Star Wars ComLINKS is a monthly linkup by AAHA meant to inspire fans to write and talk about various topics pertaining to the galaxy far, far away.
September’s Topic: Favorite Male Character
It’s no secret that my favorite Star Wars character also happens to be my favorite male character. People are always shocked whenever I choose Ezra Bridger over Captain Rex, and even though Rex has a special place in my heart, there are qualities in Ezra that I admire and see in myself. That’s why when I see hateful and overcritical comments toward Ezra, I tend to take them personally because in a way they’re also judging my character and the decisions I make on a daily basis. I will admit that there have been times where I’ve broke down crying because of the mistreatment I’ve seen, and I often find myself wishing that others could see what I see.
So what is it that I see in Ezra?
I see a boy, who raised himself between the ages of 7 and 14, become someone who no longer is out to protect himself. He’s learned to defend others at the cost of his own life. Somehow, through the years of having to survive on his own, the most basic moral principles passed down to him by his parents stayed intact. They used to tell him, “If we don’t stand up, who will?” Hera and Kanan helped him uncover that part of himself and his motivation to protect others is just as clear and present as anyone else’s.
I see a young teenager trying to learn more about himself and what his abilities can do. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was a teenager, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I still don’t, to be honest. Ezra was brought onto a path and given the Cliff Notes version of the Jedi way. Not only that, but he’s learning during a time of war. Ahsoka had also found herself in that situation. She was fighting against Separatists and learning lessons along the way, but unlike Ezra, Ahsoka had years of training. Ahsoka had the Jedi Order and several masters from which to draw wisdom and knowledge. Ezra only has Kanan and his non-Force sensitive crew. Ezra is working with very little knowledge and he’s trying to make the most of it with what he’s got.
I see a boy who makes mistakes, who’s lost his way a few times, and fumbles due to that lack knowledge and extensive training, and that’s okay because that was my entire life as a teenager (and it continues to be my life as an adult). Unlike young Padawans who can be shaped and molded into model Jedi, Ezra was 14 when Kanan found him. Ezra had formed his own personality, opinions, and way of doing things. This is going to inevitably clash once he has to start doing things in a different way. As a result, there are times when Ezra does it his own way, but you know what? That’s life. Sometimes, we do things our own way and we learn from the consequences.
“But he doesn’t learn from his lessons” is what I see often from people. I recommend rewatching the show and paying closer attention to his actions because he does learn from his lessons. Sure, there are times when he is too trusting of people. Hondo, specifically. Not so much Maul. After he blinded Kanan, Ezra’s trust in that character was broken, but he was forced to work with Maul on a few occasions in order to protect someone or something. Hondo’s a different case because Ezra sees himself in Hondo and there are qualities about that character that he personally admires and identifies with. Like most teenagers, though, their mistakes tend to follow them and paint them a certain way, so people (mostly adults, who’ve probably forgotten their younger years and aren’t able to put themselves in Ezra’s shoes) tend to look down at teenagers and fall back on “they never learn.”
I see a young boy who tends to see the good in other people. This is a quality of Ezra’s that I see in myself all the time, and there have been moments while watching the show where I’ve said, “That is something I would do.” (My mother is a witness to this, since we tend to watch the show together, and she’s also commented on how Ezra and I are similar.) I grew up trusting people far too easily, and I still do from time to time because I choose to see the good in people. Of course, this comes back and bites me in the rear, making my life and the lives of others around me more difficult. Sounds familiar? That’s because it’s also happened to Ezra. Even though this quality in a person can be considered a weakness, I’ve also seen it as a strength because it’s shown me that Ezra hasn’t been hardened by his rough upbringing. He hasn’t developed a cynical personality and attitude, and it makes me happy that this innocent aspect of his personality hasn’t fully disappeared with experience.
I see a boy who has an incredible ability to empathize with those around him, especially in a galaxy where it’s easier to turn a shoulder and look out for yourself. Ezra, whether you see it or not, has a heart of gold and he does things with good intentions. He doesn’t always express them well, but protecting and defending others is always what motivates him. He doesn’t do things out of selfishness or to become known as a great hero. He acts with the overall picture in mind, and even though that can clash with Kanan and Hera, he doesn’t do what he does with the intent to be mean or disrespectful. It may come across that way because it’s said and done in the heat of the moment, but at the end of the day, he does things for the good of the many.
I see a boy who still finds the humor in things and puts a positive spin when he’s able to. My favorite line of his is, “I have a good feeling about this.” He’s the only character in Star Wars to have expressed the opposite of “I have a bad feeling about this” because Ezra has a very casual approach to life. He’s going to sneak himself in, touch random things, and say what’s on his mind. Some people find that annoying and disrespectful, but he’s at the age where those personality traits are common. He’s also still growing and learning. Why people expect him to act like an adult at 17 is beyond me? Sabine is different. She grew up with a different set of circumstances and developed a mature and hardened personality based on her experiences, but even she suffered from a few teenage-like qualities earlier in the series. It always disappoints me when fans expect Ezra to grow up and to grow up fast because that’s what we (as a society) force our own youth to do.
“I think some of the reasons some people are maybe like, ‘Oh, Luke is such a whiner,’ and stuff like that is that I think on some subconscious level Luke does such a good job of being us,” Sam Witwer said in an interview with James Arnold Taylor, when talking about the characters of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. “People are uncomfortable with that. They go, ‘Han Solo’s the cool guy,’ and you’re like, ‘No, I think you’re uncomfortable with Luke because we all—none of us started as the cool guy’ … Luke is the representation of that journey.”
Witwer went on to mention an interview that Mark Hamill did in the 1980s, “He made it very clear that that was a very deliberate choice on his part to play him as kind of a little bit too high energy in the first [movie] and callow and out of his depth. And in the second one, the troubled young man who also was becoming proficient, but also making a lot of mistakes, to the very centered adult he becomes in Return of the Jedi.”
Those first two phases sound familiar, huh?
I think that’s what people see when it comes to Ezra. They see an average boy with flaws and refuse to see themselves in him, and instead, want him to either die because of what he represents (a Jedi, annoying teenager, or what have you) or grow up to become a badass, clad-in-black Luke-type character from Return of the Jedi without going through any of the trials and tribulations that happen along the way that shape a character.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. The fact of the matter is that I’m a fan of his character, and whenever I get the chance to wave my Ezra flag, I always do it with pride.
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