The Star Wars brand has been one of the longest-lasting movie franchises in the history of cinema. Throughout 12 movies we have been given a very in-depth story that follows a variety of characters travelling across the galaxy. These characters battle each other over hundreds of worlds for control over the republic/empire.
Many movies have tried to replicate what Star Wars has so expertly presented to us but they have failed. A lot of this failure can be attributed to the fact that the writers for Star Wars have created an amazing cast of characters. The characters are believable and there is a humanity to them all that brings the audience in and creates a connection with them.
This connection is even more apparent when you look at the 9 movie saga that is the Skywalker story. To tell a story that spans 9 movies and 44 years you need to have some very impressive character arcs to sustain the saga. We need to follow along with the characters, laughing and crying with them as they learn and grow. This is done incredibly well by the Star Wars writers, for the most part.
Throughout the franchise, there have been some fantastic character arcs but there have also been some that failed to hit the mark. Below we will take a look at the 3 of the Best character arcs.
Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
The character that has the greatest arc in any of the Star Wars movies is the man who is the focal point of the first six. Yes, Luke, Leia, and Han make their way into the story but throughout the first 6 movies, the Jedi turned Sith Lord is the prime focus of the saga.
In the Phantom Menace, we are introduced to a very young Anakin on the planet of Tatooine. Qui-Gon Jinn sees the potential in Anakin and discusses with the Jedi Council that he could be the prophesied one that would finally bring balance to the force. Against the wishes of the Council, Jinn decides to train the boy anyway and after his death, at the hands of Darth Maul, the training is left in the hands of Obi-Wan.
Anakin then becomes, under the tutelage of Kenobi, one of the most powerful Jedi in the Galaxy. Seeing the potential in Anakin, the Emperor does everything in his power to turn Anakin over to the dark side and at the end of Revenge of the Sith, the full heel turn is achieved when Anakin becomes Darth Vader.
Years later, after the Empire has been established, Vader is searching for the lost Death Star plans when he comes across Luke Skywalker. We find out that Luke is Vaders long lost son and this begins the internal struggle for Vader. The Emperor is insisting that Vader eliminate his son and when he balks at this the Emperor tries to murder the young Skywalker. Not being able to see his son die Vader turn back to the light side and throws the Emperor down a power shaft to his death, bringing balance back to the force.
The character arc of Darth Vader is the greatest in the Star Wars universe. His story is the driving force behind the first six movies. Vaders is the ultimate redemption story as he begins good, turns evil but eventually turns back to the light and brings balance back to the Galaxy.
Not an often mentioned character in the history of the Star Wars Universe but one who just so happens to be the favourite of this writer. Wedge may not be the main character in the span of 9 movies but his character arc is incredibly impressive nonetheless.
Wedge first appears in a New Hope as part of the attack squadron on the first Death Star. Besides Luke, he is the only member of the Red Squadron to survive the attack. He is also vital at the Battle of Hoth where he becomes the first person to ever successfully destroy an AT-AT adding yet another bullet point to his impressive resume.
Wedge is also a main cog in the attack on the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Now the commander of Red Squadron Wedge leads the attack on the Death Star. Alongside Lando, Wedge is responsible for bringing down the battle station and the Emperor along with it.
Concerning the movies, Wedge does lay dormant for Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. However, when the Resistance needs help against the Emperor’s Eternal Fleet in Rise of Skywalker Wedge makes an appearance to lead the charge and defeat the Eternal Fleet.
Throughout the Star Wars movies, Wedge may not be the main character but he does have one of the most impressive character arcs. He is present at most major battles during the movies and he plays a major part in them. He is also a character who has managed to survive the events of the Star Wars story. This is even more impressive considering the need for filmmakers to kill off many main characters throughout the newest trilogy. Wedge was a reliable soldier in the Rebel/Resistance army and he should be celebrated as much as all other Star Wars characters.
One cannot discuss great character arcs from the Star Wars Universe without mentioning Luke Skywalker. Luke is the ultimate hero story in the Star Wars Saga.
We first meet Luke on a backwater planet where he has dreams of something bigger. These dreams become a reality when he encounters some droids that the Empire is looking for. After meeting up with Obi-Wan, Luke begins an adventure across the Galaxy as he tries to return the droids, complete with the Death Star plans, back to Princess Leia and the Rebellion. Once these plans are retrieved Luke becomes part of the Rebellion and is the one who destroys the original Death Star.
After drawing the attention of the Empire Luke spends the rest of the original movies battling the Emperor and Darth Vader. He achieves victory in the end turning his estranged father, Vader, to the light side of the force when Vader kills the Emperor.
Following the Rebel victory, Luke takes it upon himself to restart the Jedi Order starting with Han and Leia’s son Ben. This does not go well when Luke realizes that there is too much of the Dark Side in the young Solo and he moves in to kill the boy. He is too late and Ben Solo goes berserk and kills Luke’s other trainees and turns to the Dark Side. This traumatizes Luke and he goes into hiding until he is finally found by Rey and members of the Resistance.
When Rey finds Luke he refuses to help the Resistance. He has become a cynical hermit that wants nothing to do with the outside galaxy. Rey eventually convinces him to train her and after a visit from Ghost Yoda Luke has a change of heart and uses the rest of his Jedi strength to confront Kylo Ren. This distracts the First Order long enough for the Resistance to escape and thus Luke gives his life so that the fight can go on.
Throughout the Star Wars Saga Luke’s story is the hero’s tale. Despite his later need to separate himself from the goings-on of the galaxy he still becomes a hero of the Resistance by sacrificing his life. His hero arc is the greatest story of hero redemption in Star Wars.