There’s a lot of noise on Twitter about how the Sequel Trilogy basically tells the story of Han and Leia failing their manipulated son and then replacing him with Rey, who he gives his life to save. This is especially sad when you take into account the auxiliary materials which delve into Ben’s arguably neglectful childhood and how he never actually killed anyone at the Temple. I can understand why movie-only fans would have little sympathy for Ben, since there’s no indication whatsoever in the movies themselves that he didn’t actually kill all of Luke’s other Padawans, etc. but there’s whole bits in books about him being attacked by nurse droids, and being unable to sleep as a baby because of the nightmares Palpatine inflicted upon him, and so on. I don’t know if this was individual authors trying to make him a more sympathetic character or if it was a deliberate story group effort or what, but it’s there and it’s canon.
Han and Leia failing their son is hardly focused on as a plot point or character development or anything, it’s just kind of an awkward background thing. And there’s lots of little things which compound the sense that he was completely given up on by everyone except Rey. The Jedi never communicate with Ben. Han speaking to him occurs entirely within his own head. TROS does have Leia reaching out to him, but because it’s assembled with unused footage/audio, you don’t really get much of a sense of Leia’s intentions or emotional state in those moments. I’ve seen people read it as Leia deliberately distracting Ben so Rey can stab him (!), which I don’t imagine is what JJ and Terrio intended but is still kind of what happens.
He doesn’t get a funeral or anything, and the next time we see his family they are smiling at their adopted daughter, Rey Skywalker (only alive because of Ben, of course). We don’t even get a shot of Rey crying for him - this is the same Rey who cries for a very-much-alive Finn in TFA and also all the time in TLJ. Imagine if ROTJ didn’t have Luke’s emotional final conversation with his father, or the funeral pyre scene, or Anakin’s ghost. It would feel far hollower. And Vader was magnitudes more evil than Kylo, for a much longer time, and wasn’t sympathetic whatsoever in the OT until Luke suddenly mentions the ‘good in him’ when he visits Dagobah in ROTJ.
Basically I’m asking: what can we do to help lessen the sense of no one caring about Ben? Having him survive solves a lot of these problems since there’s no need for anyone to mourn and the happy ending scene can feel less uncomfortable. It’s a bigger deviation from canon than I usually like to have in the edits I watch though. If I had made the film, I’d’ve had him perform his self-sacrifice since it rhymes with Anakin’s attempts to save Padme, but then have him be revived by Leia and the other force ghosts. We can’t do that easily though since there’s no footage of him getting back up so it’d be awkward to cut around and imply.
I thought about having the force ghosts speak to him. Luke and Leia obviously have “Ben” lines; SLJ, Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor have large enough filmographies that we can probably dig up a fitting ‘Ben’ somewhere (for Obi Wan, JAT almost definitely says it in TCW if all else fails). My main concern with this is that it’s a rehash of the scene we just saw with Rey being spoken to by force ghosts, but I suppose it makes sense they’d still be paying attention haha.
Any other ideas for making TROS slightly more sympathetic to Ben? Or am I off my rocker for wanting a more hopeful and emotionally satisfying ending for the guy who killed Han Solo and Lor San Tekka and a bunch of members of the Resistance? I suppose I find it difficult to really judge Ben as much more evil than our heroes - TROS shows us that Finn isn’t the only reluctant stormtrooper, and that actually there are lots because they’re all taken in as children and brainwashed, and yet Rey, Poe and Finn continue to shoot them in vast numbers without any sign of empathy, so I don’t judge Star Wars characters by real life morality.