Star Wars Keeps Ruining Its Great Villains

By Christopher Isaac | Published

george lucas darth maul

Though the Skywalker family might be synonymous with Star Wars, there is no denying that the villains really make the franchise special. In the original trilogy, Darth Vader has the most memorable costume and quoted lines because he is a huge part of what people love about those movies. The only problem is that Star Wars keeps shooting itself in the foot from being able to recreate that success because it keeps killing its villains off too soon.

Boba Fett Was Killed Off Too Early

boba fett movie

Honestly, this is not even a new problem. Even in the original trilogy, George Lucas made the bizarre choice to take the mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett and completely squander his cool aura by having him unceremoniously eaten by the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. And nobody who has directed Star Wars since then seems to have learned from that mistake because they all keep killing the best villains, too.

The Saga Of Darth Maul

first lightsaber

In The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul was literally the poster character for the movie—if you go look at the original poster, his character takes up, by far, the majority of it. He had such a cool look that captivated audiences in the trailers, especially his double-edged lightsaber. In the movie, he was part of arguably the best lightsaber fight in the entire series…and then he gets chopped in half before we learn anything about him. He became the first Star Wars villain of the prequels to be wasted, but not the last.

And it is not hypothetical potential that leads to calling these character deaths to be wasteful either. Darth Maul’s story was continued in the cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and many consider him to be one of the show’s highlights. He had so much story left to tell, and that could have been integrated into the movies instead of him being a long-term villain. But Star Wars has an odd propensity to kill off its villains in the same movie in which they are introduced.

Prequel, Sequel, Doesn’t Matter, Villains Get Killed

general grievous

The prequels likewise did a disservice to General Grievous, who was portrayed as a terrifying threat in the cartoons. But then, in Revenge of the Sith, he is unable to defeat Obi-Wan even while wielding four lightsabers at once. Why do the Star Wars movies keep making such great villains just to underutilize them? Captain Phasma was the latest victim of such treatment in the sequel trilogy.

Side Stories Try To Salvage The Villains

Sure, there are books, video games, and TV shows that can further flesh out these characters now. But not everyone is going to seek those stories out. And it comes off as a retcon for the Star Wars movies to have these villains be dispatched so easily only for the side stories to have to try and restore their credibility. It would really be best if the movies just stopped killing off characters with so much potential in the first place.

Villains That Survive Can Be Used Again

george lucas disney

The directors of the Star Wars movies need to remember that there are more ways for villains to be defeated than killing them off. The villain can lose all their power but manage to escape. They can be imprisoned. Or they can follow inspiration from Darth Vader’s story arc and even have some of the villains redeemed.

These all provide avenues to expand their stories later. The villains are good for a lot more than just selling toys and Halloween costumes. They are some of the best parts of the movies, and it is time to stop wasting them.