George Lucas creations.
First and foremost, we have got to apologise for the severe underrepresentation of women on this list. Our only defence in this regard is that it’s not really our fault – it’s George Lucas’ (what isn’t his bloody fault these days?). How many female characters can you think of over the span of the six released Star Wars films? How many of those are actually good characters? As we said – not really our fault. Second and secondmost, this is a list comprised of characters from the central six Star Wars films. There will be no characters from any of the television series, comic books, novels, extended universe etc. so don’t expect Darth Revan to pop up. Third and thirdmost, Salacious B. Crumb isn’t on this list for the only reason that we wanted to highlight him here in this introduction. Without further ado, here are ReelGood’s top 17 Star Wars characters:
17 | C-3PO
Granted, he can be intensely annoying but isn’t it that irritating side to C-3PO that generates some of the best moments of comedy in Empire? For our money (and we’re pretty broke, so we’re not waging much) it’s hard to top C-3PO’s interruption of Han and Leia’s kiss for laughs in the original trilogy. Then there’s the bonding time he has with Chewbacca in Cloud City. Then there’s the bit when he pretends to be an Ewokian God. Then there’s the fact that the character design is based on the robot from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. For those reasons, and more, C-3PO makes the cut.
16 | That Tusken Raider
There’s a few characters on this list that have really milked their minimal screen to enormous cultural longevity time but the Tusken Raider that attacks Luke in A New Hope is here because it’s just so dang enjoyable to mimic that scream he does. Rarely has such a fleeting moment in a film imprinted itself in so many brains. There’s also the painfully obvious editing trick that’s going on during his famous staff shake, which is possibly our favourite piece of editing in any major motion picture.
15 | R2-D2
Do we need to even list our reasons? Probably not. We’re not talking prequels R2-D2 here (and we’re less than enthusiastic about his reappearance in the upcoming The Force Awakens) but in the original trilogy R2 was the glue that held the group together. He tagged along with Luke to Dagobah, he propels the new lightsaber into Luke’s hands above Sarlacc, he opens the bunker during the Battle of Endor. Heck, he even gets the whole ball rolling by stashing that message from Leia to Obi-Wan in A New Hope. They’d all be absolutely up shit creek if R2 didn’t stick around.
14 | Greedo
If we’re being honest, we couldn’t give a hoot whether Greedo or Han shot first. We’re aware that such nonchalance regarding the issue may not be met kindly by the internetweb but there are so many other defining moments for Han Solo it’s difficult to care too much about the Cantina confrontation. And yet Greedo represents something very special about the Star Wars universe – the fandom. For the Han Shot First debacle to even have become an issue, Star Wars really needed a horde of passionate fans willing to invest themselves in minor details wholeheartedly. We mean that with respect nor dirision. It’s such a huge deal that even the casual filmgoer knows who Greedo is and that he probably didn’t shoot first, despite Greedo actually having bugger all screen time and, let’s face it, pretty minimal significant when it comes to the overall plot.
13 | Boba Fett
Another beneficiary of that same Star Wars fan passion, Boba Fett is perhaps the quintessential example of a character that really makes the most of their screen time. There’s something of a Clint Eastwood/Man With No Name essence to Fett, which was entirely destroyed when Lucas shattered the illusion of mystery with the introduction of a young Boba in Attack Of The Clones. It was kind of like a mini-version of the Jake Lloyd reveal in A Phantom Menace. Great, that annoying little shit goes on to become Boba Fett? So long, aura of awesome. It was good while it lasted. Also, Fett’s Sarlacc death is a stinker, but everything leading up to it is stellar (pardon the pun).
12 | Mace Windu
Mace Windu is just Samuel L. Jackson with a lightsaber but whoever said there was anything wrong with that. There’s that moment in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin finds out he won’t be granted the rank of Master, to which his reply is a surprised ‘What?’ and you could swear that Windu is on the brink of an outraged ‘Say “What” one more time, motherfucker!” Windu makes the cut because the fact that Samuel L. Jackson is in a Star Wars movie is something that should comfort anyone who’s feeling down about anything…ever.
11 | Wicket
The Ewoks are one of the least loved aspects about the original trilogy and pretty much anyone over the age of five wishes they’d remained on the cutting room floor or perhaps never even made it past the conceptual stage. Wicket manages to escape that derision, at least from us (as does the Ewok who shakes his dead friend during the Battle of Endor). It may just be our soft heart or our fondness for furry things that waddle and grunt and kind of look like wombats that can walk on two legs but we’re unashamed Wicket fans. That’s right. Wicket is higher on this list than Boba Fett.
10 | Darth Maul
Do you rewatch A Phantom Menace for any other reason? Ok, perhaps the podrace is worth a couple of revisits but we’re sure not interested in the trade negotiations, Jar Jar can go fuck himself and Jake Lloyd as the future Darth Vader is one of the biggest disappointments in film history (Lucas’ fault, not Lloyd’s). And then there’s Darth Maul, perhaps the most criminally underused character in the entire saga. Sometimes character design is enough. In fact, the design of Darth Maul is so strong that it survived the character opening his mouth for that one awful line, which, extraordinarily enough, wasn’t even close to being one of the most awful things about A Phantom Menace.
