I spoke to various Gen Z members of the Star Wars fanbase to find out who their favourite character is in the beloved blockbuster franchise! Read on to find out the results…
One of the most iconic characters in the franchise, Leia has been kicking ass as a feminist icon since the 70s, never letting any man push her aside, and Carrie Fisher, may she rest in peace, channelled her unmatchable energy just as well back then as she did for a more tired and worn down Leia for the sequel trilogy.
Rhiannon Farr, 20
“She’s always been a figure of female power”
“I love Carrie Fisher, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing Leia”
“Leia isn’t afraid to tell people what she thinks (a bit like me)!”
“I like how she’s got Anakin’s attitude and Padme’s wit”
Favourite Leia Moment: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”
Georgia Crimp, 20
“Leia is basically the blueprint for a strong female character, and it’s like she knows it”
“She’s the kind of character that movies and TV shows today aspire to create, and yet struggle to”
“If she was successfully made today, so many would scream that the media has ‘Gone Woke'”
“As a woman, it’s easy to connect with Leia, and as a woman who is always slightly annoyed with the men surrounding her, it’s even easier” [She said she was joking, but I’m not so sure…]
“The only woman of prominence in the original movies, and she’s sarcastic and doesn’t take bullshit? She’s everything that I aspire to be”
“I didn’t watch the films as a child, but [because of Leia] I probably would’ve been insufferable if I had”
Favourite Leia Moment: “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”
The protagonist of the sequel trilogy, Rey has always been a more controversial character in the saga, facing detriment through criticisms mostly based in misogyny. If you look past the toxic fandom surrounding the character, however, Rey has amassed an army of loyal fans, a Leia for a brand new generation of Star Wars lovers.
Kate Warring, 21
“She’ll always hold a special place in my heart because it was just really refreshing to have a female character front and centre”
“Leia was an amazing character but for me didn’t pack as much of a punch as Rey”
“I’m defensive of her because although the sequels can’t be compared to the originals, I do think some people love to hate her because she’s a female lead”
“She doesn’t wear typically feminine clothes, and for me, that’s something exciting to relate to”
Favourite Rey Moment: “When she cut the wing off the ship, I mean, come one“
A character who needs no introduction, everyone’s favourite wise old puppet is beloved and known by everyone, fan or not. Whilst it could be argued that his baby counterpart Grogu has overtaken him in popularity within the mainstream, there’s no denying the cultural impact this small green Jedi made.
Hollie Piper, 21
“He has always been my favourite since I was a child as I found him the most mysterious and interesting”
“He was my favourite character to play in Battlefront 2 [a Star Wars video game]”
“He will always remind me of childhood memories”
Favourite Yoda Moment: “The duel with Palpatine in Revenge Of The Sith and when he trained luke in Empire Strikes Back“
Jar Jar Binks
Now here’s one I bet no one was expecting. Universally known as one of the most annoying characters in the franchise, the fandom has grown more kind to Jar Jar as time has gone on, and when actor Ahmed Best opened up with his behind-the-scenes struggles with the fan reaction to the character, a lot more people started to be more vocal about their love for him.
