Annlyel continues her series focusing on the defining moments of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe.
Princess Leia was the first heroine I saw as a child that I really, really liked. She changed the perception of what I thought a princess was and she simply was very cool. Now, in my adulthood, I can look back at all of the times I watched the original trilogy and see her story with fresh new eyes thanks to these new Star Wars films that have come out.
Be warned. Leia’s life has been very extensive and so this post is a long read.
1. Giving R2-D2 the Death Star Codes
I still remember the feeling of mystique that surrounded Princess Leia when I saw her for the first time in A New Hope. I had to have been about eight or nine years old and it was amazing seeing her down that hallway with the white hooded dress hiding her appearance. When she removed her hood, revealing her face for the first time, it was an immensely magical moment.
Not only was this moment magical for that reason but it also immediately highlighted who she was as a character. She could’ve easily escaped with the droids but she chose to stay behind and face Vader. This instantly showcased her bravery in the face of evil and that incredible quality is what made her so special to her very last scene in The Last Jedi.
2. Mocking Governor Tarkin
Leia was no joke. If she didn’t like you she didn’t shrug away from letting you know and that’s exactly what she did to Grand Moff Tarkin. She was a captive in the Death Star, she was being led around by the scariest bad guy in the universe, Darth Vader, and she was being led to have a talk with the third scariest dude in the Empire, Tarkin, and yet she didn’t quake in the slightest. She was the smallest person in the dark, forbidding room but her brave persona shone as brightly as her white dress.
Rarely do you see a heroine as strong and resolute as Leia Organa and every scene that she’s in highlights the strength of her character. Unfortunately, despite her mocking of the Grand Moff’s stench, she still had to watch as her home planet, Alderaan, was blown to smithereens. That was a devastating blow for her but did she let it show? While she was clearly in anguish on the inside she kept her composure. It’s yet another blaring reason why she’s one of the greatest heroines of all time.
Leia was going to be executed but luckily two brave men and one very large and very hairy alien had come to rescue her. This scene was one of the most important moments of her story, for it was the first time she met her brother Luke Skywalker, her future husband Han Solo, and Chewbacca. Her rescuers thought they had created a perfect plan for her escape but to her, she knew the reality. They had only prolonged her execution.
Because she is, however, that awesome she took charge, helping them escape the oncoming stormtroopers by sending them down the garbage chute. While it wasn’t the most flattering of escape plans it was necessary for them to survive and it’s the first time you see Leia as the natural leader that she is.
4. Closing the Hoth Base
Luke Skywalker and Han Solo had become Leia’s best friends, she couldn’t imagine her life without them, and so when they were both lost in the inhospitable wilderness of Hoth with the high chances of not surviving the deadly temperatures words couldn’t express how she was feeling. She desperately waited, holding out hope that they would return, but as nightfall approached the chances of their survival grew slimmer and slimmer.
As she watched the massive doors of the base slowly closing it’s one of the few times you can actually see the horror on her face. She was hoping she would see them appear out of the snow, screaming for the rebels to let them in before the doors closed, but when the doors shut with a resounding bang it seemed like all hope was lost and the friends that she loved would be gone forever. It was almost as if she was reliving the annihilation of Alderaan as she lost something she deeply cared about all over again. Thankfully, Luke and Han weren’t ordinary individuals and they would manage to survive a treacherous night on Hoth.
While Leia was immensely fond of Luke since he rescued her on the Death Star she always had a rocky relationship with the scoundrel, Han Solo. Han was a flirt, a narcissistic man who was overly confident in his own persona, and Leia couldn’t stand him. He was everything she wasn’t and yet…she couldn’t ignore him. She didn’t want to admit it to herself but she was deeply attracted to the dashing smuggler.
When he managed to trap her in that room aboard the Millenium Falcon did she stomp on his foot to make him leave her alone? No. Did she slap him and call him all of the foul names she could think of? No. She just stood there, petrified and frozen as her deepest desires were threatened to be realized.
That first kiss would lead to the eventual birth of her son, Ben Solo, and we all know how that turned out. 😕
The Millenium Falcon was puttering across the galaxy perpetually seconds away from croaking and Han, knowing this, took them to the nearest system, the beautiful Cloud City, where a supposed friend of his resided. While Han had complete trust in his old friend, Lando Calrissian, Leia was immediately distrustful of the smooth-talking administrator. She could practically smell deceit all over him.
This sequence of The Empire Strikes Back highlighted her intuitiveness, a trait that helped make her such a good politician. She could read people faster than most, another sign that she was Force-sensitive, and maybe if she could’ve fully conveyed her lack of trust in Lando to Han what happened next might not have taken place.
7. Sensing Luke
Han had been taken away at the hands of the notorious bounty hunter, Boba Fett and while Leia was able to escape the Imperials, with the unexpected help of Lando, she was still sorrowful, for she had no idea if Luke was safe or not. When they were getting ready to leave the system she felt him calling her through the power of the Force. This is the first time that you realize Leia has the Force and it is one of the most powerful moments in her story.
8. Rescuing Han
Leia is a fantastic heroine–the first two films she graced already established that–but her return in Return of the Jedi solidified that. She was determined to get Han back, no matter the consequences, even going as far as sneaking into the crime lord’s palace under the disguise of a bounty hunter and that very same night releasing Han from his carbon prison. That’s pretty off the chain. She could’ve gotten captured, which she did, but she was willing to risk her life to save him. Yeah, Leia is awesome.
