Mara Jade

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Mara Jade Skywalker
Star Wars character
Maralukeben.jpg
Mara Jade (right) and Luke Skywalker (left) with their son Ben Skywalker
First appearanceHeir to the Empire
Last appearanceFate of the Jedi: Apocalypse
Created byTimothy Zahn
Portrayed byShannon McRandle (for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game)
Voiced by
Information
SpeciesHuman
GenderFemale
OccupationEmperor's Hand, smuggler, trader, Jedi Master
AffiliationGalactic Empire
Smugglers' Alliance
New Republic
Jedi
Galactic Alliance
FamilyLeia Organa-Solo (sister-in-law)
Han Solo (brother-in-law)
Jaina Solo (niece)
Jacen Solo (nephew)
Anakin Solo (nephew)
Spouse(s)Luke Skywalker
ChildrenBen Skywalker (son)
HomeworldCoruscant

Mara Jade is a fictional female character within the Star Wars franchise. She appears in the now non-canon Legends series, as the wife of Luke Skywalker and mother of Ben Skywalker. In the different video games, she has been voiced by Heidi Shannon, Edie Mirman and Kath Soucie. Despite not being part of the regular canon and never appearing on the film series, Mara is considered one of the most popular Star Wars characters.

Concept and development[edit]

Mara Jade was introduced in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which Lucasfilm would later brand as non-canonical to the Star Wars franchise. Her first appearance was in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire (1991). Zahn imagined Jade as a strong, complex female character, which he found was lacking in the Star Wars universe. While competent, she is also flawed.[1] When the Thrawn Trilogy ended in 1993 with The Last Command, Zahn thought it was the last book for which he would develop the character.[2] When he was asked to write another novel, he established two goals: "to end the war between the New Republic and the Empire, and to get Luke Skywalker and Mara together."[2] Although Lucasfilm initially resisted the idea of Luke marrying Mara, they eventually acquiesced.[2]

Compared to Star Wars' sole iconic female character, Princess Leia, Zahn said, "Mara has a sharper and more sarcastic manner, and of course, she had to go through the painful realization that her service had been to an evil cause. But they're both women who are strong without sacrificing their femininity, a balance which I think some authors have trouble writing. Bear in mind too, that Leia was one of the first people in the New Republic who decided Mara could be trusted, which perhaps says something about their understanding of each other."[3]

In 2006, Zahn called Mara and Grand Admiral Thrawn his favorite characters out of those he created, saying that "Mara, with her attitude and her Jedi skills, is just plain fun to write, especially when she's in opposition—or in partnership—with Luke."[4] In a 1998 Star Wars Insider poll of fans' favorite Star Wars characters, Mara was the only expanded universe character to break the top 20.[citation needed]

Appearances and depiction[edit]

In 2018, Zahn said that Lucasfilm had given him some creative control over the character of Mara Jade: any possible appearance of Mara in new works requires Zahn's approval. Zahn also explained that the Lucasfilm Story Group also had the authority to prevent him from incorporating Mara back into the canon, and that any appearance would have to be approved by both parties. Zahn said that he would only allow her to appear if she plays an important role in the plot, and that he would block any kind of cameo. Previously, the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, whom Zahn also created, had made the jump from Legends to canon, albeit with a slighty reworked story. Due to that, Zahn said that he hoped to find a way to bring Mara into the canon, stating "If there was a generic, or organic, spot for her to fit into a story... I promise people, I will pitch it to the Lucasfilm story group, and then, it's their decision whether to allow it or not."[5]

Legends[edit]

With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.[6][7][8]

Mara is introduced as smuggler Talon Karrde's second-in-command in Heir to the Empire. The novel establishes that she was previously an "Emperor's Hand"—a special agent—for Emperor Palpatine.

