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Editorial

The Blockchain Awakens: Imagining cryptocurrencies as Star Wars characters

Star Wars is filled to the brim with daring heroes and sinister villains – we explore which cryptocurrencies might best fit a new role in a galaxy far, far away.

Written by Bryan Smith Published on

When Star Wars (today retroactively titled A New Hope) first premiered in 1977, the emergence of what would become one of the most celebrated science fiction franchises of all time reignited not only a passion for fantasy, adventure, and mysticism, but further lead revolutions in both sound design, practical effects, and, more broadly speaking, the cultural adoption of film.

The paradigm shift Star Wars brought with it to cinema isn’t difficult to compare with the impact of cryptocurrencies on modern monetary systems. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology propose a shift in thinking that empowers a new generation of personal finance and peer-to-peer trade.

Like Star Wars, cryptocurrency hinges on an intersection where technology meets humanity, culture, and belief – and it’s not without a wry smile that we admit that like the story of a galaxy far, far away, the cryptocurrency world has brought with it its own slate of characters peppered with personas ranging from the heroic, the ominous, and at times, the plain silly.

Warning: If you haven’t watched the Star Wars saga, there may be some key spoilers in the content below.

Bitcoin: R2-D2

Though R2-D2 may be far from the most significant character in the Star Wars saga, everybody’s favorite trashcan-on-legs droid has witnessed the entirety of eight (and soon to be nine) feature films that comprise the core Star Wars story. There’s the argument to be made that Star Wars could be a story of R2-D2’s telling, given the plucky droid’s presence throughout the saga, his interaction with main characters, and his unwavering ability to save the day throughout many key moments in film.

Arriving on screen as the creation of an unknown creator, R2 succeeds in driving Star Wars’ plot forward – whether it be through acts as grand as saving starships or as simple as unlocking doors.

Bitcoin‘s emergence as the first decentralized, peer-to-peer money represents the genesis from which thousands of other cryptocurrencies have leaped forward – enabling a new belief in currency through reliance on cryptography, privacy, and technical soundness. Like R2-D2, had Bitcoin not existed, there may be no Star Wars story – or cryptocurrency ecosystem – to talk about.

Star Wars

Bitcoin Cash: C3-PO

R2-D2 needed a plucky companion with talents he didn’t possess, and George Lucas coupled the intrepid droid with C3-PO; the erstwhile protocol droid with talents in translation, functional modification, and incessant bickering with his partner.

Having been built by Anakin Skywalker, C3-PO serves the Star Wars saga as both a source of humor and context – extrapolating different dimensions to key plot scenes and bridging characters and audiences together.

That’s not to say we’re claiming that Roger Ver might be Anakin Skywalker in the world of cryptocurrency, but every hero needs a villain…

Bitcoin Cash, as the foremost hard fork to emerge from Bitcoin Core, is the scion of both love and scorn. Executing an alternate scaling path to the approach championed by Bitcoin Core, Bitcoin Cash brings with it inter-operability, several notable use cases, and a refreshing reminder that sometimes cryptocurrency developers just don’t have all the answers – something that C3-PO has proved especially good at in the Star Wars saga.

Ethereum: Darth Vader

Anakin Skywalker’s story in Star Wars is one that marks hope, a fall from grace, and eventual redemption as the Chosen One; a title which several cryptocurrency investors tout when referring to the Ethereum platform.

Like Anakin Skywalker (and his darker half, Darth Vader), the concept of Ethereum has enabled a wider revolution in blockchain platforms that could feasibly intersect with everyday life in many ways. Just as Anakin Skywalker was prophesized to defeat the Sith and bring balance to the Force, so to might Ethereum be the lynchpin that decentralizes applications and, more broadly, the web.

Though not explicitly a moral debate, the character’s transition from man to machine brings with it interesting parallels to Ethereum’s planned change from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake mechanics.

XRP: Emperor Palpatine

Courting foundations on Julius Caesar and other dictators, Star Wars’ Emperor Palpatine (in the prequels, Darth Sidious) represents one of film’s best-loved (and most-hated) machiavellian masterminds, whose scheme underpins both a galaxy-wide war and later a galaxy-wide despotic regime.

Ripple’s XRP is both loved and hated for similar reasons; rolling together the best and most applicable aspects of blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency ecosystem, yet meeting modern banking in a way that many cryptocurrency die-hards find abhorrent.

Palpatine’s ability to both play the likes of the Jedi, Republic, and later the Empire reflect just some of XRP’s utility and usability – where its speed and efficiency has rapidly found a home in several banking use-cases to the furor (and in some cases, admiration) of cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

EOS: Luke Skywalker

The principal hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker is the son of Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) – and the dynamic between the two is more than slightly reminiscent of that between Ethereum and EOS.

