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SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) Empty SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias)

April 24th 2024, 6:56 pm
SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) G15v2hq


Luke Skywalker : DarthAnt66
Anakin Skywalker : Vaelias

This debate will feature Luke Skywalker from the climax of New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force VS Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader as of Revenge of the Sith during the slaughter of the Separatist leaders on Mustafar. Using standard Lucasfilm Licensing policy rules.
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SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) Empty Re: SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias)

April 26th 2024, 11:35 pm

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) Empty DarthAnt66's Opener - Post 1 of 3

April 30th 2024, 2:31 am
Message reputation : 100% (4 votes)
SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) Hmb4JqR

James Luceno, 2007 Space Station Liberty Podcast interview wrote:"In the Unifying Force, Luke pretty much just goes to the main villain's stronghold and wastes them like there's no tomorrow. That's pretty different from the previous books where Luke was kind of vacillating. Did you decide to change Luke's portrayal there, or was just enough enough?"

"I think it was a combination. But that was the Luke that was missing from a lot of the series... It was important to remind everybody that Luke is the main man when it comes to these things. So, I was very happy that I got to bring him back to where a lot of people wanted him to be." 

I will be representing Luke Skywalker as of New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force (TUF), the final book in the Yuuzhan Vong War storyline. This depiction of Luke by James Luceno brought to the fanbase the common conception of Luke as the most powerful Jedi ever. I hope to show that this widespread assessment is deserved by pitting him against the next best contender: Anakin Skywalker. This Anakin is specifically Anakin at the height of his dark side powers prior to the final confrontation of Mustafar, free of all that emotional baggage caused by Padme and Obi-Wan. 

In TUF, Luke unleashes his full Force powers and fights through the mother of all gauntlets with the aid of Jacen and Jaina Solo: first against an army of possibly thousands of Yuuzhan Vong warriors, then a group of fifteen lightsaber-resistant Yuuzhan Vong Slayers, and finally the Yuuzhan Vong Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane. Luke starts with a full tank and ends fully exhausted... and victorious. 

I. Episode III Anakin’s Power-Level

Per the rules of the debate and Lucasfilm Licensing canon policy, anything George Lucas creates, says, or even thinks is the highest form of canon and takes precedence over EU sources. Accordingly, we can focus on Lucas’ position of Anakin’s powers.

Lucas had many opportunities to comment on Anakin’s powers, namely in:

• 2004 Remastered DVD Commentaries
• 2005 Rolling Stone Interview
• 2005 Vanity Fair Interview
• 2005 Revenge of the Sith DVD Commentary & Featurettes
• The Making of Revenge of the Sith reference book
• Star Wars Archives: Episodes 1-3 reference book
• Indirectly through interviews by Nick Gillard, Matthew Stover, and Dave Filoni

And in these works, Lucas actually does often explicitly bring up Anakin’s powers. Most notably:

George Lucas, 2004 Episode IV DVD commentary wrote:Vader would’ve become infinitely more powerful if he hadn’t ended up his suit, if he hadn’t become half man, half machine which diminishes his powers considerably, which were the powers the Emperor has."

George Lucas, 2004 Episode V DVD commentary wrote:"Anakin would have been able to do it if he hadn’t been debilitated and now he’s half machine and half man, so he’s lost a lot of the power of the Force, and he’s lost a lot of his ability to be more powerful then the Emperor. But Luke hasn’t."

Nick Gillard, 2004 interview wrote:How does one quantify fighting prowess, and does such a quantity have any practical value? When Stunt Coordinator and Sword Master Nick Gillard sets down to script a lightsaber duel, he needs to have some guage as to how competent the combatants are. On equal-footing, such ranking could easily determine the victor. Star Wars duels, however, rarely occur on equal footing or level ground.

"The fighting has evolved in these last three movies considerably," says Gillard. "George Lucas works on a system of levels. So, on The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan would have been like a level six or seven. Now that we're on Episode III he's actually a level eight. When you move up the levels, it affects the style of fighting."

The level is not necessarily an indication of the performer's talent, but it takes a truly gifted and physically skilled actor to play a powerful Jedi combatant. "Hayden Christensen is one of the best there is," says Gillard. "I've seen hundreds of sword fighters, people who do it for a living, and he leaves them all in his wake. His style has changed a bit since Episode II, when he was only a level seven. On this he's a level nine."

Also a factor in Gillard's development is backstory of the Jedi warriors. The training lineage does show up in the crafting of duels and action. "There's a line of training through Darth Tyranus and Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin. You can follow that line, and there's an aggressive fault in that line. Mace isn't of that line, and that allows you to give him unique talents."

For the curious, Gillard does not reveal any Jedi who has achieved level ten. The highest is nine, occupied by a small number of capable sword masters, including Yoda and Darth Sidious. At so high a ranking, it comes down to individual fighting styles as well as the circumstances of the surroundings that make a difference.

George Lucas, 2005 Rolling Stones interview wrote:"And when he finds out Luke is his son, his first impulse is to figure out a way of getting him to join him to kill the Emperor. That's what Siths do! He tries it with anybody he thinks might be more powerful, which is what the Emperor was looking for in the first place: somebody who would be more powerful than he was and could help him rule the universe. But Obi-Wan screwed that up by cutting off his arms and legs and burning him up. From then on, he wasn't as strong as the Emperor—he was like Darth Maul or Count Dooku. He wasn't what he was supposed to become. But the son could become that."

George Lucas, 2005 Vanity Fair interview wrote:Anakin, as Skywalker, as a human being, was going to be extremely powerful,” he says. “But he ended up losing his arms and a leg and became partly a robot. So a lot of his ability to use the Force, a lot of his powers, are curbed at this point, because, as a living form, there’s not that much of him left. So his ability to be twice as good as the Emperor disappeared, and now he’s maybe 20 percent less than the Emperor. So that isn’t what the Emperor had in mind. He wanted this really super guy, but that got derailed by Obi-Wan. So he finds that, with Luke, he can get a more primo version if he can turn Luke to the Dark Side. You’ll see, as this goes on, Luke is faced with the same issues and practically the same scenes that Anakin is faced with. Anakin says yes and Luke says no.”

George Lucas, Star Wars Archives: Episodes 1-3 reference book wrote:SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) JewXQQ2

"He hears that Padmé died. He got put on the operating table before he got a chance to save her, and she died. So it's more railing at the gods or the fates that 'Given another month, I could've saved her.' He thinks he was powerful enough on the landing platform before Obi-Wan intervened, so he looks at it as bad luck or fate that he couldn’t get the thing accomplished in time to save his wife."

All these quotes profess the existence of an understanding of Force power that is (1) generalizable to a single dimension [blue text], (2) quantifiable [red text], (3) the sole relevant consideration for Sith when choosing partners for duels [orange text], (4) usable across characters with very different relationships to the Force, like Anakin vs Vader vs the Emperor vs Luke, and (5) deemed sufficient for in-universe characters and the audience alike to understand the respective power-levels and motivations of characters. So, let’s rejoice! We already have half our work done for us. Regardless of how complex the inputs are — a character’s relationship to the Living Force versus the Cosmic Force, a character’s natural talent versus willpower and effort, etc. — we know the outputs for several characters. We can then even assess the accuracy of different input models based on how well it conforms to these outputs.

Vaelias is well-known for his elaborate “Force mechanics” that conclude Anakin is the most powerful character in the verse due to being the focal point of all the galaxy’s energy (not even true in itself). I look forward to reading the arguments in-depth but ultimately, saying, “Actually, there is a key element to Anakin’s power that Lucas is not bringing up,” is already set to be either irrelevant or impossible. Either (1) all those “Force mechanics” are already baked in Lucas’ model and still doesn’t change the fact that Anakin is explicitly not “extremely powerful” nor “very powerful” nor a “really super guy” nor 2x more powerful than the Emperor but instead, practically, exactly as powerful as the Emperor and with powers that Cin Drallig and Obi-Wan can block. Or, (2) Lucas just doesn’t agree with your “Force mechanics.”

This is a case where absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. Lucas clearly wants to talk about the power-level dynamics of Anakin, the Emperor, Vader, and Luke. He brings it up in most of his available opportunities. And he goes out of his way to tell people like Hayden Blackman how to think of Anakin versus Vader. If Lucas thought Anakin was Top Dog because he’s the fulcrum of universal energies, he would mention that somewhere! But he never says anything remotely related to that. Not once. 

We also have tens of hours of footage of Nick Gillard, Matthew Stover, James Luceno, and Dave Filoni talking about Force powers and what they learned from talking with Lucas. And despite speaking to quite in-depth Force mechanics, again no one says anything remotely related to what you are talking about. Instead, Gillard has recently said the Emperor is a step above Anakin if anything, Stover has said a fight between Anakin and Mace is overall very close [green text], and Filoni has said that he never thought of Anakin as particularly very powerful. (Again, the point isn't that they think Anakin is near Mace or below the Emperor—the point is that they are obviously not aware of some underlying Force theory that necessitates Anakin's supremacy.) These “Force mechanics” are either just utterly not important or not true.

