Welcome to Top 10. In this series, I will pick a subject in Star Wars and pick my top 10 rankings within that category. I initially began this ahead of Solo: A Star Wars Story by ranking the first 10 Star Wars films and enjoyed doing it so much, I thought it would be fun to make into a more regular series. Today I will be going through my Top 10 Villains.
Now I wanted to make some clarifications on how I will be choosing my Top 10. I have tried to rank my personal top 10 with a heavy weighting on who my favourites are but also accounting for their impact on the stories they have and their impact on the canon. I have looked at villains who were clear antagonists in the canon, specifically characters who remain villains throughout the canon, so characters like Agent Kallus who switch sides to the Rebellions will not appear despite their previous actions and alignment.
“Test my patience for even one second and see what happens.”
The public face of Crimson Dawn, Vos gave Tobias Beckett the initial job to steal coaxium from the Empire. After this failed, Vos gave Beckett, Solo, Chewbacca and Qi’ra one more chance to settle the debt before killing them, which led to Han finding the Millennium Falcon and creating a lifelong friendship with Chewie.
Dryden Vos’ story is currently quite limited in the canon, but his impact on Han is huge. Vos was a highly accomplished melee fighter and could hide a merciless side behind a charming exterior. The only thing that stops him being higher is the reveal that he was actually just a figurehead and not the true ruler of Crimson Dawn.
“Like you said: Only the strongest… shall rule.”
The governor of Concordia who was revealed to be the leader of Death Watch during the Clone Wars, Vizsla oversaw a number of atrocities such as terrorist attacks and assassination attempts working alongside the Separatists to try to gain control of Mandalore. After being betrayed by Count Dooku, he used Lux Bonteri to try and assassinate Dooku, but this failed. On Carlac, he had Death Watch enslave the women of the native species and burn down the village when the elders demanded their return. Later during the war, Vizsla sided with Darth Maul due to their shared hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Death Watch joined the Shadow Collective. After taking control of Mandalore, he planned to betray Maul but lost his life to the former Sith in a duel to determine the leader of Death Watch.
In what has become a largely pacifist culture under Satine, Vizsla was a throwback to the old ways of Mandalore and as such he wielded the Darksaber well enough to compete with Kenobi and Maul. He had his own selfish ambitions but appeared willing to settle for Mandalore instead of the whole galaxy, which makes a welcome change. Beyond that, his aid to Maul in creating the Shadow Collective and becoming ruler of Mandalore played a role in the future of many characters, starting with Bo-Katan’s defection from Death Watch which led to the Siege of Mandalore.
“Zam, there can be no mistakes this time.”
Boba Fett may not be making his list as when I stick to canon stories I do not think there is enough to earn him a place, but his “father” Jango scrapes in at 8. One of the best bounty hunters of his time, Fett was recruited by Dooku to be the template for the clone army being created for the Republic, but also had a genetically unaltered clone created to be his son. Fett held his own in combat with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Kamino and was involved in the capture of Anakin and Padmé on Geonosis. When the Jedi arrived at the Petranaki arena, Fett killed Coleman Trebor but was soon killed by Mace Windu.
Though not the most impressive of histories, what earns Jango a spot on the list is his legacy. His “son” Boba became a famous bounty hunter himself, but perhaps more important is that of the rest of his clones. The clone troopers were instrumental in the rise of the Empire as they were responsible for the deaths of most of the Jedi during Order 66 and the Jedi Purge, while they also became the Empire’s first stormtroopers.
7.The Grand Inquisitor
“You have no idea what you’ve unleashed here today. There are some things far more frightening than death.”
A former Jedi Temple Guard, The Grand Inquisitor led the Inquisitorius and answered directly to Darth Vader. After Kanan Jarrus was revealed as a Jedi, the Grand Inquisitor was sent after him by Darth Vader. While he was ultimately unsuccessful, he was by far the most dangerous adversary that the Spectres had faced to that point and it was not until Kanan remembered his Jedi training and confronted his fear that the Inquisitor was defeated. Defeated and dangling from the walkway in the reactor room, he chose to fall into the exploding reactor rather than face the punishment for his failure.
I really enjoyed the Grand Inquisitor as unlike some enemies who are mindless brutes, he was shown to be an intellectual opponent as well as a dangerous fighter. He had clearly studied his opponents as he was able to discern Kanan’s true identity by identifying from his fighting style that he had been trained by Depa Billaba. Though he may not have been shown as having much success killing Jedi so far in canon, his role as leader of the Inquisitorius suggests that he will have killed plenty of Jedi in his life and puts him above the others, even though his story may not be as far-reaching as some of the others on this list.
“You man fire when ready.”
