There is no doubt that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a critical and box office success. It currently has a 93% with the critics and 90% with the audience on Rotten Tomatoes. It shattered Thursday preview records, opening weekend records, beat Jurassic World‘s box office record by 1 day, and has made nearly $2 billion worldwide! Currently, it is the third highest grossing movie of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic.
The anticipation and hype surrounding the film was like nothing cinema had seen before. I doubt we will ever see such anticipation or excitement for an event again, at least not anytime soon anyway. To celebrate the success of my favorite film franchise, I wanted to take a look at my favorite Star Wars characters. I have asked fellow Star Wars fan and the mind behind Box Office Buzz, Ashley, to join me in the celebration. You can check out her review of The Force Awakens here. Ashley reviews all kinds of movies that are so much fun to read. Go peruse her site, after you finish reading this article of course. 😛 Now, let’s get onto our five favorite Star Wars characters. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead. Ladies first!
Star Wars is my all-time favorite film franchise. While I love the science fiction setting “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away,” the main reason I love these movies so much is because there are so many great, memorable characters. It’s hard to narrow down my list of favorite characters to just five, but here goes…
I loved many of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens, but my favorite so far is Finn. While Finn does provide some of the funniest moments in the film, his character is far more than just “the comic relief.” I love how he doesn’t necessarily start the film as a hero; he’s just a regular guy, forced into a situation he’s not prepared for, and his instincts are to simply run from danger. But deep down, he’s sensed just how evil the First Order is, and his feelings for Rey empower him to become a true hero by the end, standing up to fallen Jedi Kylo Ren even though he doesn’t have any Force powers himself. I’m really looking forward to watching Finn’s character grow in the next two movies, and I also hope we’ll learn a little more about his past.
4) Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker might not have made my top five list a few years ago, but the character has really grown on me, especially as I rewatched the original trilogy in preparation for The Force Awakens. Luke Skywalker starts the trilogy as an ordinary guy, wishing he could travel the stars. Then, he gets pulled into an adventure he never imagined, and he learns he has the power of the Force. One of the things I love most about Luke is his stubborn sense of idealism. Even when everybody else has written off Darth Vader as an irredeemable villain, Luke still senses the good in him and is willing to risk his own life to bring his father back from the dark side. I’m excited to see what happens to his character in Episode VIII, especially if he’s going to train Rey (spoiler alert — possibly his daughter?).
3) Ben Skywalker
Although in the plot for The Force Awakens, Han and Leia have a son named Ben Solo who goes to the dark side and becomes Kylo Ren, in the original Expanded Universe novels (which are now called “Star Wars: Legends” and are considered non-canon by Disney), Luke actually has a son named Ben. Ben was a great character, which is why I was a little sad when Disney ended the Expanded Universe. In the books, Ben is trained by his cousin Jacen Solo, Han and Leia’s son; like Kylo Ren, Jacen does fall to the dark side, but Ben doesn’t succumb to temptation. Like his father, he’s a powerful user of the light side of the Force; he’s determined, smart, and has a great sense of humor. My favorite moments with Ben are in the “Legacy of the Force” and “Fate of the Jedi” series.
2) Darth Vader
Darth Vader is my all-time favorite movie villain and has one of my favorite character arcs in the Star Wars saga. When we first meet him in A New Hope, he’s terrifying: he’s a powerful wielder of the dark side, and he appears to show no mercy to those who oppose him. Although he definitely doesn’t seem like a sympathetic character, the other films in the saga reveal a far more tragic story. Regardless of how you feel about the prequels, Darth Vader does have a really sad back story: he falls from the Jedi Order, unintentionally kills his wife, and is trapped inside a life support suit for the rest of his existence. However, he is not beyond redemption; in the end, he turns away from the dark side and sacrifices his life to save his son, Luke. It’s one of the most powerful and poignant moments in the Star Wars saga.
1) Han Solo
When I was a kid, I thought Han Solo was pretty much the coolest person ever, and I’ve still got a soft spot in my heart for a certain scruffy-looking nerf herder. Han Solo starts off as a roguish smuggler with a devil-may-care attitude, and he’s pretty good at pretending he’s just looking out for himself. However, his friendship with Chewie and eventually Luke and Leia show he’s got a softer side, and he eventually becomes a hero in the Rebellion. Spoiler alert! He doesn’t get a happy ending in The Force Awakens, but I like how he’s willing to die doing the right thing, attempting to save his son. And he’ll always live on in the original trilogy as the fearless pilot of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
Thanks a lot, Ashley! Now it’s my turn. I have so many favorite characters, it was hard to narrow it down to simply five. My solution to this problem is to make two lists. One of movie characters, as well as one of characters from the old Expanded Universe (where Ben Skywalker resides) and the Clone Wars television series. First up, are my five favorite non-movie Star Wars characters.
5) Jacen and Jaina Solo
Jacen and Jaina are twins and Han and Leia’s two oldest children from the old Expanded Universe (EU), mentioned earlier by Ashley. They both become very powerful Jedi under the tutelage of their Uncle Luke. For the longest time, the two are inseparable. They quickly proved themselves to be skilled pilots and duelists. Unfortunately, Jacen couldn’t resists the temptation of the dark side and became Darth Caedus. It falls on Jaina’s shoulders to stop her brother from taking over the galaxy in the second Galactic Civil War. What is it with Solo boys and falling to the dark side?