Nick Gillard, 2023 Star Wars Theory interview wrote: 44:22

"I'd have Mace just under Anakin and Yoda. But Palpatine is a whole-other level. To me, Palpatine is a whole-other level."

Matthew Stover, 2022 Star Wars Theory interview wrote:"It is canonical that Anakin has trans-human reflexes. He is the only human to ever finish the pod race and at eight. And he is popularly considered the greatest fighter pilot in the galaxy in A New Hope. So, Anakin has the definite edge. And his innate aggressiveness would fairly well counter Mace's. That's the key to Mace's fighting style: his overwhelming ability to attack aggressively from many directions at once. If anyone could be capable of matching that hand-to-hand, it's probably Anakin. I'm not sure if I would give Anakin an edge over Mace, but I think it'd be a very even fight. Different styles. Also, Anakin's Force powers are operating on a higher level. Mace's is more precise but Anakin's just tremendously powerful."

And so, Anakin is “as strong as the Emperor” and has “the powers the Emperor has" [purple text]. In fighting ability, Lucas ranks Anakin and the Emperor as both level 9s on a 10-level scale [purple text].

Never does Lucas suggest that Anakin lost power or fighting ability between the part of the movie where we never even see him fight besides a five second hologram and the big final duel. He freely speaks of Anakin in general terms, in varying contexts, and without fail places Anakin right with the Emperor. Lucas even speaks to Anakin’s dark side power-progression very chronologically, power building on power as tests are completed:

George Lucas, Star Wars Archives: Episodes 1-3 wrote:“You can become more powerful but you must pass this first test. The first test is you must kill your mother. The second test: you have to kill your wife. And the third test: you have to kill your best friend." In the end you have all this power but you have nobody to share it with, except some wizened old man who's even more evil than you are."

That is not to say Lucas doesn’t think the contextual circumstances around the Mustafar duel didn’t have any deliberating effects; rather, it didn’t affect his pure power or fighting ability. The only source that comments on this, the Episode III junior novel, has Anakin's dark side emotions even explicitly increasing his raw power. 

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith junior novelization wrote:The words stabbed at Obi-Wan, even though he knew that Anakin was speaking out of his own pain. He felt the dark side grow stronger, feeding on his despair.

So, per Lucas’ own words, using his own dimension and scale:

Darth Vader: 80
Episode III Anakin: 100
Episode III Emperor: 100
Full potential Luke: well above 100

We can simplify it to just these numbers because Lucas does.

And so the only question remaining powerwise is how much did Luke realize of his potential?

II. TUF Luke’s Power-Level

A. Dark Side Growth

Quotes on Luke’s Force potential:

George Lucas, 2005 Vanity Fair interview wrote:“Anakin, as Skywalker, as a human being, was going to be extremely powerful,” he says. “But he ended up losing his arms and a leg and became partly a robot. So a lot of his ability to use the Force, a lot of his powers, are curbed at this point, because, as a living form, there’s not that much of him left. So his ability to be twice as good as the Emperor disappeared, and now he’s maybe 20 percent less than the Emperor. So that isn’t what the Emperor had in mind. He wanted this really super guy, but that got derailed by Obi-Wan. So he finds that, with Luke, he can get a more primo version if he can turn Luke to the Dark Side. You’ll see, as this goes on, Luke is faced with the same issues and practically the same scenes that Anakin is faced with. Anakin says yes and Luke says no.”

George Lucas, 2005 Rolling Stones interview wrote:"And when he finds out Luke is his son, his first impulse is to figure out a way of getting him to join him to kill the Emperor. That's what Siths do! He tries it with anybody he thinks might be more powerful, which is what the Emperor was looking for in the first place: somebody who would be more powerful than he was and could help him rule the universe. But Obi-Wan screwed that up by cutting off his arms and legs and burning him up. From then on, he wasn't as strong as the Emperor—he was like Darth Maul or Count Dooku. He wasn't what he was supposed to become. But the son could become that."

George Lucas, 2004 Episode V DVD commentary wrote:"Anakin would have been able to do it if he hadn’t been debilitated and now he’s half machine and half man, so he’s lost a lot of the power of the Force, and he’s lost a lot of his ability to be more powerful then the Emperor. But Luke hasn’t."

Quotes on Luke and Vader versus the Emperor:

George Lucas, 1982 Making of Return of the Jedi wrote:“What is operating in his head is: ‘The Emperor will turn Luke to the dark side because I can’t do it, because I am not strong enough; he will turn Luke and then I will be able to join with Luke and eventually turn him to destroy the Emperor. Once he is on the dark side, then it will be easy; then we are a team, then we are father and son.’

George Lucas, 1982 Making of Return of the Jedi wrote:“He knows that if he gets into a lazer fight with the Emperor, he won’t win. He knows his son can’t win. Neither one of them can beat the Emperor. Together they might.

Other quotes relevant to Luke’s powers:

The Emperor, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back wrote:"We have a new enemy - Luke Skywalker... He could destroy us... The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi."

Darth Vader, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back wrote:“Luke. You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny.  Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.”

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi adult novelization wrote:Luke paused, for he saw something else, as well; something he hadn't seen before in the Emperor. Fear.

Luke saw fear in the Emperor - fear of Luke. Fear of Luke's power, fear that this power could be turned on him - on the Emperor - in the same way Vader had turned it on Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke saw this fear in the Emperor - and he knew, now, the odds had shifted slightly. He had glimpsed the Emperor's nakedest self.

With sudden absolute calm, Luke stood upright. He stared directly into the malign ruler's hood.

Palpatine said nothing for a few moments, returning the young Jedi's gaze, assessing his strengths and weaknesses.

Darth Vader's perspective, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi adult novelization wrote:Luke wasn't ready for that, emotionally. There was still a chance Luke would return to his friends if he destroyed the Emperor now. He needed more extensive tutelage, first - training by both Vader and Palpatine - before he'd be ready to assume his place at Vader's right hand, ruling the galaxy.

To summarize, per Lucas directly:

• Anakin would have become “twice as good as the Emperor” but he got maimed. Vader is instead “maybe 20 percent less than the Emperor.” With Luke, the Emperor can get “a more primo version.”
• The Emperor wants “somebody who would be more powerful than he was.” Anakin was already “as strong as the Emperor” in Episode III, but then he got maimed. But Luke “could become” what Anakin “was supposed to become.”
• Luke “hasn’t” “lost a lot of his ability to become more powerful than the Emperor,” meaning he can be.
• The Emperor believes Luke “can destroy us.” Vader interprets this as in a fighting context, saying, “You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this.” (Note that based on Episode VI drafts, this is actually the Emperor using the royal we, meaning he is saying, “Luke can destroy me.)
• Though the difficulty is inconsistent (“might” versus “easy”), Vader’s whole plan in Episode VI is for the Emperor to turn Luke to the dark side so that Vader and Luke can then team up. Per Lucas, Vader believes it “will be easy” to kill the Emperor because “we are a team,” or at least “might” be able to, whereas Vader “knows” he cannot alone.*

* (If one accepts the premise that a dark side Luke could one-day certainly destroy the Emperor, that means the “might” must be referring to Luke and Vader teaming up within Episode VI itself. The surrounding context of the “might” already presumes that Luke and Vader have teamed up. So, the only situation where it could even be a “might” is if Luke joins Vader during the film. This makes sense as Episode VI was marketed as the “final chapter of the Star Wars saga.” Vader must be granted by Lucas the possibility of materializing his plan within the film, or else the audience would already know he lost... an ending where all three of them still live with the final fight sometime in the future is not a true ending.)

And, per the Episode VI novel:

• The Emperor “fears Luke’s power” and that it could be turned on the Emperor the same way Vader turned on Ben Kenobi, and this fear captures the Emperor’s “nakedest self.”
• Vader is very confident that a Luke who had “more extensive tutelage” under him and the Emperor would be able to destroy the Emperor, at least with his help.

Thus, to put it more succinctly, Luke has the Force potential to sufficiently replace Anakin and become at least distinctively more powerful than the Emperor. Lucas offers the following time-scales:

Defeat the Emperor alone as a Jedi: within twenty-five years (discussed in part B), but perhaps even within 13 years as the Emperor is only elated with the discovery of Episode 1 Anakin but greatly fears Luke.

Defeat the Emperor alone as a Sith: obviously much faster than as a Jedi.

Defeat the Emperor in a team-up with Vader as a Sith: quite possibly during the battle of Endor itself. But at least within a few years, as the longer Vader plans, the more likely his plan would fall apart—with the Emperor as Master Schemer, Luke developing a deeper relationship with the Emperor, and the general disaster of having three Sith around.