Lily Knight, 20
“He’s just so naive… he has no bad intentions”
“He’s a bit of a klutz, and I can be too”
Favourite Jar Jar Moment: “When he gets his tongue stuck in the machine; that was the first ever moment of movie suspense in my childhood”
Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader
Now here’s one I bet everyone was expecting. Whether you fell in love with the towering menace that was Darth Vader, or the troubled young hero Anakin Skywalker, there’s no doubt that the chosen one is one of the most popular characters in the franchise, a fact that was accentuated by the joyous reaction to his return in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Jake Cowell, 15
“He’s the leading protagonist, and eventually the relentless antagonist”
“What I love most about this character is something that I feel unable to state with one answer”
“Despite some obvious writing flaws within the first two films of the prequel trilogy, he eventually ends up having what I believe to be one of, if not the most well-written character arcs in all of Star War”
“It was during the Clone Wars series and Revenge Of The Sith that I truly fell in love with the character”
“He’s just really cool, I feel like that’s the best way to describe him; there were moments in the Clone Wars of pure badassery”
“I feel that a strong factor of what makes his character so great is his relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi; every time they were on screen together, I found myself unable to stop smiling, with the only exception being the heart-breaking confrontation at the end of Revenge Of The Sith, where I traded that smile for endless tears”
“I definitely have a personal connection with the character of Anakin, having grown up on the prequel trilogy… I would constantly rewatch Revenge Of The Sith, so much to the point where I could recite the film line-for-line, scene-for-scene, much to the well-hidden annoyance of my Mum”
Favourite Anakin Moment: The build-up to the Mustafar duel following his commitment to the Dark Side. Seeing a character I’ve grown up with acting so dark and evil will always stick with me”
Ben Russ, 21
“[I loved] seeing him start off admiring Jedi in The Phantom Menace, then gradually seeing him have to deal with conflicted emotions after his mother dies”
“Hayden [Christensen] doesn’t deserve the hate, he played the character great; he just had to deal with the George Lucas dialogue”
“I hate sand too”
Favourite Anakin Moment: “The confrontation with Obi-Wan does it for me. Just seeing his anger and how Anakin… has almost fully transitioned into Darth Vader”
Harri Jones, 21
“I love how his potential is essentially limitless and near Godlike (which is shown well in [the Mortis arc] of the Clone Wars where he essentially becomes the embodiment of light and dark), and yet his compassion and human tendency seem to garner him more respect”
“His inner conflict, I feel, relates to a lot of people. Wanting the best for everyone around him, whilst also trying to play by the rules he’s forced to follow, sometimes disobeying them for the greater good”
Favourite Anakin Moment: “When he cuts off Mace Windu’s hand; that scene demonstrates what the Jedi represented by that point, the hypocrisy in going as far as to use the same language used by the Sith Lord himself. [Anakin] ultimately makes his decision to betray the Jedi, who, up until that point, had mainly ignored his fears and feelings… and was told that they were ‘not the Jedi way’, and yet one of the most prominent council members was about to murder an unarmed, defeated enemy. Mace also not trusting Anakin after all he went through and sacrificed during the Clone Wars I can see swaying his decision also. It’s like a long list of small events eventually built up until he passes the point of no return… There’s just so much to unpack in one small scene”
Harrison Ford was a sex symbol of the 70s/80s, and Han Solo played no small part in that. From selfish smuggler to hero of the rebellion, Han has always been a fan favourite and taught an entire generation of men to be ‘cool’ (whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for interpretation).
Ben Murphy, 20
“He’s just a fucking legend”
“I wouldn’t say we’re very similar, but I’d love to be”
Favourite Han moment: “I love you” “I know”
Elliot Morgan, 21
“Han Solo is the definitive anti-hero in cinema”
“As a fan of the Westerns, particularly the Spaghetti [low budget Italian] subgenre, I have always been fascinated that Star Wars is much closer to films such as Fistful Of Dollars than its sci-fi contemporaries”
“If the Old West is substituted for Tatooine, and the horses for X-wings, then Han Solo is the Clint Eastwood of the Star Wars universe”
“Unkempt and morally dubious, Han Solo is a classic gunslinger- of particular note in a franchise so concerned with good versus bad”
“I vaguely remember wearing a Han Solo costume to the birthday party of a friend in the early years of primary school. I imagine I looked extremely cool”
Favourite Han Moment: “It has to be the iconic “I know”… I struggle to describe the perfection of this moment; it simply makes sense. Also, the score during this scene may be my second favourite in the entire franchise – let us be honest though, nothing can beat ‘Binary Sunset'”
One of many perfect examples of characters who were cool in the movies then developed like mad in the Clone Wars animated series, Darth Maul went from a silent badass to arguably one of the greatest and most well-developed villains of all time.