4) Ahsoka Tano
Ahsoka Tano was Anakin’s apprentice during the Clone Wars. She is everything Anakin is: skilled duelist, great pilot, brash, and constantly spoke out against authority, which earning her the nickname “Snips” from her master. As Star Wars: The Clone Wars progresses, the viewers get to watch her grow, both in her skills as a fighter and her wisdom as a Jedi. At the beginning of the series she has a single lightsaber. Eventually, she begins wielding a second, shorter lightsaber and becomes very proficient using dual lightsabers. After being framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she left the Jedi Order. For those who watched the entire series, like myself, her leaving was a huge emotional blow. There is a silver lining however, as since she was no longer a Jedi, she survived Order 66 and she makes another appearance as a much older and wiser Ahsoka in the television series Star Wars: Rebels.
3) Darth Bane
Darth Bane is notable in the Star Wars mythos because he was the Sith responsible for creating the Rule of Two: One Sith to posses the power, the other to crave it. During his time, there were many Sith, fighting a war with the Jedi all around the galaxy. He became fascinated with ancient Sith teachings and realized the Sith could not prosper in such numbers because of their selfishness and lust for power. To eliminate the rest of the Sith, he tricked the leaders into using the Thought Bomb, a strong dark side technique that killed the users, as well as everything around them. Shortly after, he took up his first apprentice, Darth Zannah. Darth Bane was an intimidating person, standing at two meters tall! He was also very muscular from working in a mine most of his life. Often he was able to defeat his opponent simply by overwhelming them with strength. For a few years, he even had an organic suit from creatures called orbalisks, making him impervious to blasters and lightsabers. Darth Bane is one of the most powerful Sith that ever existed, or at least he was in the pre-Disney canon.
2) Mara Jade Skywalker
Mara Jade Skywalker is the reason I am so sad the EU is no longer canonical. Hands down she is one of the most bad-ass women in the entire Star Wars universe. When she is first introduced, she is a secret warrior for Palpatine called an Emperor’s Hand. As an Emperor’s Hand, she traveled across the galaxy performing missions for Emperor Palpatine in secrecy. After the events of Return of the Jedi, she fell in love with Luke Skywalker and birthed their son, Ben. She was very strong in the force, managing to fight off an alien virus while pregnant and still was able to defeat her enemies in combat. Talk about girl power!
1) Cade Skywalker
Cade Skywalker is hands down my favorite Star Wars character. He is the main character of the comic series Star Wars Legacy, which takes place 137 years after A New Hope. What makes him so fascinating is he is a Jedi who doesn’t want to be a Jedi. Ten years before the story takes place, the Sith rise up once again and eliminate most of the Jedi Order, including Cade’s father, Kol Skywalker. He becomes a pirate and bounty hunter and refuses to acknowledge his Skywalker heritage. Before too long, he is once again drawn into the galactic conflict and reluctantly picks up the lightsaber. But he doesn’t always stay on the straight and narrow. He regularly channels the dark side, drawing from its power to increase his strength as well as heal others. It’s a intriguing dynamic that isn’t seen anywhere else in Star Wars.
And now what you all have been waiting for, here are my five favorite Star Wars movie characters.
5) Darth Maul
Darth Maul is criminally underused in the movies. He is one of the coolest characters to come from The Phantom Menace, and George Lucas kills him! Or so it would seem. He later returns in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series with a new set of robotic legs. Maul is one of the few in the Star Wars universe who uses a double-bladed lightsaber and time and again proved his skills with it in duels with characters ranging from Qui-Gon Jinn, General Grievous, and Count Dooku. It was great that Maul was able to get the development he deserved but it would have been great if he would have had a bigger presence in the films.
Rey is my favorite character to come out of The Force Awakens. She has no problem taking care of herself in a fight, easily taking down two or three guys at once. Towards the end of the film, she even takes on Kylo Ren, who has been trained by Luke Skywalker, and manages to hold her own. Her heritage is a huge mystery right now. Personally, I’m hoping there is nothing special about where she comes from and she is just a strong, force-sensitive person. Alas, I don’t think how it will play out. Rey’s story arc is the one I am most looking forward to in the upcoming movies.
3) Han Solo
OK, let’s be honest, what Star Wars fan doesn’t like Han Solo? He’s the bad boy, the guy who your parents warned you about. When Luke and Obi-Wan first meet him and his co-pilot Chewbacca, he’s only in it for the money. Han doesn’t care about anything except the check. His charm is irresistible and he tries to play it like he looks out only for himself. As the series progresses, we realize there is a lot more to him and he actually has a big heart. In the end, he cares for his friends and family and dies doing what he feels is right.
2) General Grievous
General Grievous was introduced in the Star Wars: Clone Wars micro-series that aired from 2003 to 2005, between the releases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (not to be confused with the series with Ahsoka I mentioned earlier). When I first saw him, I instantly liked him. Here was this cyborg, wielding four lightsabers, facing multiple Jedi Masters at once, and winning! What is more bad-ass than that!? It is hard to tell from just the movies alone, but Grievous is actually quite the skilled duelist. Grievous and his MagnaGuard droids trained under Count Dooku. Before he became a cyborg fighting for the Separatists, he was already an accomplished and skilled fighter on his home planet of Kalee. Grievous is another character, like Darth Maul, who deserved more screen time to show how great he can truly be.
1) Darth Vader
Darth Vader is without out a doubt the coolest character in the Star Wars saga. He has one of the best entrances in cinema, his presence alone is unnerving, he is a Sith Lord, fully in control of the dark side of the force, and his men fear him. It is hard for me to accept that such a strong character came from the Anakin we saw in the prequel trilogy. The entire saga is based around his rise, fall, and redemption, making it one of the most emotional film series there is. Anakin just wanted to save the ones he loved and was willing to do whatever it took. Unfortunately, that path lead to the dark side. Thankfully, his son Luke was able to see past that black armor and realized the good that was still inside of him. His redemption is one of the best moments of the entire Star Wars saga.
Big thanks to Ashley for joining me in celebrating our love for Star Wars. Be sure to check out her website, Box Office Buzz.
Who are some of your favorite Star Wars characters?