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How C3PO was a wasted opportunity

#1 User is offline   Paladin Icon

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 06:26 PM

Iíve been meaning to write this article for a long time, probably over a year actually, but Iíve never gotten around to really doing it. In any case, Iíve decided to get off my lazy ass and actually do it.

C3PO is one character that a lot of people tend to mock and hate for his effeminate and annoying behavior. Heís always complaining, and his antics and freak outs distracting usually make people wonder as to what the hell is he doing tagging along in some places while they could have locked him up on a ship most of the time. The funny thing here is that Anthony Daniels, the actor in the suit, was not a likeable person and didnít get along well the rest of the cast. He even hated Kenny Baker and refused to be in the same room as him unless they were filming a scene (this might explain why R2D2 often acts like an asshole to C3PO, which Iíll mention later), so maybe his real behavior reflected in that.

But for me, I think his character could have been handled very differently, even when keeping his anally retentiveness and Upper Class twit accent, he could have been made into an effective and a sortof bad ass character in a way, and hereís why.

Firstly, C3PO is often called a protocol droid, and he mentioned several times of being able to use 6 million forms of communication (not strictly verbal languages, sign language, enigma code, and binary are also legit languages), but hereís the catch: As a protocol droid, heís piss poor at it. Protocol and etiquette means knowing how to behave and what to say (as well not to say and behave) in certain situations and know whatís expected. Thatís the basic gist of it.

But C3PO fails miserably all the time, he often talks out of line, goes on needless explanations to people who donít care about it, and doesnít have any idea of what is going on between people. Heís only good as a translator (which, granted, is the reason why he should be kept along. Especially in a galaxy with millions of populated systems), but is no good at bargaining or speaking or negotiating, and even says he isnít much of a story teller (which is contradicted by his Ewok story telling scene that he apparently does well). The only instance heís ever shown being good at isnít even in the movies, itís in the droids cartoon when he apparently negotiates a good offer with some people in exchange for a material.

If they made him a real protocol droid everything would have been different. Imagine him knowing exactly what is expected of storm trooper behavior and giving quick pointers to Han and Luke while theyíre in the Death Star, or helping Luke get a better bargain for his speeder (Luke wasnít very charismatic at that time and could have used some help. Ironically, Obi-Wan was there and didnít intervene for some reason), or during the ESB he could have decoded that message that the probe droid let out (ďOh sir, thatís not an Alliance mode of communication, itís an Imperial probe droid and theyíve zeroed into our position.Ē), and might have been of assistance in getting them to land on Bespin without having the patrol craft shoot at them (he actually does something like this in the Droids cartoon at one point).

And finally, in ROTJ, during the whole Jabba the Hutt scene when heís agitated and panicky, while R2D2 apparently knows everything, he might have known how Hutt gangsters behave and what they do and do not respect, and thus appeared more confident in what he was doing, and maybe even did something other than get his eye eaten out and land head first into the sand.

To me, he was a wasted character opportunity. They could have still made him the butt of jokes, but he had more potential than that. Instead he was made into a hyperpolyglot idiot.
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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:21 PM

A very good thread, Paladin. I've noticed these things as well. You're absolutely right that as a protocol droid, he is found somewhat wanting.

I'd like to raise another point on his characterisation however and that is that he suffers from character degradation throughout the movies. You mentioned him being the butt of everyone's jokes and he is in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. However, in Star Wars, he is actually given some dignity. Yes, he is somewhat pretentious but he's actually a far more likeable character. He cares about people, he doesn't whine incessantly - and in reference to one of your points, he knows when to say nothing. Remember, when Ben shows Luke the lightsaber, Threepio shuts himself down for a while. Also, when Luke is talking to Han before he goes off to attack the Death Star, you might notice that Threepio is in the background talking to Chewbacca there and the feel of the scene is that they have actually become quite close friends.

That all falls apart in The Empire Strikes Back however, when he becomes incessantly whiny, starts making up odds on the chances of survival in different situations (I have no idea where he pulled them from) and somewhat insensitive. When Leia and Chewbacca are watching as Han gets lowered into carbon freeze pit, uncertain as to whether their friend will survive...Threepio does not endear himself to either them nor the audience when he complains to Chewbacca that he can't see.