Similar in nature to Ethereum, EOS is a platform for decentralized applications that provides services like user authentication, server hosting, and cloud storage. 

If Star Wars’ original trilogy is the story of sons transcending their fathers, EOS’ relationship with Ethereum bears a close mirror – in perhaps the duo’s most remarkable difference, EOS already functions through proof-of-stake rather than through proof-of-work mechanics.

Like Luke Skywalker, EOS has quickly become a favorite among cryptocurrency investors – propelling the platform’s market cap to well over $15 billion USD.

Litecoin: Rey

Arriving on scene as a lovable scavenger with prodigious talents, Rey takes the role of the principal protagonist of the Star Wars sequel trilogy – rounding together Disney’s new take on the ethos of the original Star Wars trilogy and the technical vision of its prequels.

Litecoin launched and gained a loyal fanbase given its technical improvements over the Bitcoin Core network as well as its ability to maintain steadfast support and values despite tumultuous markets.

Rey’s quick ascension as the newest (and last?) Jedi closely mirrors Litecoin’s journey to becoming a fan-favourite cryptocurrency – with many touting the speed, efficiency, and integrity of ‘the silver to Bitcoin’s gold’ as leading reasons as to why the cryptocurrency may see many new adoption cases in the near future.

Dash: Princess Leia

The secret daughter of Anakin Skywalker and the adoptive daughter of royalty, Princess Leia continues to inspire a generation of strong female leads in cinema – a factor not dissimilar to Dash‘s debut in the cryptocurrency market space.

As a young senator and later leader of the Rebellion and Resistance, Leia counsels support from both the official, the vulnerable, and the brave at once – championing virtues of democracy and freedom.

Dash’s presence on the market – and its direction under the Dash Foundation – has seen the digital currency integrated as a solution for traders and investors alike in emerging markets under the direction of authoritative governments, such as Zimbabwe.

Dash’s employ of its Private Send feature carves a similar profile to the early double-life led by Leia as both a senator and leader of the Rebellion, while its use of masternodes derives strong support form its community in a manner not dissimilar to Leia’s command of the Resistance in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

NEO: Kylo Ren

If Ethereum were Darth Vader, it’d make sense that NEO took on the role of Kylo Ren – a fellow practitioner of the dark arts, aiming to emulate its forbear, all the while under the direction of a secretive and authoritative government.

Like Kylo Ren, NEO is a newer figure that has managed to quickly develop a dedicated following. The blockchain platform, like Ethereum, serves to create a scalable network of decentralized applications, and as per Ethereum’s aspirations functions through proof-of-stake mechanics.

Though NEO might well lack Kylo Ren’s ferocity and volatile temper, the cryptocurrency has succeeded in quickly garnering acclaim as a favorable avenue for investors in a fashion that quietly resembles Kylo Ren’s reception with the Star Wars fanbase.

Zcash: Boba Fett

The last word in icy coolness, Boba Fett inspired a generation of Star Wars fans following his debut in The Empire Strikes Back. Despite facing a quick end at the hands (or tentacles?) of the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi, the character went on to meet an expanded telling in the saga’s prequel trilogy.

While Zcash may not be headed for a similar pit any time soon, the appeal of the privacy-focused cryptocurrency has echoed much of Boba Fett’s initial appeal – anonymity and mystery.

Leveraging zero-knowledge proofs to anonymize the relationship between providers, verifiers, as well as transacting parties, Zcash has quickly risen to prominence as one of the foremost privacy coins on the market – tussling with the likes of Monero.

The comparisons between Zcash and its bounty hunter likeness only increase when one considers the that the legions of forks that have arisen from the cryptocurrency aren’t too dissimilar from the pool of clones Boba Fett emerged from in the first instance.

Dogecoin: Jar Jar Binks

Alright, we couldn’t resist.

Dogecoin is, at times, the marveling factor and laughing stock of the cryptocurrency community – an erstwhile ‘joke’ coin that has somehow succeeded in developing a market cap worth more than half a billion US Dollars.

Jar Jar Binks, praised and reviled as The Phantom Menace‘s worst introduction, has similarly gone on to carve out an abrasive profile amongst Star Wars fans.

Met with skepticism and revulsion upon the release of the first of the Star Wars prequels, Binks has gone on to become the center of mystery – with several fans wondering if the character was not intended for a wider role than the non-stop barrage of infantile jokes that informed The Phantom Menace.

Dogecoin, similarly, has gone on to find an awkward place at the heart of the cryptocurrency community – with several ICOs moving to accept the digital currency as tender for the release of future tokens.

Star Wars, its characters, trademarks and licenses are the property of Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company.

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Written by

South African technology journalist, podcaster, photographer and filmmaker. Hodling - BTC, NEO, ETH.@bryansmithsa

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