Star Wars has given us many great things: Lightsabers, Ewoks, a semi-naked Adam Driver, and amazing special effects. Another brilliant thing the fantasy series has given us is great feminist moments.
The film franchise might be set in a galaxy far, far away, but there are strong female characters that us earthlings find highly relatable and inspirational. There has been lots of talk about Rey being the ultimate feminist icon in the latest installments of Star Wars. The series has always had strong characters, starting with Princess Leia way back when the first film was released in 1977. Even the lesser loved Star Wars Episodes One to Three gave us #girlpower moments thanks to Padmé Amidala. Here are 16 of the most feminist moments (so far) in the Star Wars franchise.
16. Princess Leia devises the plan to stop the Galactic Empire.
Who’s the one who comes up with the plan to stop the Galactic/Old Empire? That’s Princess Leia. And she comes up with the plan as Darth Vader is about to board her space ship with the intention of capturing her. With the help of friends (NB: R2-D2), she still manages to get the message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. He might be “her only hope” but without her plans, Obi (and Luke Skywalker) wouldn’t have gone on the mission they did.
15. Rey survives as an orphan and becomes a fighter pilot.
In The Force Awakens, we hear a bit about Rey’s backstory. As a young girl, she was orphaned when Stormtroopers attacked her home on the planet Jakku. She managed to escape although her parents didn’t. Over the years, she survived by working in a junkyard and not taking crap from anyone. Even in the hard times, she didn’t lose hope of her parents returning or pursuing her dreams of becoming a pilot.
14. Padmé fights in the execution pit.
We know that Star Wars Episodes One, Two and Three have a reputation for not being as great as the others, but there are still some strong feminist moments wihtin the movies. Take Padmé fighting in the execution pit on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones for example. Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé were all sentenced to death, but she fights her heart out along with all the men, even taking a potentially fatal scratch across the back in the process.
13. Princess Leia has no problem ordering the men around.
One of the many reasons we love Princess Leia is that she has no trouble ordering people, men in particular, around. Sure, she might be a princess, but that isn’t the only reason she does it. She’s smart, forward-thinking and has the confidence to know when to take charge. If she doesn’t like how something is going, or she sees a better way, she is going to speak up. She isn’t a weak, submissive character at all. We could all be a bit more like Leia.
12. Princess Leia saves Luke and Han Solo and realizes someone has to get the group out of trouble.
It might be Luke Skywalker and Han Solo who come to save Princess Leia from Darth Vader, but she ends up saving everyone’s hides when things go wrong. And she’s not shy about critiquing their rescue plan. Sample quote: “Someone had to save our skins.”
11. Rey makes it clear that she can “handle herself.”
One of the most famous lines from The Force Awakens is when Han Solo and Rey are preparing to fight Storm Troopers. Han hands her a weapon, stating, “You might need this.” Rey brilliantly responds, “I think I can handle myself.” Rather than leaving it at that, Han Solo counters, “That’s why I’m giving it to you.” Many said that the dialogue set the tone for the film and proved Rey to be a self-sufficient young woman.
10. Padmé helps the plans to save the galaxy.
Padmé might have been introduced to us as a Queen being saved, but she quickly becomes a key part of the politics and war. She is involved in some key decisions including getting the Gungans on Naboo to join an alliance against the Trade Federation. What’s more, she leads the hunt for Viceroy Gunray on Theed.
9. Maz Kanata is the all-knowing, wise character.
You can go ahead and call Maz Kanata the female Yoda. She has survived for more than a thousand years and has amassed extensive knowledge on all subjects, including Jedis. She’s a character who demonstrates the many different layers women and female humanoids can have. She’s extremely smart, but she’s also strong in battle. She has a blaster pistol and she knows how to use it.
8. Rey takes on the bad guys head on.
Who is the one to fight Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? That would be Rey. She meets the evil character on a few different occasions and she more than holds her own. She proves that she’s very skilled with a lightsaber despite not having anywhere near as much experience as Kylo Ren. Plus, she demonstrates her smarts with her own Jedi mind trick.
7. Leia kills Jabba the Hutt.
In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia disguises herself as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her “prisoner” to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt‘s palace and save Han Solo. Unfortunately, the plan goes wrong and she is discovered. She is enslaved by Jabba and ends up in that infamous bikini. Some might have issues with the costume, but it’s the actions in the scene that send home a clear feminist message. When Luke arrives, Princess Leia strangles Jabba with the chains he had bound her with.
6. Princess Leia fights alongside the Ewoks.
Ewoks were another brilliant addition to the Star Wars universe in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. When Luke, Leia and Han go to the moon of Endor to destroy the shield generator of the Death Star, they encounter the creatures. The Ewok tribe isn’t initially fond of the humans and their droids, but they gain each other’s trust, and everyone fights the Imperial forces together. That includes Princess Leia on a speeder bike in full gear.
5. Padmé goes undercover as her handmaid.
In Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Padmé Amidala is rescued from Naboo, but the royal star ship is damaged, preventing it from going into hyperdrive mode and returning to the Republic’s capital planet, Coruscant. The group lands on the planet of Mos Espa to find supplies. Rather than waiting on the ship, Padmé dresses up as her handmaid and joins Qui-Gon Jin, Jar Jar Binks and R2-D2 at the junk shop to look for parts. It’s not the only time she disguises herself as part of a mission.
4. Padmé gave hope to the galaxy.
Padmé is a very young woman (she’s already a queen at 14), but she is strong and confident. Even with the trouble with the Galactic Republic and numerous wars, Padmé managed to inspire senators, Jedi and people from all of the planets during some of the darkest times seen in the Galactic Republic’s 5,000-year history. She commanded attention and the respect of everyone.
3. Leia isn’t scared coming face to face with Darth Vader.
In less feminist movies, if a princess came face-to-face with an imposing evil villain, she would probably faint. Not Leia. Leia looked cool, calm and collected when she was taken prisoner in Star Wars: New Hope. She manages to send away secret plans to help save the Rebel Alliance and talk some subtle smack to Darth Vader before she is taken to her cell.
2. Leia won’t take comments from the men.
We’re very familiar with how Princess Leia isn’t afraid to speak her mind. To go along with that, she also won’t take inappropriate or silly comments from men. Luke and Han Solo are at the receiving end of some of her takedowns after they come up with some questionable plans or make “witty” comments. As we mentioned previously, even Darth Vader gets put in his place by Leia.
1. Princess Leia is involved in the battles directly or directing them.
It’s rare to see a princess fighting in a battle. Typically, she’s in some safe tower in a castle. That’s not how Princess Leia does things. We’ve previously talked about how she fought alongside the Ewoks and how she helped master a few different escape plans. She also knows how to use a Stormtrooper blaster. When she’s not on the battlefield, she is at the command center, observing all of the action and making some tough calls.