One thing in The Empire Strikes Back that separates it from its successor is the fact that there's some reason for Threepio being with the main characters - as annoying or not, they could hardly abandon him on Hoth for the Empire to find.

However, in Return of the Jedi, there is absolutely no reason for him to be either at Jabba's Palace (although apart from Luke, none of the other characters needed to go) and there's absolutely no reason to bring him down to Endor. I fail to see the benefit of having a noisy, highly visible protocol droid along on what is essentially a stealth commando mission (although of course, none of our main characters should really be there either).
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#3 User is offline   Paladin Icon

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 09:12 PM

I forgot to mention the parts where R2D2 would be acting like an asshole towards 3PO. Actually I think R2 would be an asshole in general anyways.

1: Aboard the Tantive V, while R2 is abandoning all protocol and attempting to escape, he apparently doesn't tell 3PO why he is leaving and says something vague that confuses him, forcing 3PO to still be confused as to why they were doing what they were doing long after they escaped.

2: On Tatooine, I think that when 3PO complains that 'R2 tricked him into going that direction' I think he was right. There's no reason why he would want to get away from the guy using smart-ass remarks (maybe that's what they meant by 'don't get technical with me'. It could be a droid's way of saying 'don't be a smart-alec').

3: Again, he abandons 3PO at Luke's farm and refuses to be specific about why he was going. The only reason why someone would say 'I have a mission' and then leave would simply mean 'Look, bub, I'm not telling you squat, now get the hell out of my way'.

4: In ESB, they're always bickering with one another and arguing, and it might not necessarily be a simple argument between friends. Again, the droid-to-droid remark 'switch off' which 3PO uses could mean f**k off for all we know.

5: I'll skip to the best part. When R2 is fixing 3PO, he puts him back together except for one last leg before he goes off to repair the hyperdrive in five seconds. Not only does it show that R2 is being an asshole to 3PO for leaving him with one leg missing, but an uncaring twit to all. If he could get 3PO together in a matter of minutes, he could have fixed the hyperdrive before Lando's first attempt, and that could have saved them a lot of time. Also why doesn't R2 have breaks? He slid off the deck and landed right on top of Chewbacca. I don't care how tough Chewie was, having a garbage can sized robot fall on you has to be painful and injurious.

I'll stop here, there's more incidences, but I think you get the picture.

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I'd like to raise another point on his characterisation however and that is that he suffers from character degradation throughout the movies. You mentioned him being the butt of everyone's jokes and he is in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. However, in Star Wars, he is actually given some dignity. Yes, he is somewhat pretentious but he's actually a far more likeable character. He cares about people, he doesn't whine incessantly - and in reference to one of your points, he knows when to say nothing. Remember, when Ben shows Luke the lightsaber, Threepio shuts himself down for a while. Also, when Luke is talking to Han before he goes off to attack the Death Star, you might notice that Threepio is in the background talking to Chewbacca there and the feel of the scene is that they have actually become quite close friends.


He does seem more intelligent in the movie, and most of the confusion he has were based mostly on R2 not telling him anything. He handles some situations well and manages to trick the stormtroopers on more than one occasion. He also cares a lot for Luke and the others when he goes on about horrible he feels when he thought he failed to save them from the trash compacter.

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However, in Return of the Jedi, there is absolutely no reason for him to be either at Jabba's Palace (although apart from Luke, none of the other characters needed to go) and there's absolutely no reason to bring him down to Endor. I fail to see the benefit of having a noisy, highly visible protocol droid along on what is essentially a stealth commando mission (although of course, none of our main characters should really be there either).


They might have thought he was good for talking to the Ewoks, but then again, judging from Han's surprised exp​ression, I don't think they even knew they existed. Also one other thing that's lame was how 3PO panicked when Luke used the force to move the throne around. A better way the scene could have been was to do this.

Luke: 3PO tell them if you don't release us, you'll become angry and use your magic.

