Last month, I reviewed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. One of the things that kept nagging me was how much it borrowed from other Star Wars sources so I decided to put together a top 10 list based around this subject.
If you want to read all of my thoughts on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, check out my full review. In short, it was the most fun that I had with a Star Wars game in a very long time. However, it was not without its flaws. Speaking of which, it borrowed some elements rather well while others felt like a tired retread. After discussing some of these and why they didn't feel fresh to me, a few folks seemed rather confused as to what I talking about so I figured I'd clarify everything in this top 10 list. The order below depends on how extensively each element is borrowed from other Star Wars media and how obvious it was that it originated elsewhere.
It should also go without saying that this article will contain massive spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as well as all of the Star Wars films, etc. Without further ado, here are the top 10 things that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order took from other Star Wars media.
The splitting double-bladed lightsaber
Okay, so this one is kind of cheating since it's more of an Easter egg than a direct lift but it's clear what the developers drew their inspiration from. The source for it comes from the 2006 Old Republic novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic writer Drew Karpyshyn. In the novel, the protagonist (Darth Bane) sets out to exterminate all of his fellow Sith upon realising that the use of an entire Sith army will never work due to the nature of the Dark Side and established the Rule of Two.
Yeah, that one. The first victim of Darth Bane's purge is one of his mentors: Kas'im, the Sith Academy sword master. For a moment, it seemed like Bane was going to overcome Kas'im until the sword master split his double lightsaber into 2 lightsabers and overwhelmed Bane, almost killing him. Eventually, Bane gained the upper-hand and defeated Kas'im, beginning the purge of the Sith.
In the case of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, our protagonist (Cal Kestis) learns a similar trick. Towards the end of the game, Cal has to construct a new lightsaber after an unfortunate encounter with a ghost from his past. After doing so, you're able to split Cal's lightsaber in half for a devastating dual lightsaber attack that will overwhelm most enemies and turn the tide in desperate fights. Ultimately, this similarity isn't a big one but it is a funny little bit that other people seemed to have missed and was one that I appreciate all the same.
Kashyyyk's presence in Star Wars games
What's with Star Wars video games and novels making the Wookie home world the center of action? Going back to Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, there was a portion of the story where Darth Bane (then just a regular foot soldier in the Sith army) had to lead his unit through the planet and barely survived. The planet was ultimately captured by Sith forces but not without great casualties.
More notably, however, was a similar placement in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. In that game, you are more or less conscripted by Princess Leia to free a tribe of Wookies from some sort of concentration camp on Kashyyyk. This was to prove to her that Starkiller was a Jedi as well as help to lay the foundations of the Rebellion against the Empire. Likewise, Kashyyyk plays a big role in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as it's one of the locations that you have to visit before taking on Darth Malak.
A significant portion of Jedi: Fallen Order takes place on Kashyyyk as you help Forest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera liberate the Wookies from and Imperial factory. This obviously doesn't go over as well as you might hope and the rebel forces are eventually forced to retreat and go deeper into the forests in order to avoid being captured and killed. The level obviously plays out very differently than it did in The Force Unleashed and Knights of the Old Republic but it's bizarre how often the Wookie home world becomes the center of Imperial oppression in these games. This is one instance where the game felt like it was borrowing just a bit too heavily from other sources.
This is one of the more reasonable elements that was ripped from another Star Wars source but also one that highlights just how much Fallen Order borrows from other media. First introduced in Star Wars: Rebels, the Inquisitors were eventually revealed to be fallen members of the Jedi Order who weren't quite good enough to be considered Sith but useful enough to help hunt down Jedi survivors and enforce Imperial rule. Throughout Star Wars: Rebels, we're introduced to a total of 3 Inquisitors who all share a role: they hunt down Jedi who survived Order 66 and that's about it. They're antagonists who are just threatening enough to serve as a proper obstacle to the heroes but not powerful enough to ever rival Darth Vader which is more or less the same role that they have in Fallen Order.
In the story, Cal has to face off against the Second Sister multiple times and she basically has the same role as the Inquisitors in Star Wars: Rebels. She's constantly hunting them down and remains a major thorn in Cal's side right up until the end. This one could have ranked higher on the list but the writers of Jedi: Fallen Order actually gave her a pretty tragic back-story and an arc of her own thus making her a unique presence in the franchise that ultimately separates her from the other Inquisitors.
