WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Rian Johnston’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now.
Over the years, a major part of the Star Wars mythos has been its iconic villains, especially the Sith duo of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Even with supporting villains like Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and General Grievous, there was still a sense of dread that sent shivers down your spine. This got fans all the more excited when J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens promised us a new Vader in Kylo Ren, and a new Palpatine in Supreme Leader Snoke.
While both came off underwhelming, there was still a degree of optimism that they would be handled properly in the darker narrative of Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi. However, along with the other minor villains involved, all Johnson did in this new chapter was create a bunch of cheap carbon copies based on more style than substance. Let's take a look at how this new film fails on this sinister front.
The Force Awakens crafted Snoke as a holographic mystery, building anticipation for Johnson's follow-up. However, Johnson doesn't provide any context to who Snoke is, exactly how he won over Ben Solo, why he hates Luke Skywalker, and why he's about eliminating the Jedi. These are essential if we're to believe he's something other than a Sith, as opposed to being just a random boogeyman.
Apart from a lack of identity, Johnson kills Snoke off just when he gets interesting. As he's torturing Rey, we're finally getting insight into his relationship with Kylo, only for the fallen Jedi to then slice him in half. After displaying strong Force abilities such as lightning and mental manipulation, this felt like a slap in the face. How could someone so powerful leave himself so vulnerable? Johnson shows that Snoke's anything but supreme or a leader here.
In The Force Awakens finale on the Starkiller Base, Phasma was treated like garbage... literally. She managed to survive, leaving us hoping she would play a bigger role here but instead, she's merely used as a plot tool to make Finn look heroic. When Snoke's flagship, Supremacy, is attacked, they engage in a brief and anti-climactic battle which ends in what we assume is her falling to a fiery death.
It's disappointing to see how Johnson wasted Phasma's depth, which we saw in her comic series. There, we got insight into her true character and how she views the First Order as a means of surviving. However, in this film, she's basically confirmed as a goofy lackey who can't get the job done. Phasma ends up being the new Boba Fett -- a soldier who looks cool but doesn't have any major impact. What makes things worse is that this was Star Wars' first chance at creating a memorable female villain on the big screen.