*NB: With one notable disqualification - heesa too godawful to include.
There's at least one character within the Star Wars universe whom you find utterly irritating; here at STACK we posed the question to our writers of who that might be, bar one whom we've deemed ineligible.
SCOTT – ANAKIN SKYWALKER
From annoying blonde moppet to arrogant adolescent – how did this kid ever grow up to be Darth Vader?
If Jar Jar Binks is the worst thing about the Star Wars universe (and hereby exempt from this blog due to unanimous hatred), then surely the boy who would be Vader comes a close second.
Both the nine-year-old and teenage incarnations do nothing to win our support or sympathy; Anakin’s complete lack of emotion towards friends and Jedi masters would suggest he’s already on the road to the Dark Side before old Darth Sidious gets all insidious. He’s the perfect Sith Lord, given that Sith is an anagram of Shit.
The whining Anakin Skywalker we meet in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones can’t possibly be the same person Ben Kenobi describes to Luke as being “the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior.” What’s more believable is that he did create one of the Star Wars saga’s equally irritating characters – C-3PO.
I relished the moment this petulant brat finally toppled into a lava flow. But then things got even worse – after his iconic black life support system is fitted, he completely ruins what is probably one of the most important moments in Star Wars history with a protracted and mournful cry of “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!”
Need another reason to hate him? Anakin’s awkward attempts at romance are beyond cringe-worthy. “Now that I'm with you again... I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you – I can't breathe.”
You’ll have even more trouble breathing later in life, pal.
SALLY – C-3PO
I've kept quiet about my feelings for C-3PO since the early '80s, fearful that my brother (when I was a child) and my colleagues at STACK HQ (today) might batter me with a plastic lightsaber.
Yes, it's quite a risky announcement, but... well... C-3PO annoys the f-ck out of me most of the time. Admittedly, there are some genuinely positive attributes to the golden camp one; the droid factory scene for one, and of course he does talk for R2-D2, and he sorted all that stuff out with Jabba in Return of the Jedi.
But really, Mr. Lucas? Did he have to be so irritating when translating? Sheesh, all that panicking and whining and offering unhelpful chances of survival – I'm surprised Han Solo didn’t take to him with a hydro spanner.
Least favourite C-3PO quote:
“Artoo says that the chances of survival are 725 to 1. Actually, Artoo has been known to make mistakes... from time to time... Oh dear...”
Total. Drama. Queen. 😉
PAUL – YODA
I hear the calls of “sacrilege”, but they fall on long, green, pointy, deaf ears.
“You will go to the Dagobah system. There you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me,” orders Obi-Wan to a snow-blind and Wampa-scarred Luke Skywalker.
As a lad sat next to the old man in the cinema, I pondered who this great Jedi Master might be, and how he would look.
I know it was always Lucas’s intention to portray him as a diminutive figure, to deliberately screw with our preconceived perception of how a powerful Jedi Master should look in a “size matters not” way, but I never got over the disappointment.
How could I take this two-foot, green latex puppet – dressed in a sackcloth with animatronic eyes and a voice like f-ing Grover from Sesame Street – seriously? He didn’t help matters by acting like a complete muppet (for want of a better word) for the first five minutes of his introduction on screen, before reluctantly revealing his true identity, and suddenly appearing world-weary and wise. Even to a wide-eyed, juvenile Star Wars fanatic, he was unconvincing. I just could never see past Frank Oz scrambling underneath the set with his hands inside a rubber toy.
Fast forward (or is it rewind?) to the trilogy no one wants to talk about, and the confrontation between Yoda and Count Dooku. Despite hobbling to the battleground with walking stick in clawed hand, Yoda miraculously transforms into an ice-fuelled psychopath, screaming like Yoko Ono and bouncing off walls in a frenetic display of sabermanship.
One guy in the cinema clapped and cheered during this scene. One guy. The rest of the audience just sat there staring blankly at the scene, asking ourselves if we really had just witnessed pinball Yoda, or whether it was only a nightmare we were about to wake up from. It was comical, absurd, but above all else, ridiculous. I can imagine the high fives Lucas received when he read out the details of the scene in the production meeting.
I was the only one from a large party who went to see Return of the Jedi who didn’t weep when the green, pointy-eared pygmy lay down for the very last time. He was alive for 900 years, yet the most powerful Jedi in the universe never learned to speak properly.
