Moms often get the short end of the stick in blockbuster movies. They’re either treated as an afterthought (see Kirk’s mom in the new Star Trek films), fridged (see several of the Marvel movies), or just not there at all (looking at you, Disney). And Star Wars is one of the worst offenders in this area. In a new piece for The Mary Sue, Caroline Cao breaks down the franchise’s mom woes while asking the simple question: “Where are the moms in the Star Wars galaxy?” As Cao notes, “Mothers play a role in shaping the arc of their protagonist offsprings, but they don’t receive as much thematic prominence as father-son/child relationships in the cinematic world of a galaxy far, far away.” And the mothers that do exist are “noticeably disposable,” like Anakin’s little-seen mom Shmi Skywalker or Padmé, who dies of a “broken heart” mere moments after giving birth to twins.
And it’s not just a matter of the older Star Wars movies relying on outdated tropes. Cao points out that similar patterns exist in the latest films, too. (Spoilers follow.) In Rogue One, Jyn Erso’s mother is gunned down at the beginning of the film (in a remarkably illogical scene), but Jyn’s angst revolves solely around her father and her father figure, Saw Gerrera. Meanwhile in The Force Awakens, when it’s time for a parent to confront Kylo Ren, it’s Han Solo, not Leia Organa, who goes to see him—even though Leia has a far more direct connection to Kylo’s idol, Darth Vader.
Cao notes that mothers sometimes fare better in less mainstream Star Wars properties like Star Wars Rebels and Claudia Gray’s Bloodline series. But she adds that, aside from a few exceptions, “The scriptwriters take mothers for granted and don’t know what to do with their maternal greatness. The moms deserved better than to be angst-fodder.” Fortunately, there is an infinite stream of Star Wars movies in the works—hopefully someone will do a little better.