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) MTsUIxy

Luke does become the reborn Emperor’s apprentice to "know the dark side's ways and finds its weaknesses" and is filled with so much knowledge that he ends up "perhaps learning more about the dark side than he wants to know." Luke becomes "consumed by anger and hate," "follows his father's path," and says he "found knowledge, all the dark things father knew so well," overall learning "the depths of the dark side." Luke “had done and and experienced greater evil than perhaps any man had known.” Luke was so thoroughly corrupted that his very consciousness was buried deep within himself, wholly unaware of his location and forgetful of his very identity as Luke Skywalker. This is a level of dark side submersion far deeper than Anakin's and akin to the Episode VI novel’s characterization of Vader, who had long forgotten his memories as Anakin and even the existence of Padme. And Luke’s understanding of the dark side is not superficial, for he is able to “transmute and turn” all his lessons against the Emperor as a Jedi, signifying high-level mastery to reverse-engineer everything into its light side counterparts.

Anakin is someone equally powerful as the Emperor.

TUF Luke is someone more powerful than the Emperor. By this point, Luke is beyond even the most conservative figures for when he should have outstripped the Emperor, despite fully wielding the dark side in power and knowledge anyway (explained in section III)*.

* (Again, explained in section III. But basically, TUF Luke is explicitly able to incorporate all the raw power that comes with the dark side without becoming corrupted by it.)

B. Light Side Growth

George Lucas, December 1977 Making of The Empire Strikes Back wrote:SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) 79oLyaF

"Tend to go in the direction that the trilogy will end with Vader getting killed. In this film we will work on setting up the final fight which will eventually come. We are going to turn Luke into Ben. He's going to become Merlin, Gandalf, Father, Magician, Superman, but in his youth he's not as wise as he might be. In the evolution of the series, his prowess becomes less, but his mind and the mystical side of him become more and he will obviously take it further than Ben did."

(Special thanks to Darth Durin's Baneling and Syndicate for this quote.)

George Lucas, August 1977 Making of Star Wars wrote:SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) AnQb5Mf

“The Force is a perception of the reality that exists around us. You have to come to learn it. It’s not something you just get. It takes many, many years. Luke is on the road to knowing the Force, but it will be another twenty years before he actually begins to cope with it on a real level. He’s still an amateur. As far as Luke knows, Ben is the last of the Jedi Knights. But there could be more. Obviously Darth Vader knows the Force, but as far as we know at this point, Luke is one of the last surviving apprentices of the Force.”

George Lucas, October 1979 Alan Arnold interview wrote:SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) UlxKEzk

"There are essentially nine films in a series of three trilogies. The first trilogy is about the young Ben Kenobi and the early life of Luke's father when Luke was a little boy. This trilogy takes place some twenty years before the second trilogy which includes Star Wars and Empire. About a year or two passes between each story of the trilogy and about twenty years pass between the trilogies. The entire saga spans about fifty-five years."

Lucas says that during his sequel trilogy, which would have been set twenty years after the original trilogy, Luke would  "obviously take it further than Ben did" and "become Merlin, Gandalf, Father, Magician, Superman.” These characters are the most powerful of their respective verses besides true deities and have supreme supernatural powers. Lucas also says that Luke will defeat the Emperor in the sequel trilogy. These ideas go hand-in-hand: Luke becomes the Good Supreme Wizard and topples the Evil Supreme Wizard.

In another interview, Lucas says that it would take Luke "another twenty years" from Episode IV to "cope with the Force on a real level." So, Lucas’ twenty years figure seems locked-in.

Although these are older quotes, Lucas’ conception of the Emperor by 1977 is not much different than his modern one. Lucas still regards 1977 Emperor as “the personification of the bad side of the Force,” “even more powerful than Vader,” “the classic devil character, a hooded, dark figure,” and as a level 6 on a 10-scale, “on his way to becoming a 10, which will be a force so powerful in the universe that nothing can stop him.” Moreover, the fact he would have Luke defeat the Emperor in Episode IX suggests the Emperor would have grown radically more powerful than his Episode V self anyway. And there’s not much indication that Lucas has negatively revised his opinion of Luke’s Force potential. The only apparent change is turning his father from a “powerful Jedi Knight” to a virgin-birth Chosen One, making Luke even more special.

These interviews were during a time when Lucas regarded Ben as the "personification of the light side of the Force" and the Emperor's counterpart (note that Lucas thought Ben to be far more powerful than Vader), so Ben is also ranked a level 6. Thus, when Lucas says that Luke will outstrip Ben, that means Luke will very explicitly also outstrip the Emperor. Although Lucas later revises his rankings for Episode VI, it's important to remember that the Emperor is already locked-in as the Evil Supreme Wizard. It's instead Ben who changes, being replaced with Yoda and now dropped to "warrior" level with Episode VI Luke and Vader. So, the 'peak Luke > level 6 Emperor' link should stand. And besides, the Emperor by 29 ABY should be much closer to a level 10 anyway, but Luke is still above. 

This twenty years figure—more precisely, 20 ABY for Luke to begin dealing with the Force at a “real level” and 23 ABY to 29 ABY for him to become the Good Supreme Wizard and topple the Emperor—aligns perfectly with The Unifying Force, set in 29 ABY.

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) 8t0Y1jr

The key difference between Lucas’ Luke and the EU’s Luke being EU Luke has done virtually everything conceivable up until the start of NJO. He has confronted a dozen super-powerful Force users of every discipline and endless Imperial Remnant forces. He has utterly fallen to the dark side and learned the darkest secrets of the Emperor. He has realized the power of redemption and love, the true interconnectedness of the Force and how to join with it as a luminous being. He has communed with Jedi survivors and spirits, recovered several forgotten libraries of Jedi knowledge, and trained dozens to Jedi Knighthood. He has been pushed to the brink of death, despair, or defeat more times than anyone on record. Which is to say that, some mechanism blocking his powers aside, Luke should have realistically realized his Good Supreme Wizard status long before 29 ABY.

Luke’s portrayal in the New Republic series varies significantly by author. But toward the end, he was often portrayed as having effectively limitless power in a way reminiscent of the Emperor. They have him fight villains repeatedly likened to the Emperor in power with a fraction of his strength, effortlessly rebuild and destroy mountain-size castles, cast permanent illusions over 1500 meter ships, tear off the hulls of Star Destroyers, among other feats. And this Good Supreme Wizard Luke angle was acknowledged by Star Wars officials and authors. High-ranking Lucasfilm official Shelly Shapiro notes authors had to deliberately weaken Luke “to make any fight fair enough to be even interesting” because Luke “was so all-powerful.” Shapiro also says that Luke was "impossible to deal with" writing-wise "since he'd become so omnipotent” and that Luke was “practically omnipotent.” Even Thrawn author Timothy Zahn, certified Luke Hater Enthusiast, became annoyed that Luke was a "superman-type character" and "too powerful" who could "just wave his hand and fix the problem on page four," and so sought to have a “final say” on the character by deliberating nerfing him for the Hand of Thrawn Duology. This is all to emphasize that it’s not as if Luke spontaneously became the Good Supreme Wizard in TUF, but rather that authors had been chewing on the idea since the 90s and it got markedly codified in TUF.


Last edited by DarthAnt66 on April 30th 2024, 7:33 pm; edited 7 times in total

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) Empty DarthAnt66's Opener - Post 2 of 3

April 30th 2024, 2:47 am
Message reputation : 100% (3 votes)
III. TUF Luke’s (and Anakin's) Fighting Abilities 

Luke’s final state in TUF is prompted by a discussion with Jacen. To summarize:

• Jacen tells Luke that Luke fears falling to the dark side but that Vergere contends there is no dark side. Rather, what the Jedi call the dark side is just the raw, unrestrained Force. 
• Luke reflects that he has associated anger with the dark side since Dark Empire and instead perhaps the dark side can be jettisoned by self-awareness. He concludes his fear has held him back from incorporating the raw, unrestrained Force into his awareness. 
• Luke continues saying that even Vergere’s conception of the Force is limited to the physical world but they are truly beings of light, the PT Jedi Order’s emphasis on control blinded them to the Unifying Force, his past Force fatigue stems from his fear of abusing his raw, unrestrained Force, and while nature finds a balance in the Force, the light side and the dark side are real and materialize through sentience.
• Luke and Jacen conclude that likely through the Unifying Force, Force spirits exist and Jedi have power to glimpse the future. 

When we see Luke in battle next, he is completely changed.

The Unifying Force wrote:In most places the stairway wasn't wide enough for the two people to stand abreast, and in those stretches Luke had to face the brunt of the attacks.

He was his own vortex, deflecting amphistaff strikes, whiplike lashes, and spurts of deadly venom; dodging or redirecting flights of thud bugs; parrying the thrusts of coufees, to sidestep, duck, maneuver his body in ways that seemed to defy gravity. Stunned or burned by Luke's green blade, thud bugs were ricocheting from the walls and high ceiling, chipping away at the yorik coral surface.