3PO: But Master Luke what... oh, oh I see. Very clever, sir.

And then the whole scene takes its course with 3PO speaking in Ewok the words of his power as he is flying around instead of freaking out. It would have made not only a more intimidating thing to the Ewoks, but make him both funny AND more bad ass.

Oh and camouflaging 3PO would have been more effective. How hard could it have been to repaint him? Ditto for R2 (they could have added foliage for added effect, too).

This post has been edited by Paladin: 08 February 2010 - 09:15 PM

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#4 User is offline   MyPantsAreOnFire Icon

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 11:21 PM

I like the idea of how he should have been more versed on customs/behaviors/etc.. He still could have been basically the same character personality-wise, but it would have made much more sense to see him dispensing information such as that as opposed to the random number cruncher he becomes.

It's difficult to look at how he is treated as a character in the films when he's ultimately little more than a tool (pun somewhat intended) or a walking personal computer in terms of his usefulness and his relationship to actual sentient beings. Hell, it doesn't even make sense that he or R2 come with Luke and Obi-Wan after Obi-Wan has received Leia's message. They no longer serve a purpose since Luke's home and family are gone. You'd think Luke and Obi would want to be burdened with as little as possible...hell, we see them trying to get money to book passage off of the planet! Seems like it would make sense to also sell the droids since they no longer serve any practical or realistic purpose to them given the circumstances. I mean, they get stopped by the Stormtroopers only because the Stromtroopers are looking for droids!

Sure, R2 has the Death Star plans on him, but they were just on the disc that Leia inserted into him! Just take the disc and wipe their memories and sell them, or, if they wanted to really cover their tracks, melt them down or push them off into a canyon in the middle of the freakin' desert.

Yeah, I get that Lucas wanted the comic relief duo a la Kurosawa, but it really makes no sense for Luke and Obi to be travelling around with both of them once Luke's home and family are fragged. The journey of the droids really should have ended about half an hour into ANH.
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Posted 09 February 2010 - 10:58 PM

Interesting point. It sounds like a good idea, except I can't see it happening. Our protagonists are too kind hearted to abandon the droids. Also, maybe R2 wouldn't give up the disk easily. I rather get the impression that he doesn't trust anyone and therefore wants to oversee his mission to the end. And when you see the blunders that our protagonists make throughout the movie (shooting control panels without wondering what they're for, anyone?), then you can certainly understand him.

I do so like the idea of R2 being a jerk. It works well - and looking at the movies with that in mind makes them all look rather different.

Anyway, on the main topic, I could agree more that Threepio should have demonstrated the skills that he had been programmed with - and that if this had been done, then he would have come across as a more valuable member of the team as opposed to a useless appendage.

The other thing is that in Star Wars, they always kept major characters onscreen even if they had nothing to do - and that really worked to the detriment of the films - because once directors have got a character onscreen with nothing to do, they start making up silly things for them to do. Actually, I wrote about this in another thread: Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Basically, I was commending the director for having enough sense to leave out a character from the first movie who had fulfilled his role - something that not enough directors have the courage to do. Anyway, here's what I had to say about it:

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I wish more directors would realise that when there's nowhere left for a character to go, and if they're not really needed for the story, then it's better to leave them out. If directors did this, we could avoid the terrible cinema sequel phenomomen of character degradation - where not knowing what else to do with one of their original characters, they alter them and use them in silly ways. Usually, this involves using a character for laughs. For examples of this, consider what happened to Threepio in the Star Wars trilogy. A lot of people forget that he was actually fairly likeable in Star Wars and was somewhat dignified - although you wouldn't know it from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would be familiar with what the producers did to Xander's character over the series and most of us remember what happened to Legolas and Gimli in The Lord of the Rings movies.

This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 09 February 2010 - 10:59 PM

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#6 User is offline   MyPantsAreOnFire Icon

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 07:54 PM

View PostJust your average movie goer, on 09 February 2010 - 10:58 PM, said:

Interesting point. It sounds like a good idea, except I can't see it happening. Our protagonists are too kind hearted to abandon the droids.


