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Midichlorians Are Not The Force

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I never understood how this whole misconception of “mIdIcHlOrIaNs rUiN tHe fOrCe’S mYsTiCiSm” thing started, it honestly really just seems to be that everybody just turned their brain off as soon as Qui-Gon started talking. It directly contradicts what’s said in the movie.

https://youtu.be/rU_wrhQrDh4?t=175

“Without the midichlorians… we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force.”

Clear statement that midichlorians and the Force are separate entities. It couldn’t be more clear. And yet everybody whined for a decade. It’s so stupid. It’d be like if when Darth Vader revealed to Luke that he’s his father, people went “Is really he though?”

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I don’t have a huge problem with Midichlorians. They essentially exist to act as a middleman between life forms and the Force, and to explain the differences in Force potential between different people. My issue with them is that adding this new microscopic middleman to explain how people connect to the Force really just passes the question onto something else rather than clarifying anything. Midichlorians are life forms that live inside other life forms, yet only Midichlorians are able to connect to the Force directly without needing an intervening entity to help them. Which raises the question: what is actually special about Midichlorians? If they’re just physical organisms, what sets them apart? What is it about them that makes them unique and justifies their special connection to the Force that no other life forms have? Where before, the connection between people and the Force was left mysterious and sparsely explained, now we know people connect through the Midichlorians, yet the connection between Midichlorians and the Force itself is unexplained.

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Hey we have another one of these threads, neat.

I mean, yeah, they’re not literally the Force. But the Phantom Menace made it so that they are the reason for a Jedi’s power, and that’s what people are getting at.

Maybe Robot Chicken should have said “…and [the source from which Jedi’s power originates]? Well, that’s just microscopic bacteria in your bloodstream called midichlorians.” That might’ve cleared up the confusion, but it also would’ve been wordier.

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The Force and the microbes are separate entities. And yet doing a blood test for them is normal, as if the Force power level is measured in Midochlorian XP. Once again the prequels try something vaguely interesting but muddle it so badly that it never works. Mysticism and biology become blurred making the whole thing reductive and stupid.

Now try and re-write this by saying that they are attracted to a Jedi somehow, maybe that would work. Maybe those who train hardest can absorb more of them and gain mysterious wisdom or something. But claiming that they talk to the Jedi and it never gets mentioned again? Just nonsense.

At the end of the day people like feeling as if they can vicariously live out the adventures of Luke etc. But if you say Luke is only strong with the Force thanks to his high M-cell count because of hereditary traits? Big surprise everyone hates it.

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Mocata said:

Now try and re-write this by saying that they are attracted to a Jedi somehow, maybe that would work. Maybe those who train hardest can absorb more of them and gain mysterious wisdom or something. But claiming that they talk to the Jedi and it never gets mentioned again? Just nonsense.

A lot of people on the internet seem to think that that’s how it was always intended by Lucas, and that’s how midichlorians are in the prequels and also current canon.

Just to say this before someone else says that, that’s not true at all, at least according to Lucas, the prequels, and current canon. Midichlorians are not just innocently attracted to the Force in current canon. Like Mocata says, this would require a rewrite.

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Mocata said:

The Force and the microbes are separate entities. And yet doing a blood test for them is normal, as if the Force power level is measured in Midochlorian XP. Once again the prequels try something vaguely interesting but muddle it so badly that it never works. Mysticism and biology become blurred making the whole thing reductive and stupid.

Now try and re-write this by saying that they are attracted to a Jedi somehow, maybe that would work. Maybe those who train hardest can absorb more of them and gain mysterious wisdom or something. But claiming that they talk to the Jedi and it never gets mentioned again? Just nonsense.

At the end of the day people like feeling as if they can vicariously live out the adventures of Luke etc. But if you say Luke is only strong with the Force thanks to his high M-cell count because of hereditary traits? Big surprise everyone hates it.

Because the more midichlorians someone has, the better they’re connected to the Force, because midichlorians are the bridge that connects things to the Force.

Also Luke literally says “The Force is strong in my family”. In fact there are multiple lines in Return of the Jedi that talk about how the Skywalker bloodline has a hereditary affinity for the Force (I believe Yoda also says this to Luke), so this isn’t a prequel concept.