The milquetoast protagonist
This one isn't so much an issue with Star Wars as it is with sci-fi in general but it's something that pops up constantly in the Star Wars franchise. Just like Luke, Rey, Gyn, and even Han in Solo: A Star Wars Story; Cal fits a very specific mold. He's played by an actor who is good-looking and charismatic enough that you don't mind seeing him for several hours and in multiple films but not distractingly so. They're likeable and have enough charm so you don't want to see them die but not so much that you'll remember them over the more charismatic and immediately iconic characters. Their own hero's journey has them in a position where they have no interest in getting involved with the story's plot and are even a bit cowardly about it yet get dragged in all the same thanks to forces beyond their control. In other words, they all fit the mold of a self-insert character and Cal is very much part of this trope.
Overall, Cal is likeable enough so you want to see him succeed in his quest. However, like other protagonists, he is by no means the most interesting character within the cast and is flat-out overshadowed by several other personalities. He has his own arc and his own trauma to deal with but it's all inoffensive and fails to really challenge the mold that Star Wars has created for its protagonists. It's strange that despite being one of the biggest franchises in existence, they don't take more chances with their heroes.
A snarky captain with a sketchy past
There seems to be some rule at Lucasfilm that says every ship captain who serves as a major character has to be indebted to sketchy criminals. This one of course started with Han Solo in Star Wars: A New Hope. In it, Han was indebted to Jabba the Hutt over a lost shipment which inevitably leads to problems with bounty hunters in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as well as contention with the Rebel Alliance about his role in it. Likewise, this kind of story pops up in his role in Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Force Awakens. Heck, it's even the main plot of the Smuggler storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
This storyline also pops up with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order's captain character Greez Dritus albeit with a bit of a twist. Like Han Solo, Greez is indebted to various criminal organizations but instead of the debt being over a load of cargo, it's gambling debts and he hopes our heroes will help him pay it off. This inevitably leads to bounty hunters coming after the party with Cal having to fight through them and at one point, leads to him becoming a gladiator. Like Han, by the time the story ends, this Greez has discovered a sense of loyalty to his new friends which will more than likely endanger them again in the future. Again, this is basically every Han Solo story ever told. It has just enough variation to keep it from being a carbon copy but not enough that it isn't distractingly similar. It's a very strange plot device to recycle at this point and you have to wonder why the story writers can't come up with something different.
The droid with information to save the universe
This one doesn't pop up nearly as often as a few of the others but it's still basically a Star Wars cliché. In Star Wars: A New Hope, a big portion of the plot revolved around R2-D2 and the fact that he had the plans to the Death Star stored in his hard drive. This inevitably sets the plot in motion, making him a valuable asset to everyone involved. Likewise, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you had BB-8 who had the last piece of a map that showed the location of the missing Luke Skywalker. In the case of BD-1, it's a bit more video-gamey.
Cal first encounters BD-1 on the planet of Bogano where it is revealed that the little droid holds information that's needed to find the holocron which our heroes are after. In order to get this information, they must walk the same path that BD-1's master took in order to prove themselves worthy of the information. Ultimately, it's a different take on the cliché to be sure but it's one that's a little too similar to R2-D2's roles in previous films. It isn't necessarily a problem but like the role of the captain, you have to wonder why the writers couldn't have thought up something just a little bit different so this more than warrants a spot on this list.
Jedi who survived Order 66
This is the one area where Fallen Order felt the most unoriginal. By the time it was released, the period between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was already well worn by Disney and Lucasfilm. Specifically, this time period had a recurring storyline in Jason Aaron's Star Wars comic and Disney and Lucasfilm had already released 2 films set in this era by the time the game was released. In addition, Star Wars: Rebels takes place entirely in this period as does Charles Soule's Darth Vader series.
The plot of Fallen Order is one that can't help but draw comparisons to Star Wars: Rebels. In both stories, one of our main characters is a Jedi who survived Order 66 and is simply trying to keep themselves from being hunted down by the Sith. Both protagonists are initially hesitant to fight against the Empire but nonetheless get dragged into battles thanks to outside forces. Additionally, both characters fight against the Inquisitors and try to carry on the legacy of the Jedi in their own way. Likewise, Charles Soule's Darth Vader comic focuses a great deal on Darth Vader who's aided by the Inquisitors while hunting down surviving members of the Jedi Order. It's a very broad plot to be sure and one can see why a writer would create a story around it but it keeps coming up and you have to wonder just how many times the franchise can get away with retelling this kind of story before it completely runs out of steam.
Speaking of Charles Soule's Darth Vader comic...
An entire plot from Charles Soule's Darth Vader comic
It's odd that this isn't brought up more often. The main plot of Fallen Order is directly lifted from the second arc of Charles Soule's Darth Vader comic. This arc focuses on Jedi Master Jocasta Nu who you might remember as the librarian from Attack of the Clones.
