When you think about Star Wars, you can’t help but think about lightsabers as well. The weapon first introduced in 1977’s A New Hope has been central to the saga from the very beginning and, even all these years on, audiences love the sight of seeing heroes and villains lock horns with the ‘laserswords’.
Thankfully, Star Wars has treated us to lightsaber fights galore since the first film of the franchise hit screens over 40 years ago. We’ve seen good guys fight bad guys, bad guys fight good guys and, more recently, bad and good guys fighting other people. We now take a look at the showdowns that stand out - and ones that failed to generate the same rip-roaring feelings of excitement.
10 Darth Vader VS Obi-Wan Kenobi: A New Hope
While Star Wars: A New Hope remains a favorite for movie-goers, it’s lightsaber fight looks positively tame in comparison to some the other clashes we’ve seen over the years. Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi both fight it out on the Death Star but, without wanting to sound too critical, it’s not a showdown that has you sitting with your mouth open in astonishment.
The pacing of the showdown leaves much to be desired, especially given how the speed improves in all of the other movies. It ends with Kenobi sacrificing himself, meaning Vader never really gets closure on the issue of his former Jedi master (not that we knew that at the time). Thankfully, things improve over time…
9 Rey And Finn VS Kylo Ren: The Force Awakens
The cinematography of this scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is majestic, but Rey and Finn’s showdown with Kylo Ren in the wooded forests of Starkiller Base falls a tad flat. Finn is easily swatted aside but still manages to land blows on his rival in something that makes no sense whatsoever. Sure, Kylo was wounded via Chewbacca beforehand. But why didn’t he just use the force to beat the former Stormtrooper?
Ben Solo then engages Rey in combat and loses, having his face sliced. Had it not been for a convenient time for the ground to split, then he would have died. But when you have two other movies to go, you’re not going to kill your big bad guy at the first opportunity.
8 Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi And Yoda VS Count Dooku: Attack Of The Clones
There’s no denying that Star Wars: Attack of the Clones still divides opinion among Star Wars fans. While on one hand it was better than the critically panned The Phantom Menace that released three years previously, it still had its flaws. Fortunately, however, it’s big lightsaber fight was not among them.
Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi both lose to Dooku, with the former having his arm sliced off. We then get to see Yoda take on the Sith Lord and very nearly win, only having to abandon the fight in order to prevent his two fellow Jedi from getting crushed. While it makes for a special action sequence, it’s decision to have Yoda hopping around like a frog, making weird noises, stops it being higher on this list.
7 Mace Windu VS Chancellor Palpatine: Revenge Of The Sith
While Mace Windu’s epic fight with Chancellor Palpatine - and he’s still Chancellor at this stage - is entertaining it still doesn’t get anywhere near the top of his list. And that’s mainly because of the three Jedi who accompany Windu to take on the dark lord of the Sith.
Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin are meant to be strong, powerful Jedi given they are on the council. But audiences were left mocking them after the movie’s release due to the fact Palpatine is able to slaughter the trio with consummate ease. One of them isn’t even looking at the Sith when he gets chopped down! Windu lasts the course but pays the price for failing to kill the villain when he has his chance. Had those around him been better, the whole piece would have been too.
6 Kylo Ren And Rey VS Praetorian Guards: The Last Jedi
We mentioned about good guys and bad guys teaming up to work alongside each other and, in 2017’s controversial The Last Jedi, audiences are treated to the sight of exactly that happening. Having just slaughtered Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren fights alongside Rey in a bid to defeat the deceased’s Praetorian Guards.
It is a sequence that goes at full throttle, with the two lightsaber users succeeding in defeating the guards - just. It then looks as if the duo are primed to join forces and work together from then on but, ultimately, that fails to happen. The Last Jedi did not appease a section of Star Wars fans but most, even its most critical, love the scene of the two main characters going hammer and tongs alongside each other under the beautiful red backdrop.
5 Yoda VS Emperor Palpatine: Revenge Of The Sith
With Emperor Palpatine wiping out Jedi across the Galaxy, Yoda decides to confront the Sith Lord and put an end to his rising Galactic Empire. The little green guy doesn’t hold back, immediately throwing one of the villain’s guards to the floor before whipping out his lightsaber and going for the throat.
Their fight spills out into the Senate, where Palpatine is the first to be disarmed. A bold of force lightning takes Yoda aback, however, and the cackling former Jedi ally rains pods down on his opponent. Palpatine is able to win the battle and Yoda is forced to go into hiding, relying on the help of Bail Organa to get away. A life away from the limelight and losing his sanity on Dagobah awaited.
4 Qui-Gon Jinn And Obi-Wan Kenobi VS Darth Maul: The Phantom Menace
As touched on above, The Phantom Menace was on the receiving end of some harsh and brutal criticism when it hit screens in 2000. Everybody seemed to have an issue with something, whether it be the character of Jar Jar Binks or casting of Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker. However, its lightsaber fight towards the movie’s end ranks as one of the best Star Wars duels EVER.
For the first time in the franchise, we see a two vs one scenario. We also see Darth Maul unleash his double-bladed lightsaber - another patch of new ground. With John Williams’ awesome "Duel of the Fates" score playing in the background, we see Maul kill Jinn before Kenobi is able to save the day. A truly memorable fight from an otherwise...controversial...outing.
3 Luke Skywalker VS Darth Vader: The Empire Strikes Back
The original Star Wars movies learned very quickly that they had to up the ante when it came to the lightsaber sequences. And after seeing Luke Skywalker fail to prevent the imprisonment of Han Solo in carbonate, audiences were treated to a mouthwatering showdown between the protagonist of the franchise and its villain, the formidable Darth Vader.
The fighting moves at lightning speed, with the duo slogging it out on Cloud City. Vader eventually uses his superior understanding of the force to slice off the hand of Luke, before leaving the youngster reeling by revealing to be his father. That bombshell sent shockwaves around Hollywood and had fans immediately pining for its sequel, Return of the Jedi.
2 Anakin Skywalker VS Obi-Wan Kenobi: Revenge Of The Sith
While the prequel trilogy had many eyedropping action sequences, nothing comes remotely close to the confrontation between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi towards the end of Revenge of the Sith. Everything Star Wars boiled down to this moment, the moment where Anakin would well and truly shed his surname, take on the mantle of Darth Vader and become encased in that famous suit.
The fight goes on for a while - MINUTE to be exact - and closes with Anakin losing the ‘high ground’ and having his former Jedi master slice off both his legs as well as his hand. The acting of both Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor is at its peak as the two characters go down different paths. Christensen nails the role of an Anakin consumed by hate, loathing and fear. And McGregor, as Obi-Wan, succeeds in portraying a teacher left devastated by his most powerful student.
1 Luke Skywalker VS Darth Vader: Return Of The Jedi
While the fight between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader on Cloud City was Hollywood entertainment at its best, the next showdown between the two main Star Wars characters was a class above. Egged on by the evil Emperor Palpatine, father and son find themselves again trying to defeat the other. But, this time, a Luke win was not necessarily a good thing.
The son of Anakin Skywalker had spent much of Return of the Jedi fighting his inner darkness, trying to keep the feelings of hatred and temptation at bay. When he defeats Vader it looks as if he has given in but, at the last minute, changes his mind. This defiance would not cost him as, though Palpatine tries to eliminate him, Vader comes to his senses and throws his cackling Master down the Death Star chute and to his death.