It's odd that I only just recently realized the similarities between the two characters when I was trying to describe the allure of the Harry Potter mythos to a Star Wars loving friend of mine. I actually had to laugh at how many of the more basic details of their lives that intersect.
When it comes right down to it, there really is no reason why a person who is a fan of one isn’t a fan of the other. Both are stories of a young man receiving the hero’s call to action a la Joseph Campbell‘s Hero with a Thousand Faces. Sure, there are millions of heroic stories featuring common man characters taking on the mantle of hero told throughout the ages, but the stories of these guys are disturbingly alike in a number of ways. There might even be more, but these are the top 10 most glaring similarities between the next generation of Jedi Knights and the Boy Who Lived.
- 10 Ways that Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker Are Similar
- #1 – Both have an old bearded wizard for a mentor
- #2 – Both were raised by their aunt and uncle
- #3 – Both are given dueling weapons to channel their innate connection to a mystical power
- #4 – Both are adept at flying
- #5 – Both have an non-human sidekick that acts as a messenger
- #6 – Both have a helmet-headed, black-cloaked arch enemy
- #7 – Both have a big, furry, loveable and loyal friend
- #8 – The hero gets the girl, right? Nope. The best friend does.
- #9 – Both befriended short, big eared liars that eventually became powerful allies
- #10 – John Williams composed the core musical theme for each hero’s journey
10 Ways that Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker Are Similar
#1 – Both have an old bearded wizard for a mentor
This one is the most obvious. You could say the same thing about Frodo in Lord of the Rings. Everybody’s got a wizard these days. The cloak and the beard are requirements in elderly mentors, it seems. They both dispense wisdom and they both seem to have their own story that, at least until the Star Wars prequels were released, remained shrouded in mystery. Either way, without their guidance, there is no way either boy’s coming-of-age story would have gotten off the ground.
#2 – Both were raised by their aunt and uncle
And both sets of aunts and uncles did their best to keep the boys’ origin and true natures hidden from them. The Dursleys were a bit more harsh, doing what they could to keep Harry hidden away from everything as they treated him like dirt. Owen and Beru Lars just dismissed Luke’s questions and desire to go off planet to join the academy, fearing for his life should he ever be allowed to leave. Of course, the nicer pair got the short end of the stick, getting burned to death by stormtroopers while the Dursleys just got to move away to spread their misery elsewhere.
#3 – Both are given dueling weapons to channel their innate connection to a mystical power
Whenever I see Harry dueling with Voldemort, I can’t help but see Luke clashing lightsabers with Vader. But beyond the visual similarities, any hero’s quest requires a powerful weapon that they seem destined to wield. Sure, Luke inherited his from his father instead of building one like most Jedi, but it’s that connection to another person that also is reflected in Harry Potter. Both Harry and Voldemort’s wands contain the same substance at their magical core: a feather from the same phoenix. Either way, both Luke and Harry are adept at handling their weapons, so much so that they go on to teach others in their use. And do I have to explain how the Force = Magic in at least the purest elemental sense?
#4 – Both are adept at flying
As confusing as the wizarding world was to Harry when he first arrived at Hogwarts, one thing he took to immediately was flying a broom. Luke grew up in the Tattooine desert building, customizing, and piloting his own craft, a skill he seems to have inherited from his father. And when it comes to evading a dragon or blowing up a space station, their skills in the pilot seat make both heroes a force to be reckoned with.
#5 – Both have an non-human sidekick that acts as a messenger
Where would Luke be if R2-D2 had not shown up to deliver that message from Princess Leia to his doorstep (mistakenly)? And how about Harry’s owl Hedwig? His job is to deliver messages. It’s what he does. And while both don’t speak a lick of English (or Aurebesh in the galaxy far, far away), their “masters” easily understand them. And while both have a strong will of their own, both are counted as Luke and Harry’s most trusted and loyal confidants when things get rough.
#6 – Both have a helmet-headed, black-cloaked arch enemy
Yes, yes, I know you’re saying, “Voldemort is Harry’s true arch enemy”, and you’d be right. Voldy is right up there in the evil pantheon with Vader, but it’s Snape that Harry saw as his day to day foe while at Hogwarts. But I’m mainly giving it to Snape because his hair seems pretty much styled after Vader’s helmet (so shiny!). Okay, honestly, it’s because I believe the similarity between the two goes more than skin deep. Without spoiling anything, when you look at their histories, both of these men were motivated to make the choices they made, pitting them against our heroes, from a feeling they believed to be love. Coupled with some regret, shame, and a dash of selfish ambition (some more than others) and you’ve got the cocktail for a tragic “villain” if you ever saw one.
#7 – Both have a big, furry, loveable and loyal friend
Yeah, you know Hagrid is Chewie and Chewie is Hagrid. To the naked eye, some might see a gruff, lumbering instrument of violence. But once you get to know them, they’re as cuddly as a puppy dog. But don’t you dare try to hurt our hero or his friends, because that puppy has teeth and will use them to defend and protect those he cares for. Also, they both have crossbows.
#8 – The hero gets the girl, right? Nope. The best friend does.
From the start of each saga, you’d assume that our hero would eventually hook up with the lead female in the story. Not in the case of Luke and Harry. For Luke, it was for the best (Leia being his sister and all), but it doesn’t mean there wasn’t an attraction there and that they didn’t try to make it work… at least at first. For Harry, it seemed that Hermione was like a sister to him from the start and he had the good sense to keep it that away. Some accused Harry and Hermione of snogging on the downlow, but even when they didn’t understand it themselves, it was clear that Hermione and Ron were meant to be together. Thankfully, in both cases, the hero was too wrapped up in his quest to take time for the first available hottie that crossed his path. Of course, the love of sisters remains as Harry did end up with SOMEone’s red-headed sibling while Luke ended up with his dad’s old boss’s assistant, also a redhead.
#9 – Both befriended short, big eared liars that eventually became powerful allies
Yoda pretended to be someone else when Luke first showed upon Dagobah. Dobby wouldn’t tell Harry who he worked for or why he was doing everything in his power to keep him from returning to Hogwarts. Of course, once the veil of secrecy was broken for each, they were revealed to be much more powerful than their diminutive statures would imply. Yoda was a Jedi Master supreme and Dobby, an enslaved house elf, had the power to disarm even the most powerful wizards once he was set free and got a will of his own. Both Luke and Harry weren’t their biggest fans at first, but once they got to know them, they were instrumental in our heroes’ lives.
#10 – John Williams composed the core musical theme for each hero’s journey
Sure, this isn’t directly an aspect of our heroes’ character or universe, but you can’t deny this man’s influence on the legacy of these two sagas. Williams has a knack for creating memorable musical queues that instantly trigger images of our heroes in our minds, including Indiana Jones and Superman. Both Luke’s and Harry’s themes are immediately identifiable by fans, whether they be über or casual and allows us to recall their adventures in our minds’ eyes with just a few sweeping notes.
So that’s it. Harry’s journey is coming to an end in theaters this weekend, joining Luke in the realm of great cinematic heroes with 11 films between them. Can you think of any other similarities between these two epic heroes?