The Star Wars Saga, in all its many varied forms of media, has shaped the fabric of modern pop culture for generations. George Lucas’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope altered cinema and audience imaginations in 1977, and continued to do so for six more films that spanned two decades. Lucas allowed a certain amount of tertiary input from creative minds interested in adding depth to his galaxy resulting in books, comics, and video games inspired by Star Wars to carry on its legacy. On October 30th, 2012, Disney announced that George Lucas would be selling Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise to them for $4.05 billion dollars. The deal effectively retconned the work of authors and artists that had helped shape the then current Star Wars franchise; all Expanded Universe publications became Star Wars Legends, and anything produced by Disney and its affiliate Marvel Comics became canon.
While this shocked and angered some Star Wars fans, the creative product that came out of Disney and Marvel afterwards wasn’t wholly divergent from Lucas’s vision. The creative minds behind the Star Wars Universe today are some of the most prolific contributors to the current cultural zeitgeist. The latest Star Wars films produced by Disney, including The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Solo: A Star Wars Story have captured the spirit of Star Wars with their new and innovative characters, while certain Marvel Comic characters have proven more popular than characters seen on screen. Disney and Marvel have introduced dozens of new Star Wars characters that have become beloved and loathed alike. Here are nine that capture Star Wars at its best, and ten that don’t do it any justice.
19 NOT SO GREAT: SNOKE
When Supreme Leader Snoke was originally introduced in The Force Awakens, he seemed like a formidable villain strong in the Dark Side of the Force. Shrouded in mystery, he was responsible for creating the First Order and continuing Emperor Palpatine’s vision of galactic domination, as well as turning young Ben Solo to the Dark Side.
However, by the time he was seen again in The Last Jedi, he was depicted as an incompetent leader who was bested by his own pupil, one who wasn’t even in full control of his powers. No questions about his backstory ended up being answered, and he died unceremoniously serving little purpose other than to ensure his pupil took over his position as the next Supreme Leader.
18 GREAT: REY
As one of the central figures in the latest trilogy of Star Wars films from Disney, Rey’s journey from orphaned scavenger to powerful Jedi reinforces all of the best themes of the iconic saga. Like the famous Luke Skywalker before her, she epitomizes hope, heroism, and the pursuit of free will triumphing over the concept of destiny.
Rey is tough, compassionate, intuitive, and brave, and despite being incredibly strong in the Force, she is relatable because of her uncertainty. Not only is Rey’s hero quest compelling as a narrative, her character stands alongside Leia Organa Solo as a vibrant inspirational figure, and leads the charge in giving women bigger roles in the Star Wars Universe.
17 NOT SO GREAT: CASSIAN ANDOR
Rogue One saw the return of some old favorites and the creation of some new ones. It introduced members of the Rebel Alliance whose heroism had only been mentioned in passing. One of those Rebel leaders was Captain Cassian Andor who, for better or for worse, got the job of babysitting Jyn Erso while she looked for her father Galen, the original engineer of the Death Star.
For the majority of the movie, Cassian’s compelling narrative of being a “good guy” willing to do “bad guy” things is overshadowed by his constant whining. While Jyn is getting things done, he’s busy talking her ear off about it. His character was never fleshed out enough to make viewers care about his ultimate demise.
16 GREAT: EZRA BRIDGER
Disney’s Rebels series bridged a gap in the Star Wars timeline that fans had been curious about for years -- the time period between when the Empire rose to power and when Luke Skywalker destroyed it. The series focused on the adventures of Ezra Bridger, a young Padawan, and the crew of the Ghost five years before Luke would blow up the first Death Star.
A revolutionary leader in the early days of the Rebellion against the Empire, he was an operative for the Rebel Alliance and a highly Force sensitive Jedi. He encountered famous Force users, from Jedi Master Yoda to Darth Maul, and helped to answer questions about what happened to all the Jedi Darth Vader supposedly hunted down.
15 NOT SO GREAT: QI’RA
Introduced in Solo: A Star Wars Story as the love interest of a young Han Solo on Corellia, she later serves as a member of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate when he goes off world to become a smuggler. As one half of a doomed Romeo and Juliet story arc opposite Han, she isn’t given much character development, and only serves to move his plot points along.
Though she would eventually become the leader of Crimson Dawn and play the part of Lady Crime Boss, that aspect was introduced at the end of the film just as her character gets interesting. She could have been intriguing and intimidating, but instead she was two dimensional and lacking in motivation.