Connor Matthews, 21
“Favourite character is Maul, especially Clone Wars Maul”
“In the prequels, we just see him as Palptine’s lap dog. Then, throughout Clone Wars and Rebels [animated series], you see how intelligent he actually is. He starts the Shadow Collective with all of these criminals, and takes over Mandalore as well”
“He just never gives up; he’s so resilient”
“He predicts Anakin’s fall to the dark side”
“His whole arc was just perfect”
“He hates everyone, and to be fair, I hate 90% of the people I meet”
Favourite Maul Moments:
“His death; I think it’s the perfect ending for him. He dies in the arms of the person he’s hated the most, knowing Palpatine will be destroyed”
“When he comes back in Clone Wars… when you find out he’s kept himself alive for all these years purely out of hate. All the hate and isolation make him go completely nuts and he’s like this feral spider Sith, and that is just so fucking cool… he probably didn’t sleep all that time, just purely thinking about revenge… he will never stop”
Here’s an obscure one for you all: Clone Captain Fordo, a character from the 2003 Clone Wars animated series (yep, that’s right, there’s an older Clone Wars series). I’m not going to pretend I know much about this character, so I’ll let Luke do the talking instead…
Luke Hazell, 20
“Fordo was an absolute beast, from his battle with Durge [fearsome bounty hunter] to going toe-to-toe with… General Grievous, to his solo stand against the Separatists during the invasion of Coruscant”
“He was a silent leader whose troops followed him without hesitation”
“Fordo may not have had any character development… but every time you saw him pop up on your screen, you knew there was about to be some spectacular action”
“Fordo… was my first exposure to Star Wars outside of the films and Lego games”
Hearing the noise of the gunships flying low to the ground during [Clone Wars] excellent opening will always be a core memory to me”
“Fordo and his squad ignited a love for Clone troopers that I have carried with me since”
Favourite Fordo Moment: “The invasion of Coruscant… as the streets became overwhelmed, we see… Fordo as he becomes the only thing in the way of the Separatists; he obliterates multiple super battle droids using any means at his disposal”
A man who needs no introduction, Ewan McGregor transformed the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi from admired old master into a certified pop culture icon, owning the role throughout both the films and his awesome spin-off series (which, for all its flaws, allowed McGregor to deliver arguably his best performance as the character).
Will Peters, 20
“He’s an integral part of the storyline, who I always feel is genuinely trying to do his best… plus he’s pretty cool”
Favourite Obi-Wan Moment: “High Ground- for obvious reasons”
Jude Gradwell, 20
“He is THE guy, driven by what’s right for the galaxy, and his friends”
“I don’t have any real personal connection [to Luke], although I do remember being a very small child, and having Darth Vader and a stormtrooper come to a birthday party and trying to attack one of them with my new lightsaber”
Favourite Luke Moment: Return Of The Jedi, and all his interactions with Vader… it’s all gold and finally lets us see the… Jedi Master”
The main villain in the Star Wars franchise, Palpatine is truly the embodiment of pure evil, from his dark, twisted appearance to his sneering and condescending voice. He can also shoot lightning out of his hands, which is pretty darn evil if you ask me.
Ryan Newey , 21
“One of the… elements that allows an audience to be captivated by a story and relate, empathise and root for its heroes is the presence of a great villain”
“The transformation from the insidiously foreshadowed ‘big bad’… in the Original Trilogy, to the cunning and conniving Sith secretly climbing the ranks of the Galactic Senate to enact… revenge upon the Jedi in the Prequel Trilogy is deeply satisfying”
“[With] the climactic revelation of his grooming of Anakin Skywalker, and enaction of Order 66, [Palpatine] is a stand-out and saving grace in Lucas’ flawed prequel saga”
“To compare myself to an intelligent, conniving and scarred villain is not a comparison I can make… but I can say I love a good villain”
“The thing that links us, perhaps, is simply the childhood memories of watching Revenge Of The Sith and being entirely entranced by the plot and his character”
“Love him, or love to hate him, the complexity of his character and quality of his villainy solidifies Palpatine in cinematic history… which is even more impressive when able to stand out against the powerhouse of bad, Darth Vader”
Favourite Palpatine Moments:
“Whilst other fans would quote scenes from Return Of The Jedi as the standout moments for the Emperor, I sadly will have to leave their fans shaking their heads, as I choose… some of his incredible moments from Revenge Of The Sith“
“Order 66 is an incredible cinematic sequence, being epic, heartbreaking and mind-blowing. To see the fall of the heroes you were driven to root for, undone by their own hubris… solidifies Palpatine’s status as a villain”
“It would be an injustice to omit the joy of seeing a CGI politician twirling through the air, cutting through some of the most powerful force users in the galaxy”
Boba Fett is an odd one, because in the Original Trilogy, aside from his cool armour, he was a bit of a chump, going down with ease before ever getting to prove himself. However, in the realm of the expanded universe, Boba’s legend grew, until finally, in the Mandolorian (and his own solo show), Fett got a chance to truly shine on screen, escaping his father’s ever-present shadow.