Dropped in their tracks, warriors sprawled with hands pressed to stumps of legs and opened foreheads, or with black blood welling where the lightsaber had found defenseless areas between living armor and tattooed flesh. Jacen recalled watching his uncle on Belkadan, where the war had begun, wielding two lightsabers when he had come to Jacen's rescue.

But the rescue on Belkadan paled in comparison to the control Luke demonstrated now. His single blade might as well have been ten, or twenty. He took the steps at a lightning pace, burning his way through dilating membranes but in complete control of his momentum. Seen through the Force he was a maelstrom of luminous energy, a Force storm against which there was no shelter. And yet all his energy poured from a calm center; an eye.

He made no missteps. None of his actions were interrupted by thought. In fact, Luke didn't seem to be there at all-physically or as an individual personality. Jacen and Jaina were astounded-but they had little time to reflect. Their lightsabers were busy, as well, turning the blows Luke dodged, or defending assaults launched from below. On the fourteenth level, where the Citadel's exterior wings sprouted from the hull, they reached a fork in the stairway. Luke swung to Jacen.

"Which way?" He wasn't even breathing heavily.

The rest of my post will be breaking that down. 

• Luke “was his own vortex” and “a maelstrom of luminous energy, a Force storm against which there was no shelter.”
• “All” of Luke’s “energy poured from a calm center; an eye.”
• “None” of Luke’s “actions were interrupted by thought” and he “didn’t seem to be there at allphysically or as an individual personality” 
• Per the Essential Reader’s Companion: “Luke gives himself fully to the Force, becoming a whirlwind of devastation, slashing through Yuuzhan Vong guards.”

According to Vergere, the power of the dark side is the raw, unrestrained Force, just misnamed. According to Luke, and seemingly accepted by Jacen, the power of the dark side is the raw, unrestrained Force that is then tainted by evil intentions. Thus, it's possible to wield the practical power of the dark side without being corrupted if one can embrace the raw, unrestrained Force without being seduced to do evil. Luke has believed this is a nigh-impossible task since Dark Empire, but he tries anew and succeeds. 

Luke succeeds by bringing forth the raw, unrestrained Force “from” a “calm” and introspective center. Typically, such raw power is brought forth through willpower, forcing it through oneself like a Sith. But Luke is calm, watchful. The dynamic begets the facilitator of Luke’s raw power to be the alternate: true submission into the Force; a release of self, a losing of the sentience that Luke identifies as the source of the dark side. And indeed, the fight was preceded by discussion of the merits of the Unifying Force, Luke’s actions were devoid of thought, and Luke’s self was explicitly altogether absent. Altogether, Luke manages to wield the power of the dark side without being corrupted by emptying himself of “Luke.”

There’s another character who has a similar description when fighting: Matthew Stover’s Obi-Wan. 

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith adult novelization wrote:Instantly the box of bodyguards around Obi-Wan filled with crackling electrostaffs whipping faster than the human eye could see-which was less troublesome than it might have been, for that box was already empty of Jedi.

The Force had let him collapse as though he'd suddenly fainted, then it brought his lightsaber from his belt to his hand and ignited it while he turned his fall into a roll; that roll carried his lightsaber through a crisp arc that severed the leg of one of the bodyguards, and as the Force brought Obi-Wan back to his feet, the Force also nudged the crippled bodyguard to topple sideways into the path of the blade and sent it clanging to the floor in two smoking, sparking pieces. One down.

The remaining three pressed the attack, but more cautiously; their weapons were longer than his, and they struck from beyond the reach of his blade. He gave way before them, his defensive velocities barely keeping their crackling discharge blades at bay.

Three MagnaGuards, each with a double-ended weapon that generated an energy field impervious to lightsabers, each with reflexes that operated near lightspeed, each with hypersophisticated heuristic combat algorithms that enabled it to learn from experience and adapt its tactics instantly to any situation, were certainly beyond Obi-Wan's ability to defeat, but it was not Obi-Wan who would defeat them; Obi-Wan wasn't even fighting. He was only a vessel, emptied of self. The Force, shaped by his skill and guided by his clarity of mind, fought through him.

In the Force, he felt their destruction: it was somewhere above and behind him, and only seconds away.

He went to meet it with a backflipping leap that the Force used to lift him neatly to an empty droid socket in the ceiling hive. The MagnaGuards sprang after him but he was gone by the time they arrived, leaping higher into the maze of girders and cables and room-sized cargo containers that was the control center's superstructure.

Here, said the Force within him, and Obi-Wan stopped, balancing on a girder, frowning back at the oncoming killer droids that leapt from beam to beam below him like malevolent dura-steel primates. Though he could feel its close approach, he had no idea from where their destruction might come . . . until the Force showed him a support beam within reach of his blade and whispered, Now.

His blade flicked out and the durasteel beam parted, fresh-cut edges glowing white hot, and a great hulk of ship-sized cargo container that the beam had been supporting tore free of its other supports with shrieks of anguished metal and crashed down upon all three MagnaGuards with the finality of a meteor strike.

Two, three, and four.

Oh, thought Obi-Wan with detached approval. That worked out rather well.

Only ten thousand to go. Give or take. An instant later the Force had him hurtling through a storm of blasterfire as every combat droid in the control center opened up on him at once.

Letting go of intention, letting go of desire, letting go of life, Obi-Wan fixed his entire attention on a thread of the Force that pulled him toward Grievous: not where Grievous was, but where Grievous would be when Obi-Wan got there . . .

In Stover’s characterization of Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan repeatedly empties himself of “Obi-Wan” and becomes a pure conduit of the Force. The Force tells him where to go, what to do, and Obi-Wan, purged of conscious intention or reservation, simply follows through. 

By all indicators, Stover certainly does not think Obi-Wan has the skill or power of Anakin or Mace Windu. The passage above points out defeating the droid army was plainly beyond Obi-Wan’s ability. And later, when Obi-Wan fights Grievous, Stover writes that Obi-Wan’s blade was “never truly fast.” Meanwhile, Stover calls Anakin perhaps the fastest and most powerful Jedi ever and the greatest warrior in galactic history. He writes Mace as having “unmatched skills with a lightsaber,” and he believes Mace bested the Emperor fair-and-square (link). 

Yet when asked in an interview who wins in a fight, Obi-Wan or Mace, Stover promised that the Episode III novel would definitively provide an answer. It’s apparent that the answer is Obi-Wan. In the novel, Mace praises Obi-Wan as having no weaknesses and the “best chance” of defeating Grievous of “any living Jedi.” And then in a 2023 interview, Stover says that that his favorite character is Obi-Wan, you can’t read the Episode III novel without realizing that, and points out “he is literally described by the author as the ‘ultimate Jedi.’” Stover also reflects on the Invisible Hand bridge scene, paraphrasing, “Obi-Wan gives himself to the Force, and that’s how he wins. He opens himself up, becomes a window to the Force.” Stover says that was one of his favorite passages he ever wrote and links it back to why he loves Obi-Wan so much. 

Matthew Stover, 2021 interview wrote:  01:09:49

"You also see him grow into, by Revenge of the Sith, the only person who could have stood up against Anakin. In my opinion and I don't think there would be many people who would argue with me, at least not people whose opinion I respect... Obi-Wan is the only person who could have beaten Anakin. That was it. And you see him by the end.. you can see where the Alec Guinness version of the character is coming from." 

And Stover still writes Obi-Wan is “the only person who could have stood up against Anakin” and “is the only person who could have beaten Anakin.” To Stover, Obi-Wan’s strengths is how he is able to defeat the otherwise undefeatable Anakin, not Anakin’s contextual weaknesses, which he never brings up in any interview. And when asked by a fan, “Anakin is the most powerful Jedi ever, how does Obi Wan stack up against him in your book?” Stover responds, “Obi-Wan is my favorite character. He has always been my favorite character… It’s Mr. Lucas’ story where Obi-Wan steps up and takes his rightful place as one of the pivotal heroes of the entire Star Wars saga. He is the ultimate Jedi.” To Stover, Obi-Wan versus Anakin is far more about the awesomeness of Obi-Wan than the failures of Anakin. 

The droid army was “certainly beyond Obi-Wan's ability to defeat, but it was not Obi-Wan who would defeat them; Obi-Wan wasn't even fighting.”

It’s Obi-Wan’s ability to rise beyond himself by giving himself to the Force that makes him the ultimate Jedi. 

Though this begs of a no-limits fallacy, the text clearly defines that the Force is “shaped by his skill and guided by his clarity of mind.” The vessel is still Obi-Wan and that still matters. The limits of Obi-Wan’s skill are still the limits of Obi-Wan’s skill. But the implementation, the theoretical knowledge being realized onto reality, is practically perfected by the Force. (This also explains why Obi-Wan can defeat Anakin and Grievous but not Dooku or the Emperor.)

