*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
In previous posts, I have examined Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Obi-Wan Kenobi (the late Alec Guinness) and Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones and acted by David Prowse). In this post, I will be writing about Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).
Every adventure story has at least one shady character. While this character is there to help the hero on their journey, both the hero and the audience are unsure if this character is trustworthy or if the smooth promises they are making are actually going to come to fruition.
In The Empire Strikes Back, fans were introduced to a new character: Lando Calrissian. Lando is Han’s best friend and former compatriot. He is also the former owner of the Millennium Falcon. Now the leader of Cloud City that hovers over the planet Bespin, Lando gives sanctuary to Leia, Han, Chewbacca and C3P0 as they try to hide from Vader and the Empire.
Our heroes believe they have found a temporary safe haven, but they have walked into a trap. Lando makes a deal with Vader, he will turn over the rebels to the Empire if his people are unharmed. But like any evil empire and any evil overlord, Vader is not to be trusted. When Lando realizes that Vader is not going through on his end of the bargain. In the end, Lando joins the rebellion and helps to defeat the empire.
Like Han, Lando appears to be only out for himself and his needs. He may do something to add to his wallet,but it is for his needs alone that he acts. As The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi continue on, Lando proves himself to be a true hero of the rebellion and a fighter for a greater cause than himself.
To sum it up: When a character changes from fighting for their needs alone to fighting for a cause greater than themselves is a character arc that has been done time and again. The question is, is the arc predictable or is the a plot twist that adds a new layer to this done to death character arc? In creating Lando’s character, George added to the traditional character arc and allowed the audience to not see Lando as a villain, but as a man who made choices and then, when realizing that he made the wrong choices, righted those wrong choices.