Following up from my introduction of the Power Ranger Formula (PRF), Part 2 will begin our review of movies and how they fit or don’t fit into the model. The first movie fits perfectly into the formula, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope .
The Leader – Luke Skywalker
The Anal – Princess Leia
The Smart – C3PO/R2D2
The Goof – Han Solo
The Tough – Chewbacca
The Mentor – Obi-Wan
The Struggler – Not Applicable
The Villain – Darth Vader
The following of the formula is makes A New Hope a classic and a box office success. While the special effects were cool and new, without a good story, the movie would have been a bust. A New Hope is great because of the mix of characters along with a good arc for the hero.
The definition of a the Leader is Luke Skywalker. He wants to see the universe but feels trapped by his Uncle and doesn’t see to escape his little planet of Tatooine. He doesn’t know he has a natural ability and doesn’t expect to led any crusade. His goal is to get off the planet. Unbeknownst to Luke, he has the natural ability (the force) and his mentor encourages Luke to seek his first adventure and discover his abilities. After a series of events, Luke makes new friends and leaves Tatooine. During their travels his Mentor trains him. He has successes in rescuing Leia but also faces loss in the death of his Mentor. He then fights in the last battle, where leverages his natural talent to save the day and his Mentor is key to unlocking his ability.
Leia is definitely the Anal. She is fighting for her cause and Leia sees no in-between; you are for the Empire or you fight against the Empire. When she meets Han Solo she is condescending and harsh to him, because she can’t understand someone who walks middle ground. She can often leads the group on the Death Star. Her conflict with the Goof, Han Solo adds an element of humor to the film.
C3PO and R2D2 are the tandem straight men or the Smart. They are stiff characters, which provides much needed humor throughout the movie. An example, of the humor is when they are playing chess on the Millennium Falcon and R2D2 is about to beat Chewbacca and Han warns C3PO about beating a Wookie; the scene adds much needed humor after a good action sequence. The Smart’s also have the key specialized abilities. An example of smart abilities in Star Wars is R2D2’s ability to access the computer to find maps around the Death Star.
Han is the perfect “Goof”. He is a reckless cynic who hustles his way through life. His carefree style creates fun moments and the character offsets the seriousness of both the Anal and the Leader. The tension with him and Leia lights up the screen, as does his antics with the Tough (Chewbacca). Han’s scene where he runs at the troopers on the Death Star is one of the most memorable scenes from Star Wars. The scene is funny and part of an action sequence at the same time.
Han could also be the Struggler because he really didn’t pick a side. However, since he is not with Empire, there wasn’t really a struggle for him. A Struggler is someone who is bad but becomes good, like Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.
Chewy is definitely the Tough. He is right hand man of Han (the Goof). He is the straight man to the Goof. The roars he makes, then with the funny interpretation by the Goof adds a huge amount of levity to Star Wars.
No surprise, Obi-Wan is the Mentor in A New Hope. He coaches and prods Luke into leaving Tatooine. On the Millennium Falcon he teaches Luke how to use the force. Then in the penultimate battle his voice comes through Luke’s headset to give him the final coaching so he can destroy the Death Star. Obi-Wan has a little more interaction than is typical of a mentor.
While the Villain is the entire Empire, Darth Vader is the focal point for the audience of the evil Empire. There is no question the Empire is evil, Darth Vader kills people from the very beginning, they order a whole planet destroyed, and then Darth strikes down Obi-Wan. The movie is well designed because it is black or white, you are the empire or you are not.
The Power Ranger Formula (PRF) still requires a story to follow the hero’s journey. The PRF gives the make-up of the hero and their team/ people during their journey. The team allows for interaction and growth of the hero, but also much needed humor.
For our next segment in the PRF series, we will look at how the formula wasn’t followed with disastrous results.