But that's just from our robot-less perspective. In the film it should be no big deal for guys like Luke and Obi. Even in the middle of nowhere Luke's farm has droids on it and they deal with the Jawas and the stuff they sell on probably a semi-regular basis. Look how it's no big deal to Luke and his uncle when the red R2 unit blows up except in the sense that the Jawas tried to screw them over with a lemon. Look at Luke's idle, distracted chitchat with 3P0 as he cleans the droids up: these are just tools or appliances that he needs to take care of instead of hanging out with his friends and one happens to talk. Droids like 3PO and R2 are basically a dime a dozen in the SW universe, so dumping them when they're no longer needed so they don't caught by the Empire or selling them to get the money they need to get to the princess makes total sense. It's not cruel or evil on the part of Luke or Obi if that's what they had done; it would just have been practical and the smart thing to do.

If anything, 3PO seems like a horribly designed robot given his "emotional" state. The few other droids we see like him in the series seem much more detached and less prone to histrionics. What's far more realistic is that he would have been reprogrammed once he entered into government/royal service to be less of a bother. It would make far more sense if he didn't have any real personality to speak of at all outside of simulated voice inflections.

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Also, maybe R2 wouldn't give up the disk easily. I rather get the impression that he doesn't trust anyone and therefore wants to oversee his mission to the end. And when you see the blunders that our protagonists make throughout the movie (shooting control panels without wondering what they're for, anyone?), then you can certainly understand him


Well, R2 might not want to give it up, but he's just a clunky trash can of a droid. It should be a simple matter for a Jedi Master to use the Force to switch him off and then they can remove the disc and his memory to be safe. Hell, wans't he fitted with some kind of device that would allow Luke to deactivate him or somehow lock him up?

I look at it this way: let's say a spy is in the Third Reich and somehow secret documents are brought to him by a dog that's wearing them on his collar. The Nazis only know to be looking for a certain dog that has the documents (or, by default, someone who has the dog). The spy gets wind that the Nazis are looking for the dog. Wouldn't it make much more sense for spy to take the documents and ditch the dog than keeping it with him just because it's a nice dog or because he's a good guy?
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Posted 10 February 2010 - 11:18 PM

You're a hard man but I take your point.

Also, you made another good point with regards to Threepio's constant theatrical hysterics. Why would anyone program a droid to be that way? Also on that subject, he also complains of pain - something that rears its head again in another form with a pointless, tasteless and incredibly stupid scene in Return of the Jedi (right before another pointless, tasteless and incredibly stupid scene). I'm sure you know the one.

However, it is another oddity, isn't it? Maybe I should put it in my other thread but anyway, why would people program droids to sense pain? Not only does it have no practical value (surely there are simpler ways for machines to assess damage to themselves), it's also implausible and seems like a rather twisted thing to do...

... and it results in some really stupid moments that undermine the drama at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. In particular, I'm thinking of Threepio complaining that it hurts when Chewie bangs him against the Falcon as he tries to go up the ramp.

If I were Chewie, I would have shut him down.

This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 10 February 2010 - 11:19 PM

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#8 User is offline   MyPantsAreOnFire Icon

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 09:44 AM

View PostJust your average movie goer, on 10 February 2010 - 11:18 PM, said:

You're a hard man but I take your point.

Also, you made another good point with regards to Threepio's constant theatrical hysterics. Why would anyone program a droid to be that way? Also on that subject, he also complains of pain - something that rears its head again in another form with a pointless, tasteless and incredibly stupid scene in Return of the Jedi (right before another pointless, tasteless and incredibly stupid scene). I'm sure you know the one.

However, it is another oddity, isn't it? Maybe I should put it in my other thread but anyway, why would people program droids to sense pain? Not only does it have no practical value (surely there are simpler ways for machines to assess damage to themselves), it's also implausible and seems like a rather twisted thing to do...

... and it results in some really stupid moments that undermine the drama at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. In particular, I'm thinking of Threepio complaining that it hurts when Chewie bangs him against the Falcon as he tries to go up the ramp.

