A new Star Wars book reveals that Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) modified his cybernetic hand sometime after the events of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. The same film depicts Anakin losing his forearm during a confrontation with the nefarious Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), paralleling the iconic moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader severs Luke Skywalker’s hand (Mark Hamill). Neither Attack of the Clones nor its sequel, Revenge of the Sith, dedicate much screen time to Anakin’s first prosthetic limb, despite its symbolic significance as the character’s first steps toward becoming, in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Alec Guiness) words, “more machine now than man.”
Both Clones and Sith also overlook a key aspect of Anakin’s characterization established in the first prequel film, The Phantom Menace, which depicts young Anakin as a naturally gifted mechanic. The Phantom Menace spends a significant amount of time showing Anakin tinkering away at machinery, even going as far as retroactively revealing Anakin to be C-3PO’s creator. There are brief allusions to this trait in the latter two films, though both are more focused on portraying Anakin’s fall rather than fleshing out his interests.
A recently revealed excerpt on StarWars.com from E.K. Johnston’s upcoming novel, Star Wars: Queen’s Hope, shows that this aspect of Anakin’s personality never went away. According to the book, Anakin initially found his prosthetic arm to be unwieldy. The young Jedi apparently “had a list of modifications he was going to make when he got back to […] the [Jedi] Temple.” Check out the full excerpt below:
The metal hand was some-thing he was still adapting to—a protuberance, not yet a true prosthetic. Medically, everything was fine, and from an engineering standpoint, the hand was perfect. Anakin could feel the difference, though, more than the strange sensations that sometimes emanated from knuckles and joints that were no longer there. He already had a list of modifications he was going to make when he got back to the workroom at the Temple. The hand was his, and he was going to make sure it was exactly what he wanted.
The animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars also touched on Anakin’s skills as a mechanic as well. This aspect of the character unfortunately became diluted in the complex overarching narrative of the prequel trilogy itself. Luckily, Star Wars authors have been quick to pick up on underdeveloped threads from the films, expanding on them to meaningful extents in the extended canon.
Star Wars’ vast library of canon novels has done an immense job of fleshing out gaps in the mainline saga films. However, some criticize this approach to storytelling, saying that movies should be able to stand on their own without tertiary material to fill in the gaps. There are indeed instances when offloading expository information onto books and comics can be detrimental – for example, the highly maligned return of Emperor Palpatine in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. However, smaller lore nuggets can be fun ways to flesh out character motivations and personalities that were left unexplored in the films. Additional tidbits regarding Anakin’s prosthetic hand won’t be upending Star Wars continuity any time soon.