9 | Admiral Ackbar
Ackbar has managed to pervade hipster culture, which is no mean feat for a science fiction character. We’ve never seen any Spock T-Shirts in trendy Brunswick St clothes shops and yet Admiral Ackbar’s celebrated line, ‘It’s a trap!’ is known by people who may have never even seen Return Of The Jedi. He looks like a fish man, he’s got the voice of a pack a day smoker and he runs a spaceship. His name, ladies and gentlemen, is Admiral Ackbar and you can wear him.
8 | Lando Calrissian
The Star Wars universe response to concerns regarding lack of diversity, Lando is great because he shouldn’t even be in a Star Wars movie. He’d surely be more at home in some 80s sex-noir like Body Heat or Basic Instinct, or ordering a Piña Colada off Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown. But for some reason he’s running Cloud City and he’s loving every minute of it. His reaction to Princess Leia is one of the greatest moments in a film full of great moments and he’s got the best redemption story this side of Darth Vader. “Come on, Han old buddy. Don’t let me down!”
7 | Jabba The Hutt
We know that laugh. Who doesn’t know that laugh? Jabba’s presence in the prequels was unnecessary and his addition into A New Hope was embarrassing but Jabba shines (as much as an enormous slug can shine) during his screen time in Return of the Jedi. The entire Jabba’s palace sequence was so well conceived and executed that it was essentially (and poorly) ripped-off by the makers of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Jabba The Hutt never really does anything, and that seems to be the key to his success – both as a gangster and a character. He just sort of sits around and we love him for it.
6 | Young Obi-Wan
We’re not talking about old Alex Guinness Obi-Wan here, which may come as a bit of a surprise (although perhaps not to those who read the ‘Young’ in the title above). It’s not an easy thing to do, executing George Lucas-written dialogue with conviction. Just ask Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher or Mark Hamill. Ewan McGregor didn’t quite manage it in A Phantom Menace but with each new prequel movie, the actor somehow manages to turn what could have been a painfully two-dimensional character into someone we care about and, more important to the prequel movies, someone who’s a compelling screen presence. Young Obi-Wan is on this list because he manages to elicit something of an emotional response from us amidst a haze of CGI and Hayden Christensen, and we’re still not sure how that’s even possible.
5 | Emperor Palpatine
The real villain of the saga and one of the most imposing figures over the entire Star Wars universe. Palpatine is cocky dangerous and he’s got that lightening bolt trick he does to back himself up. “The Emperor’s coming here?”, a startled Moff Jerjerrod questions Vader in one of the most effective and ominous villain set ups in cinema history. We’ve hardly met the fellow and we already know that hell be stirring some real shit up when he eventually arrives at the Death Star. Anyone who’s the boss of Darth Vader isn’t someone to be taken lightly.
4 | Yoda
What’s any sort of list about anything without Yoda? CGI Yoda can jog on and that disfigured puppet Yoda from A Phantom Menace is still giving us nightmares but the Yoda circa 1980 and 1983 is the stuff of legend. Spaceship sinking into a swamp? No problem, he’ll have it out in a jiffy? Need to learn how to do mid-air somersaults and stack rocks? He’s your man. Even when Yoda dies he just disappears, throwing up his middle finger at expensive funeral costs. Then speech pattern there also is.
3 | Chewbacca
If it weren’t for the fact that numbers one and two on this list have been a given for decades now, Chewie could well have taken the top spot. Another Star Wars character that achieves volumes with very little, Chewbacca is the beating heart of the original Star Wars trilogy. It’s sort of a given considering he’ll herald every emotion with an ‘Aaaargh’. It’s difficult to recall any other character you’d rather have at your side in a tight spot and chances are that Han Solo wouldn’t be the icon he is today without Chewie’s support. There’s even a behind-the-scenes connection between Chewbacca and the character of Indiana Jones. George Lucas had a pretty helpful pooch.
2 | Darth Vader
Nothing could be said about Darth Vader that hasn’t already been said, so we won’t even try to be original here. The entire saga, forgetting the upcoming trilogy, is about the fall of Anakin Skywalker. That the prequel trilogy didn’t nail his heroism as well as the original trilogy nailed his villainy does little to lessen the enormous wealth of potential behind Anakin’s story. A New Hope introduces Vader but it’s The Empire Strikes Back that really establishes him, not only as the most memorable villain in film history but as a fascinating character in his own right. Think on the moment when Vader looks from the lightening bolt-emitting Emperor to the lightening bolt-receiving Luke and try to recall a moment in cinema history when a plastic emotionless helmet has conveyed so much.
1 | Han Solo
As if there was ever anyone else. There’s a heated debate here in the ReelGood office regarding who’s a finer character out of Solo and Indiana Jones (ed. Jones all the way, baby) but at the end of the day it kind of doesn’t even really matter because they’re both pretty spectacular. We’ve no idea why everyone appears so excited about Harrison Ford returning for The Force Awakens because why on earth would J.J. Abrams even want to mess with such an iconic character? And don’t get us started on this fucking Han Solo origins movie that’s in the works. If there was ever a character to leave alone it may just be Han Solo.