14 GREAT: KYLO REN
As the first new Star Wars film to be released since George Lucas’s prequels, The Force Awakens was poised to lead the Star Wars saga in exciting new directions. It enriched the galaxy with the introduction of a variety of new locations and characters, and challenged the expectations of long time fans.
Within the first ten minutes, Kylo Ren was established as an enigmatic villain who was both incredibly powerful with the Dark Side (he could freeze a blaster bolt in mid air), and also highly unstable. His character arc of being the son of the famous Rebel Hero Han Solo turned next Darth Vader has continued to be compelling in The Last Jedi. He is a unique villain that defies categorization with his unpredictability.
13 NOT SO GREAT: DR. CYLO
The 25-issue series Darth Vader that focused exclusively on the Sith Lord during his early days of serving the Emperor was an engrossing contribution to the Star Wars mythos. The time period between Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader and when he is seen at his peak in films such as Rogue One or A New Hope offered room to expand on the intricacies of the Dark Lord’s character.
However, the series was populated by the occasional character that wasn’t very interesting, such as Dr. Cylo, a “mad scientist” obsessed with cybernetic engineering. He believed in galactic progress through mechanical augmentation, which while interesting, wasn’t given much more thought than a few panels.
12 GREAT: BB-8
In the grand tradition of anthropomorphic droids in Star Wars, BB-8’s appearance in The Force Awakens as a rolling bundle of heroics set the tone for the entire rollicking film. Originally the droid of Poe Dameron, ace fighter pilot for the Rebel Alliance, he becomes associated with Rey when she finds him alone on Jakku.
Possessed of the same spunky personality as R2-D2, BB-8 has continued to be a source of amusement and fun in the latest Star Wars films. He has a completely different look than any other droid previously seen on-screen or in the comics, and the abilities he has as a sphere allow him to help his human friends out of a variety of situations.
11 NOT SO GREAT: DIRECTOR ORSON KRENNIC
While some Star Wars fans may not have cared how the Death Star plans came to be in the hands of the Rebel Alliance, knowing who was responsible for dreaming up the Death Star itself was fascinating to explore in Rogue One. Anything interesting about its conception was lost the moment fans realized the person responsible for it wasn’t an evil genius, but a member of middle management with a chip on his shoulder.
Director Orson Krennic was a bureaucrat who desperately wanted the attention of Emperor Palpatine, but was constantly overshadowed by his more competent and frightening higher ups -- Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. This ensured Director Krennic would always be a forgettable villain the Empire had no problem with losing.
10 GREAT: FINN
While the prequels introduced the concept that the original stormtroopers of the Empire were clones, A New Hope defined them (sort of?) as clearly humans that had gone through the Imperial Academy. In The Force Awakens, we meet FN-2187, a stormtrooper with a conscience that decides to defect from the First Order after he witnesses the massacre of a village on Jakku.
Finn is an important character not only because he gives insight into how the First Order filled its ranks, but because he shows not everyone siding with evil wants to remain that way. He isn’t always sure of his actions, but he listens to his conscience, and brings a great deal of heart to the Resistance and friendship to Rey.
9 NOT SO GREAT: MAZ KANATA
While the new Star Wars trilogy has introduced dazzling new locales and filled them with interesting characters, it also has very uninteresting ones being oddly vital to the main plot points. Take for example, Maz Kanata. An old associate of Han Solo’s, she’s a dispenser of Yoda-like advice, if Yoda ran a tavern and needed bifocals. She is the one that has Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber (for some reason) in The Force Awakens, and gives it to Rey.
Maz appears again in The Last Jedi, dispensing intel to ex-stormtrooper Finn about a code breaker on the planet of Canto Bight. Maz’s only purpose is to provide information, and while she remains mysterious, she isn’t charismatic enough for anyone to want to know more about her.
8 GREAT: EVAAN VERLAINE
A pilot for the Rebellion that has been involved in battles from Scarif to Yavin, Evaan Verlaine hailed from Alderaan and met her fellow Alderaanian, Princess Leia, shortly after the first Death Star was destroyed. She wasn’t too impressed with a pampered member of royalty who was suddenly calling the shots. She addressed the apparent apathy that Leia had towards seeing their home planet destroyed, and while it initially angered the princess, Evaan’s brutal candor meant the two soon became friends.
While being a strong role model in her own right, Evaan helped flesh out Leia’s character quite a bit, and the two were involved in secret missions themselves, rescuing surviving Alderaanians all across the galaxy.
