As a form of free-thought and exercise, every so often, i sit down to consider the implications of gender-swapped characters in my Strong Female Character blogs. To me, this is the most entertaining aspect of my blogs, sitting down, considering what, if any, actions would be different in “Show/book/movie X” if the character in question were born of the opposite gender. However, with Luke and Leia, I have an interesting opportunity to consider. Not gender-swapping, but more like asking the following question:
How different would Star Wars be if Leia grew up on Tattooine and Luke was the Senator’s Son?
For the record on these, the characters names will be the same. The female child will be Leia (Skywalker), the male child will be Luke (Organa). I’m not changing the genders of any of the other characters. Darth Vader is still their father. The major differences here are the environment in which they were raised, how they may have behaved, and what differences this switch would have made on the series as a whole. Because of the depth of the source material, I plan to tell this story in three parts, starting with A New Hope.
Note that I’m trying to write this not as the feminist that I am, but thinking like a 1977 film maker. I’m also not expanding too far into the “Extended Universe,” and am mostly looking into the films themselves.
So, without further ado, Here comes my Star Wars, Switched at Birth Edition.
The Crawl: The Galaxy is in turmoil, intergalactic Civil War. Evil Emperor, his infamous lackey Darth Vader, etc.
Luke would be a Prince, but would probably be called a Senator instead. Senator Luke Organa would be the one captured and tortured after sending a message through R2 to “Obi Wan Kenobi” on the planet of Tattooine.
Of course, in the OT, Vader presumably knows Luke is his son because of a shared name and ‘sensing it through the force.’ In the case of Senator Luke Organa, it’s completely possible that Vader already suspects that Luke might be his son, but may not know it for certain. After all Luke’s been raised as the son of Bail Organa, and the Galaxy knows him as such. Luke’s a spoiled rich boy, but one who’s been raised to be a secretly be a rebel.
Luke may even admire Leia’s father, telling her “I used to hear stories about him as a kid” or some stuff like that.
Meanwhile, Leia Skywalker would be probably just as bored and rebellious on Tattooine as her brother was in the original film. Perhaps Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are even trying to marry her off to some random ugly brute of a dude on Tattooine, in hopes to curb her rebellious streak. “But she’s too much like her father,” Beru would say.
Prince/Senator Luke would be captured, his home planet would be destroyed, and he would be tortured (not just have his mind interrogated). He’d be locked in a jail cell in Vader’s ship.
Meeting Obi-Wan (who would instead praise the beauty and brilliance of Leia’s mother instead of her father) who would try to train Leia to use the force. (Because your father was a Jedi, your mother a brilliant Senator, until they were betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader).
Leia ultimately leaves because her family is murdered. But also, the old dude they wanted to marry her to. (She’d run off to find the runaway R2D2 on the day that she was going to meet the dude she was gonna marry).
The Cantina: There’d be more than a few whistles at Leia, and instead of “I don’t like you” Pig nose and his friend would be trying to pick Leia up. Of course, Obi Wan would defend her, then introduce her to Han.
There is no first, because Greedo doesn’t get a chance.
As far as accepting the fare for Leia/Ben kenobi, he does so, but shows a bit of remorse for taking money from a “girl and her grandpa.”
The film progresses the same. Leia has to convince Han to go rescue Luke, same reason. Because Luke’s a rich senator, someone with connections, implies he might be able to find Han some work.
They break into the Death Star, same way, same plan. Obi-Wan sneaks off.
But Leia is waaaay too short to be a Storm Trooper, so they may not pull off the storm trooper thing. Or maybe they’ll try it.
I actually think Leia would use more force powers on the Storm Troopers they pass by virtually unmolested. Han, of course, still tries to do the Storm Trooper thing.
They go to rescue Luke, and when Leia pops into the cell where Luke is, he does a “wow mama!” kinda look.
There’s that whole awful sort of stuff with the garbage smasher, because who doesn’t love a good garbage scene.
Obi-Wan still dies after he sees the twins together.
They escape to Yavin 4, and discuss the plans to destroy the Death Star with the Rebels. Luke, as expected, leads the charge. Han storms off not ‘because he’s been paid’ but because he’s angry that this Prince/Senator Luke is flirting with the girl he’s trying to get with.
Leia gives an impassioned speech about how General Kenobi died to get the plans there, and told the crew “May the Force be With You”
Here’s where i’ll make a change from original script, and mostly because it fits with the kind of stories that are told with female lead characters.
Leia will be introduced, and known, as the daughter of the Clone War Hero, Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker (who everyone knows died in the attack on the Jedi temple). Even if the Jedi were declared “enemies of the Empire,” he is still remembered for all he did to help the Republic, (saving the Chancellor, etc).
She will not have known that her father was a Jedi, or a War Hero. And knows nothing about her mother. Just what she’s been told. Because she’s grown up on a backwards planet.
Luke has filled one of a few paths. Either he’s going diplomatic route like Leia did in the OT or he’s training to be a fighter pilot, on the Consular ship/diplomatic mission on his way to a Rebel Base to take his first Duty Station. He’s fresh out of training, untested, untried. Perhaps he’s angry and sad, because his last words with his father Bail Organa were words said in anger.
In the big epic battle at the end of the film, Luke blows up the Death Star and gets rewarded. Instead of hearing Ben Kenobi, he gets a message from Leia, her mental pleading for him to “Use the Force.”
Of course Luke has absolutely Zero connection to the force at this point, just a bunch of potential, but still, he hears her, and listens.
Han still comes back to fire at Darth Vader’s troops. But only because Leia also reaches out to him with the Force and begs him to return.
What? did you think they were actually gonna let Leia pilot a star fighter in this gender-bent version of star wars? I would, but no, I doubt that a 1977 film would have allowed it.
This isn’t to say that Leia doesn’t get some sort of prize.
Though this time, instead of Leia rewarding Han and Luke it’s Mon Mothma. Chewy doesn’t get a prize. Though he should have.
Leia gives Han a big ol’ wet one as the film cuts to credits.
Okay, so that’s my version of A New Hope: If Luke and Leia switched places.
Tune in next week for Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back