Friday, November 11, 2011

Star Wars Villain Rankings

They say that a hero is only as great as villains he must overcome. This is fortunate  because one of the great things about Star Wars is the various threats the heroes face. It isn't just Darth Vader and Stormtroopers. You have a host of bounty hunters, entire races, and forces of nature that our villains have to overcome.

This is an attempt to rank the Star Wars villains in order from best (most enjoyable) to worst (least enjoyable). I will only be considering villains who appear in one of the seven Star Wars films but I will consider appearance by those villains in other materials (movies, television, video games, books, etc.). These rankings will not include natural threats as they are found in nature so, sorry, no Colo Claw Fish, wampas, mynocks, or Exogorth.

The rankings take into account the "presence" of the villian, threat level, appearance, and coolness factor.

  1. Darth Vader - No explanation needed. The entire Star Wars Saga is his story - from childhood to death. He's simply iconic beyond the source material from which he came. Not only is he the coolest SW villian, he's one of the best villians of all time in any medium. Period.
  2. Emperor Palpatine - The man who succeeded where millenia of Sith Lords had failed: Not only to destroy the Jedi but also to rule the galaxy! As chancellor, he walked with Jedi daily without fear that his ruse would be detected. He manipulated Anakin masterfully into doing his bidding, just as he did Count Dooku, General Grievous, Darth Maul, the entire Separatist Movement, and the Galactic Senate.
  3. Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus - Who better to face the Jedi than a fallen Jedi? He knows everything the Jedi are thinking and everything they're going to do. And what's more? He may be right - the Republic is corrupt and the Jedi would join the Separatists if they knew Palpatine was a Sith. Dooku created General Grievous and found Asajj Ventress to do his bidding. If he had lived, given time, Dooku would have taken down Palpatine and ruled the galaxy himself.
  4. Stormtroopers - While individually they're nothing but cannon fodder, collectively they form an unending swarm that has caused Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca to retreat on many an occasion. Today, Stormtroopers are the real-life ambassadors for Star Wars with 501st Legion: Vader's Fist.
  5. Asajj Ventress - This student of Count Dooku holds two red lightsabers with hooked handles that can connect together to form a cool bent double-sided lightsaber. She's powerful enough to go toe to toe with Obi-Wan (even disarming him!) and escapes countless times. She drives Anakin to the edge and the first time he uses a red lightsaber it's one he stole from Ventress!
  6. General Grievous - While I'll admit he gets punked in the movies, it's the two Clone Wars cartoons that put the general at #5. When you see him fight SEVEN JEDI at the same time, successfully killing or injuring many of them, you know he's bad. He didn't buy that lightsaber collection on ebay, after all.
  7. Boba Fett - King of all bounty hunters, Boba Fett succeeds where others fail. He's not afraid to even sass Darth Vader. He doesn't need to brag - his paychecks and records of success do the bragging for him.
  8. Clone Troopers - The clone troopers are just like the Stormtrooopers except their actually competent at what they do. Why are they listed on the villain list, you ask? Aren't they good guys? Well, no. After all, within them was the secret orders to kill all Jedi. An order they had no qualms about carrying out. Why are they listed separately from Stormtroopers? While it's true that the Stormtroopers were originally formed from the remnants of the Clone Troopers, after 12 BBY the Stormtroopers would be increasingly non-clone.
  9. IG-100 MagnaGuards (electric staff) - These ultra-droids are fierce enough to take on a Jedi. Best used in groups, their electrostaffs are lightsaber resistant. They stick almost exclusively to General Grievous but can be seen with Count Dooku on occasion.
  10. Jabba the Hutt - While this giant slug isn't a physical threat, he is powerful indeed. His wealth and reputation are enough to cause flocks of followers to obey his every word. From Boba Fett to Bib Fortuna, many a villain falls under Jabba's control. He even has a hotline directly to the Chancellor! 
  11. Rancor - What's great about these beasts is the sheer size of them. Standing at a full ten meters tall, they're enough to make even a Jedi wet his pants. Malakili wept when his pet died and so did I.
  12. Aurra Sing - You might ask, "What Star Wars movie was Aurra Sing in?" And the answer is, Episode I for about one second watching the podrace. She wasn't a Sith but she could still kill Jedi with the best of them.
  13. Jango Fett - The man who was an army. There's a reason why he was selected to donate his DNA for the clone troopers - he was good at killing Jedi.