With his decision-making likewise replaced by the Force’s, TUF Luke should similarly always perform the best possible move accomplishable at his skill level. It’s not Luke making the moves—Luke's not even there. It’s the Force. 

Justin Lambros, 2005 IGN interview wrote:"Obi-Wan, on the other hand, is the consummate hero. It's his speed, precision, and unshakeable focus that allow him to handle challenges that Jedi more powerful than him could never face."

Sam Witwer, Rebel Force Radio interview wrote:"What's awesome about Obi-Wan, and it's consistent through the Clone Wars, they always say 'he's one of the best, but he's not the best - he's not the best of the best. He's not the best swordsman. He's not the best pilot. But he's really good. But he has these A-game moments.' Well, we just saw an A-game moment (Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace). There's another one, for example, in the Clone Wars, he loses his first fight to Darth Maul pretty hardcore. He does not even hold a candle to Darth Maul when him and Ventress fight Savage and Maul. He loses. But the next time he fights, he's up against Savage and Maul, and his Jedi partner had been killed - Adi Gallia had just been killed - and just like Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan then has his A-game moment and stands up to Darth Maul and Savage and drives them off. I like that the character elements are consistent about what activates these people, about when they are at their best and when they are not."

Dave Filoni, Rebel Force Radio interview wrote:"So Obi Wan loses Qui Gon to Darth Maul and is just suddnly empowered to defeat him, Adi Gallia dies the same way, same thing happens, was that kind of intentional? This sense of loss kind of empowering?-"

"Not really. I think it was a lot of focus, courage and being a hero and kindness."

The premise that Obi-Wan rises above himself is not exclusive to Stover. It’s also the position of Episode III video game lead Justin Lambros (who had extensive talks with Nick Gillard about Obi-Wan’s powers) and Dave Filoni. And though they don’t speak to the Force emptying take, they do mutually attribute this rallying to Obi-Wan’s focus and kindness. Stover, too, picks up on that as the other dimension of Obi-Wan’s greatness, the fact he is “fundamentally a deeply kind person.” He continues by saying, “That is Luke’s superpower—Luke’s superpower is that he deeply cares about everyone and wants to save them.”

It’s not just that TUF Luke has a sexy fighting mindset that essentially auto-pilot finds the best move, but that this exact fighting mindset is the proven foil to Anakin’s own. "KFV" may be able to take Yoda or the Emperor, but Obi-Wan is his Achilles Heel, and Luke can step into those same shoes. 

• Luke “made no missteps”

In chess, engines typically evaluate moves as one of the following: best move, excellent move, good move, interesting move, dubious move, mistake, blunder, fatal error. To make no missteps doesn’t necessarily mean every move is the best move, but it does mean there’s at least no mistakes, blunders, or fatal errors going on. 

The fact Obi-Wan “never makes a mistake” (Justin Lambros) and “doesn’t make mistakes” (Nick Gillard) is frequently cited as a key reason why Obi-Wan is able to defeat Anakin. Because despite being the better fighter, Anakin does make mistakes. Of course, fans like to discuss “KFV” as Anakin without the many contextual weaknesses of the Mustafar duel. And he is that. But he’s not a perfect fighter. 

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith adult novelization wrote:As the shadow beside him spoke, its words became true. From a remote, frozen distance that was at the same time more extravagantly, hotly intimate than he could have ever dreamed, Anakin handled his emotions. He dissected them. He reassembled them and pulled them apart again. He still felt them-if anything, they burned hotter than before-but they no longer had the power to cloud his mind.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith adult novelization wrote:The Sith Lord who once had been a Jedi hero called Anakin Skywalker stood, drawing himself up to his full height, but he looked not outward upon his new Master, nor upon the planet-city beyond, nor out into the galaxy that they would soon rule. He instead turned his gaze inward: he unlocked the furnace gate within his heart and stepped forth to regard with new eyes the cold freezing dread of the dead-star dragon that had haunted his life.

I am Darth Vader, he said within himself.

The dragon tried again to whisper of failure, and weakness, and inevitable death, but with one hand the Sith Lord caught it, crushed away its voice; it tried to rise then, to coil and rear and strike, but the Sith Lord laid his other hand upon it and broke its power with a single effortless twist.

I am Darth Vader, he repeated as he ground the dragon's corpse to dust beneath his mental heel, as he watched the dragon's dust and ashes scatter before the blast from his furnace heart, and you-You are nothing at all.

He had become, finally, what they all called him.

The Hero With No Fear.

KFV is attributed the ability to effortlessly dissect and reassemble his emotions and be free of fear of failure, weakness, or death. But he’s not free of vulnerability altogether. When Gillard emphasizes that Anakin is a tier 9 physically but not mentally, that’s still true for KFV. It’s not the contextual circumstances on Mustafar—doubt over whether he’s on the right path, Padme’s apparent betrayal, fighting his best friend—that is Anakin’s core issue. Gillard’s comments are all isolated from that, speaking to the character generally.

Nick Gillard, assortment of interviews wrote:
“Hayden in this film has moved up to a level 9. He has gone past Obi. And the difference between a level 8 and a level 9, really, is the dark side. You have to go through each level to attain the next level and if you do it too quick, you gonna get into trouble, so his downfall is going to be aggression.

"Obi-Wan has gone up one level from Episode I to Episode III, but it’s a huge jump from one level to another. It’s not just about a style of fighting—it’s mental as well. Anakin has gone up probably four levels from Episode II to Episode III. So he’s gone beyond Obi-Wan, but he hasn’t gone beyond him mentally."

"Obi-Wan is at a level 8, which is where Anakin starts. But Anakin jumps to level 9 -- and the difference between 8 and 9 is enormous. A Jedi can get to level 9, but that's the difference between light and dark. The duel actually gives you quite an idea about these characters, because Anakin has learned the fighting, he's enormously talented -- but he hasn't learned the mental side of it."

“I did take it to 8 and 9, but not many people know that. 8 and 9 are a cheat... The difference between 7 to 8 and 8 to 9 is enormous... They’re enlightened, they’ve done it the right way. They’ve learned how to be enlightened. But if you take LSD, you can get to that place for a few hours, but you’ve cheated your way there. That’s how I see with Anakin, his training wasn’t good enough – he was too old, he got trained too late, twisted by the dark-side. He took Force-LSD. That’s what made him a 9. That’s dangerous because he hasn’t done it the right way, but it’s still a 9. It’s still something you need to deal with.”

Anakin did not go through level 8 before attaining level 9. He learned the fighting. But he went through it too quick. He didn't learn the mental side of it. He skipped some essential steps. He cheated his way there and hasn't done it the right way. So he gets in trouble. And that trouble manifests in his aggression. He is too aggressive. His downfall is his aggression. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan has taken the time to learn everything he needs to learn so he is more controlled. Yoda is also controlled. The signal of mastering the mental side of the tier is control. Anakin doesn’t have control—he has aggression. 

A seeming difficulty with figuring out KFV is that we don’t ever see him fight, a few seconds in a miniaturized hologram aside. He’s a theoretical character who is never put to the test.

But that’s not actually true.

It’s a little known fact that the Mustafar duel was reshot from Nick Gillard’s original conception. In the original, Anakin is deeply dispassionate, cold and indifferent to Obi-Wan and Padme. He turns his back to Padme as he chokes and discards her, a blank expression on his face. He fights at a slow walking pace or still and standing upright. He utterly forgoes all the bladework fundamentals. In fact, the only emotion Anakin shows is a slight smile on his face as he ignites his lightsaber. I encourage any reader to watch how different Anakin is portrayed for themselves: It is apparent that Lucas directed Gillard to change the fight to make Anakin much more emotional, enraged, and altogether intense. 

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) NdQ5uQZ
SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) NU8KH9U

Nick Gillard, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith video game prima guide wrote:"Anakin's style has changed completely between Episode II and Episode III. He now no longer cares. He knows he's unbeatable. He's far more dangerous than anybody in the universe."

This famous Anakin descriptor is dated to Gillard’s original conception of Anakin, before the reshoots. It matches perfectly with what we see in the above Mustafar duel.

In the film, Gillard’s original conception is still preserved in the Cin Drallig fight. No reshoots were done for that. And indeed, Anakin shows all the same characteristics against Drallig as he did against Obi-Wan. He is dispassionate, forgoing the basics, and fights with the self-assuredness that he knows he is the best. And this is the same Anakin that Stover differentiates as “KFV,” an Anakin without fear. Thus, the way Gillard characterizes Anakin, canonized through the small hologram on the big screen, completes Stover’s character and sets how KFV fights. 

And therefore, we can use the Mustafar duel archival footage Anakin as a faithful extension of the Anakin who fought Cin Drallig, for it is an Anakin of identical mindset, sculpted from the same vision. It is an Anakin plainly emotionless to the current situation, wholly given to the dark side. 

