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"Harry Potter is just Star Wars with sucky lightsabers"
— Comedian Aaron Woodall
Before we dive into this, I will admit that I enjoy both franchises, with Star Wars slightly edging out Potter as my favorite. I will also admit that I never thought about the similarities between the two movies and some of the characters. Maybe I just enjoyed them for what they were. However, I recently heard standup comedian Aaron Woodall suggest that Harry Potter is a lame Star Wars rip off and I thought it would be perfect fodder for a discussion. We here at the Feels Good Podcast decided to take a look into the comparisons. While this debate will surely be divisive for fans of both franchises, I will say that the similarities are hard to ignore.
Similarities: Star Wars and Harry Potter
Both movies have a hero who is an orphan boy living with his aunt and uncle for his own safety. The aunt and uncle seem to avoid or lie to every question the boy has about his parents while also not telling him the secret ¨magic¨ that runs down in his family.
Then, out of nowhere, an old bearded stranger who delivered the orphan boy to his aunt and uncle in the first place shows up and teaches the boy the secret magic which was never told to him before.
Our main character is then going to learn even more about the magic from an even older and wiser teacher later on in the movies. This orphan boy is off for new adventures and he meets some new friends and even a girl along the way.
The boy only seems to see the girl as more of a sister, even though Luke actually kisses his sister, while she is trying to figure out her feelings for the protagonist’s best friend, or as Woodall calls him, “the scruffy comic relief.”
They even have a “dark side”, which the hero switched over to. At the end the hero then has to battle the an villain, or the man who killed his parents.
Differences: Star Wars and Harry Potter
Looking at the orphan boy heroes and how each live with their aunt and uncles. Luke at least gets to have blue milk and isn't locked under the stairs. Sure, his uncle wouldn't let him go to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, but at least he wasn't treated badly like Harry was.
Next we look at the "bearded strangers" that show up to take Harry and Luke away and teach them. Not sure how much teaching was going on here by the "bearded strangers". Sure Obi-Wan reveals that Luke has a Jedi background and he needed to be trained much like Harry finds out. One gets shipped off to a school and the other goes on a mission to rescue the people of Alderaan.
Now looking at the villains we can see differences in the plot. Of course we realize the difference here as Vader didn't kill Luke's parents. I don't remember a scene where Voldemort claims to be Harry's father.
Really, a major difference is the main villain of the franchises. In Star Wars, it’s the orphan’s dad, while in Harry Potter it is a former classmate of his parents who turned to the “dark side”.
Harry vs Luke
One similarity is between the universe's main characters. Both young and inexperienced when we first meet them, we see them grow into the hero they are supposed to be. Since they're both strong, a question comes to mind. Who would win in a fight? Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of both characters.
Harry Potter: Wizard
You're a wizard, Harry. Harry Potter is a gifted wizard that also excels in the Defense of the Dark Arts. Being able to speak to snakes is also a skill he possesses, although I don't see that being to help him in this fight. Having fought against Voldemort and various other monsters, Harry has experience in fighting against stronger foes. Also, if this fight takes place while Voldemort is still alive, Harry cannot die as long as a piece of Voldemort's soul is inside of him.
- Weapons: Wand, invisible cloak, and a magical broom
Luke Skywalker: Jedi
Luke is a Jedi like his father before him. Luke is a Master Jedi. In the Order of the Jedi, the great Masters achieved the techniques of telekinesis, mind affect, and alter environment to make up this family of abilities. Add in force speed, stealth, jump, and pull/push and Luke would be a worthy opponent for anyone. The questions I have would be can lightsabers block spells from a wizard's wand? Can a wizard conjure a spell to block a lightsaber attack?
- Weapons: Lightsaber and Force abilities
Vader vs Voldemort
Another similarity is the villain of the franchise. Both a very powerful enemies with very powerful and dark abilities. But who would win if the two were to square off?
Darth Vader: Sith Lord
Darth Vader is quite possibly the greatest villain of all time and definitely the most iconic. Having once been a powerful Jedi before turning to the Dark Side, Vader posses a great knowledge of the Force. Vader has all the strengths of a Jedi while also possessing Dark Force Abilities like the Force Choke. Imagine having to face him and his ominous glowing red lightsaber on the battle field.
- Weapons: Lightsaber and Force/Sith Abilities
Lord Voldemort: Master Wizard
Tom Riddle is a Master Wizard/Fallen Wizard know as Lord Voldemort. Voldemort is a master magician who is also proficient in wandless and non-verbal magic. He can move things using magic much like a Jedi. Also a Master of the Dark Arts, Voldemort is adept in necromancy, Horcrux supported immortality, and elemental magic. Voldemort is an intimidating villain that can has raw power and the ability to use any wand he can get his hands on making him a tough fight for anyone.
- Weapons: Elder Wand and the Dark Arts
Conclusion: Not Really
Being a fan of both franchises, I see some similarities. When I look at Harry, I see some of Luke, as well as Anakin. When I look at Voldemort, I see Vader and The Emperor. In the end, I do not believe that Harry Potter is a direct rip off of Star Wars. Harry had an incredible journey that spanned over eight movies where Luke had three and then was ruined in the Sequel Trilogy. So let's be honest, every movie franchise draws stuff from movies or other inspirations. That doesn't make them direct rip offs. As always if you want to hear more on this topic, head over to Spotify and listen to the Feels Good Podcast!
Is Harry Potter Just a Star Wars Rip Off?
© 2022 Chuck Spadina