I grew up watching the Original Star Wars Trilogy. My entire perspective of Star Wars comes through the lense created by these films. It’s such a shock to me to learn that people grew up watching the Prequels; those were the first Star Wars movies they’ve seen. We’re now fortuntely embarking upon an entirely new Era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens with all new characters, plots, and places.
What’s interesting is that we’ve now carved out three distinct time periods in the Star Wars saga: The Original Trilogy “Classic era”, the “Prequel era”, and the new “Sequel era” (working title). More interestingly is that much of the current and future content can/will fall within any of these three Eras. This means we can start to think about these Eras more holistically, including the characters we love.
So here’s a question: who are the best/favorite (not necessarily important) characters from each era?
Here are mine:
Classic Era: Original Trilogy, Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One
Darth Vader – Darth Vader is the best villain in film history (in spite of younger who think The Joker from The Dark Knight was better/worse – they just don’t know better).
Han Solo – This shouldn’t be controversial. Han Solo is the personality and sensibility throughout the Original Trilogy. Star Wars doesn’t really work without his snark and skepticism.
Yoda – Yoda is really the spiritual core of the Star Wars universe. He provides an ethos and insight into the nature of the Force. He’s the source of Luke’s wisdom and the gateway through which Luke complete’s his Jedi training.
Kanan Jarrus – This one is controversial. Kanan’s character is an important element that bridges the events of the prequels (the clone wars) and the state of the Jedi order leading up to the creation of the Rebel Alliance. His character on Rebels really serves as a moral inquiry into the status of the Jedi order in the time leading up to the formation of the Rebel Alliance. He gives insight into what knowledge remains. His life choices without the structure of the Jedi order begs the question as to what it really means to be a Jedi. His character arc and his mentor ship of Ezra Bridger has become an important treatise on the Jedi order.
Hera Syndulla – I really love Hera’s character. She is the glue that keeps the ghost crew together. More broadly though, she is a critical leader within the fledgling Rebel group(s). It seems reasonable to expect that she plays a critical role in the formation of the Rebel Alliance. What I love most about her is that she is a strong female leader who does not mimic masculine behavior. She is caring in clearly (literally actually) motherly way. But this style is not diminished or undermined. She is motherly in the sense that she’s caring and patient. But she also shoots storm troopers and is an unparalleled pilot. She embodies a true feminine form of strength and leadership in a way that isn’t patronizing (make her story arc be limited to her being a love interest) or diminishing of her feminine qualities. It’s an important distinction that I haven’t seen in any other character.
Prequel Era: Prequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obiwan was the most brave and wise of the Jedi during this period. His heroism really speaks to the elevated principles of the Jedi. The prequels don’t work without him.
Darth Maul – this is a bit controversial, but Darth Maul was perhaps the most interesting villain of the prequel era. He was really the opposite to Vader. He was short, agile, skilled, and inhuman. He was so interesting that The Clone Wars brought him back for more adventures.
Cad Bane – for an era that was way-oversaturated with Boba Fett, Cad Bane was a welcome character. He was essentially an amalgam of old western villains but had a flare for the dramatic. He could go toe-to-tie with Jedi and come out relatively unscathed. He also didn’t trip and fall and land in a sarlaac pit. He’s cold, he’s cool, he’s cerebral. He doesn’t even flinch when approached by Darth Sidius. That’s a serious bounty hunter.
Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka Tano’s character in the Clone Wars has become one of my favorite Star Wars character. Over time, I became invested in seeing her progress as a Jedi. Frankly, she’s the only character that we’ve seen go through the majority of their formal Jedi training. Luke Skywalker was rather abbreviated and most of Anakin’s wan’t on film. So Ahsoka is really our window into seeing how Jedi were trained during the Jedi order. We see her be brave, scared, powerful, and uncertain. We went through all of the ups and downs with her character and saw her maintain her sense of self through it all.
The Sequel Era: The Force Awakens
I anxiously await the opportunity to develop this list. I’m hoping the list includes Captain Phasma, Finn, and Kylo Ren. But I have to wait to find out.
General Grievous – A very unique and interesting character in the Saga, but I don’t think he pushed things forward in a story very much.
Princess Leia – she was a great, strong, female leader. But I thought she was presented rather one dimensionally, unlike how we think of Hera (who has a similar background story, but more depth to her character even after only 14ish episodes).