So, let’s pick apart that fight to see how KFV versus Obi-Wan plays out. 

But first circling back around to Anakin not being a mental level 9, remember that’s always been true. That uncontrolled aggression need not necessarily manifest through acting like a bull, consumed with emotion, running at Obi-Wan with a trillion strikes per second. Rather, for KFV, it manifests more simply through the fact Anakin “knows he’s the best,” as Gillard puts it. 

A controlled Anakin—typified in Anakin against Dooku, who is fully present and focused, intimidated by the threat he is facing and using that fear for greater power—very-well may find the best move every time. He does against Dooku. But KFV isn’t controlled like that—he’s unlocked the full power of the dark side too fast. KFV may forgo the true best move because:

(A) he wants to show he is better by deliberately not choosing the best move:

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) SttCRLP
“I have the advantage but I’m not going to press it since I don’t need to.”

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) 2MV7FgS
“I’m going to just hold my sword out in front of me with little effo- oh shit, I lost my sword.”

(B) he is too caught up in himself and the dark side, too aggressive, and isn’t slowing down and actually deciphering the best move: 

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) AiMvTfy
“‘I’m going to slap his saber to the side and neutralize his attack- oh shit.”

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) EIazP2l
“I’m going to just overpower him here- oh shit.”

(C) he thinks the move selection doesn’t matter because he will win anyway. 

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) GRhJTxM
“I’m so good, let me do this little saber twirl since you can’t handle my pow- oh shit.”

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) ZQejscU
“I’m so good, let me do this little saber twirl since you aren’t a threat to m- oh shit.”

(D) he thinks his move is better:

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) J8mymVj
“You underestimate my powe- and that’s a wrap…”

KFV demonstrably makes dubious moves, mistakes, blunders, and a fatal error. Missteps can indeed be had independent of the fear and rage factors clouding Anakin in the final cut of the film. These missteps are not born from a lack of ability, not even in spite of it, but because Anakin has too much ability for his own good. 

But TUF Luke doesn’t make mistakes. Theoretically, demonstrably, and explicitly. At the most extreme minimum, he can fight like Obi-Wan did. Take into himself Anakin’s attacks and wait for the inevitable mistake. And unlike Cin Drallig or Obi-Wan, Luke is capable enough to seize on it.

The Unifying Force (abridged) wrote:Lunging, the thick, three-meter-long amphistaff wound itself around Luke's torso, pinning his right arm and lightsaber hilt to his side, the green blade aimed at the floor. Just in time, Luke managed to get his left hand gripped on the snake's uppermost coils and the head as it loosed volumes of venom at him. But Luke was rapidly being squeezed to death by the amphistaff.

Shimrra reached into the folds of his hide cape-and extracted a lightsaber!

Jacen was too stunned to respond; too disheartened to move. Shimrra waved the blade close to Luke's head. Luke removed his left hand from the amphistaff's throat to grab Shimrra's right wrist. The serpentine weapon immediately stiffened and plunged itself into the left side of Luke's chest.

Luke screamed in pain.

The Supreme Overlord reared back to gloat: "One thrust and the deed is done!"

Then all at once, Anakin's lightsaber flew from Shimrra's grip into Luke's left hand. Through his Vongsense, Jacen could feel Shimrra's astonishment and dismay. In a motion almost too swift for Jacen's eyes to follow, Luke slit the throat of Shimrra's amphistaff.

And we know TUF Luke engineers exactly the sort of bait that KFV would fall for. Against Shimrra, an exhausted Luke allows himself to be impaled by the Scepter of Power so that he can free his hand and rip a lightsaber from the arrogant Shimrra's grasp to decapacitate him. Shimrra was basking in his perceived superiority as Luke was outplaying him! This is not to say Luke let himself be ensnared by the amphistaff, but rather he was still very much in the game and fairly checkmated Shimrra. Luke seizes on all opportunities and even creates his own.

To Stover, Obi-Wan is an empty vessel of the Force shaped by Obi-Wan’s skill. Luke is, as explained, an empty vessel of the Force shaped by Luke’s skill. So let’s talk about Luke’s skill...


Last edited by DarthAnt66 on April 30th 2024, 3:29 am; edited 5 times in total

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) Empty DarthAnt66's Opener - Post 3 of 3

April 30th 2024, 2:48 am
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(A) Fighting Talent

Luke has, demonstrably in the films and codified in the film novels and Fightsaber (an article written after consulting with Lucas), a prodigious talent to master lightsaber combat in real-time. 

When Luke begins fighting Vader in Episode V, he is forced to the floor twice-over within a few moments. The novel contextualizes that Vader “effortlessly” blocked his first blow and is able to swiftly disarm Luke the moment he decides to. In the next exchange, after Luke jumps free of the carbonite chamber, the script relays that Luke rallies himself and “Vader retreats before Luke's skillful sword. Vader blocks the sword, but loses his balance and falls into the outer rim of pipes.” Come Episode VI, per Fightsaber, Luke's "unparalleled aptitude makes him a match for Darth Vader." "Such an achievement with little forming training is a testament to Skywalker's innate abilities and instinctive skill." "An observing Jedi Master would be astonished at such instantaneous learning in battle."

Anakin, curiously, is never really attributed this level of aptitude. 

(B) Reflexes

Matthew Stover, 2022 Star Wars Theory interview wrote:"It is canonical that Anakin has trans-human reflexes. He is the only human to ever finish the pod race and at eight. And he is popularly considered the greatest fighter pilot in the galaxy in A New Hope. So, Anakin has the definite edge [on Mace in a fight]."

To Stover, one of the main reasons Anakin is such a great duelist is his “trans-human reflexes,” demonstrated through winning the podrace despite being a human and being considered the greatest pilot in the galaxy by Obi-Wan. Luke is given the same credentials, impossibly destroying the Death Star and being considered the greatest pilot in the galaxy in most sources. To Stover, Anakin’s landing of the Invisible Hand is his “masterpiece” and said to be technically “impossible.” Mace Windu believed “only” the Chosen One could do it. Cut from the same cloth, Stover writes an identically impossible feat for Luke:

The Mon Calamari Star Cruiser that Luke is on had "broken up" in "three major pieces” and “tumbled helplessly through Mindor’s asteroid-filled orbit.” Luke was on the “small piece.” Like the alien Nemodian controls of the Invisible Hand, the Mon Calamari ship "are not designed for human operation." The piece that Luke was on “did not have engines—did not even have repulsorlifts,” but just “attitude thrusters.” As Luke navigated through the asteroids to land, he also had to evade "gravity mines or projectors" so numerous the New Republic "couldn't even guess how many." After Luke lands, Cronal deduces that “only” a Skywalker could have landed the ship.

Stover gives Luke exactly the same feat as Anakin’s except Luke’s is even more ridiculous, stripping him of even more controls, stacking even more odds against him. As the Invisible Hand is the pinnacle display of Anakin’s piloting -- and by extension reflexes—then Luke has proven himself to be as good if not a better pilot—and by extension possessing as good if not better reflexes. 

(C) Experience

Luke has been training as a Jedi for 16 years longer than Anakin, across which he fought many more and more powerful enemies. Luke by TUF is, by every conceivable angle, the most practically experienced combatant in history (SWTOR aside!). This affords Luke ample time and opportunity to fully realize his natural aptitude and layer deep technique over his natural reflexes. 

The Mustafar duel has been characterized in so many ways: offense versus defense, raw fury versus control, Master versus Apprentice, etc. Curiously, Lucas has only shared his angle on it once: "Obi-Wan has more experience, but Anakin is more powerful." That is to say, the difference between Anakin and Obi-Wan’s “experience” is a comparable deficit in size and importance as their difference in power. 

But Luke has Anakin’s power and Obi-Wan’s experience. More power and more experience, actually. 

Big point: And as a final comment on the Obi-Wan comparisons, it can be deceptive to stack all the cited reasons of how Obi-Wan defeated Anakin—vessel of the Force, focus and kindness, doesn’t make mistakes, memorized moves, complimentary styles, uniquely unstable Anakin—and then view the difference between them as immeasurable. “Wow, Obi-Wan needed all that to defeat Anakin!” But the fact is only one or two of these reasons are mentioned by any given official or in any given interview, without suggestion that the other factors played a key reason. Each reason is intended to stand almost alone as a sufficient explanation for how a seemingly lesser opponent could defeat a stronger one. They are not meant to be misleading and expect you went through a dozen other sources of disparate authors to see what’s really going on. Luke has four of the seven stated reasons on his side—reasons of how an impossibly less powerful, less talented Force user could defeat Anakin—that should be more than enough in the eyes of any given authority. 

(D) Proof of Concept

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(If you don't like DE, skip this section.)

