Star Wars and Strong Female Characters

Strong female characters (and strong male characters too) are important in a story. A character who is flat or just badass for being badass but has no consistency is not interesting at all plus it’s not really realistic and you can’t identify to her/him. However, a character who stays strong to its believes, who has principles, values, who faces challenges and drama (and love can be part of it, having a character loving someone is not a weak character), who really goes on a journey (whether it’s a physical one or spiritual one) is a strong character and a strong character does not have to be a badass fighter, he/she can be but not necessarily, there are other ways to fight and we’re going to show you some who are not fighters with weapons but have other ways to fight and it doesn’t make them less a strong character, there are different ways to be a strong character. Star Wars clearly has strong characters for males and females but today, it’s about the strong female characters we want to talk about. We’ll start in chronological order of the story with the Prequel Trilogy, then The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels and the Original Trilogy, to finish with The Force Awakens.

Padmé Amidala Skywalker
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She’s actually the strongest female character that was created in Star Wars so far and for so many reasons. When we meet Padmé in TPM she is a young queen on Naboo and faces an invasion by the Trade Federation. With the same strong will that her daughter has in the OT, she resists and is willing to find a way to stop this invasion and free her homeworld. Being a queen is having political powers thus being a target for people like the Trade Federation and that’s where her ingenuity comes in, to protect herself Padmé had a double pretending to be the Queen while she hid herself within the handmaiden, a very clever move! As we move in AOTC, she is no queen anymore but is a senator giving her more political power on a bigger scale, she’s part of the people who take the decisions for the Republic, who vote acts … and she is not the corrupted kind of politician, she is all the contrary of corrupted – she has values, principles, she believes in the democracy of the Republic, she believes that peace can be resolved with diplomacy not weapons, she is devoted to her people, she is an honest senator. In a nutshell, she is what every senator should be. In The Clone Wars, she gives the best Star Wars speech ever given in the episode ‘Pursuit of Peace’, it’s inspirational, honest, powerful and true:
“Teckla Minnau. Teckla is one of my aides. Like so many of the people that we tell ourselves we’re here to serve, Teckla lies in a district that rarely has electricity and running water as a result of the war. Her children can now only have bathe every two weeks, and they have no light in which to read or study at night. The Republic has always funded these basic services, but now, there are those who would divert the money to the war with no thought for what the people need to survive. If not for people like Teckla and her children, who are we fighting for ? My people, your people, all of our people. This war is meant to save them from suffering, not increase it. I support our brave soldiers, whether they come from the clones factories or from any of the thousands of systems loyal to the Republic, but if we continue to impoverish our people, it is not on the battlefield where Dooku will defeat us, but in our own homes. Therefore, it is our duty and our responsibility to preserve the lives of those around us by defeating this bill.”
Furthermore, in TCW we can see how much find a peaceful solution for her is important, she goes to great length to find this solution even travelling to Raxus the Separatist Capital to convince Mina Bonteri of a peace treaty. She is the character who is not afraid to do risk her life for the bigger picture, for the bigger fight, she does what she has to do. She fights for her principles and it may not be a fight with a blaster but it is a fight with her will, her words, her determination and that’s truly important to have characters who fight on this side too. The Clovis arc from TCW season 6 probably is one of the best example of Padmé political skills and how she cares for what’s right and for the people. In ROTS, when the Republic falls under a thunder of applause, she is the one who does not applaud who realizes democracy is gone, she’s the one who realizes it and it’s interesting because in the end she remains not corrupted while so many senators applaud Palpatine’s speech revealing he’s ending democracy for a dictatorship that is the Empire. There’s Padmé the fighter with a blaster too in TPM, AOTC, TCW and she is a good fighter, she’s actually badass but not the empty badass character, not at all. In AOTC, she shows her skills fight by handling the Nexu problem on her own in the Geonosis Arena, in TCW with the episode ‘Corruption’ she is the one who saves the day defeating pretty much on her own the Moogans. Love and drama are an heavy part of Padmé life too. She falls in love with the Chosen One Anakin Skywalker, a jedi. For the jedi attachment is forbidden and for a senator to be with a jedi is risky especially if it is made public. So their relationship is pretty much a forbidden love and yet they decide to get together but to live a secret life that’s what it is. They are forced to hide their love (having a secret wedding on Naboo, secretly living together …) and despite being a wonderful love it is also a destructive love. Living in a lie, nobody wants that and it destroys them slowly. Padmé really has to deal with both her duty as a senator and her love life. Anakin/Padmé relationship is not all good and a paradise, it destroys them, it is dangerous. The Clovis arc from TCW season 6 is a good proof of it. Anakin acts as a possessive man and jealous going to beat up Clovis and demanding Padmé not to work with this guy. The arc shows Padmé’s strength and not complying with Anakin’s demand is what a strong character does, she has her own free will and she does what she wants, talking about what they do in their professional lives is normal but resulting in demanding something that’s not. With the Clovis arc we also witness Anakin and Padmé separation for an episode and then they come back together but it shows that their relationship is fragile and based on lies and Padmé does realize it and that’s important for her to notice it and acknowledge it. The big tragedy is their love does not end well, she dies after giving childbirth while her husband tried to kill her on Mustafar because she realized she had lost him, he went to the darkside. Though, until the end, she says there’s still good in Anakin and she is actually right and we see it with the events in ROTJ where he fulfills the prophecy. Does she say it because love blinded her and she couldn’t see what he has become? I don’t think so because in the Mustafar scene, she sees what Anakin has become, she sees she has lost him. She knows him better than anyone else, she knows he is the Chosen One and because of all that, I think she knows that the Anakin she loves is still in there, hidden and corrupted by the darkside but it’s in there because even if he has changed and he changed, who he really is, it’s still in him, the hero is still in him and Luke in ROTJ is able to bring the hero side of Anakin back. Padmé faces a great hero’s journey throughout the PT and TCW with challenges, love, drama ending in a tragedy with her death. In the end she is the strongest female character of Star Wars because of everything she faced and everything she did and fought for.