Several stories depict Jade before the events in Heir to the Empire, showing her training under Palpatine and executing his orders. The Thrawn trilogy depicts Mara's first confrontation with Luke Skywalker, whom she has sworn to kill to avenge Palpatine's death (Palpatine having sent her a faked image of Luke and Vader turning on him together, rather than Vader killing Palpatine on his own and the demand for Luke's death simply motivated by Palpatine's desire for revenge against his father rather than Luke himself having done anything). This was reinforced by the Emperor's final telepathic command to assassinate Luke, which had plagued her thoughts since his death; upon learning this situation, Luke vowed to help Mara break Palpatine's hold on her, regardless of the danger she posed to him. Towards the end of the trilogy, she turns against the Empire and resolves her anger toward Luke and silences the command without killing him, instead killing Luke's cloneLuuke Skywalker— who had been made by the Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth to challenge Luke. In doing so, she took Anakin Skywalker's blue lightsaber (which Luuke was using), and used it instead of Luke's green lightsaber to defeat C'baoth. At the close of The Last Command, Luke gives her Anakin's lightsaber not only because she had earned it, but because he truly wanted her to have it. Over the course of the series, Luke recognizes in Mara an underdeveloped affinity for the Force ; and although she initially resists Jedi training, she eventually becomes a Jedi Master.

Luke and Mara develop a strong bond in Zahn's The Hand of Thrawn Duology; he proposes marriage, and the two wed in Michael A. Stackpole's graphic novel Union.[9] She delivers a son, Ben, during The New Jedi Order series.

In the Legacy of the Force series, Mara becomes suspicious of her nephew, Jacen Solo, when he sends Ben on several ethically dubious missions. Upon learning that Jacen has become a Sith apprentice, Mara vows to kill him, but Jacen ultimately kills her in Sacrifice. She later appears as a Force ghost, first to Ben and then to Luke, in Revelation. She also appears as a Force ghost to Cade Skywalker in the Legacy comics, set more than a century after the Star Wars films.

Mara also appears in the short story "Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade", by Timothy Zahn, in the anthology Tales from Jabba's Palace. In this story, she infiltrates Jabba the Hutt's palace as a dancing girl in order to assassinate Luke Skywalker under orders of the Emperor, but misses her chance when Jabba drops him into the Rancor's lair and he escapes.

Other appearances[edit]

Mara was portrayed by model Shannon McRandle (as Shannon Baksa) on several cards in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game.

Meeting her was also a mission objective in the now defunct massively multiplayer online game Star Wars Galaxies. She is a playable character in Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi,. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, Star Wars: Empire at War and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. She also narrates the Imperial campaign in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Mara Jade was chosen by IGN as the 19th top Star Wars character.[10] IGN's Jesse Schedeen also listed the character as the top 10th Star Wars hero, noting that she "entered the Expanded Universe early, and she's stuck around for so long because she's just a great character".[11] UGO Networks called the character the seventh top Star Wars Expanded Universe character, calling her complex.[12] In 2006, Zahn called Mara and Thrawn his favorite characters out of those he created.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carter, Jeff. "Star Wars Per-Zahn-Ified". Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2008-03-18. Mara [is] a strong female character (which were few and far between in the Star Wars movies), but she's also flawed and searching and—dare we say it?—human. At the same time, she's highly competent at her job.
  2. ^ a b c "Timothy Zahn". Interviews – Face To Face With The Masters. TheForce.Net. 2008-03-13.
  3. ^ Carter, Jeff. "Star Wars Per Zahn-Ified". Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  4. ^ a b "Timothy Zahn: Outbound Flight Arrival". StarWars.com. January 31, 2006. Archived from the original on February 4, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Agar, Chris (July 25, 2018). "Mara Jade Creator Hasn't Been Asked To Approve Star Wars 9 Appearance". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  6. ^ "Disney and Random House announce relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction line". StarWars.com. April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  7. ^ McMilian, Graeme (April 25, 2014). "Lucasfilm Unveils New Plans for Star Wars Expanded Universe". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". StarWars.com. April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  9. ^ Stackpole, Michael A. (w). Union comic series (1999–2000), Dark Horse Comics
  10. ^ "Top 100 Star Wars Characters". IGN. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
  11. ^ Jesse Schedeen (14 August 2008). "Top 25 Star Wars Heroes: Day 4". IGN. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  12. ^ Adam Rosenburg (1 July 2008). "Top 50 Star Wars Expanded Universe Characters". UGO Networks. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011.

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