Why J.J. Abrams Believes The Force Is More Inclusive Than Midi-Chlorians And Bloodlines

Over the weekend I talked exclusively to J.J. Abrams about his new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That whole conversation will be posted at a later time, but I thought I'd share one answer that I personally found very interesting.

Its no secret that George Lucas based a lot of the Star Wars saga on Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, and over the past four decades we've seen a lot of films employing the "Chosen One" trope. The Star Wars prequels took the "Chosen One" myth to an even more specific level because Force/Jedi-potential was linked to having a high midi-chlorian count. A lot of Star Wars fans didn't like the pseudo-scientific explanation, and especially the idea of having to be born with a high midi-chlorian count or from a certain bloodline to harness the powers of the Force.

And now that a new trilogy of Star Wars films is coming out, with the Force having awakened, I wondered if the ideology behind this might have evolved. I asked J.J. Abrams: Does The Force Awakens explore the possibility that anyone can have the power? His answer, after the jump.

Midi-chlorians Counts

One reason I asked this question is even though the Saga films will continue to follow the Skywalker bloodline in this space war, we still have not been told which, if any, of the new characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are of that bloodline. And the person holding the blue lightsaber in the trailers has even hinted that we won't find out Finn or Daisy's heritages in this film. So is it possible that some of these new characters could have Force powers and not be of Skywalker descent?

When I was a little kid, I loved the idea that I could be a Jedi in this galaxy. Yet the later prequels dispelled that notion making the club much more exclusive and... mostly random. So what does the future of the Star Wars saga bring in respect toward the Force? I asked JJ Abrams "Does The Force Awakens explore the possibility that anyone can have the power?" Here is the JJ Abrams midi-chlorians response:

I will just say this: I would never presume to question anything George Lucas says is canon in Star Wars. And our job was not to negate or undo. A lot of people who are critics of our Star Trek, and I respect all of them, said we destroyed what they loved and negated everything. And we worked hard to clarify that we are not saying that our Star Trek over-rides a thing of the original Star Trek — it was a parallel timeline. I never wanted to negate canon that fans held so dear. And because I love Star Wars and have for too many years... ... And having said all that and meaning it — I don't want to presume over-write or change what George says the rules are.

I'm not someone who quite understands the science of the Force. To me Star Wars was never about science fiction — it was a spiritual story. And it was more of a fairytale in that regard. For me when I heard Obi-Wan say that the Force surrounds us and binds us all together, there was no judgement about who you were. This was something that we could all access. Being strong with the force didn't mean something scientific, it meant something spiritual. It meant someone who could believe, someone who could reach down to the depths of your feelings and follow this primal energy that was flowing through all of us. I mean, thats what was said in that first film!

And there I am sitting in the theater at almost 11 years old and that was a powerful notion. And I think this is what your point was, we would like to believe that when shit gets serious, that you could harness that Force I was told surrounds not just some of us but every living thing. And so, I really feel like the assumption that any character needs to have inherited a certain number of midi-chlorians or needs to be part of a bloodline, it's not that I don't believe that as part of the canon, I'm just saying that at 11 years old, that wasn't where my heart was. And so I respect and adhere to the canon but I also say that the Force has always seemed to me to be more inclusive and stronger than that.

Of course, J.J. Abrams is being very political and not very definitive in his answer.  He insists that he doesn't want to over-write or change what has come from Lucas' films, but maybe he doesn't really have to. I've always argued that maybe midi-chlorians are a scientifically readable visualization of the Force in someone, but that doesn't necessarily mean that someone with a low count can't become more one with the Force and increase that count over time. That's something that isn't really explained in the prequels. And yes, while being the offspring of a practicing Jedi/Sith might give you a higher count, could other things, like maybe growing up with a Jedi Force Tree in your backyard? (Okay, probably unlikely.) But I don't think JJ Abrams needs to over-write anything to accomplish this if he were to in The Force Awakens.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.