  14. Greedo - He ALMOST had Han Solo. If only he hadn't taken the time to boast of his accomplishment, allowing Han to fire first, killing him. Or something like that.
  15. B1 Battle Droids - The worst, most worthless soldiers money can buy. Why are they so high on the list? Because they're comedy gold. It's fantastically entertaining how they take on cowardly and inept they are. Plus, how cool is it to have a hundred soldiers that you can transport in.
  16. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin - That chiseled face just says it all - he means business. While lesser generals and admirals fall victim to Vader's wrath, Tarkin is clearly Vader's equal. Tarkin showed his ruthlessness in destroying Alderaan, even after Leia had apparently cooperated with him. Tarkin - the only man to have killed a planet!   
  17. Darth Maul - The lowest of the Sith Lords, Darth Maul falls to the bottom half of this list. His double edged lightsaber was a visual milestone and he kills Qui-Gon Jinn but besides that there's not much to write home about.
  18. Salacious Crumb - I don't know why but there's a special place in my heart for Jabba's pet. His laugh is so... wicked! While he's no physical threat, he adds to Jabba's presence, mocking all who seek an audience with Jabba. Plus, he's not afraid to mix it up a bit when he chews out C3PO's eye. 
  19. General Veers - During his successful attack on Hoth, his confidence is unshakable. He promises Vader results and he delivers while many of his fellow officers failed.
  20. Geonosians - Like a real hive of wasps, they rely on strength of numbers to succeed. With a hive-mind mentality, they selflessly sacrifice themselves for the advancement of the whole. The Jedi can't block their sonic blasters with their lightsabers. Plus, the "zombie geonosians' were awesome in the Clone Wars TV show.
  21. Vulture Droids (Variable Geometry Self-Propelled Battle Droid, Mark 1) - Able to fight in space or to transform into a four legged tank, these droids carry a threat far beyond the B1 Battle Droids.
  22. Sarlacc - How can a hole in the ground not be last? Because of the awesome image of rows of razor sharp teeth combined with the snaking, grappling appendages that pull creates down into its waiting maw. You might think it got the best of Boba Fett, but actually the exact opposite is true. The "special edition" Sarlacc actually loses points in my book... too much "Little Shop of Horrors" for me.
  23. Droidekas (destroyer droid) - While their ability to fold into a ball and pop up into droid form and their shields were cool, they had no personality at all and proved easy to dispatch most of the time.
  24. Admiral Piett - His most noteable achievement? Surviving as an admiral even after losing the Millenium Falcon. And survive he did... from Ozzel's death until the destruction of the second Death Star.
  25. B2 Super Battle Droid - Like a muscled thug with a laser machine gun, they were much more deadly than the B1 Battle Droid, the B2 Super Battle Droids lacked personality. 
  26. Admiral Kendal Ozzel - While it makes sense that you'd want to surprise you foes, somehow bringing the Death Squadron out of lightspeed too close to the rebel base on Hoth allowed them to raise their shields in defense. But wouldn't they have been able to raise their shields if they had come out of lightspeed farther away? Who knows. Either way, Ozzel died a punk's death.
  27. Nute Gunray - What a cowering, whimpering, sniveling wimp! No sooner does he take action on Naboo then he's wishing he hadn't done anything! He's scared of everyone - Sith and Jedi alike! An ineffectual leader, he should have never left his office.
  28. The Separatist Council - Quick - name five members of the Separatist Council! I'm sure even hard core Star Wars fans would have a hard time with that. Collectively, this group, lead by Nute Gunray, is even worse than he is. These people aren't generals - basically, they were played by Palpatine for their checkbooks. 
  29. Zam Wessel - Worst. Bounty hunter. EVER. Why Jango decided to sub-contract the hit on Padme to her, I'll never know. Instead of taking Padme out with a high-powered laser rifle from 1,000 yards she tries to poison her with giant centipedes? Then Jango takes her out like a real bounty hunter should. Some lessons in life are hard , Zam. Stupid shapeshifter...
  30. Bib Fortuna - What a weak-willed ninny. Even Jabba is sick of him! Still, it says something that even pansies like him have cool names.
So there you have it folks - the top 30 Star Wars villains from the movies ranked for your pleasure. I've got to give an honorable mention to the Wampa... as a natural force, he's able to knock out a Jedi (in training) with a  single blow. If you think about it, if that Wampa hadn't had some leftover meat lying around, the Emperor and Vader would still be ruling the galaxy...

