Unbound Worlds

Are Jedi Superheroes?


Recently I hosted a panel – From Jedi Princess to Sith Witch: An Exploration of the Female Characters of Star Wars – at GeekGirlCon in Seattle. For only its second year, the convention had great attendance and national media coverage. A long line formed for the panel well before its start time. The discussion ranged from the trope-smashing iconic character of Princess Leia in the movies to the varieties of female character options in the games, and from the ways Jedi characters like Mara Jade, Jaina Solo, and Ahsoka Tano help female fans experience roles as the heroes of the Galaxy Far Far Away to the relatability of the Everywoman characters such as the X-wing pilots in X-Wing: Mercy Kill and the female Mandalorians in The Clone Wars. All the panelists observed a lot of enthusiasm in the attendees, and that enthusiasm spanned everything from the movies and television show to the comics, books, and videogames. I’ve posted a panel recap at my blog.

I thought one of the questions asked by an audience member merited a broader discussion among Star Wars fans. A young woman told the panel that when she and her fellow geeky friends discuss their favorite superheroes, she mentions her favorite Star Wars Jedi. In response, she’s often been told that Jedi aren’t superheroes. So she asked the panel our opinion. Ashley Eckstein, Linda Raj-Hansen and I fielded the question at the panel.

Tricia: Lucas was making a visual comic book with A New Hope, so I think he saw them as superheroes.

Ashley: In the Star Wars universe the Jedi are superheroes. Ashley reminded the audience of the motto of Her Universe: Flaunt your world. Just because a person can’t fly doesn’t mean that person can’t be a superhero. Her point was that the definition of superhero isn’t necessarily limited to special abilities, but rather it can be a state of mind. She used examples within the Star Wars fandom like the 501st and Rebel Legion, who she considers real life superheroes. It’s your own personal definition.

Linda: Borrowing from an earlier panel at GeekGirlCon, she told the audience, “Take your cape and be your own superhero.”

We thought it would be interesting to hear what you think.

What makes a superhero?

Are Jedi superheroes?

Have you ever been told your favorite Star Wars character isn’t a superhero?

  • What makes a superhero? Someone who is empowered with abilities beyond normal and who uses those abilities for the good of mankind.

    Are Jedi superheroes? HELL YES. Although, I think they were a bit too altruistic in the sense until Luke Skywalker came along. I think he added just the right sense of humanity.

    Have you ever been told your favorite Star Wars character isn’t a superhero? Nah. But I dare someone to stoke that fire.

  • you

    I can’t see how anyone could argue against Jedi being superheros… Pretend that the Jedi Temple replaced the hall of Justice… would there be a significant change in activities, concepts, or results? Nope. One of the things that I’ve been arguing about in modern movie times is how most of the modern vampires aren’t really even vampires anymore but just superheros (or supervillans), as nearly everything that used to make the concept of being a vampire horrifying has been stripped away to where they are all now just super-powered humans who sometimes have issues with sunlight, but can frequently find ways around that.

  • Batman has achieved superhero status, and yet he doesn’t have the super powers some think he needs to qualify.

    Therefore, Jedi are definitely superheroes. They have powers, they fight for the innocent, and they have flaws. Even that one guy, I forget his name, the one all gloomy and wearing black. He redeemed himself.

  • Dom

    I actually think it kind of diminishes Jedi to think of them as superheroes. Superheroes to me always seemed kind of corny and pathetic, running around in silly suits and relying far too much on gadgets and superpowers. The Jedi (especially in the Original Trilogy) are so much more. They’re an order dedicated to harnessing the power of life for good. Jedi use their minds and moral conscience at least as much as their superpowers. I won’t take offense if anybody prefers to think of them as superheroes, but I don’t see how it makes the Jedi cooler in any way.

  • Kenny Kraly Jr.

    A good superhero is one who is strong and also will do the right thing make the world a better place. Yes Jedis are superheros. No.

