jedi are no stranger to mental manipulation themselves.
10 COUNT DOOKU COULD USE FORCE LIGHTNING BUT KYLO REN CAN’T
In Return of the Jedi something happens that was as “electrifying” to audiences as Han Solo making the first jump to lightspeed in the Millennium Falcon. Emperor Palpatine, fed up with Luke Skywalker’s insipid optimism, points his bony fingers at the young Jedi and shoots bolts of lightning from their tips.
It was an incredible display of pure, unadulterated power, and demonstrated the horrors that the Emperor was capable of.
When we see this ability again, it occurs in Attack of the Clones in a fight between Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku, Darth Sidious (later Emperor Palpatine’s) newest apprentice. True, he has the title of “Darth”, the Sith equivalent to Jedi Knight and would no doubt have certain advanced abilities, but he’s still an apprentice. His use of the ability detracts from its importance as a display of dominance in the later films. When we are introduced to Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi who, according to Luke Skywalker, has the most “raw talent” with the Force that he’s ever seen, he has no abilities to rival that sort of power. Skywalker’s nephew, of the bloodline of the greatest Jedi that has ever lived, can’t even utilize Force Lightning when it’s no longer been made the impressive ability it once was.
9 LUKE BECOMES A JEDI BUT CAN’T LEVITATE ANYTHING BIG
Luke was dealt a bad hand when he chose to become a Jedi. Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of the only Jedi remaining from the time of the Clone Wars when Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66 saw to their complete and utter genocide. He gets some informal training from the Jedi Master, but his real regiment begins when he encounters Master Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. Under Yoda’s tutelage he learns to calm his mind and feel the Force flowing through him. He can levitate a few rocks, but Yoda completely outclasses him by raising his crashed X-Wing from a swamp.
His training is incomplete when he leaves to help his friends at Cloud City, and it shows in his duel with Darth Vader. But he is persistent, and by the next film, he is calm, collected, and calculated -- he has grown up. But his training is still incomplete, and when he returns to Master Yoda to finish what he began, he finds his grizzled old mentor near death. Yoda declares he will be the last of the Jedi when he passes, and that he must pass on what he has learned. Thus Luke becomes a Jedi in the appropriately titled Return of the Jedi, when the largest thing he ends up levitating is C-3PO on a wooden chair.
8 NOT ALL FORCE USERS ARE JEDI
For the longest time, the Star Wars Saga focused on Jedi and Sith being the primary Force sensitive individuals in the galaxy. However, since all living beings are born with midichlorians inside their cells, logic dictates that there were those scattered around the galaxy that had knowledge of the Force subconsciously, but never acted on it. Had Anakin Skywalker been left on Tatooine to remain a slave all his life, he would have been known as a skilled mechanic and a pilot that had a sixth sense when it came to flying at insane speeds. If Rey had remained scavenging on Jakku, she would have simply been a junker with a gifted way around a staff.
We get the sense that the Jedi comb the galaxy looking for Force sensitive individuals and offer them the choice of joining their cadre (preferably from a very young age).
The Sith are bound by the Rule of Two, and only present a Master and an Apprentice at any given time in history. In Rogue One, we were introduced to Chirrut Imwe, a warrior monk known as a Guardian of the Whills, and great believer in the Force without much natural Force ability. This opened up an entire can of worms regarding people with Force knowledge or Force usage that aren’t Jedi, complicating matters since they’re rarely discussed. Wouldn’t almost every galactic citizen be wondering how strong they were with the Force?
7 IT’S USED AS A PLOT DEVICE
When something impossible happens in the Star Wars Universe, it’s often attributed to “the Force”. It’s a convenient plot device because it helps the narrative move briskly along while further opening up possibilities for still more fantastic things to occur along the way. It was used to explain why Leia Organa didn’t die in The Last Jedi from wounds no one could survive. It explains how Darth Sidious could keep the entire Jedi Order in the dark about his evil plans.
It’s used because it has to be used, because no other option has been considered to move the plot forward. Anakin can’t save his young bride Padme from dying in childbirth, but his belief that the Force can save her initiates his entire descent into the Dark Side searching for the power. Why? Because he needed some reason to become Darth Vader, after all. It’s used to explain Obi-Wan returning as a Force Ghost to deliver pertinent information that might have been more useful told to Luke when he was alive, simply because it’s at that point in the plot when Luke needed to hear it to make his anguish more meaningful. Precisely because it’s mystical and ambiguous, it can be applied in countless situations, with paradoxes arising only when you think about them too critically.
6 IT DOESN’T SUBSCRIBE TO NEWTON’S LAW
According to Newton’s Law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Applied to our knowledge of the Force, it means that when an individual uses the Force, something happens to them in the process. Yet somehow, it’s Dark Side users that ever have any physical manifestation of this process, leaving Light Side users unscathed. When a Sith such as Darth Sidious uses the full extent of his powers, it corrupts him to the point of disfigurement. When his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker begins to use the Dark Side, it physically changes him (particularly his eyes). Is it altering the midichlorians inside of him? Does using the Light Side alter them but in a more positive way?
Perhaps then it is actions and deeds that make the physical change occur.
Since Jedi are considered to generally be more positive, and their deeds more compassionate and virtuous, their use of the Force over time simply augments knowledge for its own sake. By contrast the Sith, whose deeds are considered cruel and merciless, manifest in detrimental ways, in much the same way that stress can make a person physically ill. But that would mean it is the individual use of the Force that contributes to it being Dark or Light, if it’s not the midichlorians that make it so.