Ahsoka Tano
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Ahsoka Tano is one of the most beloved character by the fans from TCW (and now from Rebels too), she has been on quite a journey (an epic one) since we’ve first seen her. In TCW the movie she starts as the young and reckless (to use Anakin’s words) padawan of Anakin Skywalker but with the episodes she grows up to be a skillful and powerful jedi and I think because she is the Chosen One’s padawan it influences her actions and also to be different. She faces great challenges, I want to mention 3 especially because they are the biggest on different levels. The first one is fighting Grievous in the episode ‘Duel of Droids’, padawan facing him don’t often (or almost always) come out alive but she does survive a fight against this general, it proves her strength at handling a lightsaber and her determination in combat. The second big challenge is with the season 3 finale ‘Padawan Lost’ and ‘Wookiee Hunt.’ In these two episodes, she is on her own separated from her master, from the clones, without her lightsabers and it is the time for her to prove her training can serve her. She comes out of this adventure stronger than before. The final big challenge is the final arc from season 5 where everything changes in her life. It’s the high point of her journey. Indeed, in this story arc what she believed in – the jedi Order they turn their back on her when she is accused of being a traitor, she has been in fact framed by Barriss Offee on of her dear friends. The only ones truly supporting Ahsoka are Padmé and Anakin. So obviously it’s quite a shock for Ahsoka and her entire world changes but she doesn’t give up she tries her best to prove her innocence with strong determination and she does thanks to Anakin who finds the real traitor. This is a huge event for her character, literally ground-shattering with big consequences. I think Ahsoka not coming back in the Jedi Order at the end is truly heartbreaking, there’s no doubt of that but it was the right decision for her character, after everything that happened staying there would have been against her beliefs. The Jedi Council turned their back on her, they betrayed her, the logical action would have been to support her but they didn’t because they were afraid of the public opinion and the political image, it showed their weakness. Ahsoka’s journey continues in Star Wars Rebels putting her in a new position, she’s not a jedi anymore and her white lightsabers shows her non-alignment, she is also a wiser and older character giving her the role of the person who has the answers now. Ahsoka has a really amazing character development and I think that’s why it makes her an important strong character, not everyone can have such a development. She starts as a padawan to become a rebel so it’s quite a long journey. Unlike Padmé and Leia, she’s single the whole time, she’s a jedi so it’s different for her. However, as Anakin’s padawan during TCW she is influenced by him and what he does, this means her too faces love but in a different way. There’s a parallel with them on how they answer the question of love, Anakin decides to have a secret life with Padmé while Ahsoka stays true to the jedi code and does not engage herself in any romantic relationship with Lux despite having feelings for him, we’ll come back to that a bit later. When she meets Lux in ‘Heroes on Both Sides’ she has prejudices towards him because he is a separatist but at the end of the episode she overcomes her prejudices and unlearns what she learns to see that all separatists are not the evil she thought. It may not seem important at first but this episode is an evolution in her character, she’s a jedi, she fights for the Republic but knowing the separatists the actual people not just the generals gives her another vision of this conflict. To continue on this, I want to come back to her story with Lux. In this episode, she finds a new friend and in “A Friend in Need” especially at the end it becomes more than a friendship in their heart, they don’t say it but you can feel it with their goodbye, you see that she loves him and he loves her back but as a jedi she can’t have attachment and the Onderon arc from season 5 really explores how she deals with her love for Lux with the love triangle (Lux-Ahsoka-Steela). In this arc, things have changed for Lux he is a fighter now and he has feelings for Steela, he still considers Ahsoka as a friend but you can see it’s Steela he loves while Ahsoka she still loves him and her behavior in ‘A War On Two Fronts’ proves it, she is distracted, she’s jealous of Steela. As the arc goes on it changes with the following episode ‘Front Runners’ and the love triangle slowly fades away as she decides to put her feelings aside (recommended by Anakin, her master). I think it’s interesting to mention it because it’s a different approach of love she has than the two previous characters I mentioned and it shows again that love is also part of being a strong character.