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Proud creator of Dinosauria: Ascension, Domination, Downfall

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I think it’s pretty clear that each film does damage to the simplicity and mysticism of the original (let’s say Cosmic) Force:

ANH: The Force is a mystical energy field which binds the galaxy together. It is not necessarily tied to bloodlines and in fact is heavily implied to be available to anyone: ‘May the Force be with you.’
ESB: The Dark Side is now called that by the villains unironically, is now tied purely to ‘negative’ emotions, and the Force is strongly implied to be tied to specific bloodlines.
ROTJ: The Force is almost certainly carried by bloodlines, the Dark Side is implied to be alluring to the point of being a brainwashing spell, and the most powerful ability in the galaxy is shooting lightning at someone.

TPM: The Force is scientifically detectable as a marker in a person’s blood.
AOTC: Now even shooting lightning at someone isn’t special. A master of the Force famed for his pacifist view of the Force needs a weapon.
ROTS: The most powerful Force user in the galaxy is reduced to using a weapon and spinning like a beyblade. Becoming a Force Ghost is now an unlockable Jedi perk.

TFA: Inherited Force powers are unambiguously confirmed, doubly so considering Rey’s retcon.
TLJ: The Force is reduced by the villain to a mathematical equation and this is never refuted, only confirmed.
TROS: The most powerful Force user in the galaxy can be defeated by two(2) lightsabers.

Conclusion: Blood is stronger than the Cosmic Force, and some things (lightsabers) are stronger than blood.

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NeverarGreat said:

TFA: Inherited Force powers are unambiguously confirmed, doubly so considering Rey’s retcon.

The TFA novelization also strongly implied that Rey was able to “download” Kylo’s knowledge of the Force during his attempt to mind probe her. Or at least that it “awakened” her Force proficiency.

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G&G-Fan said:

Mocata said:

The Force and the microbes are separate entities. And yet doing a blood test for them is normal, as if the Force power level is measured in Midochlorian XP. Once again the prequels try something vaguely interesting but muddle it so badly that it never works. Mysticism and biology become blurred making the whole thing reductive and stupid.

Now try and re-write this by saying that they are attracted to a Jedi somehow, maybe that would work. Maybe those who train hardest can absorb more of them and gain mysterious wisdom or something. But claiming that they talk to the Jedi and it never gets mentioned again? Just nonsense.

At the end of the day people like feeling as if they can vicariously live out the adventures of Luke etc. But if you say Luke is only strong with the Force thanks to his high M-cell count because of hereditary traits? Big surprise everyone hates it.

Because the more midichlorians someone has, the better they’re connected to the Force, because midichlorians are the bridge that connects things to the Force.

Also Luke literally says “The Force is strong in my family”. In fact there are multiple lines in Return of the Jedi that talk about how the Skywalker bloodline has a hereditary affinity for the Force (I believe Yoda also says this to Luke), so this isn’t a prequel concept.

It’s possible to read the Force being strong in the Skywalker family being more about how destiny swirls around the Skywalkers, yaddah yaddah yaddah, instead of “The spells we and our dad cast are stronger than other people’s spells because of heredity.”

Even if you don’t buy that, destiny swirling around the Skywalkers is a better explanation for why the Skywalkers have hereditary power than midichlorians, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan just being able to feel something along those lines in the Force would’ve been a better way to introduce that in the Phantom Menace.

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NeverarGreat said:

I think it’s pretty clear that each film does damage to the simplicity and mysticism of the original (let’s say Cosmic) Force:

Great post Nev. I’ll try to answer these with what I think of each one.

ANH: The Force is a mystical energy field which binds the galaxy together. It is not necessarily tied to bloodlines and in fact is heavily implied to be available to anyone: ‘May the Force be with you.’

Right.

ESB: The Dark Side is now called that by the villains unironically, is now tied purely to ‘negative’ emotions, and the Force is strongly implied to be tied to specific bloodlines.

The dark side bit is indeed unfortunate, though I don’t see why Empire would imply the Force is tied to specific bloodlines.

ROTJ: The Force is almost certainly carried by bloodlines, the Dark Side is implied to be alluring to the point of being a brainwashing spell, and the most powerful ability in the galaxy is shooting lightning at someone.

Again, I don’t think the Force is carried by bloodlines, but I’ll get more to that later. I really don’t like the dumbed down dark side either, but I don’t think shooting lightning at someone is necessarily the most powerful ability in the Universe. There’s probably so many other abilities we can’t even begin to imagine…

TPM: The Force is scientifically detectable as a marker in a person’s blood.

