Ever since Disney bought the Star Wars franchise back in 2012 a major focus were women. Not only did Lucasfilm try very hard to engage more female fans, the movies as well as books & comics emphasize the role of women in the Star Wars galaxy much more than ever before. So the question is: did Disney actually succeed? Are there interesting and engaging female characters in Disney Star Wars which were not originally conceived in the Lucas era? Click through for a ranking of Disney era female Star Wars characters and let’s find out who the best one is. The results may be somewhat surprising (or not)!
For this article I will focus on main characters, i.e. characters like Captain Phasma or Lt. Connix won’t be considered since they only have very minor parts. I will also ignore any characters from the books or comics. With that out of the way let’s talk about the Disney era female (main) characters! Who is the most interesting and best one?
#10 Vice Admiral Holdo
As a major character in The Last Jedi Vice Admiral Holdo does certainly have her fans, but let’s be honest, a majority of fans don’t really like her. She comes across as very condescending and abrasive in the movie, even though Rian Johnson attempted to write a “strong and fiercely independent woman”. He created a character few fans can stand. Her treatment of Poe Dameron is both sexist and rather nasty and so it’s no real surprise that Holdo is at the bottom of my list.
My verdict: Holdo may have sounded good on paper, but the writing for her was atrocious, her behavior is inexcusable and her actions are really stupid as well. She kept secrets for no apparent reason which resulted in an entirely superfluous sub plot that bored many fans to tears.
#9 Rose Tico
Yet another character from The Last Jedi… Rose is, in theory, an interesting character, she is a normal person, a mechanic, not a hero with Jedi superpowers or some scoundrel like Han Solo who has seen it all. She’s a regular person doing a regular job. So far, so good. Unfortunately Rian Johnson, once again, couldn’t come up with either a good story or good dialogue for her. Her subplot with Finn is a waste of time and her big moment in the movie when she crashes into Finn just to tell him she loves him (more or less) is downright silly. Rose certainly has some fans as well, but let’s be honest, most fans don’t like her. They may like the idea of a character like Rose, as I said, the basic background and premise are really promising, but the execution lacked almost everything. Rose has the sad distinction of getting Jar-Jared (I just invented that verb) in The Rise of Skywalker. Disney decided to basically reduce her role to nothing. For a reason of course. It’s also somewhat tragic that Rose Tico toys have become a meme.
My verdict: Rose could have been an excellent character if a better writer had given her a good story. As things are Rose is one of the least liked Disney era characters. She’s not as annoying as Holdo though. People will remember her for her toy meme and for the fact that she was more or less erased from The Rise of Skywalker. She’s yet another failed Disney era female character in my opinion.
Rey… THE female face of the Disney Star Wars era. She’s pretty low on my list though. Why? Not because she’s annoying like Holdo or superfluous like Rose. I think Rey, as a character, is more failure than success because once more the writing let the character down. Even if you forget that Rey is a female version of Luke in many ways, with a very similar background (down to the fact that a big baddie is a relative), there are many things about Rey that are just… boring. The problem with Rey is that she has no real characteristics. Who is Rey? I would say after three movies we know almost nothing about the person. She’s good. That’s her defining characteristic. She is in search of a family. But we knew more about Luke’s ambitions, dreams and character after just 10 minutes in A New Hope. After a seven hour or so trilogy we still know hardly anything about Rey the person. It’s easy to like Rey, but much of that comes down to Daisy Ridley. As a character she’s as bland and boring as you can be. She’s not a well written fleshed out Star Wars character.
My verdict: Rey could have been a great character if someone more talented had written her story. The late changes to her background in The Rise of Skywalker didn’t do Rey any favors either. We never really get to know Rey, the person. She’s more or less a blank slate, it’s easy to project your own thoughts and emotions onto her, because Rey, as a character, is almost without any distinctive features.
Omega may not be everyone’s cup of tea, child characters in movies and shows will always be problematic for some fans… but Omega is actually a pretty well written child character. After one season of The Bad Batch we know a few good things about her, much more than we know about Rey, and while Omega saves the day a few times too many or tells the other clones what to do a few times too many she’s more or less quite endearing. Her interactions with Wrecker are funny and cute. Still, she’s pretty low on the list, since quite a few fans don’t really like her.
My verdict: Omega certainly has potential, as far as child characters go she’s pretty good actually. She is far less annoying than early Ahsoka, in fact, Omega is not annoying at all, she can be quite endearing even. But you still need to like child characters in shows watched by adults, of course.
#6 Fennec Shand
Fennec is still more or less a blank slate. We don’t know all that much about her, her character or her background. Something I feel The Book of Boba Fett may change. Why then is Fennec higher on the list than Rey? Well, Fennec is a bounty hunter and that gives her a certain coolness factor that Rey is lacking. Also, unlike Rey Fennec is not some girl scout, she’s at best chaotic neutral, meaning, she’s in it for herself, but she’s not some psycho who murders people left and right either. Which gives her nuance. Both mustache twirling baddies and girl/boy scouts can be pretty boring as characters. Fennec is mysterious and that puts her right in the middle of my list.
My verdict: Fennec has great potential, she could become a really big future female Star Wars character, depending on what The Book of Boba Fett will do with her character. As of now Fennec is mysterious and also a complete badass. She’s a “strong woman” done right.
#5 Sabine Wren
Sabine is a Disney era female character I would consider a “success”, as in, she’s interesting and more people like her than dislike her. Sure, Sabine started out as that somewhat bratty graffiti artist with an attitude but over the course of Rebels her character was fleshed out considerably and she received a very strong character arc. Which is why I think Sabine, as a character, is much more interesting than Rey, for example. Of course a series will give writers always more opportunity to go deeper and to give each character an arc, but Rey had 7 hours and almost nothing was done with that.
