Saturday, December 7, 2013

Can of Mace

(Originally Written for Jedi News)

No matter how much you love a work of fiction, there are going to be characters you don’t like for one reason or another. And that’s okay, it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the film itself. Some characters will not appeal to some. There are heroes that some find contemptible, villains that some find sympathetic, and every other permutation.

Sometimes, that’s the desired effect. I think JK Rowling would be glad to know that Dolores Umbridge was the one character in the Harry Potter series that I actually wish had died in the end. Gruesomely. And I have no doubt that instilling that level of loathing was a major purpose of her character.

But what I find far more interesting is when a character is presented in a more neutral way, and whether or not an audience likes a character is more left up to their own interpretations of events. Which brings me to the subject of this week’s article.

I don’t particularly like Mace Windu.

"Take a seat, mother@%#!er"

I don’t loathe him, his presence doesn’t ruin the Saga, I think he’s an important character, and you just don’t see nearly enough purple lightsabers. However, I just don’t like the man. It wasn’t an instant thing. In fact, I kind of liked him when I first saw him. The more I watched I-III, however, the more I disliked him.

The reason is simple: his attitude towards Anakin Skywalker. As right as he may have been, as justified as we as an audience may feel given our knowledge of future events, the simple fact remains that Mace’s distrust and condescension towards Anakin exacerbated the situation and was a major factor in the fate of the Jedi.

"Master Windu, what I am is a miracle and I want you to acknowledge that!"

Now before I continue, I’d like to run over how Mace Windu is presented to us. He’s presented as a hero in the Jedi Order, wise and powerful, second only to Yoda in the hierarchy of the Jedi Council. And yet, of all the head Jedi, he is closest living proof we have of how stale the order is. He is the first to dismiss any idea that does not fit into how he feels the world works as folly.

"This Party's Over"

Most of the interaction we see between Mace and Anakin is in Revenge of the Sith, but it is there that we see Mace regard Anakin with contempt, which breeds contempt in return. Again, as an audience who knows what Anakin will become, our first thought is that this is justified. But think of it this way: had Mace treated Anakin with more trust or sympathy, then Anakin would have no reason to distrust the Jedi, and would not so easily play into Palpatine’s hands.

Even if everything in the Saga happened the way it does, everything could still have been avoided if Mace Windu had made one crucial choice: take Anakin with him to arrest Palpatine. Either Palpatine would have come peacefully in order to further manipulate Anakin, in which case it would give Obi-Wan a chance to return and help Anakin see the truth. Or Palpatine cuts his losses and attacks anyway, at which point he has a VERY angry Chosen One gunning for him.


But no. Mace still refuses to trust him with even that, and thus Palpatine’s manipulation is complete. He is just as culpable in his own demise – and the demise of the Republic – as the Sith Lord who orchestrated it. And unlike some of Palpatine’s other unwitting pawns, who at least came from a place of wanting to help people, Mace’s scorn comes from a much darker place. Which, when you think about it, fits with Revenge of the Sith’s theme of self-fulfilling prophecies in a rather genius way.

"Uh...actually I was aiming for the lightsaber...oops!"

Doesn’t mean I have to like the guy.


  1. I sort of have mixed feelings about Mace Windu, on one hand I can't dislike him because hey...he's Sam Jackson! And I love Sam Jackson, he's one of my favorite actors, so I have a soft spot for Mace mainly because of my love for the actor.

    But on the other hand I have to agree with you that as a character Mace can come off as rather cold, but I think that might have been intentional on George's part.

    I mean honestly ALL of the Jedi Council including Yoda come off as rather cold and disproving to poor Anakin who in TPM especially...was just a little boy that had been separated from his family (his mother) and his friends. I always want to take poor little Ani into my arms when I see how stern they are with him the first time they meet him.

    And one gets the feeling that it doesn't end after Anakin becomes a Padawan, you get the sense, or at least I do, that Anakin just can't please the Jedi Masters no matter what he does. I also think that's why Anakin began to turn more and more to Palpatine because he was the only person showing the poor kid any warmth and encouragement.

    Of course we all know sneaky old Palps was just using Anakins need for love as a means of manipulation, but had Mace and the Council been more warm and welcoming to Anakin, Palpatine might not have been able to sink his claws into him.

    People often point the finger at Obi-Wan for Anakins downfall but I feel that Mace, Yoda, and every other Jedi Master on that Council is equally to blame in a way.

    They are too closed off from their emotions, everything is so formal, strict, and lacking in warmth that it's no surprise Anakin who was considered to be 'too old' to be brainwashed into cutting off his human emotions started turning elseware (Palpatine, Padme) for the love that any normal human being would need and want.

    And that of course led him to being manipulated into going down a path of evil.
    This problem that resulted in the rise of Vader and the fall of the Jedi Order itself is something that Luke corrected.

    After all what saved the Galaxy in the end?

    The love of a son for his father and a father for his son...or emotional attachment, the very thing the Jedi reject.

    And I hope whatever Jedi Order Luke builds is a much warmer, more welcoming, and open minded Order, then the old one.

    So yeah Mace can come across as a rather cold character, a good guy maybe...but not one you feel you could hang out and have a drink with...but I think that was intentional on George's part...both Mace and Yoda represent the 'old' Jedi Order and what went wrong with it.

    Yoda learns and changes, he becomes a more warmer character by the time we get to ESB, I get the feeling having his ego smashed by Palpatine actually helped him grow for the better into a more open minded person (even though he still wanted Luke to kill his father). Mace never got the chance, he was killed for his own closed mindedness.

  2. By the way, I LOVE your pictures and captions Nilbog! They never fail to make me smile. :)