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.
|"BASIC, MOTHER@#$!ER, DO YOU SPEAK IT!"|
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.