Joe Cowell, 17
“I like… that he has the first Mandalorian armour seen in Star Wars”
“He was always my favourite character when I was younger… I think it’s because I loved his armour design”
“Being a masked bounty hunter added an aspect of mystery to his character in the original films”
Favourite Fett Moment: The Cloud City Han Solo carbonite scene, as the colours just look amazing, and make him seem so intimidating.
Writer’s Choice: Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Yes, yes, I know, I’m sure you’ve read enough about Anakin Skywalker for one day, but I’ll be damned if I’m not weighing in on this too. One of the greatest antagonists of all time, Anakin Skywalker represents the hero’s downfall, how even the most caring of souls, if led down the wrong path, can become twisted by evils.
Now, I shall preface this segment by saying: I don’t particularly care for Anakin pre-Revenge Of The Sith. He’s cute enough in Phantom Menace, near insufferable in Attack Of The Clones, and a bit disinteresting in Clone Wars compared to the show’s original characters. But from Revenge Of The Sith onwards? He is perfection…
Revenge Of The Sith gives us Anakin at his highest point: a charming hero, ready to take on the galaxy with his mentor (and best friend) Obi-wan, and yet the moment he returns to Coruscant, the cracks begin to show, with the doubt surrounding his relationship, the Jedi council and his mentors.
Anakin’s relationship with Padme slowly crumbles throughout the movie, allowing obsessive thoughts to corrupt his mind, leading him to become downright delusional. He convinces himself into thinking that Padme prefers Obi-Wan to him, and also believes that Padme, the front-line fighter for liberty, would rule the galaxy by his side. Of course, when she rejects him, he lashes out and blames it on Obi-Wan.
A lot of my love for the character stems from Hayden Christensen, whose heroic good looks provide a fitting juxtaposition towards his dark nature, and delivers his lines with a fitting level of manic delusion, even when the script seems to be working against him. Thus, seeing him return to the role one more time in Obi-Wan Kenobi, behind the shattered mask of Darth Vader, was truly an emotional moment for me.
As for Vader, well, what’s there to say aside from the obvious: he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest villains to ever exist, embarrassing Palpatine slightly in that regard I’m afraid (sorry Ryan). He has a physical presence in the original trilogy that is unmatched, especially in Empire, where he towers over Luke, striking fear into the heart of the audience even when he’s holding back his true power.
There’s been an obsession in the fandom these days with displaying Vader as an unstoppable force of nature, but I’ve always preferred Vader as the quiet and swift sword of oppression as opposed to a god who destroys all in his path. Of course, it’s awesome seeing him cut down Rebels, or destroy an entire room chasing Cal Kestis (seriously that chase was awesome), but there’ll always be something about the quieter Vader that speaks more to me.
Favourite Anakin Moment:
The Mustafar confrontation, both the duel of sabres and the duel of words. The fight itself is suitably grand and epic, with some ridiculously imaginative set pieces that also leave room for more intimate moments in the duel, alongside swinging across a tower slowly sinking into lava.
Special mention has to go to the verbal confrontation on the landing platform, though. Hayden’s line deliveries are so on point, I can literally hear them in my head right now.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that Star Wars means a lot of different things to different people. In a time where the franchise is a lot more divisive, remember that just because someone loves something different to you, doesn’t make them any less of a Star Wars fan.
As the franchise has grown bigger and produced films and series more regularly, a lot of people have grown to see themselves as above it, and above those who still enjoy it, and you know what? That’s fine, be my guest, if you don’t like Star Wars anymore, so be it. Just remember that everything in the franchise, even if it’s your least favourite film or series, is special to someone.
These films are ultimately about coming together to face insurmountable odds, and whilst I am nowhere near foolish enough to believe that the fandom will fully unite one day (that’s impossible when some ‘fans’ are too full of hatred and bigotry), I do hope that reading this has reminded you of the joy of being part of a greater community that all love one thing: Star Wars!