Any way you slice it, Anakin Skywalker plays a major role in the Star Wars story.
When George Lucas’s original trilogy begins with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), we meet him long after he has become Sith Lord Darth Vader and well before young Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) know anything about their lineage.
For those who weren’t paying attention during the prequel trilogy — hey, even Keira Knightley fell asleep while filming them — they’re twins who were separated by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) when their mother, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), died in childbirth.
Later, of course, in the iconic “Luke, I am your father” scene in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke loses his hand and gains, well, a whole lot of undesirable knowledge — like the fact that he’s the spawn of the Dark Lord who has been terrorizing the Star Wars galaxy alongside Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) for years.
By the time Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) rolled around, Vader had almost convinced the powerful young Force user to turn to the dark side, but of course, this never comes to fruition, as Vader redeems himself, sacrificing his life to save his son.
Even the sequel trilogy, which takes place decades after Vader’s death, sees the character play a central role. His grandson Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) — son of Han and Leia — is obsessed with his grandfather, even keeping Vader’s melted helmet as a relic.
However, some Star Wars fans have become convinced that Anakin — despite being the “Chosen One” in the Star Wars universe — doesn’t actually matter.
Reddit user Blood_Sister posed the following to the Star Wars community:
Does Anakin Skywalker even matter?
Palpatine would’ve risen to power after the clone wars and been destroyed on the DSII regardless of Anakin. Anakin only played a consequential role by (unwittingly) contributing genetic material to the real heroes: Luke and Leia. Okay, but so did Shmi and Padme, who managed to do so without turning evil.
How is it that the so-calleds central figure of SW play such a meaningless role in his own story? Only with the help of Kenobi/Yoda did Luke and Leia play a key role in destroying the empire and the first order. What did Anakin ever do?
True to form, the fans have a lot of opinions on the matter and on the Skywalker family as a whole. Batman1154 wrote a lengthy response, which reads, in part:
No matter the scenario, Anakin is always the catalyst to the Siths downfall. Which is exactly what the prophecy says. The prophecy is destined to happen one way or another. It’s an inevitability. That being said, I do believe that the Skywalker lineage only lived long enough to ensure the Sith are eradicated.
If Anakin had killed Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, I think Padme would have still died, along with Luke and Leia.
Every Skywalker in the whole saga has a problem with acting impulsively on their visions of the future. And the real problem with this is that their visions always happen anyway.
The reply concludes with thoughts about Rey Skywalker (Daisy Ridley):
Thats why I love that Rey takes the name. She carries their legacy now, but there’s no burden with it anymore. She’ll most likely rebuild the Jedi probably into something new. And the Skywalker name, that has so much sadness and tragedy behind it, will be remembered as something hopeful and positive (Luke also plays a hand in that. Don’t come at me.)
TyrsPath made a seemingly simple yet impactful point about Anakin’s contribution to the saga:
If Anakin didn’t make the choice to return and save his son while killing the Emperor, Luke would’ve been dead. Without Anakin, the Emperor does not die and the Empire wins.
JamicanInspectorMom left fans with some serious food for thought — can Anakin ever be completely extracted from Darth Vader in order to make the point that the young man himself, perhaps, didn’t change the Star Wars franchise in the way that George Lucas would have fans believe:
Depends if you mean Anakin only as Anakin or as Anakin/Darth Vader.
Maybe as only Anakin, you have a point, but as Vader he played a big part in the story.
I think he played a really big part in Luke’s journey.
Without Anakin’s example of what happens when you fall to the dark side, Luke could have been more easily tempted by The Emperor to join him.
And in the end it’s him who actually kills the Emperor. With only Luke and Palpetine in that scene, it’s very hard to tell the outcome, but I don’t see Luke coming out on top in that one.