Perhaps the last major addition to Star Wars before the Disney merger, The Force Unleashed project consisted of two games, novelizations, comics, action figures, and even Legos. However, the Disney merger came before a third game in the series could be released, which unfortunately left one of the biggest questions in Star Wars unanswered.
The first game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, reveals that Darth Vader had a secret apprentice between Episodes III and IV who was tasked with hunting down rogue Jedi. This apprentice, Galen Marek, known by his codename Starkiller, eventually realizes he is a mere pawn of Darth Vader and the Emperor and gives his life saving a group of people who go on to form the Rebel Alliance. Starkiller’s sacrifice is even memorialized by the Rebels who adopt his family crest as their symbol.
The second game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, picks up six months after the events of the first game with a clone of Starkiller being trained by Darth Vader on Kamino. After escaping when he realizes he will be destroyed for lacking total obedience to Vader, Starkiller tracks down his Rebel allies and helps them attack Kamino. Starkiller once again turns away from the Dark Side and captures Darth Vader, with the Rebels scattering the fleet with Boba Fett stealthily pursuing the ship containing Vader.
However, the main issue of The Force Unleashed II, aside from Starkiller trying to save the love interest Juno Eclipse from the clutches of Darth Vader, is determining whether or not he is a clone. For some, the answer would be an obvious yes since the game begins at the cloning facilities on Kamino, Starkiller is wearing a clone uniform, and Vader outright tells Starkiller that he is a clone, since Vader wanted to harness the original Starkiller’s abilities but wanted the clone to be programmed with absolute loyalty, similar to the clones of Jango Fett.
The game itself and the accompanying adaptations leave the question open, with Darth Vader and (initially) Starkiller claiming that he is definitely a clone, although Starkiller’s mentor, General Rahm Kota, insists that it’s the original Starkiller, saying several times that cloning a Jedi is “impossible.” The game ends with Kota deciding the issue doesn’t really matter, while Starkiller is content with being free of Vader’s control. However, there are many clues within the game that suggest the Starkiller of The Force Unleashed II is in fact the original Starkiller and not a clone.
A somewhat subtle clue would be when Starkiller rescues Kota from a gladiatorial arena on Cato Nemoidia. Kota, using the Force to “see” since he is blind, is approached by Starkiller who says “You can sit this one out, General,” and immediately responds “By the Force, I knew you were alive.” While he may have recognized Starkiller’s voice, a major factor would be Kota’s Force “sight,” which would be an intensification of the Jedi ability to sense people through the Force often seen in the films. Odds are, Kota sensed Starkiller’s signature through the Force and determined it was the original Starkiller.
One could argue that a clone of someone would have the same exact signature in the Force which is why Kota would be confused, but there are many examples in Legends material that would dispute this. For example, in the novel Star Wars: Republic Commando: Hard Contact, a Jedi padawan encounters a squad of clones for the first time. The padawan, Etain Tur-Mukan, remarks at one point her astonishment that the clones of Jango Fett all appear exactly the same physically and even act the same to some extent. However, when she senses them using the Force, Etain remarks they all feel as if they were totally different individuals. If Kota were sensing Starkiller only with the Force, it would stand to reason that he would detect a clone of Starkiller as a totally different person instead of the original.
The biggest issue with Starkiller being a clone is that he is not just a normal clone, but an extremely accelerated clone. In Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan Kenobi is informed by the Kaminoans that the Clone Army is grown in half the time it takes a normal human.
The process of speed cloning was also a major part of the novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, in which Grand Admiral Thrawn recovers “Spaarti cloning cylinders” which allow him to quickly raise an army of Stormtroopers to counter the New Republic. Due to the quick development process and the use of “flash memory” to train the clones, these Stormtroopers were known to develop a condition known as “clone madness.” While Thrawn found a way to prevent the madness, this was years after Vader’s death at the Battle of Endor. However, throughout the final level of The Force Unleashed II sees Starkiller having to fight through numerous clones of Starkiller who are feral and insane. This reinforces that the process Vader supposedly used to clone Starkiller could not have been perfected before Thrawn’s campaign.