If I were Chewie, I would have shut him down.



Hah! Ah, yes, the good ol' droid torture chamber. It is indeed nonsensical to think that anyone would program a droid to feel pain, or to program them with the ability to be afraid or nervous or to complain or get angry. 3PO seems completely put out and even stumbling the few times we see him supposed to be using his purported lagnuage skills when those should be the moments where he's not flustered at all and eager to do his job.

And that droid torture scene just further emphasizes how much Lucas and co. truly dropped the ball in terms of making Jabba menacing. All we see him doing is torturing or murdering (or ordering said activities) completely helpless people or things. If Jabba has to be this creepy sadist, wouldn't it be much more impressive if for some reason he has his lackeys torture and kill Boba Fett or someone else along those lines? Killing abused slave girls and torturing droids just really isn't that intimidating.
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Posted 11 February 2010 - 09:02 PM

Indeed. However, what he should have been doing was running a business. At no point in the Jabba sequence could I convince myself that this guy was the head of an interstellar smuggling ring. Having him not be a giant slug on a slab of concrete would have been a good place to start. Having some technology about the place (instead of guards with axes) would have helped a lot. Finally, having evidence of people coming and going would have sealed the deal - rather than just a hangers on lounge around with seemingly no purpose.

Personally, a suave human Jabba would have worked, a guy who would be all charm and politeness... and who would send hired thugs after anyone who screwed him over.


Getting back on topic now, I really liked your point that Threepio shouldn't appear flustered when he is asked to act as a translator. This is his forte after all.
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#10 User is offline   MyPantsAreOnFire Icon

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 11:49 PM

View PostJust your average movie goer, on 11 February 2010 - 09:02 PM, said:

Indeed. However, what he should have been doing was running a business. At no point in the Jabba sequence could I convince myself that this guy was the head of an interstellar smuggling ring. Having him not be a giant slug on a slab of concrete would have been a good place to start. Having some technology about the place (instead of guards with axes) would have helped a lot. Finally, having evidence of people coming and going would have sealed the deal - rather than just a hangers on lounge around with seemingly no purpose.

Personally, a suave human Jabba would have worked, a guy who would be all charm and politeness... and who would send hired thugs after anyone who screwed him over.


The biggest problem with Jabba as a character is that it makes no sense that he'd be so "screw you" towards the Rebels. For a guy whose bread and butter is smuggling and selling things under the table and whatnot, something like the Rebellion would be a gold mine. The only thing I can assume is that Jabba made some kind of deal with the Empire where he'd be able to stay in business but he wouldn't deal with the Rebels. There's really no way to have fit this into the movies, but it would have done wonders for his character if he had basically created his criminal empire by manipulating and double crossing the other galactic crime lords and effectively selling most of them out to the Empire in exchange for him to keep operating in the shadows. Maybe he promised to the Empire that he'd effectively keep crime in the galaxy in check and basically out of sighe and out of mind and that he'd eliminate or turn over any crime figure that got out of hand. The Empire gets to put on show trials for the betrayed crime lords to get the people think that the Empire has cracked down and crime while Jabba's control and reorganization of most of the major crime syndicates to out of the way areas like Tattooine backs up the public perception that crime has been reduced and controlled by the Empire. This is a brilliant deal for Jabba that allows the Empire to focus on the Rebels and not worry about having to crack down on internal criminal strife and it cuts the Rebels off from the major criminal outlets of support. Boom, now you've got a clever, diabolical character who is clearly a villain to the Rebels for a reason that makes sense.


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Getting back on topic now, I really liked your point that Threepio shouldn't appear flustered when he is asked to act as a translator. This is his forte after all.


Yeah, he should be able to switch from language to language without missing a step. It would have been smart because it would have even further emphasized the comedic nature of his personality that Lucas was going for if one second he's speaking any number of computer or biological lagnuages fluently and the next he's like a fussy, bumbling butler.

This post has been edited by MyPantsAreOnFire: 11 February 2010 - 11:50 PM

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#11 User is offline   azerty Icon

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 12:59 AM

Don't forget that Star Wars is really an entirely separate entity from all the other movies. Therefore I don't think you can really take something from the original and try and mesh it with logically with something from the rest of the films.

