In my most recent banal QOTD answer, M-dashes and Hotrod gently derided my recent pathetic Vox attendance record of late, challenged me to write an actual blog post on my blog, further suggested that said post be a list, and further suggested that said list be of the 10 Best Star Wars Characters of All Time.
Well never let it be said that I won't rise to a challenge (so long as other people give me a healthy kick-start). Here then are the top 10 best Star Wars characters of all time.
1) Darth Vader -- Duh. Is this even in dispute? Nerdy guys talk about idolizing Han Solo, and post-ironic hipsters claim undying allegiance to Lando Calrissian, but right-thinking people understand that Darth Vader is THE iconic character of the series. From his all-black outfit to his signature wheeze, Vader is the personification of evil. In the hands of any other (voice) actor, he may have come off as pure caricature, but James Earl Jones absolutely sells the Dark Lord. As a foil, Darth Vader completely overshadows the supposed heroes of the story. He is at the center of every meaningful development and nearly every real emotional moment in the first three films. And of course, he has the best theme song of any movie character in the history of film. I am frankly, offended to have had to argue this point. Resistance is futile.
2) Obi-Wan Kenobi -- I don't know why the great Alec Guinness agreed to take a part in Star Wars, but let's all thank god (or Guinness' bookie) that he did. From the moment he steps into frame, Guinness classes up the joint and makes everybody around him -- even the hapless Mark Hamill -- better. Remember how I said Darth Vader was involved in nearly every important emotional moment in the first three films? The ones he missed, Obi-Wan got. It is Obi-Wan who sells us on the concept of the Force, the conceit around which the films are built. Obi-Wan is the ethical center of the films, but he is also flawed, and haunted by his mistakes.
3) (tie) C-3PO and R2-D2 -- C-3PO and R2-D2 are the clown princes of the Star Wars films. The droids are absolutely essential to striking the tone of the story and establishing the balance between dark and light that worked so well in the first three films. Anytime something funny happened in Star Wars, it involved the Droids, and it was those moments -- as much as the space battles and dramatic exchanges -- that ensconced the trilogy in the hearts of a generation.
5) Han Solo -- The ugly truth about Star Wars is that the male lead (Luke) and to a slightly lesser extent the female lead (Leia) are kind of boring. Han Solo, space buccaneer and lovable rogue, is the real hero of the films. Sadly, Solo's iconic moment -- when he kills Greedo in cold blood -- has been sanitized for future generations. I won't blame children who read this list in 20 years and ask why Solo is ranked so high. But for those of us who know the truth, this is where he belongs.
6) Lando Calrissian -- Bringing a little style to a galaxy far, far away, Calrissian was a welcome addition to the second and best film, and played a critical part in that film's plot. And he shilled for Colt 45...so that's cool.
7) Boba Fett -- For a moment try to forget the last three regrettable films and their ludicrous attempt to build a storyline around Mr. Fett. Boba Fett became an international icon speaking a total of less than five
words lines (I was close. - ed), and occupying maybe 10 minutes of screen time. That, my friends, is what we call resonance.
8) Chewbacca -- Chewy is another favorite choice of hipsters who are trying too hard, but just because they like him doesn't mean he's not great. Never has a character conveyed so much with a mixture of meaningful stares and screaming grunts...or maybe grunting screams.
9) Leia -- She's spunkier than Luke, and while Carrie Fisher and her occasional accent was no Meryl Streep, she acted circles around Mark Hamill. Someone get this walking carpet out of my way!
9) Yoda -- Whoop, it's late, and I almost forgot about Kermit's monastic younger brother. Of all the characters screwed over by the new movies, Yoda got the worst of it by far. In Empire Strikes Back, his grammatical ticks and weird voice really worked in the character of a wise, ancient warrior priest. Best moment: when Luke says "I'm not afraid," and Yoda replies "Good. You will be. You will be." I still get chills.
10) Wedge Antilles -- Ok, hear me out on this one. Wedge is in it with Luke from the beginning. He's the only tertiary character to survive throughout the three films. Think of him as Luke's conscience, and a cipher for all of us observing these great galactic events from the outside looking in.