7 NOT SO GREAT: DJ
When ex-stormtrooper Finn and Resistance member Rose are forced to go to the casino planet of Canto Bight, they know they’ll be rubbing shoulders with the scum and villainy of the galaxy. Their mission involves finding a code breaker that can hack into the navigational systems array of a Star Destroyer, which is where DJ comes in.
The character of DJ is incredibly untrustworthy from the start, and suspiciously knowledgeable about Imperial codes for not being a member of the First Order himself. This doesn’t stop our heroes from enlisting his services, and being completely shocked when he sells them out. It was a wasted opportunity for Lando Calrissian to make a much needed appearance, in a crucial juncture in the plot.
6 GREAT: ROSE
Rose becomes a vital character during The Last Jedi, when she helps Finn figure out how the Resistance can outrun the First Order now that they possess hyperspace tracking. Rose first encounters Finn when he’s trying to board an escape shuttle to go find Rey, and conveys her altruistic principles by knocking him out on the hanger floor for desertion.
Rose would go on to save his life when he later attempts a dangerous suicide mission, proving her loyalty to their friendship. Rose represents the sort of unapologetic goodness that is a light in the darkness for the Resistance, as well as the Star Wars fandom.
5 NOT SO GREAT: DRYDEN VOS
Dryden Vos promised to be a villainous paradox -- he's a merciless crime boss draped in the luxury of the finer things, who hobnobbed with the galaxy’s elite. He was the face of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, and held the leash on which Han Solo’s ex girlfriend was tethered to. She owed him and Crimson Dawn her life, a debt which she would repay by being his top lieutenant.
While he seemed cool, all scar-faced and flowing black capes, he made catastrophically fatal errors that no one as successful as him should have made. For example, in order to monitor Solo’s smuggling errand for him, he sends his top lieutenant to accompany them, after a speech about not wanting anyone to recognize Crimson Dawn’s involvement.
4 GREAT: DOCTOR APHRA
In the early days of Darth Vader’s Jedi stomping career, he would occasionally get on Emperor Palpatine’s bad side. He wasn’t impervious to scrutiny and frequently found himself at odds with his Sith master. Such circumstances necessitated the services of Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra, an intergalactic archaeologist with a knack for fixing up rare droids. She was introduced in the 2015 Darth Vader series, assisting Vader with various tasks, and her popularity soared.
Doctor Aphra is the only Marvel-introduced character to be given her own spin-off series. A spunky, intrepid anti-heroine, she is as quick with her words as with a blaster pistol. Her relationship with Vader was one of mutual respect and even admiration, which says something about her finer qualities.
3 NOT SO GREAT: SANA STARROS
The Star Wars fandom met Sana Starros as she was tracking down her former lover, Han Solo. As one can imagine, Han has a long list of jilted partners, all of whom would love to find him on the opposite end of a blaster rifle.
When Starros appears, it’s at a time when he’s also interested in Princess Leia, and though Leia hasn’t yet revealed her true feelings for Han, she’s none too pleased to learn Starros and him were once husband and wife (if only for a job). She’s supposed to be a compelling female character but her onenote revenge storyline only served to develop Han’s character backstory, not hers.
2 GREAT: 0-MR1
Ever wonder how C-3PO got that red arm in The Force Awakens? The touching backstory ironically involved a droid in the service of the First Order named 0-MR1, or Omrie. He was placed in Threepio’s care while being transported to the Resistance base, but the ship crashed on a harsh planet before it arrived.
Threepio and Omrie spend a lot of time discussing droid morality when caught up on opposite sides of a huge galactic war. The two decide to put aside their differences and work together to survive long enough to be rescued. When Threepio is attacked by a swamp creature and loses his arm, Omrie sacrifices himself to save him. Threepio takes Omrie’s arm as a replacement, in tribute to his brave friend.
1 NOT SO GREAT: CAPTAIN PHASMA
When Captain Phasma first appeared in The Force Awakens, she was an instant hit. Both visually intimidating and uniquely positioned in the hierarchy of the First Order, she left quite the impression as the only female stormtrooper on screen, and in charge of an entire garrison of troops. She was a good foil for Kylo Ren’s dark insanity and General Hux’s mewling bureaucracy as a woman of action.
Unfortunately, Captain Phasma got very little screen time, the reasoning behind her cool all-chrome armor was never explained, and any chance of a good story arc faded with her when a former stormtrooper under her command ends her in a hangar bay.