One of the many contestable aspects of George Lucas's prequel series was the application of science toward one of Star Wars's most iconic features: The Force. In the original trilogy, the Force is seen as mystical, metaphysical, and set in the realm of spirituality.
However, The Phantom Menace introduced a biological reason for the Force, in the form of midi-chlorians. These are intelligent, microscopic organisms that live within all beings, allowing them to connect with the Force should their midi-chlorian count be high enough. Like most things from this chapter of Star Wars history, they're generally maligned by Star Wars fans.
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In The Phantom Menace, it is discovered that Anakin Skywalker has an extremely high count, leading people to believe he was the "Chosen One," conceived by the Force itself. The premise ran deep into the film, and also Anakin's backstory. So why were they never mentioned in the original trilogy, or last year's The Force Awakens?
A Theory On The Force And Midi-Chlorians
Failing to mention midi-chlorians doesn't make sense from a storytelling perspective. From the biological reasoning of the prequels to the more abstract belief in the original trilogy, what changed? A theory on Reddit by Strykerbrah seems to have found the answer, linking to one of the saga's most beloved characters — Yoda.
The theory claims that, while exiled to Dagobah (the swamp-covered planet Luke visits with R2D2) in The Empire Strikes Back Yoda discovered the true nature of midi-chlorians during deep meditation. The Jedi Master discovered that, in the same way our world is covered in unseeable microbes, midi-chlorians surround the entire Star Wars universe.
So, rather than midi-chlorians being responsible for Force-sensitive people, they are in fact everywhere, and the true Force arrives from the Living Force; the energy of all living things. Once making this discovery, Yoda would've then informed the rest of the Jedi Order that their earlier assumption was wrong, explaining why Luke is never told of their existence.
Is Darth Vader Proof?
There is also another interesting dimension that gives credit to the theory. As mentioned earlier, The Phantom Menace depicts Anakin as the "Chosen One" due to his high midi-chlorian count. But if this was responsible for his power with the Force, his maiming at the hands of Obi-Wan — where he lost most of his body mass — would've drastically reduced his count, and consequently his power.
But this isn't the case; Darth Vader is just as, if not more powerful than Anakin was. It could instead be a case of midi-chlorians being attracted to the Force, so anyone who is Force-sensitive will naturally attract a high number. As Reddit user yumcake points out, the midi-chlorians are an effect of Force-sensitivity, not the cause of it.
While the Star Wars theory could be a way to dig Lucas out of a plot-shaped hole, the idea in principle adds a comforting layer of depth to the reasoning behind both introduction midi-chlorians and overlooking them later on. For those of you breathing a sigh of relief, though, there's nothing to say they won't be referred to in Star Wars 8.
Do you believe this theory on midi-chlorians?