Okay so here’s where (I think) we disagree (I’ll share my view regardless). The Midichlorians are in all living cells, as stated by Qui-Gon. I think it’s a cheap way Lucas found to try and sell that “Anakin is the most powerful being ever” as best he could, but it doesn’t contradict anything in the post-TESB world. Basically, the midichlorians quantify “talent”. How ‘talented’ you are with the Force. But everyone has them, and anyone can learn the ways of the force with discipline, belief, will and a lot of training.

So I think that the Force isn’t really hereditary because everyone has it - the uniqueness is that a father who’s strong with the Force will probably have a child who’s strong also. Though since PT Jedi can’t have kids, it’s obviously not tied to bloodlines, no?

I like to compare mastering the Force with mastering an instrument. Anyone can do it, some people are much better than others (hence, midichlorians, again, a dumb way to quantify ‘talent’, but not really offensive or contradictory IMO) but all have to work extremely hard to get a good grasp at it regardless of how powerful you are. Or, rather, that’s how I used to see it before the ST.

AOTC: Now even shooting lightning at someone isn’t special. A master of the Force famed for his pacifist view of the Force needs a weapon.

Agreed. I get what Lucas was going for with Yoda in the prequels and I think that as an idea it’s pretty sound, though the execution is always slightly off and Yoda thus feels awkward and out of place most of the time.

ROTS: The most powerful Force user in the galaxy is reduced to using a weapon and spinning like a beyblade. Becoming a Force Ghost is now an unlockable Jedi perk.

Heh.

TFA: Inherited Force powers are unambiguously confirmed, doubly so considering Rey’s retcon.

Hmm, how so? Without Rey’s retcon, I guess you have Kylo? But then again that’s not really contradicting anything or adding anything to the mix, is it? The new thing here in TFA is just how active a role the Force plays as opposed to in the other movies. That’s the only explanation I can come up with to excuse Rey learning so much so quickly, even if it’s not really stated in the movie ever.

TLJ: The Force is reduced by the villain to a mathematical equation and this is never refuted, only confirmed.

I rather liked what they did, honestly. The new meaning of ‘Balance of the Force’. Lucas always said it was about destroying evil but TLJ shows that the world’s not quite that black and white. Regardless, since this isn’t present in any of the other movies it kind of feels awkward now for TLJ to redefine what “Balance of the Force” means. It’s now the odd one out. (Which is good because now I watch it as a standalone coda to the saga, hehe)

TROS: The most powerful Force user in the galaxy can be defeated by two(2) lightsabers.

Oof.

Conclusion: Blood is stronger than the Cosmic Force, and some things (lightsabers) are stronger than blood.

I feel like for the OT, the idea is that love is more powerful than the Force. Luke doing the right thing is what inspires his father to turn. In the PT that’s still it, love is what makes Anakin turn to the dark side. I guess it all coming down to lightsaber fights in the end is a bit too simple and silly but I don’t really think it betrays the nature of the Force, even if it is a dumbed down way to make Yoda face the Emperor.

As for the ST, if they had fully committed to the idea that the “will of the Force” is more than just how the Universe is ‘feeling’ at any given moment and made the Force a more active player, trying to balance itself out, giving powers to Rey and all, it would’ve been interesting. To me it falls flat because they ditched that aspect for the third film (just the one that was supposed to fill in the rest of the gaps!) and just made it a “destroy the dark side” thing once again. Oh well. Now Palpatine’s dead for good, though!

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G&G-Fan said:

It’d be like if when Darth Vader revealed to Luke that he’s his father, people went “Is really he though?”

^Actually , a lot of people did just that , James Earl Jones included . It was part of the cliffhanger in ESB and the three year wait between films was a time of speculation on the question of whether or not he was in fact Luke’s father or if he was lying .

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It is kind of odd how the reveal of Anakin’s midichlorian count comes before we even learn what midichlorians are. Then, after they’re explained in detail by Qui-Gon, they’re not brought up again for the rest of the movie or the next movie. It feels like they went through all this effort to have Qui-Gon explain the concept because George really wanted it in the movie. It seems like one of those ideas that should have been left on the cutting room floor, but George was really attached to the concept and insisted it be spelled out for the audience.

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That’s an interesting idea, and the fact that you can pretty seamlessly edit Midichlorians entirely out of the movie is good evidence for that.

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I still don’t like the idea of midichlorians. From the OT we knew there was a likelihood of Force wielding abilities being inherited, but it was never so explicitly made scientific. There was a mysteriousness about it all.

The closest I can think of right now is Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. If you’re worthy, you can lift it. It implies that even if you’re not worthy now, you can work to improve yourself and eventually become worthy. If they made some sort of biological explanation to it, well it says you’re just plain not worthy and never will be, no matter how much you try.

