When Disney first acquired Lucasfilm and announced that they would be making a Star Wars sequel trilogy to continue the saga beyond Return of the Jedi, fans were mainly excited to see Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on the big screen again. But the sequels have introduced us to a bunch of new characters, too. In fact, the story has become increasingly focused on them and their journeys. There are some great new characters and some weak ones.
10 Worst: Supreme Leader Snoke
Andy Serkis’ motion-capture character Supreme Leader Snoke started off pretty well. During his brief appearances in The Force Awakens, he was mysterious and intriguing. Was he really as tall in real life as he was in the hologram? How did he get inside Kylo Ren’s head? However, what we discovered when his character was expanded in The Last Jedi was that he was nothing more than a pale imitation of Emperor Palpatine who was nowhere near as powerful as he promised to be. He was pretty easily killed – more easily killed than his guards, even. So, that was pretty disappointing.
9 Best: Poe Dameron
As both a hotshot pilot and a charming rogue, Poe Dameron is like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rolled into one. He’ll stop at nothing to bring down the tyrannous political power that’s taking over the universe, like Luke, but he’ll also question authority and follow his own rule book, like Han. He has Luke’s sweetness, but also Han’s rebelliousness. The conflict between Luke and Han exists entirely within Poe’s character, and he’s just one guy. The endlessly likable Oscar Isaac is perfect for the part, playing Poe as basically the nicest, coolest guy ever. Everyone would want to be Poe Dameron’s friend.
8 Worst: Maz Kanata
Lupita Nyong’o is a terrific actor – one of the finest actors working today, in fact – but she’s been wasted in the Star Wars sequel trilogy on a Yoda rip-off whose sole purpose was to spout a bunch of exposition to get Rey from point A to point B. And it was made even worse in The Last Jedi when she was crammed into an early scene, just to make sure she made a contractually obligated appearance in the film. She started off as a disappointing character and then she was shoehorned into the next one, making matters even direr. It’s looking like she’ll be shoehorned into The Rise of Skywalker, too.
7 Best: Rose Tico
Because Star Wars fans felt threatened by a woman of color in a significant role in the story, or some other equally asinine reason, Kelly Marie Tran faced ruthless backlash on social media after the release of The Last Jedi. Her character Rose Tico is strong, good-hearted, and lovable – and she’s filled with the wisdom that can bring us together: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate; saving what we love.”
Rose will be back in The Rise of Skywalker, since Finn managed to recover her unconscious body and get her onto the Millennium Falcon at the end of The Last Jedi, and hopefully the sexist and racist trolls can finally learn to accept her as Tran stands defiantly in the face of their hate speech. It’s long overdue.
6 Worst: General Hux
Domhnall Gleeson is a brilliant actor who has given fantastic performances in recent movies like Ex Machina and mother!, as well as an episode of Black Mirror. But his Star Wars character General Hux is so serious all the time. He’s just no fun. Also, General Hux was one side of the terrible Abbott and Costello routine involving Poe Dameron in the opening scene of The Last Jedi. He was, of course, the straight man, because he takes everything so seriously. The gag belonged in a Robot Chicken episode, not an actual Star Wars movie – and certainly not in the opening scene.
5 Best: Captain Phasma
Rian Johnson may have given Captain Phasma a lame and unceremonious death scene in The Last Jedi, with that corny “chrome-dome” joke, but she was a fascinating character up to that point. It was hardly surprising, since Gwendoline Christie had already played a badass warrior in one nerdy franchise. There was very little doubt that she could do it again. We couldn’t see Christie’s face under the shiny helmet, so all she had to convey the character was her body language, hand gestures, and line delivery – and she still nailed it. It’s no wonder that Captain Phasma was The Force Awakens’ best-selling action figure.
4 Worst: Vice Admiral Holdo
Laura Dern gave a great performance, as she always does, in the role of Vice Admiral Holdo in The Last Jedi. Plus, Holdo was involved in the awesome sequence where she guns the Resistance’s ship into light-speed and uses it to plow through the First Order’s fleet. However, that’s all she has going for her. Aside from that cool scene, she was characterized as a generic authority figure to advance Poe Dameron’s development by having him rebel against her orders. The role could’ve been filled by anyone with a higher rank in the Resistance than Poe – she didn’t really have an identity of her own.
3 Best: Kylo Ren
Usually, Star Wars villains are rigidly evil. They’re set in their ways on the Dark Side of the Force and they’ll stop at nothing to dominate the galaxy. Only Darth Vader has found redemption, and even then, it was right at the end. He was a wholly bad dude throughout the entire original trilogy before seeing the error in his ways.
But Kylo Ren is questioning his own actions on the job. The brilliant Adam Driver has brought some real nuance to the role of Kylo Ren – the kind of nuance that is rarely seen in the Star Wars saga.
2 Worst: DJ
Benicio del Toro’s mysterious role in The Last Jedi showed some promise in the months leading up to the film’s release. Rian Johnson announced that the character was called “DJ” in the script and on the call sheets for the sake of ease, but he doesn’t actually have a name. Fans were intrigued and excited. But then his character turned out to not be so interesting. He’s a hacker whose allegiances change at the drop of a dime, and he came and went without making much of an impact. He’s not slated to return in The Rise of Skywalker, so he’ll probably just be forgotten forever.
1 Best: Rey
While the title The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t necessarily mean that Rey is a Skywalker, she is undeniably a significant part of the Star Wars mythology. We’ll figure out exactly how significant when the new movie is released and all becomes clear, but for now, we do know that she’s easily the best character in the new movies. She’s the character whose journey we’ve been following the most closely, and while we don’t know the specifics of her backstory, we know that she does have a tragic past and she’s amassed a ton of strength to move on from that and become a hero.