5 IT DRAINS USERS AT CONVENIENT TIMES
At various times throughout the Star Wars Saga, audiences have borne witness to some of the most epic battles in cinematic history. Whether it involves Master Yoda and Darth Sidious hurling Senate pods at each other in the Senate Chamber, or Anakin Skywalker dueling his former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, a great deal of Force Energy is on display. To use the Force to such an extent is incredibly draining, but only insofar as it’s convenient to the plot. Otherwise, every Jedi and every Sith would walk around being all-powerful all the time, and their conflicts would be boring.
When trying to avoid danger, why isn’t the ability of Force Run (or Force Speed) used more often? We see it in The Phantom Menace here and there, yet there are other moments in the series when precious moments are wasted while Jedi run at a normal pace. Presumably, this is because it drains a Jedi when they may need their focus for more important things, like engaging in duels that seem to last forever. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren has to beat on his own fresh wound to keep his mind focused on pain and anger, yet Rey, an inexperienced Force adept, is able to duel him solely on adrenaline. Making it difficult to determine the correlation between Force usage and health renders these moments devoid of risk and tension.
4 FORCE GHOSTS ONLY SHOW UP WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT FOR THEM
It’s difficult to say what Luke Skywalker would have done if he’d known the truth about his father’s identity all along. He ends up learning from the man himself, rather than Obi-Wan Kenobi, his friend and mentor that took the knowledge to his grave. Or did he? In Return of the Jedi, following the big reveal, Obi-Wan Kenobi comes to Luke once again as a Force Ghost to impart some sagacious words. Only this time, Luke isn’t particularly happy to see him, since he held back pertinent information that would have been useful for Luke to know. Except that the Jedi (wherever they are) were counting on Luke to be left in the dark, thereby enabling him to kill his own father.
Force Ghosts could have appeared at any number of auspicious and necessary times, but they chose to be childishly selective.
When Yoda appears to Luke in The Last Jedi, Luke acts like he hasn’t seen him since he died, but might have had use for his guidance when Ben Solo was busy betraying the Jedi and becoming Kylo Ren. Speaking of Ren, where is the ghost of Anakin Skywalker to tell him to knock off his Darth Vader impersonation? He could literally explain to his grandson that the person he’s trying to emulate is not who he is and yet, it is apparently not the convenient time.
3 HOW CAN YODA’S FORCE GHOST MANIPULATE THE PHYSICAL WORLD?
There’s a moment in The Last Jedi that is both nostalgic and poignant, when a bitter Luke Skywalker wrestles with his inability to burn down the last remaining Jedi Texts. In his state of jaded disillusionment, he very much wants to, but a visit from an old friend interrupts him. That friend is Master Yoda, who appears in spectral form for what seems like the first time in 30 years. When Luke doesn’t have the stones to do the deed, Master Yoda brings down a reckoning bolt of lightning from the sky and gets the job done, giggling all the way.
Since it’s been established that the Force is something that can only be manipulated by the living, how is it possible for an incorporeal being to manipulate the physical plane? A Force Ghost has no living tissue, and thus no communication with the midichlorians inside their cells that dictate the Will of the Force. How are they able to call upon the Force at all? Even Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Force Ghost told Luke that if he chose to face Darth Vader at Cloud City, he would do so alone because he “could not interfere”. The scene with Yoda, while enjoyable, exacerbated the already sketchy foundation on which the concept of Force Ghosts stand, since to use the Force one has to be alive.
2 IT CAN CREATE LIFE FROM NOTHING
One of the most head scratching uses of the Force’s mystical properties gets recounted by Senator Palpatine (really Darth Sidious in disguise) to Anakin Skywalker while the two attend an opera. He tells him the tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith who was so powerful that he could use midichlorians to create life. This is somewhat ironic information, since Anakin Skywalker himself was the result of immaculate conception. Adding further credence to the religious components of the Force, its greatest user was born in a similar fashion to Jesus.
Yes the Chosen One prophesied to bring Balance to the Force sprung from the Force itself.
Surprising no one, this isn’t a physically possible process, because biologically no woman can bear a child without something from a man. Ergo, Anakin not having a father in a physical sense is problematic. There was a window of opportunity for George Lucas to explain this misstep by having Darth Plagueis be Anakin’s real father, a dangerous Sith who created him for the sole purpose of using him as an instrument of the Dark Side, but so far this has always just been a rumor and never confirmed. Instead, we’re expected to accept the fact that Shmi Skywalker carried him out of thin air and then just gave birth one day.
1 BOTH THE JEDI AND THE SITH USE MENTAL MANIPULATION
It’s established in A New Hope that the Jedi are the “guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy” by one of the greatest representations of the sentiment, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Once a great Jedi Knight, pilot, and swordsman, he’s a refined old wizard that lives out in the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine. No sooner does he impart these words to a callow Luke Skywalker then they’re speeding off to Mos Eisley to begin Luke’s journey to become a Jedi Knight. Along the way, he uses a Jedi Mind Trick to persuade some stormtroopers to let them pass without inspection.
While this was the first instance of seeing the Jedi use mental manipulation on screen, it wouldn’t be the last. Qui-Gon Jinn attempts to use it on Watto over a currency discrepancy in The Phantom Menace, and Luke tries to use it on Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. In both of those cases, the thought is that the alien species are so nefarious minded that they can’t be hoodwinked. This establishes that what the Jedi are doing is wrong, it’s just fine because the people they’re manipulating are evil. Yet when Darth Vader invades the privacy of Luke’s mind to read his thoughts, or Kylo Ren tries to force information out of Rey when she’s being interrogated, it’s heinous. This makes zero sense, as the subterfuge according to Jedi teachings should correlate to a step towards the Dark Side.