Yeah, that lady. Anyway, the plot of the comic revolves around this character. In it, she is attempting to gain control of a hidden Jedi holocron that contains the location of force-sensitive children. What does she plan to do with this information? Why, recruit these children in order to form a new Jedi Order in secret, of course! Does she succeed? Heck no! Does the holocron get destroyed so the Emperor can't have access to this information? Absolutely! Sound familiar? Of course it does! It's literally the plot of Fallen Order.
No, seriously; it's literally the same story. Fallen Order focuses on Jedi who survived Order 66 who are trying to obtain a holocron that has the location of force-sensitive children. With this information, he and his companions plan on rebuilding the Jedi Order in secret and like the Charles Soule Darth Vader comic, it doesn't go at all as planned. It even ends with the main character destroying the holocron in order to prevent the Emperor from acquiring the information. It's a very bizarre retread that goes a little beyond tribute and one has to wonder if the comic writer signed off on Respawn recycling his plot.
Overpowered Darth Vader
Again, this one doesn't pop up often but it has nonetheless become a cliché in the Disney-owned era of Star Wars. The short version is that Darth Vader is being turned into Thanos. In Rebels, none of the characters ever stood a chance against him in a lightsaber fight. He always just kind of plays with his opponents and throws them around like ragdolls before they get lucky enough to escape.
When Marvel Comics took over the comic rights to the Star Wars franchise, one of the most notable stories in its first year was the Vader Down crossover. In it, Darth Vader was trapped on a planet and surrounded by a Rebel army who wanted to capture or kill him. Somehow, he managed to take on this entire army by himself and basically win. It doesn't matter what they throw at him or how many go after him; Darth Vader manages to cut through them like butter.
Of course, we then have Darth Vader's appearance at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where the game seems to take its biggest inspiration. In it, Darth Vader appears seemingly out of nowhere and attacks a group of Rebels who are guarding the plans to the Death Star. It's an overall terrifying scene that turns Darth Vader into something of a slasher villain and is arguably the best scene in the entire film. However, it also has to be said that his appearance contributes next to nothing to the plot and if anything, it interrupts everyone else's story and character development for little to no reason.
At the end of Fallen Order, you manage to defeat the Second Sister in a duel and reclaim the holocron. This eventually ends in a heart-to-heart with the antagonist which makes us think that maybe, just maybe, she might be redeemable. Then, out of nowhere; Darth Vader shows up, kills her, and chases you throughout the facility you just made your way through. Trying to fight Vader is suicide and your only option is to run as he tears the facility apart with ease before you ultimately escape from him with the holocron.
It must be said that this sequence is intense and highlights why Vader was so feared throughout the Star Wars canon. It's also one of the most blatant instances that Fallen Order borrowed from other sources and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Like the time period itself, one has to wonder how many times Star Wars can keep getting away with recycling this plot point before people get bored.
The lying mentor figure
What is with Star Wars and deceptive mentors? Obi-Wan, Yoda, Luke; they're all chronic liars who actively keep things from their apprentices which ends up hurting everyone in the end. In the prequel trilogy, the Jedi Counsel actively keeps things from Anakin which plays a role in his turn to the Dark Side. In the original trilogy, Obi-Wan and Yoda both lie to Luke about Darth Vader, the death of Anakin Skywalker, and the fact that Luke had a sibling. This is something that Luke himself repeats in the sequel trilogy where he had a direct involvement in the creation of Kylo Ren and it's eventually revealed that he and Leia knew about Rey's connection to Palpatine. Of course, because this is a Star Wars story, it comes into play in Jedi: Fallen Order as well.
In Fallen Order's case, Cal's mentor (Cere Junda) lies to him about the origins of the Second Sister and why she had to cut herself off from the force. Originally, it's a throwaway line as the 2 talk on the ship and Junda mentions that her apprentice (who happens to be a woman) was killed due to her actions; at least in part. We're not given too many details as to what exactly went down which immediately tells you that there is more to this story than we are initially led to believe. Eventually, we discover that the Second Sister is in fact Junda's former apprentice who had turned to the Dark Side. The shock of seeing her do that caused Junda to tap into the Dark Side herself and escape her captors. As a result, she cut herself off from the force in fear that she would tap into the Dark Side again.
This one ultimately gets the number 1 spot because of how often it is used in the Star Wars franchise and just how predictable it is. Right when Junda mentioned that her former apprentice was a woman and was "dead", it was fairly easy to predict where the story was going. It's easily the biggest thing that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes from other sources and it makes me want to grab the developers, shake them, and say, "Not every mentor figure needs to do this!"
Those are my top 10 tropes that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes from other media in the franchise. Whether you agree or disagree, leave a comment below with your thoughts and we can discuss Fallen Order's originality or lack thereof.