Mace Windu's striking purple lightsaber in the Star Wars prequel movies has now been explained in Claudia Gray's new Master and Apprentice novel. Without doubt, lightsabers are one of the coolest elements of the Star Wars franchise and fans of all ages have no doubt envisioned themselves swinging these weapons from a more civilized age, as they fend off stray blaster bolts from oncoming Stormtroopers. What accentuates Star Wars' lightsabers from other sci-fi movie weapons however, is their changing colors. While villains invariably possess red-colored lightsabers, the good guys wield a more calmer blue or noble green blade, reflecting their more positive alignment with the Force.
That was until Samuel L. Jackson appeared in the Star Wars prequel trilogy as Mace Windu. While Windu debuted in The Phantom Menace, he didn't unleash his lightsaber until the subsequent installment, Attack of the Clones, and fans were shocked (and delighted) to see the Jedi sporting a purple-colored blade unlike any seen before in the franchise. In real life, the story behind this weapon is well-documented. Samuel L. Jackson has confirmed in several interviews that the idea for Windu to have a purple lightsaber blade came from the actor himself on somewhat of a whim, and George Lucas readily agreed to the proposal. In-story, however, the reasons behind Windu's unique weapon are somewhat more complex.
It's well established in Star Wars mythos that lightsabers are constructed using Kyber crystals - a special stone that, with the right technology, produces that famous and formidable blade. The expanded universe of Star Wars media had previously accounted for Windu's purple lightsaber in several ways. In the Star Wars Tales comics of dubious canonicity published by Dark Horse, Windu constructs his lightsaber from a special amethyst crystal given to him by the inhabitants of Hurikane, thus providing him with a blade different from the other Jedi. Elsewhere, it was suggested that since Windu was closer to the Dark Side than his Jedi peers, his lightsaber took on a mixture of blue and red.
However, since their purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney has consigned the bulk of the Star Wars extended media world firmly to the non-canon bracket (the Grey Jedi explanation, in particular, doesn't fit Sith lightsabers) and an updated explanation behind Mace Windu's purple lightsaber has seemingly been provided. Claudia Gray's new novel, Master and Apprentice, follows the exploits of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn on a mission that takes place shortly prior to the events of the prequel trilogy. The story sees Obi-Wan meet a royal character by the name of Princess Fanry who immediately takes an interest in the Jedi's saber. Obi-Wan happily shows Fanry the inner workings of his weapon and explains the power of the Kyber crystals in detail.
Obi-Wan states that during a lightsaber's construction, Kyber crystals bond with the Jedi putting them to use and take on properties from their owner. The Jedi explains to the captivated princess that while most blades turn blue or green due to this phenomenon, "a few crystals even turn purple." Clearly, this is a reference to Mace Windu's purple lightsaber in the Star Wars prequels but the line heavily implies that Windu's weapon is not entirely unique and even though his is the only purple lightsaber to feature on the big screen, it seems that there are other ones out there in the Star Wars universe.
With several explanations now at hand, it's perhaps not immediately clear which stories are canon and which are not. However, the latest tale provided by Obi-Wan in Master and Apprentice can be considered the "true" reason behind Mace Windu's purple lightsaber, especially since previous explanations were provided before Disney took the reigns and shook up the expanded media of the Star Wars universe, rewriting what remained canon and what was mere fiction.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019