My verdict: Sabine may have her live action debut in the Ahsoka series. I think many people will be happy to see her again. While not the best Rebels character or the best Disney era female character, she is still pretty good with an interesting background and a really good arc in Rebels.
#4 Cara Dune
Let’s not talk about the controveries surrounding Gina Carano… Cara Dune is certainly the “tough girl” done right. Much of that is owed to Gina’s physique and believable portrayal of a tough female ex soldier of the Republic. Cara also has an interesting backstory, since she’s a survivor from Alderaan. But while Cara is certainly one of the better Disney era female characters a few things hold her back, and that is Gina Carano’s acting. It’s ok, but it’s also nothing to write home about. Cara fans may forgive me, and she certainly has plenty of them. I feel if Cara had not been erased from Star Wars her Rangers of the Republic series could have made her a real female standout character. But we all know the story…
My verdict: Cara is the “strong and independent woman” done right. Where Holdo is a complete failure, Cara is a real success. Carano’s acting could be better, but Cara Dune, the character, is certainly one of the best Disney era female Star Wars characters. Too bad Lucasfilm wanted to get rid of Gina Carano. But Cara Dune will certainly remain a popular character among fans.
#3 Hera Syndulla
You may wonder why an animated character ranks higher than Cara Dune… but in my opinion Hera is a really excellent female Star Wars character. She is strong, but not annoying or abrasive, she’s in a leading position, but doesn’t abuse her power or keeps secrets from others for no reason and we do know quite a few things about her. Once more it is of course maybe somewhat unfair to compare characters from tv shows to movie characters, since a tv show has so much more time to flesh out characters. But still, they did a pretty good job with Hera. She’s really popular as well, people like her, she reappeared in The Bad Batch only recently, she also appears in video games and who knows, maybe live action is not that far away. Hera is definitely a character Lucasfilm should not abandon.
My verdict: Hera is a well rounded, fleshed out strong character and also immensely likable. Filoni and his team did a good job with her!
#2 Jyn Erso
Maybe some of you will question my sanity when I put Jyn so high up on the list… Yes, she didn’t survive the movie, but Jyn, as a character, is really interesting. She has a really good backstory, she had to struggle as a child and a teenager, lost her family, tragically reunited with her father for a brief moment and in the end sacrificed herself to save the galaxy. Fact is we know more about Jyn’s character, dreams and ambitions after just one movie than we know about Rey after three. It’s a bit unfortunate that future Jyn stories are more or less extremely unlikely, unless the World Between Worlds will be used.
My verdict: as far as Disney era female characters go Jyn is a success, in my opinion. She may not be liked by all fans, quite a few fans consider almost all Rogue One characters more or less bland or boring, but Jyn has many things going for her and I find the character very relatable and likable. She has an interesting background and actual reasons to fight for, she has personal stakes and as mentioned she is pretty likable and not abrasive like some other “strong female characters”. Personal stakes is something which Rey more or less lacks completely, she does the things she does because she’s “good”. Not so Jyn, she is a “good” character, but that’s not her primary motivation in the movie.
Again, some may question my sanity that I put Qi’ra in first place… but as far as female Star Wars characters go she is quite unique. She is the archetypical femme fatale. She is neither a girl scout like Rey, not is she a mustache twirling baddie with insane schemes like Palpatine or a one note joke like Phasma. Qi’ra, just like Fennec, merely wants to survive in a hostile galaxy that puts you down and tries to kill you at every corner.
And even though Qi’ra appeared only in one movie we know quite a few things about her, about her background, her character and even her ambitions and dreams. And as a “femme fatale” she enjoys a lot of freedom. She can be selfish, she can be good, she may even do bad things, but ultimately she’s very intriguing and likable. Emilia Clarke is also responsible for that of course. In my opinion Qi’ra has enormous potential that should be used again by Lucasfilm. A Crimson Dawn series with her as main character, featuring Darth Maul and perhaps even Han Solo (as a recurring character) could be really unique and fresh. As a morally grey character (with more good than bad certainly) stories about her could head in all kinds of directions, something which Rey for example couldn’t do, she’s the eternal girl scout, not so Qi’ra. This makes for a much more interesting character. Instead of giving us a Lando series a Qi’ra series would have had a lot more potential, in my opinion.
My verdict: an interesting background and very nuanced character make Qi’ra my personal favorite of all the Disney era female characters. It’s unfortunate that Solo was a financial disappointment, but maybe Lucasfilm will come to the realization that the characters in the movie are not to blame and that Qi’ra has the most potential of them all. She is an all new character, her fate is unknown and thus a series focusing on Qi’ra would enjoy many freedoms.
Overall I think there are more good than bad female characters in Disney Star Wars. Unfortunately the bad ones are also extremely infamous and they do outshine the much better characters here and there. It’s also unfortunate that some of the strongest and best female characters are either dead, were removed from the show for silly reasons or were in a movie that failed. Most unfortunate however is the fact that the female face of the Disney era so far, Rey, is such a bland and lackluster character without any real characteristics. My hope is that Lucasfilm will bring back Qi’Ra and that the upcoming Ahsoka and Book of Boba Fett series will further flesh out characters like Sabine or Fennec. And maybe the character of Cara Dune can return. Either with a new actress portraying her or Gina Carano returning to the role.
That was quite the lengthy read… I congratulate anyone who made it this far! 😀
But now to you… who are your most and least favorite Disney era female characters? Do you agree with my assessment or do you think I am crazy? Leave your own thoughts in the comments! Let’s have a constructive and good discussion! With emphasis on “constructive”.
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