I agree that in the Star Wars, droids are 3rd rate people; ie they aren't allowed in escape pods, they can be bought and sold, have restraining bolts attached, be zapped when they act up, Uncle Owen can't be bothered to listen to Threepio's babbling for 2 seconds (and later casually tells Luke to get Artoo's memory erased tomorrow,) Luke doesn't seem too worried when the Red one blows up, just trade it for the blue one, one's as good as another...Cantina man doesn't even want them in the building with him, Solo just shakes his head in total disgust when Threepio bothers to say "hello" in docking bay 94. Even Threepio remarks that "Nobody wories about upsetting a Droid..."

However, (and this is extremely significant), Obi Wan Kenobi uses the phrase "Come here my little friend" to Artoo the droid the first time he sees him. This is very Star Wars in that it again shows that humanity is more important than technology in this universe. As Vader says, "The ability to,destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force." Does he mean that by using the force you can more blow up a planet? Of course not - what he means is that by using the force you can cause people to not want to blow up a planet. That when your targeting computer fails, the force will succeed. (Harry Potter makes the exact same point - you think it is about magic, when it is in fact about the exact opposite.)

So why is Artoo brought along in the original movie? He is Lassie, the cute, intelligent, loyal dog, who understands us but can only make sympathetic sounds in return that we vaguely understand. If you want a technical reason for bringing him along, then the "My father will know how to retrieve it..." statement by Leia means exactly what she says. Nothing can make Artoo give up this plans except herself or her father. Artoo and the plans are inextricably linked.

Threepio is brought along because Obi Wan sees value where you and I do not. Threepio is brough along because he is the first character to speak in the first movie. He is brought along because he is a robot in a 1970's science fiction movie. He is brought along for comic relief.

You are right about him being wasted, and even more right about him being even more wasted in the later movies. But this is the problem that ALL the characters have in the later movies. It was Harrison Ford who said something about everyone "feeling more comfortable" with the roles in the second movie. I always took this to mean that all subtlety and confusion had been removed from the characters. Luke would be more mystical, Solo more Piratical, Threepio more ridiculous. So yes, the Threepio of Star Wars tricked the Stormtrooper on the Death Star, recognized the moment to make for a run for the Falcon (and ordered Artoo to follow him), helped cremate dead Jawas, offered up gears to a smashed Artoo, etc. But he would never do that stuff again. He's now just a permanent irritating buffoon.

Your original post made me think of Indianna Jones and the Last Crusade. Marcus Brody "knows every local custom... speaks every language... will blend in..." and then is also shown to be a total buffoon. He is the Threepio character rehashed all over again. An interpreter who cannot interpret.

A camouflage Threepio with a couple of machine guns for arms might have been cool on Endor, but nobody would have put up with that kind of change. Everybody hates change.
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Posted 12 February 2010 - 06:57 AM

Damn good post, Azerty. Actually, I've recently come around to your way of thinking regarding Star Wars as a separate entity. I'm not going to say I dislike The Empire Strikes Back because I don't. I think it's a damn good movie. However, there is no sense of continuity about it apart from a token reference to the destruction of the Death Star in the text scroll.

We don't know how much time has elapsed either. Is it several months? Is it five years? Again, we have no idea. Also, while all our favourite characters are back, they're not the same. Take Han for example. In fact, he's played completely differently in all three movies. Hell, even Ben is different. I'm not talking about the obvious difference here. I know he's dead but he seems to have lost all his warmth and humanity. His portrayal in The Empire Strikes Back is as cold as the frigid planet on which he first appears.

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You are right about him being wasted, and even more right about him being even more wasted in the later movies. But this is the problem that ALL the characters have in the later movies. It was Harrison Ford who said something about everyone "feeling more comfortable" with the roles in the second movie. I always took this to mean that all subtlety and confusion had been removed from the characters.