Duchess Satine Kryze
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Satine is a politician too, she’s the duchess of Mandalore and sticking to her principles and values are what’s the most important to her with taking care of her people. She’s a pacifist thus she believes in a non-violence and when we meet her in ‘The Mandalore Plot’ she has achieves so much more than we can imagine. Mandalore before Satine’s political regime was a planet of clans and wars and what she has brought on the planet is a new path, peace. Not a lot of people have the determination and the strength to do that but Satine she does. She’s the Nelson Mandela of Star Wars and a great inspiration for people. Being a pacifist takes a lot of bravery, it’s even more courageous than the hero who goes on the battlefield with his sword because it takes a lot of strength to be able to say no to violence. Throughout the series she always remains a pacifist and true to her principles though the road is not easy. In ‘Voyage of Temptation’, she shows that despite being a pacifist it doesn’t mean she cannot defend herself, she can and that’s a strength in her character, plus it makes pretty badass in this scene. Here again we have an example of a badass character who is not empty. Being a pacifist means to believe that war is unjustifiable and refuses to use violence to resolve a problem but it doesn’t mean a pacifist will let herself die, pacifist defend themselves with her own means. This episode also challenges her principle of being a pacifist when she hesitates to kill Tal Merrik because considering the situation it would have been against her values to shoot him, in the end she resists and she does not shoot him but it shows that the road she takes is not always easy and sometimes it can be difficult. As all the strong female characters who are politicians in Star Wars, she is a good politician. She is Mandalore’s best leader and unlike the Death Watch she always cares about the needs of her people and she overcomes corruption in the Mandalore duology of season 3. In every episode she’s in, she keeps reminding us that her duty towards Mandalore comes first for her in season 2 where she makes sure her planet remains neutral, in season 3 where she fights corruption, in season 5 where she decides to surrender instead of continuing Vizsla’s blood bath. Her take on love is also different from Leia and Padmé and more close to Ahsoka. In ‘Voyage of Temptation’ it’s made clear that she loves Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan loves her back but both have decided to put their duty coming first than their feelings. Satine choosing her duty towards her people rather than being able to have a love life too draws a good parallel with Queen Elizabeth I of England who did the same choices. However, it doesn’t mean she has no regrets, we see in this same episode that both have regrets and it’s normal to have some, many years ago before the episode when they both met they took the tough decision not to be together it obviously leaves a mark in their minds, it doesn’t make her less strong, it’s human to have regrets. I think her love story with Obi-Wan is all the more dramatic when we know how she ends, she dies in his arms telling him she loves him, it’s the most tragic death in TCW.