9. Killing Jabba the Hutt
Leia was forced to be Jabba’s slave and she hated every bit of the revolting humiliation she had to endure during that time. I mean think about it, she had to sit at the feet, or tail, of that disgusting slimeball half-naked with pairs of eyes lingering on her revealed form. It was undoubtedly one of the darkest moments of her life.
When she got the opportunity to escape Jabba she didn’t just leave him sitting upon his dais screaming in anger with his gurgling cry. No, she made sure to kill him so no other unfortunate woman would ever have to suffer under his disgusting rule. It’s not only one of my favorite Leia moments but it also once again reveals her strength. She was his slave for less than a day and looked what happened to him. He ended up dead. Go, Leia!
10. Shocking Reveals
Leia’s fondness for Luke was nearly immediate since they first met all those years ago on the first Death Star and even after she fell in love with Han she still possessed a deep reservoir of love for Luke that she couldn’t quite understand. So imagine her shock when she discovered that they were siblings. All of her emotions towards him suddenly made sense. He was her brother! Of course, he was her brother! But this wasn’t the only thing that was revealed to her. That also meant that Darth Vader, that scary man in black who she had been in the presence of far too many times for her liking, was her real father as well. She felt heartbreak and elation at the same time.
Luke was her brother, a sibling she didn’t even know she had and yet she could somehow sense they were blood without even realizing it. And then Darth Vader, this monster who hurt people without a care in the world, was also her blood as well. It was a haunting realization and one that wasn’t easy to take. And then, behind all of that, she realized she had the Force as well!
This scene displayed a lot of important facts to her but most importantly it helped her understand who she was. She understood that she had wells of darkness and hatred within her, it was why she was able to kill Jabba the Hutt so easily and relish in his death, but she also knew she had a benevolent side to her as well. That light within her that allowed her to befriend people and care for individuals, such as the Ewok, Wicket. While it was hard news to take it helped Leia grow into the incredible general that she ended up becoming, making this one of her greatest defining moments.
11. Believing in Ben Solo
It’s thirty years later and the galaxy is in no less turmoil than it was at the end of the war against the Empire. In fact, things are worse. The First Order had wiped out the New Republic with their superweapon, Leia and Han are no longer together after their son, Ben Solo turned to the Dark Side, and the galaxy is desperately in need of a savior in the form of Luke Skywalker and yet he is nowhere to be found. This is where we find Leia in The Force Awakens and it is a heartbreaking realization that the battle they desperately fought all those years ago ended up being for nought.
Does Leia look broken and defeated when we see her again? No. She is still as strong and confident as ever. When she reunites with Han she is thrown a devastating blow as he tells her that he has seen their son. The nightmare that is the story of their son is refreshed in her mind. But does she give up hope? No. She tells Han that there is still good in him. That belief that there was still good in the galaxy is what helped her believe in the Rebellion thirty years ago and it’s what was still spurring her forward. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be long before her belief in Ben Solo would be squashed again.
12. Sensing Han’s Death
Leia’s last words to Han was for him to bring their son home so imagine the grief she felt when she sensed not only Han’s death but that it was her son who inflicted the final blow. It was a double whammy. The emotion on her face tells it all. Her sorrow was so great she couldn’t even stand. She had endured a lot of heartbreaking moments in her life but this one, this was the moment would end up becoming the most devastating of them all.
13. Mother and Son
In a surprise ambush after fleeing D’Qar upon the First Order’s arrival, Leia sensed Kylo Ren through the Force. It’s one of my favorite moments in The Last Jedi as the two sensed each other, the camera moving back and forth between their faces which are riddled with emotion. The question is, what was she feeling at that moment? Sadness? Anger? Hope? Love? Or was she simply waiting? Waiting to see just how dark her son had turned? It’s such a powerful moment not only for her story but for the film in general.
14. Using the Force
Leia was supposedly a goner after being blown out to space but she wasn’t. Instead, on the brink of death, it was displayed how unknowingly powerful Leia was as she used the Force to pull herself back to The Raddus, saving herself from an awful demise. It was nice finally seeing Leia and it was undoubtedly one of her memorable moments.
15. Saving the Resistance
Poe was out of hand as he led a mutiny to supposedly save the Resistance from “doom.” Leia had, however, once again show who was boss. As she woke from her coma she immediately went to find Poe and instead of praising him for his plan she instead shot him. That action helped save the Resistance, if only briefly, and it helped bring Poe down a notch. It also reiterated why I love Leia so much.
16. Passing the Torch
Leia’s last defining moment is when the Resistance had to escape Crait from the First Order. The Resistance had been reduced to a group so small they couldn’t even fill the Millenium Falcon! but she still had hope, for the Resistance’s character was strong, resourceful, and they were survivors. As Poe comes up with a plan for the Resistance to escape he looks to her for guidance.
It’s at this moment that Leia officially passes on the torch. As the rebels turn to her for her approval, she says, “Don’t look at me. Follow him.” She then watches Poe lead the Resistance with a proud smile on her face, for she knows her work is done.
The story of Leia’s life has been one of sacrifice, heartbreak, strength, but mostly hope. Hope was what spurred her on through the battle against the Empire, hope led her to believe that Luke would one day return, which he did, and her hope is the spark that the Resistance will use to (hopefully) defeat the First Order.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!