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Star Wars: Who Is Luke Skywalker's Wife? Mara Jade Explained

In the years since Disney rebooted the Star Wars canon and rebranded the Expanded Universe as the no-longer-canon Legends timeline, a lot of characters and storylines from those older arcs have trickled back into the new order. Grand Admiral Thrawn, the high point of the EU for many fans, returned in "Star Wars Rebels" and again in the live-action "Ahsoka" series. The sequel trilogy features modified versions of various Legends arcs, such as Han and Leia's son turning to the dark side and Palpatine resurrecting himself via a combination of cloning and Sith magic. But one beloved character from the Expanded Universe who hasn't been as much as mentioned in the current canon — and likely never will — is Mara Jade, the one-time Emperor's Hand and eventual Jedi Master who marries Luke Skywalker in Legends.

Apart from Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade is probably the most widely known and adored EU character (sorry, Jacen Solo fans). That's largely because she was introduced very early on, making her first appearance alongside Thrawn in Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel "Heir to the Empire." In that story, she appears as a smuggler with a vendetta against Luke Skywalker. The reason? Mara, a Force-sensitive warrior, serves in the role of Emperor's Hand to Palpatine and seeks revenge on Luke for murdering her master.

What followed in the years of Star Wars stories thereafter turned Mara Jade into one of the most important characters in the EU. Novels, comics, and even video games explored her service to the Empire, her romance with and marriage to Luke Skywalker, and her numerous campaigns as a Jedi master that eventually lead to her death.

Mara Jade: Emperor's Hand

Mara Jade's first appearance in "Heir to the Empire" explains that she once served Palpatine, but that part of her history wasn't explored until later in the Expanded Universe. In essence, Mara is raised by Sidious to be a powerful pawn — a Force-sensitive assassin sent to hunt down rebels and treacherous imperials alike. Curiously, her lightsaber during this time is magenta-hued, not red.

Mara's title of Emperor's Hand belonged to multiple agents who served Palpatine, but they were kept oblivious of one another. The closest parallel in the modern canon would be the Imperial Inquisitors, who do know of and work with each other but constantly compete for the approval of Darth Vader.

When Palpatine is killed on the second Death Star, he sends a telepathic Force message to Mara, ordering her to find and kill Luke Skywalker. This command compels her to exact revenge against Luke beyond her own desire, and it isn't until much later in the Star Wars Legends timeline that she manages to fight off the compulsion that Palpatine thrusts upon her.

In the years after the Empire's fall, Mara works intermittently as a smuggler. She also trains at Luke's new Jedi school and, after numerous attempts to avoid her destiny, joins the order properly. The two grow closer and closer through Timothy Zahn's "Spectre of the Past" and "Vision of the Future" novels, which comprise the "Hand of Thrawn" duology, which is set after the original "Heir to the Empire" trilogy. Luke proposes by the end of "Vision of the Future," and they get married in Michael A. Stackpole and Robert Teranishi's "Star Wars: Union" comic.

Mara Jade Skywalker: Jedi Master

Upon marrying Luke and taking his last name, Mara Jade Skywalker becomes a central figure in a number of long-term Legends storylines. She also uses her husband's original blue lightsaber (not to be confused with Luke's green lightsaber, which he eventually gave away), which originally belonged to his father, Anakin. Perhaps most notably, Mara is right by Luke's side during the Yuuzhan Vong War, the primary conflict of the "New Jedi Order" series of novels and comics.

For those unfamiliar, the Yuuzhan Vong is a faction of ruthless alien conquerors who invade the Star Wars galaxy from beyond it. They are isolated from the Force (with a few exceptions) and cannot be seen through it, making them especially dangerous foes for the Jedi. Mara is present at the beginning of the war and plays a key role throughout many of its battles. She also takes on Han and Leia's daughter, Jaina Solo, as her apprentice and instructs her in the ways of the Force. During the Yuuzhan Vong War, Mara becomes pregnant and eventually gives birth to her and Luke's son, whom they name Ben after Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Mara Jade Skywalker eventually sees the galaxy succeed in defeating the Yuuzhan Vong. She goes on to fight in other major conflicts, like the so-called Swarm War. However, her story ends tragically in 40 ABY in the EU novel "Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice," where she's killed by her nephew Jacen Solo (aka Darth Caedus) after discovering that he's turned to the dark side.

Could Mara Jade Skywalker ever return to Star Wars canon?

If you were a fan of the Star Wars novels anywhere from 1991 through to the end of the Expanded Universe, you probably encountered Mara Jade. Her legacy remains a huge part of Star Wars history. However, it seems incredibly unlikely that we'll ever see her again in the current canon. 

For one, We know most of how Luke Skywalker's story goes in the new timeline, and none of it involves following in love with and getting married to a Force-sensitive smuggler. Mara also wouldn't really fit tonally in the current Star Wars Universe. She's very much a product of the '90s — an era when "strong female protagonist" often meant slim waists, big hair, sassy attitudes, and catsuits. That's not to cast aspersions on her many great storylines or her legion of fans. It's just to say that she comes from a very different era of Star Wars and science fiction in general.

Rumors that George Lucas hated Mara Jade are largely unsubstantiated, but it's true that she didn't fit with his post-prequels vision of Star Wars, as she was created at a time before we knew that Jedi were not allowed to form attachments. But, though she'll likely never return, she may yet have some influence on the future of the franchise. After all, it wouldn't be too bad to let more Jedi fall in love again — would it?