Today, during the Great Snow of 2014 here in the South, I rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. I realized, much to my surprise, that I don’t have a favorite character.
Let me explain why I took special note of this. It’s not “They’re all so awesome I just can’t decide.” I do enjoy the movies, I want to be clear on that, I just don’t feel strongly enough about any one character to say he/she/it is my favorite. That’s odd for me. I have a compulsion to determine my favorite character in any of my fandoms. I wouldn’t say it’s something that usually takes a lot of effort, I’ve just always done it.
I saw Star Wars early on but never became a really big fan, and I’m partly inclined to pin it on this character thing. During my formative fandom years, when I was madly in love with Mr. Spock and would’ve sold my soul to travel with the Doctor and was emotionally invested in those shows at an astounding level, I just enjoyed watching the Star Wars trilogy as movies. I certainly didn’t want to live in the Galaxy Far Far Away, not only because it seemed kind of sucky for the average citizen, but because there wasn’t a particular person I wanted to meet. If I’d given any thought to being “in” Star Wars, I would’ve just felt adrift in this huge, cold, mostly-threatening galaxy.
Again, I like the movies. They’re fun on a casual level and rewarding on a deeper level at the same time. There’s enough analysis material to keep a person occupied for life. They have that marvelous “wacky tour of stunning space future” quality that I so enjoy in sci-fi. The characters work splendidly as an ensemble, and I can’t think of anyone I dislike in the original trilogy. It’s just really interesting to me that a favorite character never emerged, and I wonder why. This is obviously not the experience that most people had. I have many friends who are deeply invested in the fandom and feel strongly about the characters, and the level of commitment Star Wars people have to this fandom is legendary!
Maybe it’s because they’re a good ensemble, and I was more interested in their dynamics than in the characters themselves. Maybe Darth Vader was the most memorable personality in the movies, so him being scary overshadowed my vague attachments to the other characters. Maybe it’s just a matter of personal preference, and I was more attracted to other fandoms. Maybe it’s exposure; I had huge seasons of Star Trek and Doctor Who to watch, but just these three movies for Star Wars. Maybe it’s because they’re tropey characters in a grand epic storyline, maybe a little less individualized than they might be. Maybe it’s a script failure, and the characters I would’ve loved didn’t get enough attention — I liked Leia in this rewatch, but I was surprised how little screen time she really had. A lot of my friends love her and she’s always an example of kickass female characters in sci-fi, and I can see that now, but I had to be looking for it. (Here’s a list of awesome things about her from my friend Rose, all true, but in my opinion her potential still goes unrealized).
For what it’s worth, after this rewatch and a lot of thought in an attempt to figure it out, the position of favorite character is wavering somewhere between Darth Vader and C-3PO. Make of that what you will. I also realized that the trilogy bears some thematic similarities to my sci-fi book project, so maybe it influenced me more than I thought. (I’ve got two guys in a spaceship going to save a girl with whom they’re in a love triangle, although a skewed one… I’ve got quasi-magical forces permeating the galaxy that humans can learn to manipulate… I’ve got villains with planet-exploding satellites…)
At any rate, I often enjoy something much more when I understand why others enjoy it, the way I did with Leia. Tell me about your favorite Star Wars character in the comments, and especially tell me about why you like that person!