I couldn't agree more. Also, the characters get more chummy. They cease playing off each other. What's even worse is that in Return of the Jedi, Lucas is aware of this but in reacting to it, he makes a new mistake. He tries to force them to play off each other - which results in those weak moments of banter that make us all cringe.

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Your original post made me think of Indianna Jones and the Last Crusade. Marcus Brody "knows every local custom... speaks every language... will blend in..." and then is also shown to be a total buffoon. He is the Threepio character rehashed all over again. An interpreter who cannot interpret.


Ah, another fine example of character degradation - with a lot of the same problems of Threepio. Brody was dignified in Raiders of the Lost Ark and you get the impression that he would have been as good as Indy in his day. When he remarks on the ark that five years earlier, he would have gone after it himself, you believe him.

However, his degradation in The Last Crusade was born of another reason than Threepio's, I think. Threepio was turned into a buffoon because he wasn't actually needed in the later movies and Lucas didn't know what to do with him. Brody's character degradation comes from a far worse cinematic trend which I can best describe as dumbing other characters down to make your main protagonist look better. If any major Hollywood directors who are reading do this in your movies, then don't. It's lazy writing. If you want to make your protagonist look better, then work on your protagonist. Leave the other characters as they are.

Frankly speaking, focusing exclusively on Indy was a mistake. One of the reasons why Raiders of the Lost Ark works so well was that it had a great ensemble of characters who all played off each other nicely. But then again, it was a mistake making sequels to Raiders to begin with. A series of four movies in which only one of them is good is not something to boast about.



Now on another one of your points, you're absolutely right that everyone apart from Ben, and to a lesser extent Luke, treats droids like dirt. It also carries on into the second film as well with Lando Calrissian ignoring Threepio when they first meet - although I take it that although he's much cooler, more charismatic and has Billy Dee Williams' charm, he is quite similar to Han in a number of ways.

I think the way that plays out in Star Wars works very well - that Ben treats everyone with courtesy and respect, no matter who they are, whether they be naive young farm boys, smugglers of dubious character, wookies or droids. In fact, he's even courteous to the ruffians in the bar - except they completely disregard this and try to start a fire fight... and well, they get what's coming to them. I liked that aspect of Ben's character too. He was kind and treated other people with respect but if he had to, he could be very tough. He was damn good character.

Actually, if I may stray from the main topic a little more, I also think that he is a better role model for Luke than Yoda in that becoming a Jedi, he didn't give up the things that make people human whereas Yoda's very much more like the monk on a mountain type of character - a very hard role model to emulate, assuming Luke'd want to even to begin with.

Now back on the topic, I think Luke also showed kindness to the droids early on as well. Take the fact that even though Artoo had him worried all night with his disappearing act, he doesn't get angry at him when he sees him. He talks to him gently and when Threepio suggests that Artoo's lucky he's not in a huge amount of trouble, Luke tells him not to worry.

However, the point about Ben and Artoo is very important. When Ben calls out to Artoo, it's his first line in the movie. Also, when he's looking at Artoo, he's looking at us, the audience - because of the way the cameras are set up to show us Ben from Artoo's point of view. There is a reason for this - Artoo and Threepio are the audience's point of reference in this movie. It is through them that we meet the rest of the characters - so their roles in Star Wars are actually crucial.

This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 12 February 2010 - 07:03 AM

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#13 User is offline   MyPantsAreOnFire Icon

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 11:08 AM

See, I think it's just cheap sentimentality if we're supposed to be impressed that Kenobi goes out of his way to be nice to droids. It's not that everyone else is being "cruel" to droids, because they're not; these are simply tools or devices that amount to little more than a talking computer. In the context of what droids are SUPPOSED to be 3PO and R2 are bizarre, malfunctioning droids that are potentially even threats since they're somehow displaying emotions and personilites beyond just simple, customized programming. It simply does not work. Either this is how most droids are and as such droids in general must be much more of a nuisance or a pain in the ass or worse than actually being useful or R2 and 3PO are somehow exceptions that nobody treats like really remarkable, incredible droids that have somehow evolved actual emotions and personalities.