Riyo Chuchi
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Riyo Chuchi only has a major role in 2 episodes ‘Trespass’ and ‘Sphere of Influence’ but with only two episodes she comes out as a strong character. She is a senator so a politician and she is not like Padmé, she does not also fight on the battlefield but she goes on the battlefield too and she fights with her diplomacy. In ‘Trespass’ she puts the diplomacy before the war action because she believes in it and in the end she manages to bring peace and clean up the chairman’s mess who has brought the war. In ‘Sphere of Influence’ she is also one of the characters who resolves the problem by finding one of the chairman’s daughters and she does not stay at her desk, she goes on the field to find the daughter. She’s not a senator who is corrupted, who stays at her desk and remains passive in front of everything that happens, she acts. She’s a really brave character and there’s one line from her that is to remember, it’s this one:
“To die for one’s people is a great sacrifice. To live for one’s people, an even greater sacrifice.”

Steela Gerrera
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Steela is like Riyo, she’s not in a lot of episodes, only in one arc (4 episodes) – the Onderon arc but besides dying at the end she leaves quite a mark on the story. When we meet her, she’s an Onderon rebel fighting for freedom, she already starts to come out as the leader and as so as the arc goes on she becomes the leader of the rebels. As every leaders, she has tough decisions to take and thinks about the people first she’s fighting for rather than her feelings. She’s a clever leader and an inspirational one that’s the reason why the rebels stay strong because they have someone to stand behind, someone to guide them and someone they can trust. Her character dying in the end leaves a mark on the audience but also on the other characters, she dies as a symbol of freedom and that’s a great sacrifice that only a strong character can make.

Asajj Ventress
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Asajj Ventress is one of the character having the biggest development in TCW. She starts in the movie as the badass villain but with season 3 she quickly gets a background story giving us more information about her and this season acts like season 5 for Ahsoka it changes her world. In ‘Nightsisters’ Dooku betrays her leaving her to die, she’s not a separatist anymore so she goes back to the Nightsisters her homeworld setting her on a path of revenge. With this episode, we can see her life hasn’t been easy, it has been a very difficult and challenging life and we understand why she ends up being a villain. However, there’s even more development in season 4 (and in Dark Disciple that we’ll talk later on) for her. In season 4 with ‘Massacre’ she becomes a true Nightsister but looses her clan leaving her on her own and here comes another change for her becoming a bounty hunter in ‘Bounty’. So if we just take a look at her life with season 1-3-4 (and the movie) there’s a lot of things happening. Unlike the previous characters, her beliefs change throughout her story for the reason that she has to change her style of life. Being an assassin from the darkside and a bounty hunter is not quite the same when she becomes a bounty hunter she has a code of honor, code she didn’t have as an assassin. With Dark Disciple she goes even further in the change, she remains a bounty hunter but she helps the jedi, the people she fought at the beginning coming there is quite an evolution – from villain to hero. She also finds love in Dark Disciple with Quinlan Vos and in the end she dies sacrificing herself to save the man she loves, this kind of sacrifice is a noble sacrifice. So if you look at it closely, her story is very much like an old Greek tragedy or a Shakespearean drama in which it’s a male character the hero and who dies in the end and sometimes sacrificing himself for the woman he loves. A character like this one is quite a strong character.