  • Mary

    I agree that working “for the greater good” makes anyone a hero. To be a “Superhero”, I think our culture demands powers or physical assets unattainable to humankind, in addition to acts of everyday heroism.

    Given those highly-simplified criteria, Jedi are Superheroes. They tap into a source of extraordinary power that others cannot, plus they act in the interests of others. However, Jedi decisions and actions frequently turn out to be wrong – something that is part of what distinguishes them as unique Superheroes.

    Jedi put a more average, flawed, and “human” face on “super” heroism. They are not always right. They don’t always win every battle (although they usually win the wars). They don’t change into a different being (or change their appearance) in order to perform acts of heroism. They are willing to (and do) sacrifice their lives for others. Therefore I would suggest that Jedi faults and mortality injects more risk into their stories and makes them more relatable to readers than seemingly invincible characters. While Superheroes usually have a nemesis, each Jedi has personal demons and character traits that add even more uncertainty to the potential outcomes of their heroic acts.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong but the Jedi are also the only Superheroes who act both individually and as a large, cohesive fighting force not replicated elsewhere. That sets them apart from the Superhero community yet also may be used as a unique strength or a weakness.

    Jedi are proof that Superheroes need not be represented by excessive physical brawn or size. They are unrestricted by age, gender, and race. They are, in fact, unusually good fictional role models not only for heroism but for real life. Readers of Star Wars fiction are called upon first to believe in the Force. By extension they may begin to trust in the flawed humanity of Jedi heroes and at least some will recognize more potential in themselves. That is pretty exceptional leadership for a group of fictional characters. Superheroism? What better example is there?

  • •What makes a superhero?

    A superhero is anyone who helps a cause greater then themselves. Someone who cares about the needs of others, who will take a stand for what is right, and someone who has integrity. For example, someone who sticks up for a friend who is being teased for being themselves! Someone who sticks up for their friend who is being bullied, instead of saving their own skin and turning their back to the incident is a superhero in my eyes. Also, a firefighter who braves that burning building to save a woman and her child, police officers who go out every day with the courage to help someone. Anyone who takes a stand against important issues is a hero, which includes Jedi knights who fight in a galactic civil war.

    •Are Jedi superheroes?

    Absolutely. Maybe they’re not the “superheroes” our brain associates with the word (i.e.- Spider-man, Batman, X-men, people with “heightened knowledge” and “special powers”) but they are, nevertheless, superheroes.

    •Have you ever been told your favorite Star Wars character isn’t a superhero?

    To be honest this is the first time I’ve thought about this….but I do believe culturally that Jedi are classified as superheroes.

    ♥ Lillian Skye, Fangirl in the Force

  • Seeing how the Jedi are not from this galaxy, they cannot be compared to superheroes in this galaxy. Yes they have powers beyond that of normal people, but the extremes and normals in the galaxy far, far away have never been defined. We compare what we see on screen to what we consider normal. And by the reactions from people also shown on-screen make us believe the Jedi possess powers not available to the common person, Yet these same powers are shown in others – most notably the Sith. Because these powers are shown in a variety of species, I do not think of the Jedi as superheores. Yes they do possess “super-species” abilities (i.e. superhuman, superBith, superIridonian, etc.), but again we are comparing to what we know to be human abilities. Perhaps some of these species come naturally to their powers – are Force-sensitive moreso than others. Then that species would not really be “super”. And as for super hero dojng good, the Jedi are RAISED that way. Its almost as if they have no choice in the matter. They are raised in a culture of servitude. Only a few (The Lost 20 and of course Anakin) have actually left the Order once becoming a full Jedi. There really is not much “choice” in the matter. Batman made his choice once his parents were killed…Spiderman after his Uncle was killed, etc. It seems there is always some cathartic episode in the life of a superhero to make them want to do good. Perhaps Luke could be considered by this – since he was motivated by the death of his Uncle and Aunt, but overall he wanted to rescue a Princess moreso and follow Ben (who misled him in a sense) than avenge the death of family.

  • Michelle

    They are, but they would never call themselves that.