Personally, I think it's silly if we're supposed to look favorably on Luke and Obi for treating the droids "kindly" because it's effectively the same as expecting them to pal around with a personal computer or to be buddies with a toaster. It's simply not practical to expect Obi to be kind to droids because presumably they're everywhere and they're ultimately just technology. They're not alive; they're not even close to being "3rd rate people." They're just appliances. If he's being "kind" to all of them then he's a loon. There might as well have been a scene where everyone found him curled up with the Falcon's main computer, cooing sweet nothings to it.

Yes, we all understand why they were brought along in terms of telling the story and making the movie, but looking at it practically it makes no sense at all. It's not an issue of cruelty or kindess; it's a matter of common sense and practicality. Nothing would be hurt and nobody would be mistreated because the droids simply are not living things of any kind.
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Posted 12 February 2010 - 01:11 PM

Could be just cheap sentimentality, but people have made the same sorts of reasonable sounding arguments about Black American Slaves being able to function if they were given freedom, women having the sense to vote, Jews being proper humans , and gays having any sort of rights. All those situations looked (or look) sentimental and ridiculous at the time. I mean, imagine Aunt Jemima or Rastus without the master to help them, or women prone to fits of fainting and hysteria ever having the sense to vote. Imagine prancing limp wristed drag queens rooting each other up the bung hole ever being taken seriously when they claim they want to be married. Imagine giving rights to animals, vegetation, or even rocks... it's all clearly ridiculous. (We are saving trees at this point, but not the rocks yet... but it's coming.)

That is why I always liked Qui Gonn, and don't hate Phantom Menace quite so much as everyone else. Qui Gonn, unlike all of us, (and every other character in the film including Obi Wan by the way), found value in the worthless Jar Jar. Qui Gonn taught Amidala and the rest of the humans toleration, empathy, and multicuturalism. We still don't get that part of it, we just hate Jar Jar because he is clearly racially inferior. Plus he is insulting to black people. Not that there is any resemblance between 8 foot orange frogs and black people, but come on, it's totally obvious! Still, by the end of the movie the obviously superior Naboo people accept the Gungans as equals, (even though clearly they are not, right?). 'Cause that's what racial tolerance is all about.

I made this argument once before, and the response from someone was

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the Gungans sucked monkey dick so who cares. What precisely did they have that they felt elevated them to the humans? Slobber? The ability to send idiots into the planet core?(this is sad compared to interstellar travel) A fat leader? (comapred to Amidala) Glowing blue balls? (wtf!)


Exactly. They are all clearly inferior. It's totally obvious.

Artoo was only pretending to be concerned about Luke when he got knocked out by the Sand People, Threepio was only pretending to be conciliatory to Luke after Obi Wan Got killed, and when the load in my sledge gets lighter I'm going to kill and eat the dogs cause I don't need cause they're just dogs, right?
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#15 User is offline   MyPantsAreOnFire Icon

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:03 AM

But those comparisons all ring hollow since we're talking about living things and droids are not living things. This has nothing to do with racial or species tolerance since the droids are not any kind of race or species. They're not human, they're no alien, they're not animal...they're not alive. It's pretty melodramatic and a rather outrageous strawman to equate this with the issues of racial, social, religious and sexual tolerance since those issues all involve sentient creatures. Even the issue of animal rights is still in regards to living creatures. Ecological issues are in regard to life in nature. We're talking about robots. You might as well start equating people throwing out their computers to the Holocaust if you're going to make such ridiculous comparisons.

Now, if you want to debate the larger issue of whether or not 3PO and R2 are sentinet, fine, that's a whole other issue. I think it's difficult to do so since it's tremendously unlikely that droids would be as a prelevant as they are in the SW universe if they were sentient or could gaint sentience. 3PO and R2 simply are not alive in any way shape or form. They are programmed to perform tasks and to have fascimiles of emotions, but they are not alive. Equating "poor" treatment of them to the stuggle for black or gay civil rights or the persecution of various social groups throughout human history is absurd and actually somewhat appalling.

This post has been edited by MyPantsAreOnFire: 13 February 2010 - 01:07 AM

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