Agree? Disagree? Let me know YOUR thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree that DV is #1 with a bullet. But I would argue that most of his allure is the mystique he transcends beyond the films themselves. For SWU purposes, I would give the title to Palpetine. As you said, he succeeded where the Sith failed for over 1000 years.

    Allow me to play Devil's Advocate regarding Darth Vader's success as a villain.

    DV doesn't really show up till Episode 3. Before that, he's an annoying kid who grows into an annoying teenager. How many Jedi does he actually kill? Not sure. We NEVER see any on screen killing as Darth Vader, it's all inferred. OK, there was that footage where he did kill 2 jedi at the temple, but that hardly warrants being responsible for the destruction of the Jedi Order. In fact, we see more jedi die at the hands of Clonetroopers than Vader.

    Villains come in two categories. Mastermind, and thug. As a thug, Vader served a purpose, he went to Mustafar to kill the remaining separatist leaders. But is Vader a Mastermind? Well, to qualify as a mastermind, you need intelligence and careful plotting and planning. His plot seemed to be to endorse a war and kill young-lings in order to impress his wife. Did he really think that would impress her? And when it didn't, he had a temper tantrum. Controlling your emotions is another hallmark of a mastermind. Obviously, Vsder is lacking.

    So, Vader isn't leadership material. This is evident in Episode 4 where he's essentially Grand Moff Tarkin's errand boy. How menacing is Vader? He kills an unarmed Alderaan security officer and a 65 year old hermit who basically allowed Vader to win.

    Once again Vader shows his lack of thinking. With Leia captured Vader is charged with interrogating her for information about the rebel base. Apparently, even with a mind probe she proves to be resistant. Did Vader forget that he has the Jedi Mind Trick? Couldn't he say "You want to disclose the location of the rebel base." ?????

    In ESB, Vader is somehow in charge. But this is confusing. First he kills Admiral Ozzel for being too close to the system. Why? Did Ozzel disobey a direct order? If Vader had a better tactic in mind than "a surprise attack" he darn should have instructed the fleet. Vader complains that Ozzel came out of light speed to close to the system. What does that mean? Better to come out further away from Hoth giving the rebels more time to escape before a blockade could be formed? Obviously Vader has no gift for strategy.

    This is further evident later on in ESB. His plan was to lure Luke by capturing Han, Leia and company. Yet they escape his clutches....AGAIN! What's his excuse? Ohhhh we disabled the hyperdrive on their ship? Why not just disable the WHOLE FRIGGIN SHIP???? Or better yet, impound it.

    Vader's absent mindedness once again shows up during the confrontation with Luke. We see Vaders power in the ability to move objects with but a thought. Yet, when Luke hurled himself off the ledge, Vader didn't try and Force Grab him?

    In RotJ, Vader is once again relegated to a non-discript position, becoming the new foreman for the construction of the Death Star. Vader confronts Luke again, and still can't seem to defeat some kid who had 3 weeks training as a Jedi. In the end, Vader dies from an asthma attack. The great villain dies, not with a bang, but with a wheezing whimper.

    So much, for the great Star Wars villain.