Anakin’s best feat is defeating Dooku, who was perhaps the greatest pure swordsman in history. The feat proved to the Emperor that Anakin was “the perfect Sith apprentice.” 

Luke’s best feat is defeating the reborn Emperor. And the reborn Emperor is written within the context of both the source and the greater chronology as a top-tier duelist.

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) M6KidBP

The reborn Emperor is the "Supreme Master of the Dark Side of the Force," "the greatest known wielder of the Dark Side of the Force," "the Dark Side's most powerful expression," and has “transcended to the darkest levels of Sith power.” The Emperor “has spent decades studying the most arcane and esoteric Jedi disciplines” and “has mastered nearly all the known powers, previously unknown powers, and devises new ones at his pleasure.” Lightsaber combat is the foremost means the battle between light and dark expresses itself, the chosen method of battle for the Jedi Knights and Dark Lords of the Sith alike, and when mantled without restraint or taken to its extreme entirely the domain of the dark side. As the Emperor has fully mastered the Jedi disciplines and the dark side alike, it only follows that he assuredly has fully mastered lightsaber combat as well.

In the d6 roleplaying game, which is regarded by every Star Wars official and author as the definitive reference material of the 90s that everyone collaborated on making and used, the Emperor is a +14 in both “Jedi lore” and “Lightsaber histories.” Even Ben Kenobi and Thon only have a +9 and +10 in “Jedi lore.” The Emperor’s very “Dark side lore” score is +15, barely above his Jedi score, suggesting +14 represents almost the limit. The only score above +14 across any attribute, the Emperor’s own aside, is Odan Urr’s +17 “Jedi lore” score—likely representing a true practical limit. And the Emperor is the only character even given a “Lightsaber histories” designation altogether. Practically, the Emperor is the greatest lightsaber duelist across all d6 sourcebooks in holistic ability (+13) and melee combat (+9.3), above even pre-retcon Darth Vader and Arca Jeth. So, even in the 90s, the Emperor is established as more knowledgeable in the Jedi arts than many of the Great Masters of Old, obsessed above all in lightsaber history, and the greatest known wielder of the lightsaber. 

Leia Organa Solo, Dark Empire audio drama wrote:"The Force… so strong... They're both moving so fast I can hardly see them... I feel waves of power... the dark side and the light... But... I feel... the light is winning!"

Within DE itself, the reborn Emperor brags that even Jedi Masters failed to vanquish him in battle as he picks up one of their lightsabers. He fights at a speed almost imperceptible to Leia, despite the medium otherwise never showing fighting speeds beyond the films. Dark Empire is, by all indicators, conceived to be contentious with the original trilogy and not a distorted medium. The reborn Emperor and Luke fighting too fast to be tracked is a deliberate advancement beyond the lightsaber skills of Ben Kenobi or Darth Vader shown in the films. This again suggests the reborn Emperor is not just a top-tier duelist but redefines what the top-tier even looks like.

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) NpIfjvL

As the prequels add depth to lightsaber combat in ways that push characters like Vader and Arca to the wayside, all the new complexities befit the reborn Emperor. In Episode III, the Emperor is revealed as tier 9 lightsaber duelist, on par with the greatest in a far more expansive history. But the Emperor seldom had picked up a lightsaber in the 13 years since Episode I, perhaps for far longer. He is vaguely suggested to have sparred with Dooku in a few sources, and came out of the woodworks to put down the Maul Brothers, but across zero of the thousands of sources commenting on the Emperor suggest any true investment. Clearly this did not cause him to decline, clearly he did not become rusty. If one believes the Emperor is a far worse duelist by Episode VI (not my opinion), this must have come about through a shattered body rather than a forgetting of technique. Besides, per Lucas, Palpatine hoards what he has obtained, hoards his power (link). He would not lose something as crucial as lightsaber knowledge. The whole idea that someone with as vast a consciousness, deep an intellect, and selfish a will as Palpatine could become rusty just seems silly.

Additionally, the Dark Empire Sourcebook describes the reborn Emperor as “at his physical peak.” The Star Wars Encyclopedia describes the clone as a “younger and stronger clone of himself.” I emphasize these two quotes particularly because they are not action figure blurbs but of high canon consideration. 

A final common criticism of the reborn Emperor is that he is... retarded. But intent-wise and in-universe, he’s not. Again, let’s concern ourselves with the primary sources and high value secondary sources. The reborn Emperor ultimately checkmates Luke into falling to the dark side, deceiving Luke into trying to play a double-agent. The comic describes the reborn Emperor as a “master strategist” and a “malevolent genius.” The Dark Empire Sourcebook reveals the reborn Emperor was the true architect of Thrawn’s defeat and that Thrawn was ultimately just a pawn to distract the New Republic. The reborn Emperor’s general “command” (leadership) attribute is on par with Leia and above Mon Mothma (+11), his military strategy “command” attribute is on par with Thrawn and Ackbar (+13), and his “persuasion” attribute is plainly the best in the game (+15). Quite literally all of the reborn Emperor’s statistics either stayed the same or improved from Episode VI Emperor, who is stated a bajillion times as the smartest, shrewdest being ever. 

So, intent-wise, the reborn Emperor is an apex a duelist as it gets. And in-universe, the reborn Emperor simply is the Emperor’s full dark glory, in a youthful vessel, wielding the knowledge and intellect he had in the films unblemished, 

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) D3RG5aF

And Luke just straight-up, no excuses, decisively defeats him in a duel. Leia tracks the fight through the Force, leaving it in no uncertain terms that Luke’s victory was a true check-mate rather than a burst of good fortune: "The Force… so strong... They're both moving so fast I can hardly see them... I feel waves of power... the dark side and the light... But... I feel... the light is winning!"

Anakin is a level 9 lightsaber duelist. The Emperor is a level 9 lightsaber duelist. By all rights, the reborn Emperor is as well. And so is 10 ABY Luke, 10 years into his Jedi training*. This DE side-tangent is not an affirmative case for why Luke is a level 9. Rather, it is confirming he is given the extreme expectation already set by the convergence of Luke’s Force potential, fighting talent, reflexes, and experience.

(*Though there may be concern how Luke attained a level 9 some 3 years faster than Anakin did, remember the Jedi held back Anakin’s tutelage whereas Yoda gave a most juicy crash-course, Luke has been pushed to the brink in every way far more than Anakin has, and Luke has not only gone to the dark side but also came back.)

SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) D1rpif9

I expect we’ll write more about this in subsequent posts, but to briefly address it now, I don’t think Luke’s subsequent lightsaber showings against Sedriss and Kam Solusar in DE 2 and EE (Empire’s End), nor any questionable displays post-DE like struggling against Callista Ming or droidekas, changes this. 

Dark Empire #4 endnotes wrote:SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) 1boYIPP

And yet the Jedi have a saying: In a time of greatest adversity, the greatest Jedi will be born.

DE 1 Luke is codified as "a Jedi Master," "a Jedi of the highest order," "the very essence of the Jedi," “on the threshold of awakening to the legendary powers of the great Masters of old," having "grown wise in the ways of the Force," "achieved control," and is "no longer at war with his own anger" by the start of the series. After falling to the dark side and being redeemed, "the floodgates of the Force open in" Luke, "he begins to understand" and is "compelled to find and take hold of those resources that were known by Master Yoda and the greatest Jedi of old," is able "transmute and turn" all his dark side knowledge into light side variants, and is able to harness "the greatest power in the Galaxy," "the greatest strength of the Jedi, the power of luminous beings," "the unquenchable light of the Jedi, the ultimate reality on which their way is founded," "the principle from which the Jedi derived their very existence," overall coming "united to the Force in all its intensity," with "the power of all the Jedi spirits who went before is focused in Luke." DE recounts a prophecy that describes Luke as “the greatest Jedi” in history, and also the "heir to a 25,000-year-old tradition.”

After DE 1, author Tom Veitch had significant influence from two authors who think very little of Luke’s abilities: Timothy Zahn and Kevin Anderson. Zahn repeatedly writes that Luke is not at the level of a Jedi Master nor even Darth Vader. Kevin Anderon writes that Luke could "never imagine" techniques wielded by the PT Jedi Padawan Callista Ming and only has scraps of Jedi and dark side knowledge and explains that Luke is a "rank amateur" in PT terms. We know that Veitch and Zahn even had email debates over the power-levels outlined in DE 1. These authors also seemed to have significant influence on subsequent reborn Emperor portrayals, with Veitch later recontextualizing away the reborn Emperor’s ability to create Force storms and exist as a disembodied spirit as his purest form, as well as his being vastly more powerful than Luke or needing of new bodies because his essence is just too powerful. 

But it doesn’t matter. The quotes testifying to DE 1 Luke being a true Jedi Master in every way, published before any attempted retcons, are C-Canon lore statements, not S-Canon power-level commentary. Meanwhile, the comments or events suggesting later Lukes are at this level are...

