Dynamic Characters vs. Static Characters and The Star Wars Conundrum

I’m a character guy. Always  will be. I don’t care how brilliant your storyline, plot twists or special effects are. I don’t care much for your lens flare, or your beautiful sweeping camera shots. And I really don’t care how many millions of dollars you spend on making your film. Here’s the bottom line…

If your characters suck so does your film. End of story.

Characters are everything. As a writer your work is way easier once you have fully developed, real, emotional, three-dimensional characters at your disposal. They’ll drive your story for you creating an organically developed storyline that flows and makes sense.

You also tend to avoid plot holes that way.

In literary theory there are several character archetypes but for me it’s most important to identify who your dynamic and static characters are.

  • A dynamic character is one who goes through a cathartic change in personality due events and encounters over the course of a story.
  • A static character is one whose personality stays consistent over the course of the story no matter what happens. They remain status quo.

Both need to be awesome. But the most dynamic character of your story should be your main character. The hero. The focal point of the story. Their journey should matter most while the static characters build other storylines around them.

This in my opinion is the biggest problem with a little known saga in a galaxy far, far away.

I like Star Wars but I don’t love it. You’ll never see me in a Storm Trooper costume waiting in line to get into San Diego Comic Con. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the franchise’s landmark achievement in filmmaking that’s grossed billions of dollars. It’s not that the story itself isn’t a fun ride with incredibly creative ideas about the Skywalker family and their destiny to bring balance to the force.

Its that I’ve got absolutely no love for static Skywalkers who should be the dynamic main protagonists and the most dynamic character in the saga is a sidekick archetype that should be a static character.

Yup, I’m a Han Solo guy. It’s solely because he has the most developed personality and character arc in the whole saga. And in case you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen Episode 7…

Spoiler Alert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Han Solo’s dead and I have very little interest left in the story unless Luke has finally become a boss and somebody explains how the hell Rey learned to use the force so fast!

When we’re first introduced to Han Solo he’s a selfish gun for hire that doesn’t believe in the force or putting his neck on the line for anything that doesn’t involve money. By the end of Episode 4 he actually utters the line “May the force be with you” to Luke and comes in at the last second to save Luke’s neck from Darth Vader so he can blow up the Death Star.

He continues his arc from selfish to selfless through episode 5 and 6 culminating with his ultimate sacrifice in episode 7 while trying to do the right thing. You’re telling me the Han Solo we first meet is the same as the one we sadly said goodbye to?

If the answer is “no”  (it is) then that’s your dynamic character of the Star Wars saga. That’s who your main character is. Except, Han isn’t the main character. It’s Luke  in episodes 4-6 and Anakin’s through 1-3. Yet their personalities remain consistent through out their chapters leaving them bland and predictable.

Star Wars got the “like father like son” thing down. Both are bratty teenagers who have special gifts that everyone really hopes will bring balance to the force one day. But in almost every situation they’re put in one throws an angry temper tantrum while the other throws a whining fit!

I’ll let you figure out whom I’m referring to in each scenario.

And in most finale situations or what I refer to as “a boss fight” they always need help or else they’ll die! Seriously, name one boss fight at the end of the films that Anakin or Luke Skywalker won on their own?

And I’m talking about Anakin, not Darth Vader.

 

I’m waiting…

 

Still waiting…

 

Yup. None.

 

Because their personalities don’t change. Despite their powers they always fall for the same traps. They always need a Hail Mary. And they always manage to lose a limb!

I know Star Wars fan. I know. This is blasphemy! How can I say Luke and Anakin don’t change at all? They go from being farm boys to Jedi Knights for crying out loud!

They learn how to use the force and go on fantastical adventures across the galaxy. Their lives are in danger, loved ones are taken from them! They gain so much experience and knowledge that should alter the way they think, act and behave.

I agree. But they don’t.

Time after time they end up doing the same thing over and over again.

Anakin became Darth Vader!

Yes he did. He became another character all together. Two static characters don’t make a dynamic one. And wasn’t Anakin always kind of angry anyway? So did he ever learn to let go of the anger? Nope. He never really changed. He just let it out more.

What about Return of the Jedi?

He killed Emperor Palpatine because Palpatine turned him into his puppet and was electrocuting the crap out of his son. Sounds like he did something out of anger doesn’t it?

At the end of the day Luke and Anakin’s motivations never change. Han Solo’s does.

That’s the biggest downfall to what should be a masterpiece of fiction that’s visually stunning and character driven. Not plot driven.

Granted, there’s still time for Luke. We may get a final climactic character arc over the next few episodes that actually gives him a chance to be a more dynamic personality. And maybe that’s just how smart Harrison Ford is for saying he always thought Han Solo should get killed off. Maybe he knows too.

Han Solo was too dynamic a personality and not the main character of Star Wars. With him out of the way, it makes room for Luke to finally bring some balance to the force. With any luck the writer’s will feel the same way.

2 thoughts on “Dynamic Characters vs. Static Characters and The Star Wars Conundrum

  1. This was a great article, Mark. Thanks for sharing your perspective! Would you be interested in sharing your writings on films on moviepilot.com? Shoot me an email if you’d like to know more, my contact details are in my ‘about me’. Cheers!

    Like

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