It’s difficult to deny our innate call to storytelling, exercised each time we interact with character and plot. Certain tropes and archetypes have resonated down through the ages and myths and poems thousands of years old can feel as fresh, vibrant and subversive today as they were when they were first conceived. These ancient stories unite us across distant shores, regardless of belief and culture, and within their words we see ourselves reflected.
It’s because so many of the most engaging Star Wars characters are moulded on mythic archetypes that they connect with audiences on a fundamental level. Luke’s call to adventure beyond his dull domesticity is something any teenager can recognise, and Anakin and Ben Solo enable us to recognise the darkness inside ourselves. And yet it’s in the most marginalised characters, those that attract ridicule from fan circles, that I so often find myself reflected. In Jar Jar I have a kindred spirit in someone who is clumsy, speaks before he thinks and yet, an individual who’s just trying to do the right thing. Yet it’s C-3PO, the protocol droid built by Anakin to help his mother around the homestead, that I relate to the most.
If you asked most people to name one thing about Threepio, they’d probably say that he’s fluent in over six million forms of communication. As a journalist, I’m fluent in over six million forms of bullshit, but the similarities run deeper than that. I’ve got a real aversion to confrontation, just the thought of it sets me on edge and heaven forbid actually getting into any kind of fistfight. Although Threepio can be seen wielding a bowcaster in the promotional material for The Rise of Skywalker – and ignoring the arena scenes in Attack of the Clones – he’s non-violent. In fact, he actively avoids conflict and prefers communication over confrontation.
If people didn’t mention his language skills first, then the fact Threepio is almost always anxious would be next. Yes, this droid is a panic attack on gold and silver legs, but that can be a strength, but there are other attributes that get overlooked. He’s steadfastly loyal. Sure, he’ll bicker and complain, but Threepio is one of the best friends anyone could ever want for. When he’s reunited with R2-D2 in The Force Awakens, my throat catches and I’ll get a little something in my eye. It’s in the moments where he’s not played for laughs, that Threepio’s devotion shines through. See how he protects and serves Padmé in Revenge of the Sith, or how worried he is when Artoo is struck during the trench run in A New Hope.
As anyone who watched the recent ‘final trailer’ for The Rise of Skywalker can attest, the most poignant line belonged to Threepio. “Taking one last look, sir,” he says when asked what he’s doing, “at my friends.” What’s most moving to me here – other than the fact that he is obviously going to die – is that Threepio has developed a quiet, dignified bravery after all these years afraid. I take comfort in that. After all, if this prissy protocol droid can overcome his anxiety, then perhaps I can too.