Warning: This article contains spoilers for episodes 1-4 of Andor.
Stellan Skarsgård’s character Luthen Rael is already one of the most compelling characters in Andor. Episode 4 “Aldhani” made his character even more intriguing by revealing the double life he leads that arguably makes him the Batman of Star Wars.
As originally pointed out by Alden Diaz of Ahch-To Radio, there are a number of parallels between Luthen Rael and Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Both characters have a life where they fight crime and tyranny head-on, whether it is Batman being a vigilante and taking down criminals at night, or Luthen directly fighting the Empire and building a rebellion. Batman and this version of Luthen are gruff, no-nonsense, and keep their cards close to their chest as they navigate and fight in the underbelly of Gotham City and across the galaxy.
They are willing to take extreme measures if it means hurting or taking down their enemies, although Luthen is definitely not adhering to Batman’s “no guns, no killing” rule. They also have their fair share of gadgets to assist them, from Luthen’s unique Fondor Haulcraft and Fondor Droid Mod, to the Batmobile and arsenal of cutting-edge technology provided by Lucius Fox.
Meanwhile, both Luthen and Bruce have an entirely different life as affluent, cheerful, carefree socialites. The playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne and the art collector Luthen Rael are a stark contrast to their other identities, but they pull it off seamlessly. Their public personas allow them to hide in plain sight while also using their positions of power and influence to achieve their goals of rebellion and vigilantism.
The scene in episode 4 where Luthen transforms into the art collector is a powerful one. Not only is Luthen putting on a wig, jewelry, and changing into luxurious clothing, but he has to practice smiling and changing the way he carries himself.
Even though he is changing into a seemingly happier and more nonchalant version of himself, the transformation seems like it is a burden to him, a necessity he must undertake for his plans of rebellion, but not something that he enjoys. From a storytelling standpoint, it is able to convey so much about Luthen’s character, even without any dialogue.
This is not the only instance of Luthen transforming himself to fit the needs of a situation. During the 3-episode premiere, he is seen walking with a cane when he meets with Bix Caleen on Ferrix. He later abandons the cane and shows he doesn’t need it, proving it was yet another element he used to hide in plain sight.
Now, no matter how impressive the double lives of Luthen and Bruce Wayne/Batman might be, neither of them can pull this off on their own. Bruce has Alfred Pennyworth and Luthen has Kleya, the woman serving as a concierge at Luthen’s gallery. A kindly and helpful butler and art gallery concierge help to create the illusion, but they also play an active role in keeping the respective secrets of Bruce and Luthen and with carrying out their plans.
This is already evident with Kleya through her brief conversation with Luthen before Mon Mothma enters the art gallery and through Kleya distracting Mon Mothma’s driver so she and Luthen could speak about their rebellious plans in private.
The similarities between Kleya and Alfred extend to the way they communicate as well. Alfred is supportive, but he does speak plainly to Bruce and does not shy away from telling him harsh truths. Kleya plainly telling Luthen “You’re slipping” in the trailers hints that she is the same way, someone who supports Luthen while also being unafraid to tell him the difficult things he needs to hear.
It seems that the rebel Luthen who Cassian meets is the real Luthen and the art collector is just a façade. But if he is truly analogous to Batman, there is a possibility that the audience has yet to meet the real Luthen. After all, the real Bruce Wayne is different from Batman and from Bruce Wayne the playboy billionaire. Perhaps Luthen the rebel and Luthen the art collector are both fronts that the real Luthen puts on.
As Andor continues, it will be fascinating to learn more about Luthen, and to see if he continues to parallel Bruce Wayne/Batman.