In fact, armies of clone Stormtroopers had been developed around the end of the Clone Wars, but the sheer ineffectiveness and insanity of the clones caused the Galactic Empire to soon abandon the process.
The programming Thrawn used on his cloned Stormtroopers is similar to the programming used in the Clone Army, which was intended to produce soldiers who were extremely loyal and followed orders without question. It’s natural that Darth Vader would want an apprentice with the powers of Starkiller but total obedience, but if Starkiller were indeed programmed, he would not “struggle” with the flash programming as he does in the game. More likely, Vader used some form of memory-wipe on Starkiller to make him believe he was a clone, but Starkiller’s interaction with the Force and lightsabers causes him to remember his real life. Similar techniques have been used by Rey in Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the Jedi Quinlan Vos.
However, there are a few examples of Jedi who were cloned. These few examples include Joruus C’Baoth, a clone of Jedi master Jorus C’Baoth. Joruus guarded a Spaarti cloning cylinder facility on the planet Wayland, and had fallen to the Dark Side while going insane. Joruus also made a clone of Luke Skywalker, named Luuke Skywalker who, like Joruus, was insane.
Another example would be the clones X1 and X2 from Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, who were made from Jedi Knight Falon Grey. The two clones were Force-sensitive like their host, and fought in the Clone Army until Order 66, when X2 opted to defect and later join the Rebellion. X1 remained with the Empire, and eventually went insane while trying to create his own clone army.
Although X2 did not go insane, this may be attributed to his longer development process he and his brother enjoyed like the rest of the Clone Army. However, the examples of Force-sensitive clones going insane or falling to the Dark Side lends more credence to the idea that Starkiller is not a clone.
However, in The Force Unleashed II are a series of web comics titled “Distant Thunder” that actually reveal a character known as the Dark Apprentice, an actual successful clone of Starkiller. Some would argue that this proves Starkiller is a clone as well, but it actually proves the opposite. First off, Vader programmed the clones with absolute loyalty. Throughout the comics, the Dark Apprentice is shown executing Vader’s every command, exactly as intended. He fully embraces the Dark Side, and is shown trained by Vader to help him defeat Starkiller. At the end of “Distant Thunder,” it is shown that the Dark Apprentice watched the final duel between Starkiller and Vader, but instead of intervening as planned should Vader appear defeated, the Dark Apprentice merely watches and does nothing. Again, the Dark Apprentice was trained and programmed in the Dark Side, and in typical Sith fashion, allows his master to fall.
An interesting aspect of “Distant Thunder” is that it shows Darth Vader and the Dark Apprentice looking at the apparent dead body of the original Starkiller, floating in a stasis chamber (presumably for DNA retrieval for the cloners). Some would consider this proof that Starkiller is indeed a clone, but the body Vader shows is wearing Starkiller’s training outfit, not the Jedi robes the original Starkiller was “killed” in. It would make no sense for Vader to go through the trouble and change a hated opponent’s clothing, especially since the original Starkiller changed uniforms with every mission. It’s more likely Vader used the bodies of one of the failed clones and placed him in Starkiller’s training gear, so that he could show the “clone” of Starkiller and convince him he was a clone.
Overall, the Dark Apprentice can be considered evidence that Starkiller is not a clone because everything Vader was striving for, being total obedience and loyalty to the Dark Side, are present in him. The “failed” clones on the other hand, appear to be exactly what real failed clones are throughout Legends, as in total insanity.
Overall, it would seem that there is a stronger case for the Starkiller in The Force Unleashed II actually being the original Starkiller who had his memory erased compared to a clone who was quickly grown and flash trained with the dead Starkiller’s memories. A planned sequel, The Force Unleashed III was planned and unfortunately cancelled due to the merger with Disney, so unless another studio decides to continue the story of Starkiller, it seems the question of his real identity will remain unanswered.