How similar is Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the Harry Potter saga? Quite a bit, and allow me to elaborate. This post assumes you have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens and you have either read the JK Rowling books or have seen all the Harry Potter films.
Spoilers will be everywhere in this post. Please read at your own risk.
Kylo Ren is Severus Snape.
Both had issues with his parents. Both had magical mothers (Leia with the Force, Snape’s mother was a witch.) Both had non magical fathers (Han did not have the Force; Snape’s father was a muggle.) Both expressed disappointment with their fathers. Both idolized a dark supreme being: Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort.) They had a fondness for dressing in black, including a cape. They each had a weapon: Kylo has a light saber, Snape a wand. Kylo and Snape resemble each other: long stringy dark hair, long nose, tall and imposing, usually bitter mood. They each have the power to read minds: Kylo uses the Force, Snape uses Legilimency. They feel the need to teach or try to: Kylo tells Rey she can be his student, Harry is Snape’s student at Hogwarts. They both despise their students: Kylo despises Rey, Snape despises Harry.
Poe, Finn and Rey are the new Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Two men and a woman trio seem to be a great dynamic for movie audiences. Rey and Hermione match as the strong female character each having learned of her special power. Both women are smart and self sufficient. Hermione can also be matched with Leia because Hermione falls in love with one of the trio (Ron) much like Leia and Han. Hermione treats Harry as a brother which mirrors Leia’s sibling Luke. Hermione even kisses Harry just like Leia does with Luke.
Poe and Finn mirror the Harry and Ron friendship. So far, the new Star Wars is too new for us to appreciate a strong bond between these two men. We assume they will be friends. But we can safely compare Luke and Han to Harry and Ron. Luke Skywalker is the hero like Harry Potter. Han Solo is the strong supportive friend just like Ron Weasley.
Finn realizes a skill he does not know he has, the power of the Force, much like Harry finds out he’s a wizard at young age. Finn is the new Luke. We can make more comparisons between Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter since we know more about Luke.
Luke is trained to be a Jedi. Harry is trained to be a wizard. Luke attends Jedi training at a remote location. Harry attends Hogwarts which is also in a remote location. Luke learns from a wise old Jedi master, Yoda. Harry is mentored by a wise old wizard, Dumbledore.
It is too easy to make Poe the new Han. They are skilled pilots. They have a cool swagger. They both are engaging characters. None of these characteristics describes Ron Weasley. However the strongest evidence Poe and Han match Ron is the way they all embrace danger and are willing to engage in the fight of good triumphing over evil.
R2-D2 is Hedwig.
R2-D2 is Luke’s non human companion who serves him loyally much like Hedwig is to Harry Potter. R2-D2 is loveable. Hedwig although not as loveable is still much respected and was very much mourned. Both Luke and Harry rely heavily on them to see them through their journeys.
Chewbacca is Hagrid.
Large, loud but caring and kind, both characters are the strong protectors to Han and Harry. Chewbacca mourned over Han’s death as did Hagrid sobbed carrying ‘dead’ Harry back to Hogwarts.
Darth Vader is Voldemort.
Despite the black attire, both characters have much in common. They are the bad guys, the evil that tries to destroy Luke and Harry. Vader is also called Lord Vader which is very similar to Lord Voldemort (who is also called the Dark Lord.) Both have their weapons of destruction, the light saber and the wand. Both were orphaned. Both have a special power unmatched by most except Luke and Harry. Vader and Voldemort marked their targets, Vader by cutting off Luke’s hand and Voldemort inflicting a lightening bolt scar upon Harry (and also making him a horcrux.) Both believe strongly in the power of the dark side. Vader is convinced the dark side holds the power of invincibility much like Voldemort’s belief that his dark wizardry is the key to life everlasting. Both seek to destroy that one who who would make him vulnerable. Both Vader and Voldemort meet similar fates as their stories are told. They are both vanquished indirectly by the one person who they feared the most. Vader sacrifices himself by destroying the Emperor. Voldemort dies in a duel with Harry. Harry uses his expelliarmus disarming charm which removes Voldemort’s wand. It is the Elder wand that puts an end to Voldemort. In both scenarios the hero refuses to kill his arch enemy.
Alan Rickman, the actor who portrayed Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films tragically died at the young age of 69. Mr. Rickman will always be Snape to us Potter fans. He embodied the soul of the character having us all believe Snape to be a villain when the truth was far more complex. Only Alan Rickman had to ability to make Snape the hero he truly was. His loss feels so palpable. I will miss his voice, his penetrating stare, his wit. However it will be his films that will keep his memory alive. Always.