Dark Empire Sourcebook wrote:SS - Skywalker Showdown: Luke Skywalker (DarthAnt66) VS Anakin Skywalker (Vaelias) IMG_2540

Those of you who have prior Star Wars sourcebooks may notice that some characters have lower Force Point and Character Point totals than in prior publications. This is accurate - many of these characters have had to spend many, many points during their adventures in the Timothy Zahn novels and the Dark Empire comic series.

Leia Organa Solo, Dark Empire audio drama wrote:"The Force… so strong... They're both moving so fast I can hardly see them... I feel waves of power... the dark side and the light... But... I feel... the light is winning!"

The Unifying Force wrote:Luke listened closely. Now I shall show you the true nature of the Force, the Emperor had told him at Endor. On Mon Calamari, Vergere had tried to lead him down the same path, by implying that Yoda and Obi-Wan were to blame for not telling him the truth about the dark side. As a result of their neglect, when Luke had cut off his father's hand in anger, he assumed he had had a close brush with the dark side. When he stood at the side of the cloned Emperor, he had truly felt the dark side. Ever since, he had come to equate anger with darkness itself, and he had passed that along to the Jedi he had tutored. But in fact, according to Vergere, Luke had been misguided by his own ego. She had maintained that, while darkness could remain in someone by invitation, it could just as easily be jettisoned by self-awareness. Once Luke accepted this, he would no longer have to fear being seduced by the dark side.

"You're suggesting that I've held myself back by not wanting to incorporate this raw power into my awareness of the Force," Luke said.

(A) Already contextualized by (i) the Dark Empire Sourcebook asserting that Luke’s Force essence was completely drained across DE 1. Abstracted through statistics, Luke lost 27 of at least 33 Force points across DE, meaning he has less than 20% of his full Force reserves. By the end of Jedi Academy a year later, Luke had only recovered 1 more Force point. This is noted in text, acknowledging that characters had lost “many, many points. (ii) the fact DE 1 Luke is able to duel the reborn Emperor almost invisibly fast even to Leia’s Jedi perception, but even DE 2 and EE Luke fight vastly slower at normal human speeds, necessitating a true drop in Luke’s power-in universe*. (iii) most subsequent works, such as the Jedi Academy Trilogy or New Rebellion, writing Luke as extremely mentally traumatized or physically injured, and so unable to wield his full powers anyway. (iv) TUF itself saying that Luke had been afraid to “incorporate raw power into his awareness” “since” DE 1 and that this is why Luke seems to fatigue quickly in battle as he is expending a lot of effort to curb his powers. 

* (Given this, its very plausible DE 1 Luke would straight one-shot Sedriss before he could react, like the Emperor against Agen Kolar)

(B) Simply of lower canon consideration. Author statements have value, but Lucasfilm is consistent that they cannot override established C-Canon lore. And most of the other quotes are written from the limited third-person perspectives of other characters or a potentially self-doubting Luke. Matthew Stover says the great irony of Obi-Wan is that he “loses sight of how amazing he really is”—why would Luke be any different? I welcome a source or audience count comparison between these two visions of Luke—I am certain DE Luke wins out.  

But above all, Lucasfilm has repeatedly endorsed source splicing rather than retconning. Most notably, Leland Chee heavily endorsed harmonizing the wildly disparate events of the Labyrinth of Evil and the Clone Wars micro-series by figuring events happen between sentence or frame cuts. Similarly, we can honor DE 1 and later sources by accepting both as true. DE 1 Luke really is “a Jedi of the highest order” and JA Luke really is a “rank amateur.” The difference is owed to the numerous reasons provided in (A) as well as Luke perhaps genuinely repressing a lot of his dark memories, just as Revan, Malak, and the Hero of Tython did after breaking free of the Sith Emperor’s thrall. (Again, precedent-support “fan theories” in the service of reconciling seemingly contradictory material is supported by Chee, so I don’t find the suggestion awkward.) All these handicaps would be reconciled by TUF, where Luke explicitly moves past the fear plaguing him since DE and wields his true full power.

Now, with Obi-Wan and DE discussed, let’s turn back to TUF—

• Luke was in “complete control of his momentum” and his body maneuvers “seemed to defy gravity”

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith adult novelization wrote:He dropped low and spun into another reverse ankle-sweep-the weakness of Djem So was its lack of mobility-that slapped Skywalker's boot sharply enough to throw the young Jedi off balance, giving Dooku the opportunity to leap away-Only to find himself again facing the wheel of blue lightning that was Kenobi's blade.

Animator Mattias Kirsten, Electronic Arts interview wrote:“It was interesting to see that Anakin is so good with a lightsaber that he seems to forego certain basic fighting practices. For example, he actually doesn’t use a lot of footwork, he’s more planted at a certain spot, while moving his lightsaber in a very skilled manner.”

Luke has peak control over his body and makes full use of that, doing things Jacen regards as nearly impossible. Unlike Anakin, who chooses to abandon his footwork and fight in ways that plainly debilitates his momentum because he thinks he’s the best anyway, Luke fights most fluidly, often vaulting through the air, rolling, spinning, cartwheeling, and somersaulting. The point is not that Luke is bound to acrobatic combat like Yoda, but rather Luke can fight any way he wants, without misstep, in complete control... and chooses to do so. Whereas Anakin’s self-imposed restrictions or Djem So base have underlying exploitable weaknesses, Luke’s approach seemingly does not. 

• Luke’s “single blade might as well have been ten, or twenty”

James Luceno and Matthew Stover are known to be close collaborators in both The Dark Lord Trilogy and New Jedi Order, reading and building on each other’s works. 

Luke’s blade being seen as twenty seems non-coincidentally referenced by Stover in the Episode III novel:

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith adult novelization wrote:The electrodrivers that powered Grievous's limbs could move them faster than the human eye can see; when he swung his arm, it and his fist and the lightsaber within it would literally vanish: wiped from existence by sheer mind-numbing speed, an imitation quantum event. No human being could move remotely as fast as Grievous, not even Obi-Wan-but he didn't have to.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith adult novelization wrote:Grievous, snarling fury, ramped up the intensity and velocity of his attacks-sixteen per second, eighteen-until finally, at twenty strikes per second, he overloaded Obi-Wan's defense.

Stover’s conception of Grievous is one who can move his limbs infinitely faster than any Jedi, culminating at twenty strikes per second when using all four. At this speed, his offense altogether oveloads Obi-Wan’s defense, which is beyond Anakin—

—but not Luke, who strikes with twenty blades at once. 

IV. Conclusion

The best way to think about TUF Luke is that he is Obi-Wan and Anakin put together. Except even more—purged of all their weaknesses and with all their strengths enhanced.

Luke has Obi-Wan’s surrender, being able to empty his vessel of himself and entrust it to the Force. This is a key reason to how Obi-Wan is able to rise above Mace and defeat Anakin. But Luke shapes the Force with even greater skill, guiding the Force with even greater clarity of mind.

Luke has Obi-Wan’s focus and kindness. This is another key reason to how Obi-Wan goes beyond himself. But Luke is just as focused and an even better person, believing in his father when even Obi-Wan lost hope. 

Luke has Obi-Wan’s experience. This is Lucas’ reason for Obi-Wan’s success. But Luke is ultimately even more experienced in every way.

Luke has Obi-Wan’s control. This is the fourth key reason to how Obi-Wan does the impossible. Luke has gone through the levels, freed himself of all emotions and ego, and fights as a calm maelstrom free of mistakes. 

Luke has Anakin’s power—the power of the Emperor. But Luke is even more powerful by this point, as prophesied by Lucas repeatedly throughout the Episode V and VI production. 

Luke has Anakin’s lightsaber abilities—the abilities of a level 9, rivaled only by Yoda and the Emperor. But Luke is perhaps even a level 10, already outdueling the Emperor 19 years before TUF, before innumerable battles. 

Luke has Anakin’s intensity—the intensity of a Skywalker! Luke fights not passively like Obi-Wan but as a destroyer of armies, twenty lightsabers at once, constantly in motion, all actions in service of bringing him another step forward. 


We’ve established Luke is more powerful than Anakin. We’ve established Luke both ought to be and demonstrably is at Anakin’s fighting level long before TUF. We’ve established that Luke mantles all the cited key characteristics that allowed Obi-Wan to defeat Anakin in the eyes of Stover and Lucas. We’ve established that whereas KFV has genuine vulnerabilities in his fighting style born from not being a mental level 9, Luke does not and is genuinely a flawless fighter.

A fight between Luke and Anakin, conservatively, would be Luke handling anything Anakin can dish out and then cutting him down when Anakin blunders. More realistically, Luke should be able to just overwhelm Anakin altogether, being better in almost every way.

The unfortunate reality for Anakin is that his two biggest supporters—Lucas and Stover—would be even more into everything TUF Luke is and represents.

Luke wins.
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