Mother Talzin
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Mother Talzin is a very very very different kind of strong character. She is a villain from the beginning to the end. She is dangerous, untrustworthy, a manipulator, she manipulates Ventress, Savage, Dooku, Maul all of that to achieve what she wants – the perfect example of what it’s like to be a villain. However, she is not a villain just to be a villain, she’s on the darkside of course but she has her reasons for doing what she does in TCW. With Son of Dathomir we learn that Darth Sidious stole her son Darth Maul while he was just a boy so wanting revenge is maybe normal. It doesn’t make her a hero though but it shows us she has her reasons, she does not things for her own pleasure of being a villain and actually it makes her even more human In Son of Dathomir we also learn that in ‘Revenge’ Darth Maul’s reborn cost her, her physical appearance that’s a sacrifice every mother would do for their children. So it gives her a human side that makes her understandable on some point because of course trying to steal the Force out of the Bardottans to come back in a physical form is obviously a selfish action. So that’s why I said she’s a different kind of strong character but she is one in different ways.

Shaak Ti
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Shaak Ti only has a background appearance in AOTC and ROTS but in TCW she has an important role, she has a speaking role in 5 episodes. She is in charge of the clones training on Kamino. Unlike the Kaminoans, she consider the clones as human beings, people thinking not just numbers that can be thrown away. She is a wise character who always try to make the right decision and be helpful. She’s the example of what the jedi should be.

Hera Syndulla
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Hera Syndulla is the leader of the Ghost crew. She acts as the motherly figure of this group of rebels, she is the one who gives the advice, she is the right person to talk to. She also believes in the bigger fight not just Lothal but the rebellion in the galaxy, she’s a real freedom fighter (following her father(Cham Syndulla)’s footsteps from TCW) so she is a character with principles and who believes in something, she fights for something. She’s an inspiration.

Sabine Wren
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Sabine is the young Mandalorian of the Ghost crew as we understand in season 1 with some hints in the dialogues, she was at the Imperial Academy before becoming a rebel but she left the Empire because it couldn’t fulfill her answers and also because she found help. She’s not a leader she’s more of a “soldier” but she is a character who is going to want answers, she’s not going to blindly follow an order so she’s someone who thinks by herself.

