Droids Should Be Jedi, Too

Droids Should Be Jedi, Too
Astro Boy with a lightsaber? Don't mind if I do! (Screenshot: Disney+)

The droids of Star Wars have always been weird. While many are subservient robots that do nothing but perform their programmed functions, some, like R2-D2 and Solo’s L3-37, clearly have free will. They, along with many other droids including C-3PO and BB-8, also have emotions — they feel fear, loss, happiness, and more. But, being inorganic, they’ve never been able to connect to the Force — until now.

The Star Wars: Visions shorts, created by a variety of top-tier anime studios, offer new, err, visions of the franchise that aren’t anchored to the Skywalker Saga and its adjacent movies and TV series. As such, they’re non-canonical, which is kind of a bummer because they contain a multitude of fresh perspectives and creative ideas that the Star Wars galaxy sorely needs. But “T0-B1,” created by the Science SARU animation studio, contains what is arguably the anthology’s most fascinating concept: that a droid can become a Jedi.

The canon has flirted with the idea before with Revenge of the Sith’s General Grievous, but he couldn’t use the Force, he just had a robot body that was really good at swinging four lightsabers around. They have been living characters from the comics who had cybernetic implants that gave them Force-like powers. And the upcoming Star Wars: Hunters arena game includes a droid who believes he’s a Jedi, but isn’t. Only in the infamous Star Wars: Tales comic containing “Skippy the Jedi Droid” — a brief story by Peter David so goofy it was non-canonical even in the old Expanded Universe — has a droid used the Force.

Until “To-B1,” that is. The droid (an homage to the beloved and iconic Japanese robot hero Astro Boy) wants to become a Jedi, and his creator Mitaka leads him to believe a kyber crystal is located somewhere on their planet, the essential part of a lightsaber creates its blade. Eventually, T0-B1 discovers it inside himself, uses the Force to telekinetically assemble his lightsaber, is sensed by a Sith Inquisitor, receives a knighting from the Force ghost of Mitaka, and defeats the Inquisitor in an incredibly animated duel.

There is something so authentically, inherently Star Wars about the idea of a droid transcending itself to form a connection with a Force that it needs to become part of the canon. The Jedi, the Rebellion, and the New Republic have been symbolised by their inclusiveness, while evil has not. R2-D2, C-3PO, BB-8, Rogue One’s K-2SO, and especially L3-37 are proof that whether or not they have blood coursing through their veins, they’re as fully realised as the organic characters that they care about, and care about them. Star Wars droids can learn and evolve and develop relationships just like flesh-and-blood sentient beings. They’re alive — inorganic — but alive. Why shouldn’t they also be able to connect with the living Force?

There’s only one real reason, and it’s a bad one: midichlorians. If midichlorians are the true measure of a person’s connection to the Force, and the Force isn’t mystical but just about the quantity of a certain germ flowing through their veins, then droids can’t be Jedi. But midichlorians, while technically canon, are part of the canon that desperately need to be retconned, and Lucasfilm knows it.

The Disney era of movies has covertly shoved everything in the prequel trilogy under the rug, while the entire modern franchise has focused on the Force as being much more than just about Jedi and Sith — it’s a spirituality that means different things to different people, societies, and planets.