Not saying everyone should be able to use the Force, but at least don’t make it come down to a blood test. Either leave it mysterious or let it be something very difficult to attain. Worthy traits are often inherited, but are not the be all end all.

I still like the prequels though.

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Here’s some quotes from George in Paul Duncan’s book that give important context:

“This is the cosmology. The Force is the energy, the fuel, and without it everything would fall apart. The Force is a metaphor for God, and God is essentially unknowable. But behind it is another metaphor, which fits so well into the movie that I couldn’t resist it. Midi-Chlorians are the equivalent of Mitochondria in living organisms and photosynthesis in plants - I simply combined them for easier consumption by the viewer. Mitochondria create the chemical energy that turns one cell into two cells.”

“I like to think that there is a unified reality to life and that it exists everywhere in the universe and that it controls things, but you can also control it. That’s why I split it into the Personal Force and the Cosmic Force. The Personal Force is the energy field created by our cells interacting and doing things while we are alive. When we die, we lose our persona and our energy is assimilated into the Cosmic Force. If we have enough Midi-Chlorians in our body, we can have a certain amount of control over our Personal Force and learn how to use it, like the Buddhist practice of being able to walk on hot coals.”

“The Jedi will train you to connect to your Personal Force, and then to connect to the Cosmic Force. You don’t have much power to control the Cosmic Force, but you can make use of it.”

And about the Whills and Anakin’s origins:

“The Whills are a microscopic, single-celled lifeform like amoeba, fungi, and bacteria. There’s something like 100.000 times more Whills than there are Midi-Chlorians, and there’s about 10.000 times more Midi-Chlorians than there are human cells. The only microscopic entities that can go into the human cells are the Midi-Chlorians. They are born in the cells. The Midi-Chlorians provide the energy for human cells to split and create life. The Whills are single-celled animals that feed on the Force. The more of the Force there is, the better off they are. So they have a very intense symbiotic relationship with the Midi-Chlorians and the Midi-Chlorians effectively work for the Whills. It is estimated that we have 100 trillion microbes in our body and we are made up of about 90% bacteria and 10% human cells. So who is in service to whom? I know this is the kind of thing that fans just go berserk over because they say, “We want it to be mysterious and magical”, and “You’re just doing science.” Well, this isn’t science. This is just as mythological as anything else in Star Wars. It sounds more scientific, but it’s a fiction. It’s saying there is a big symbiotic relationship to create life, and to create the Force, but if you look at all the life-forms in the universe, most of them are one-celled organisms. I think of one-celled organisms as an advanced form of life because they’ve been able to travel through the universe. They have their own spaceships - those meteorites that we get every once in a while. They’ve been living on those things for thousands of years, they’ve been frozen, unfrozen, and can survive almost anything. The one-celled organisms have to have a balance. You have to have good ones and bad ones otherwise it would extinguish life. And if they go out of balance, the dark side takes over.”

“The Midi-Chlorians started the birth process in Anakin’s mother. The Whills communicated the command to the midi-chlorians, which activated the DNA that germinated the egg. That’s why Anakin doesn’t have a father. He was in a bizarre and metaphorical way touched by God, but in this case they happened to be one-celled animals.”

As well as an older article from Jonathan Rinzler clarifying that it’s not at all about blood:

https://www.starwars.com/news/so-what-the-heck-are-midi-chlorians

I honestly think one of the most unfortunate things to happen with Star Wars is that we’ll probably never know the full story of these story points George planted to explore further in his Sequels. I honestly would like to hope having the full story laid out between this and the mystery of Sifo-Dyas being resolved that the Prequels would be understood more so at the very least as I think having certain story points and the apparent “plot holes” resolved would truly show the scope of the consequences of our actions and dilemmas faced by a family across generations.

"Pleasure’s fun. It’s great, but you can’t keep it going forever; just accept the fact that it’s here and it’s gone, and maybe then again, it will come back, and you’ll get to do it again. Joy lasts forever. Pleasure is purely self-centered. It’s all about your pleasure: it’s about you. It’s a selfish, self-centered emotion, that is created by a self-centered motive of greed. Joy is compassion. Joy is giving yourself to somebody else, or something else. And it’s a kind of thing that is, in its subtlety and lowness, much more powerful than pleasure. You get hung up on pleasure; you’re doomed. If you pursue joy; you will find everlasting happiness.” - George Lucas