Every few weeks we highlight one of the many characters from the Star Wars universe to talk about, and detail their history. This month, we’ve elected to talk about Mara Jade, The Emperor’s Hand and eventual wife of Luke Skywalker, a character from the Extended Universe, not present in any of the movies.
Mara Jade was born seventeen years before the battle of Yavin, during the Emperor’s initial reign. It was a time of struggle in the galaxy, and the few Jedi remnants were fighting to go into hiding or against the Empire. Mara was taken from her family due to her force attunement – she would have likely been taken by the Jedi council had it not been destroyed – and put through an intensive training regiment to develop her physical, mental, and force skills.
At the age of fourteen she became the Emperor’s Hand, one of his personal assassins. She was first tasked to uncover information about Jedi that had gone into hiding, though she soon switches to finding more about the rebel alliance. During the events of the third movie, Mara Jade was ordered by Palpatine to disguise herself as a dancing girl in an attempt to kill Luke Skywalker. She was kept from boarding the barge Jabba took to the sarlacc pit by his slave overseer, who believed she meant to kill Jabba.
With the Emperor dead and the Death Star destroyed at the end of Episode VI, Mara Jade’s tenure as the Emperor’s Hand ended. Moments before his death, the Emperor handed her her final mission: Kill Luke Skywalker. With the Emperor dead, however, her resources had dried up. She was consumed with hatred for Skywalker thanks to the Emperor’s presence in her mind.
She finally ran into Skywalker while working for a smuggling operation run by Talon Karrde. She at first intended to kill him, but was forbidden by Karrde. Soon after, Mara was attacked by a bounty hunter and left drifting, quickly discovered by Skywalker, who saved her from death by exposure. She was helped by Skywalker, who removed Palpatine’s presence from her mind. She eventually rebuked the dark side and joined the Jedi, becoming a padawan.
During this time – and, of course, numerous dangerous adventures – her relationship with Luke grew until the two were romantically attached. The days leading up to the wedding (in grand Star Wars fashion) were fraught with danger, including: a bar fight, angry formal imperial guardsmen, and a separate Imperial plot that included a Moff and Stormtroopers.
It was during the Yuuzhan Vong war that Mara Jade Skywalker became a Jedi Master, a time that also saw her infected with comb spores, a deadly Yuuzhan Vong poison that killed everyone it infected save her, thanks to her connection with the force. However, she was severely weakened, culminating in a collapse into unconsciousness during a critical battle. Afterward, and with care, she experienced a gradual return to health. Some time later, after a period of good health, Mara detected a change in her body’s chemistry. Thinking her disease was returning, she probed her body with the force. Instead she discovered, to her surprise, that she was pregnant.
The child was named Ben, after Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Tatooine alias. After the end of the war, Mara Jade remained an important operative for the New Republic. In the years that followed, Mara fought enemies new and old, and helped her husband keep the growing new Jedi council alive. When their nephew Jacen Solo fell to the dark side and became Darth Caedus, Mara believed him too dangerous to leave alive, engaging him on the planet Kavan. After a lengthy battle in the sewers he killed her with a poison dart. Her final words to him were that she found him more vile and more cruel than even Emperor Palpatine.
Behind the Scenes:
Mara Jade first debuted in Timothy Zahn’s Expanded Universe book Heir to the Empire. She has become a very popular character, even ranking 20th in a character poll, the highest-ranking character that wasn’t in a movie. She was one of the first Expanded Universe characters to receive an action figure. Mara Jade has been portrayed by several models, most often by Shannon McRandle, who first portrayed her in the Star Wars customizable card game.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Mara Jade character corner. Come back often for more fun fan information!