Princess Leia Organa Skywalker
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Leia is one of the big three of the OT (the two others being her brother Luke Skywalker and the man she loves Han Solo), she actually the first of three we meet in A New Hope. Right from the start, we see that she is not someone who is easily influenced or who surrenders easily, on the contrary she resists and she does not give Darth Vader what he came for. She’s someone who strongly believes that the evil Empire can be defeated, she understands sacrifice and the bigger fight and for this she does not reveal where the rebel base really is in ANH, she lies for the Rebellion. From the beginning to the end, she sticks to her believe, she fights for the Rebellion for the whole time. No need to say that she is a fighter that she fights with a blaster and she’s pretty good at it. In the 3 OT movies she’s captured each time and each time she never gives up and ends up free despite the pressure that is put on her, despite the torture (in ANH when Vader comes in her cell with the interrogation droid we can only conclude that this droid tortured her and she gives away no answer). So she’s a character who often faces difficult situations but who always finds a way to survive. I think her best escape was in Return Of The Jedi because it represented a symbol, let me explain. We’re going to go back in the past in the story and take a look at The Phantom Menace in which we meet Leia’s father Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One. At the time of TPM, Anakin is a slave and so is his mother, they were owned by Gardulla The Hutt and sold to Watto. Now, let’s go back to ROTJ, in this movie, Leia is captured by Jabba The Hutt who made her one of his dancers, she becomes a slave really and in this same movie she ends up killing Jabba strangling him with her chain, the chain of slavery; in a way it echoes to the past of her family and it ends the slavery that her family suffered from. Some argued that this whole Leia part is proof that she’s weak and it goes against feminism and it’s outrageous because she wears not appropriate clothes but what she wears is important, if she was wearing a senator clothe for the scene it wouldn’t have had the same impact and same symbolism while here the scene has all its meaning, she’s a slave dancer (she’s not going to wear clothes that she likes) and she kills Jabba who captured her deciding he would own her like he had all the rights which he has not so I think, it’s quite a powerful moment and quite a proof that she is a strong character. Beyond Leia the fighter, there’s also some big drama and right from ANH, indeed she witnesses the destruction of Alderaan the homeworld of her adoptive father, the world she grew up on and she looses her adoptive father when the planet is destroyed, the man who raised her so this is quite something dramatic for her, all the people she knew on this planet, they’re all dead, all of them. I think this moment also shows her strength, it happened because of her, because she resisted and did not give up the location of the rebel base, she could have given to the Empire the location of the base right from the beginning but she didn’t, she didn’t because she isn’t weak, she’s strong and like I said earlier, she understands sacrifice and this, is a sacrifice that she was forced to face. Loosing her adoptive father is not the only drama she faces, like said she has been adopted and in this adoption she has been separated from her brother Luke Skywalker, brother that rescues her, brother that she kisses in Empire Strikes Back and that she finally learned he is her brother in ROTJ knowing she too can uses the Force and that her father is none other than the evil they try to destroy – Darth Vader. The Skywalker family has lived a lot of drama, it is no secret and it’s part of the story and part of their strength to be able to rise from the tragedy. In ROTJ, she also talks about her mother (it’s before she knows she was adopted and even if Luke says her real mother, when she talks about it she doesn’t talk about Padmé but her adoptive mother Breha Organa (seen in Revenge of the Sith)) and this mother she lost it so her real mother. Loosing a parent is not easy but not getting destroyed by that loss is the only possibility to survive and even this struggle is not shown in the movies, she obviously faced it. There’s also a last point I want to mention with Leia is … love. Love is also part of her life like all human beings and the man she loves is Han Solo. Her relationship with him is worth talking about first because we get two wonderful scenes one in ESB and one in ROTJ with the “I love you.” – “I know.” – once said by Leia and the other said by Han and the second time the contrary but it’s mostly worth talking about in it because actually her relationship with Han changes him throughout the trilogy. When we meet Han he is just a smuggler while in the end he becomes a hero in part thanks to Leia.

The Force Awakens
Rey
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We don’t know a lot about Rey for now (taking the trailers only in consideration not the rumors or set reports …), we don’t know if she’s a Skywalker/Solo or if she’s someone else but what we know is she is going to be one of the main characters of the Sequel trilogy of Star Wars. From what we’ve seen so far she is a strong female character following the Star Wars tradition of having strong female characters in the main characters. From what we’ve seen in the trailers when we’ll encounter her at the beginning of the movie, she’s a character living on her own on the desert planet of Jakku a dangerous and difficult world being the land of an old battlefield between the Rebellion and the Empire. So she’s a character who’s most likely courageous and who is able to handle herself on her own. She also seems to be a good fighter with her staff reminiscent of a bo staff. From what’s going on with her in the rest of the movie it looks like she’s going on an adventure, the adventure of the hero’s journey like Luke and Anakin before her. Rey promises to be a very interesting and inspirational character, I can say I already love her and can’t wait to know more about her!

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3 thoughts on “Star Wars and Strong Female Characters”

    1. You’re welcome! It sure would be great if toy manufacturers like Hasbro put more emphasis on the female characters, when I look at The Clone Wars figures they have released, there’s so many great female characters they haven’t released in the line which is quite disappointing.

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