The Governor of the Outer Rim and the first Grand Moff, Tarkin is one of the most impressive tactical minds shown in canon. Throughout his military career, both in the Empire and before, he is constantly shown as finding ways to outwit and outmanoeuvre his adversaries while also using the information at hand to work out who his enemies are, as in the case of when Berch Teller’s rebel cell stole the Carrion Spike. He is also incredibly ruthless, making his name by setting examples of his enemies to deter others from stepping out of line. He was in charge of the Death Star for much of its construction and took over command once the battle station was ready, giving the command to destroy Alderaan while interrogating Leia. However his arrogance led him to believe the Rebels unable to destroy the Death Star and he was among the many to die when the station blew up.
Tarkin is a great villain as he is clever and more than a match strategically for most of his adversaries, but this has led to him developing a costly arrogance. Even during the last days of the Republic, he may be fighting for the Republic, but viewers would be hard pressed to call him a hero with the way he acts and once the Empire is born his ruthlessness is able to really come to the fore.
5.Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious
“And now, young Skywalker… you will die.”
Originally introduced as the Senator of Naboo, Palpatine was the mastermind behind the Trade Federation’s blockade and invasion of Naboo, the events of which he used to rise to the role of Supreme Chancellor. Over the years, he used his new apprentice, Count Dooku, to create a Separatist movement which pushed the galaxy to war, allowing his term of office to be extended while granting him control of an army capable of destroying the Jedi. Over the years he carefully worked on corrupting Anakin Skywalker to the point that when his identity as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious was revealed, Anakin was still willing to turn against the Jedi and serve him, leading to the Great Jedi Purge. After proclaiming himself the Emperor, he changed the Republic into the evil Galactic Empire with an eye to expanding into the Unknown Regions. Eventually killed by Darth Vader, his evil was not yet over as his death put into effect Operation Cinder, designed to destroy not just the New Republic, but also the Empire that had been too weak to keep him alive.
Though the Emperor did not appear in the Original movie, he was mentioned by Tarkin as dissolving the Senate, while he was expanded upon as Vader’s master and a Sith Lord in The Empire Strikes Back through hologram communication with Vader and his true evil was revealed in Return of the Jedi. The Prequel Trilogy did a great job of showing his machinations to allow his rise to power. Palpatine was not really a character that interested me while I was younger, but as I have got older I have come to respect the importance of his role and his success in finally completing the Sith’s plan to rule the galaxy.
“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”
Born Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia was being trained by Luke Skywalker but was corrupted by Snoke and fell to the Dark side, killing most of Luke’s students. He became one of the most feared members of the First Order with his Force abilities making him a danger to his enemies and his temper a danger to his allies. Kylo put his efforts into tracking down Luke Skywalker, which led to him finding Rey and taking her to Starkiller Base, where she unlocked her abilities in the Force during his interrogation. Kylo killed his father but was then beaten in lightsaber combat to Rey (helped by a previous injury caused by Chewbacca). Kylo showed his prowess in a fighter following the chase of the Resistance from D’Qar, killing a number of pilots. After a connection formed between him and Rey, he brought her before his master, Snoke, but after finding out that he had been manipulated by his master, he killed Snoke and took up the mantle of Supreme Leader, however his anger at the appearance of Luke Skywalker on Crait allowed the trapped Resistance survivors to escape.
Kylo ranks surprisingly high on my list considering how little we know of his story so far, and it may be that when we get more information his story does not resonate with me as much as it has so far. However, he is intriguing in the way that he has remained conflicted despite committing such atrocities as the massacre on Tehar and killing Han Solo. He starts very much as a tribute to Darth Vader but grows into his own person as the films go on, while the fact we do not yet know the whole story of Ben Solo’s fall to the Dark side and the tease that he is “Master of the Knights of Ren” suggests that there is still plenty to explore in his story.
“To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.”
Grand Admiral Thrawn was a Chiss who gave his services to the Emperor and was trained as an office in the Imperial Navy. With a perception second to none, he was able to quickly work his way through the ranks as he was able to find connections nobody else could. After the Battle of Batonn, Thrawn was brought in to assist Governor Pryce in dealing with the threat of Phoenix Squadron. He caused a number of issues for the Rebels, most notably at the Battle of Atollon, however the mistakes of a number of fellow Imperials repeatedly let the Rebels off and an underestimation of the power of the Force led to him being taken through hyperspace by a flock of purrgils to a currently unknown fate.
