Mara Jade Skywalker might be returning to official “Star Wars” canon.
I accept that not everyone will know who this character is and why she’s a big deal, so allow me to explain.
A Fictional History Lesson
Years before the release of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”, “Star Wars” fans got their fix of new stories through other media, primarily novels. Hundreds of books (of varying quality) were published, as in the absence of a new movie, this was the best way to tell stories of the continuing adventures of Leia, Han, and Luke.
The granddaddy of these novels was Timothy Zahn, essentially created the Expanded Universe of “Star Wars” canon when he wrote the Thrawn Trilogy, three books that play out like a new movie series as they explain what happened after “Return of the Jedi”.
These books introduce a lot of the staples of the Expanded Universe, most notably, the character of Mara Jade. A former assassin who has been trained by the Emperor, Mara Jade has to learn to overcome her brainwashing as she befriends Luke Skywalker.
Luke even gives her his father’s blue lightsaber. The one that keeps passing hands in the current movie series.
Later, in a second pair of novels by Zahn, Mara Jade and Luke fall in love and decide to get married. They have a son, Ben Skywalker, but Mara Jade is ultimately (spoiler alert) murdered by Han and Leia’s evil son, which probably sounds familiar to anyone who’s seen “The Force Awakens”.
Bringing Mara Back
Mara Jade hasn’t yet turned up in the new Disney “Star Wars” canon, and it seems like Luke basically lived a celibate life in this new continuity, which, fair enough, to each his own.
But, a new casting call for “Episode IX” is looking for a female character between the age of 40 and 50, who is named “Mara”.
It’s almost as if Lucasfilm is baiting its fans.
I find this all very suspicious. I can’t imagine that the plan really is to bring Mara Jade, as she exists in the novels, into the movie canon. If this were the case, surely Lucasfilm wouldn’t be quite so brazen about this in their casting call.
What I can imagine, though, is that a version of this character could show up. Just as Kylo Ren is a riff on Jacen Solo from the old Expanded Universe, I can imagine a reimagining of Mara Jade could turn up.
This would solve a problem that Lucasfilm is struggling with at the moment. We know that the original script for “Episode IX” heavily involved General Leia Organa, but now that Carrie Fisher has sadly become one with the Force, the movie has been extensively rewritten.
I can imagine Lucasilm moving some of the key beats of wisdom over from Leia to Mara Jade (or whatever her character gets named) as a former teacher that Kylo Ren trusts and appreciates.
It’d also give us yet another female Jedi to champion as a hero, so I see nothing wrong with this at all!
The Face of Mara
What’s interesting is that Lucasfilm is trying to cast this role with an unknown rather than just handing the role to a famous actor. The fact that they’re doing wide auditions suggests that Lucasfilm doesn’t want someone established for the role.
I suspect this means that Mara won’t be a big part of the movie. Best case scenario, she gets as much screen time as Rose, which would certainly be enough to delight longtime fans without distracting from the true drama of the film.
This movie will mostly be about Rey and Kylo figuring out their own place in the universe We wouldn’t want too much Mara Jade fun getting in the way!