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?” Yoda famously asked Luke during their first meeting.
Yep, I certainly did.
ALESHA – GENERAL GRIEVOUS
His body is a weapon, and it rips us up inside. Actually, that’s a lie. He’s the one that gets ripped up.
General Grievous – Warlord of the Kaleesh, Supreme Commander of the armies of the Confederacy, and a whole bunch of other things nobody really cares about – is the not-so-much “more man than machine” pet of Count Dooku. Critically injured following an explosion and reconstructed as a cyborg, he needs four arms instead of two to lose in a battle to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Shorter than you imagined in both stature and battle ability, Grievous makes up for what he lacks in looks with flamboyance. Most of what I remember of his screen time is him swishing around lightsabers but not actually doing much with them. I mean, he has four sabers; that’s four times as many as most Jedi, yet sadly he never seems to use that to his advantage. “I have been trained in your Jedi arts,” my arse.
Not only that, he’s a bloody coward. “Time to abandon ship” might as well be his catchphrase, as all he ever does is run. Dooku died? Flee to Utapau. Obi-Wan’s chasing me on a varactyl that I could easily amputate? Better get on my bike. I guess we all know what Grievous’s answer to “Are you a man or a mouse?” would be. Or do we?
Sadly, he was never really everything he could’ve been as far as deadly, lighstaber-wielding droids go. He did, however, succeed in making us suffer just through watching him try to exist.
JONATHAN – LUKE SKYWALKER
In 1978, my boyhood neighbour gave me a gift. It was the Stars Wars soundtrack (not the music – the dialogue and action) intercut with narration, on vinyl. As it was pre-internet and pre-home video, it was the way to relive Star Wars in my head, anytime: Saturday morning, headphones on, platter on the wheel, I was back a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
(Yes, I still have the vinyl, and good old Ben from next door followed up with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi soundtracks in 1980 and 1983 respectively).
But without fail – as exhilarating to a Star Wars-obsessed eight-year-old as it was – there arose a cringe-worthy moment each listening session from which I could never escape: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” a snarky Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) would intone. “I’m Luke Skywalker! I’m here to rescue you!” came the fruity and overtly amateur, dramatic reply, without fail.
Each and every time the virgin farmboy met the (other) worldly princess, it just seemed so utterly awkward; akin to a Year 11 sneaking into a key party and meeting an angry divorcee left stranded on the lounge suite. It was so unbelievable and completely – let’s just say it – poorly acted. Thank the Force the stormtrooper uniform hid Luke’s probable excitement – the queasy subtext being that this is the moment he pretty much falls in love with his own sister (yes, that slightly narky detail that makes Star Wars fanatics uncomfortable).
[And everyone else -Ed]
Of course, Lucas’s script is partially to blame here (Harrison Ford legendarily said “You can type this shit, George, but you can’t say it”) but Mark Hamill’s gormless manner and one-tone-fits-all approach to his lines swiftly painted poor Luke Skywalker – the supposed hero of the trilogy – into a monochrome corner, leaving Ford (yeah him, the guy with the career) all the best lines from the most memorable and widely-loved character. Ford, of course beat the typecast via Indiana Jones and a slew of acclaimed roles. But poor Hamill always was and always will be Luke Skywalker, whether it’s via the plethora of original trilogy reissues, gaming spin offs, voice-over work or Comic Conventions – and now with the forthcoming The Force Awakens, he is again. He’s the Ringo Starr of modern cinema, the guy who must wake up in a beautiful house long paid for by residuals, stare into his mirror and say “Why me?” – the B-actor who got incredibly lucky.
A generation on, at least Michael J. Fox (who avoided falling in love with his gene pool in Back to the Future) displayed the irony-in-spades that poor Hamill could never summon, and plainly needed so badly. As a result, the Luke character in all three films becomes more, not less, one dimensional; Hamill's attempts to peer into Luke’s darker depths in Empire and Jedi were fatally compromised, because Luke was always too whitebread, too well-intentioned, too naïve, too preppy and dammit, just too bloody NICE to ever “give in to the dark side.” This poor sap? I doubt he could find the dark side of a cinema. It remains one of the most spectacularly awkward miscastings in movie history, and despite all the subsequent missteps of the prequels, Luke remains the trilogy’s elephant in the room.