Thrawn is a difficult one and I almost didn’t put him on this list as reading the novel Thrawn shows that he isn’t really an evil character in the way that most characters on this list are. However, he does go along with the atrocities of the Empire and is a clear antagonist to the Rebels of Phoenix Squadron. I really enjoy Thrawn’s deductive capabilities and more than that his appreciation of art and other clues that most would simply ignore. If it wasn’t for the stupidity of Admiral Konstantine and the intervention of the Bendu, Thrawn would have ended the Rebellion at Atollon and the TIE Defenders Thrawn was producing until Pryce brought an end to their production by destroying the fuel supply, leading to the Empire focusing its resources on the Death Star. For someone so clever I love how he still had a weakness in not understanding the power of the Force, leading to him underestimating Ezra. I haven’t read much material from the Legends continuity, so my love of Thrawn is based entirely on what we have seen in canon and I can’t wait to get more!
“We meet again, Kenobi. Welcome… to my world.”
The Zabrak son of Mother Talzin, Maul was taken on as the apprentice of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. A skilled assassin, Maul was revealed to the Jedi Order during the Naboo crisis, where he killed Qui-Gon Jinn but was defeated and cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul’s anger and hatred allowed him to survive and he was found years later by his brother Savage Opress. Restored to sanity by Mother Talzin, Maul caused chaos and destruction in an attempt to get back at Kenobi, eventually killing the Duchess Satine and becoming ruler of Mandalore before being deposed in a civil war. He became the leader of Crimson Dawn but at some point was deposed again and became stranded on Mlachor, where he came into contact with the crew of the Ghost. He made a number of attempts to make Ezra Bridger his new apprentice but was unable to sway him, so diverted his attention to finally ending Kenobi, resulting in one final confrontation on Tatooine.
I absolutely love Maul! He was one of the best bits about The Phantom Menace and in my opinion the duel between him, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon is currently the best in any movie! He had such a unique look that made him stand out and combined with his proficiency with a double-bladed lightsaber it was always going to get 8-year-old me excited. Despite being gutted at how small his role in the Prequel Trilogy was, I was apprehensive when I heard Maul was returning to canon in The Clone Wars, the spider legs may be a bit weird but I was hooked on the Maul episodes and Sam Witwer quickly became one of my favourite actors, so I was thrilled to see him return in Rebels, with his confrontation with Kenobi being one of my favourite moments in the show. The reveal at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story caught me completely off guard (I picked up that it was Sam Witwer’s voice and I noticed the robotic legs, but I didn’t put the pieces together as I never thought we’d see him appear in another film) but I absolutely love I and really hope we get to see more of the character in the coming years.
“You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.”
When Anakin Skywalker was corrupted by Palpatine and became his apprentice, he was given the name Darth Vader. One of Vader’s first acts was to massacre the Jedi remaining at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, including the younglings. He then went on to kill the Separatist leaders on Mustafar to tie up a loose end, before battling Obi-Wan Kenobi and almost losing his life. Critically wounded, he was put into a cybernetic suit of armour and became “more machine now than man”. For years, he served as the Emperor’s right hand man, a terror that many Rebels had heard stories about but rarely seen as there weren’t often survivors. When Kenobi came out of hiding on the Death Star, he duelled his old master one last time and struck the killing blow as Kenobi sacrificed himself. When the Rebels attacked during the Battle of Yavin, Vader (unlike Tarkin) paid attention to the danger the fighters posed and almost managed to stop them if not for the timely arrival of the Millennium Falcon giving Luke Skywalker the time he needed to take his shot. The unknown pilot’s skill in the Force intrigued Vader and he eventually came to realise that this was the son of Anakin Skywalker. He set his mind to turning Skywalker to the Dark Side, eventually revealing the truth of his identity to his son on Cloud City, but Luke continued to resist and escaped. Eventually, Luke surrendered to Vader in an attempt to bring him back to the Light Side, but Vader took him to his master on the Death Star. When Luke attempted to attack the Emperor, Vader fought back and once again tried to turn Luke, almost managing by threatening Luke’s friends. However, Luke resisted and was attacked by the Emperor’s Force lightning. Watching his son appealing to him while close to death, Vader eventually abandoned the Dark Side and killed the Emperor, leading to his own death.
Now I know I started by saying I would not include anyone who switched sides, but Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are such different characters within the same person. Even in the way Vader thinks and speaks of Anakin, it is as if he is considered someone different. Vader has one of the most instantly recognisable names and appearances in the history of movies and instantly catches an audience’s attention. His ability as an expert pilot – seen in A New Hope and Rebels as well as novels like Lords of the Sith – just adds an extra facet to his character that we have not seen in any other Sith Lords and in fact not many villains. And how can I go without mentioning that scene at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where he slaughters a hallway full of Rebels? That scene is what we have always imagined Vader to be and in that moment, we saw the full potential of him. Would he still get top spot without that scene? Probably, but it certainly helps!
So that’s my list, how does it compare to yours? Thanks for reading and May the Force be with you…