The Importance of Padmé in Star Wars

Darcie and Thomas talk about the importance of Padmé Amidala in Star Wars.

Padmé Amidala was a courageous, hopeful leader, serving as Queen and then Senator of Naboo — and was also handy with a blaster. Despite her ideals and all she did for the cause of peace, her secret, forbidden marriage to Jedi Anakin Skywalker would prove to have dire consequences for the galaxy. – StarWars.com

Padmé’s role in the Prequels

Darcie: What does Padme Amidala mean to Star Wars and why is she such an important Character in the universe? Padme is introduced in Episode One: The Phantom Menace as the young Queen of Naboo, she goes on to become a senator, a fighter, a wife, and a mother. Padme is arguable the most important non-force user in the Star Wars universe, at the very least she is one of the most inspirational characters.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (© 1999 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Most importantly Padme is a character of substance. Female characters can often be written as one-dimensional especially in science fiction genres. But Padme is more than just the traditional love interest in a male-led film. Arguably she is the lead character in The Phantom Menace, as a Queen seeking peace and freedom for her planet. She goes on to form one half of the most epic love story of cinema but that relationship does not define her character. This is something we also saw with her daughter Leia in the original trilogy.

As a child Padme is the reason I became a Star Wars fan, her commanding presence, her fashion, her emotion, and her strength captured my imagination and she has been my favorite character ever since.

Thomas: Padmé is one of the core characters of the Prequels, she’s part of the trio of this trilogy with Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Padmé is many things and carries several mantles throughout the three movies. It’s very inspirational to have a character like this especially since she’s not a force user so it makes it even easier to look up to her, she’s like us.

Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (© 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Moreover, she has a lasting impact on the rest of the Skywalker saga. The Rebel Alliance was first hinted at during Revenge of the Sith in the deleted scenes and Padmé was at the very center of it (with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma). And even though, Leia wasn’t raised by her mother, she is very much like her. She even follows her political path between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and then returns to politics again after Return of the Jedi, becoming a senator like her mother before her. There’s a saying like father, like son, I would say here it’s like mother, like daughter.

I grew up with the Prequels, they are the movies from my generation so they’re the ones I prefer. Padmé, Anakin, and Obi-Wan are part of my favorite characters, I’ve been inspired by them (each in their own way) growing up and they still continue to inspire me now.

Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones - 010
Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones (© 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

The Jump To Animation – Padmé And The Clone Wars

Thomas: Because The Clone Wars is a TV series, it got a lot more time to expand on the characters than movies can. Padmé plays an integral role in the series. She is voiced by Catherine Taber who did a fantastic job taking on the character. We see a lot more of Padmé’s skills in aggressive negotiations but also her political skills.  I love the episodes with the political plots because you get to see the different aspects of the Clone Wars. War is not just on the frontlines with the guns, it’s always behind the lines with the politics and those political aspects of the Clone Wars heavily involve Padmé.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (© 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

There is an arc that deals with Padmé trying to arrange peace between the Separatists and the Republic. The episode “Heroes on Both Sides” is part of that arc and it explores the war seen by Separatists but also shows us how good a diplomat Padmé is. It’s among my favorite episodes because we get to experience another side of the war and different points of view but mostly because Padmé is doing her best to try to end this war the right way – through diplomacy. Padmé always stays to true herself and her value. Her goal in the series is mostly to help people in need and to try to find a way to end the war. She is even hired as a spy by the Jedi Council for the time of a mission. I love “Senate Spy” so much, it’s a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious.

Nice little trivia fact about this episode – no lightsaber is ignited and no shots are fired. My main point though with these two episodes is that Padmé is not afraid to go behind the enemy lines and do her job no matter the danger. It makes her an essential player in the war. Obviously, like I said we get to see more of her aggressive negotiation skills as well. Padmé gets her share of the action too in several episodes! And let’s not forget, Padmé is the one who gets Anakin and Ahsoka Tano out of trouble with Jabba in The Clone Wars movie thus securing a safe use of the trade routes controlled by the Hutt clans for the war effort. This has a huge impact on the course of the war.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (© 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Padmé is paired up quite a few times with other women like Ahsoka Tano and the Duchess Satine Kryze. I like that a lot because it shifts the conversation on other things than just the men around her especially that in the Star Wars movies, you don’t often see a lot of women interacting with each other. These episodes are important and can inspire kids and anyone too. When you get to see someone like you on the screen you get to identify with them more easily. The Clone Wars also develops a lot more Anakin and Padmé’s complicated relationship but it’s something I’ll talk about in detail in the next part.

Padmé And Anakin’s Relationship

Darcie: Padme and Anakin have possibly the most epic and tragic love story in cinematic history. Every moment of their relationship from the friendship they formed whilst young to the tragic end is captivating and epic. The biggest what-ifs of the Star Wars universe are: What if Anakin and Padme had raised Luke and Leia? What if Padme had survived? What if Anakin had not turned to the dark side? These questions are too much to even think about. So let’s explore the relationship and what made it so epic from start to finish.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (© 1999 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Padme and Anakin meet on Tatooine, Padme the teenage undercover Queen of Naboo, Anakin a child slave. In their very first conversation, Anakin asks Padme if she is an angel. This is a very sweet moment. Anakin instantly puts Padme on a pedestal, he is captivated by her beauty and kindness before even knowing her true role as Queen.  Throughout the film, Padme shows care for the younger child, but it is Anakin’s idolization of Padme that first defines their relationship.

When they are reunited ten years later, Padme is taken aback by Anakin, calling him little Ani, but Anakin’s idolization of Padme never faltered. Over their ten years apart Padme matured and has taken on even more responsibility as senator of Naboo. Anakin too had grown up however he still lacked maturity. He almost wants to impress Padme with his new status as Jedi however Padme having been around Jedi for several years is not impressed. The awkward chemistry between them is apparent from the moment they leave Coruscant together. The beginning of their relationship has been criticized however Anakin is awkward having grown up a slave and then he is trained as Jedi to repress emotion. Padme’s lack of childhood and political career means she speaks as a politician. Padme’s declaration of love for Anakin is one of the most epic romance scenes, “Across the Stars” swells in the background and they kiss committing themselves to one another despite the fact a relationship is forbidden. Forbidden love is part of what makes their relationship so satisfying to audiences – they overcome everything to be together.

Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones (© 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

They marry alone on Naboo with only C-3PO and R2-D2 present. Perhaps the forbidden love is part of what makes this relationship so epic. But it is the progression of the relationship in Revenge of the Sith that defines their love as tragic. Their reunion at the start of the film where they steal a moment, Anakin spins Padme with a wide grin on his face, and Padme gives him the wonderful news that she is pregnant. However, their happiness does not last as Anakin has a Force dream depicting his greatest fear: Padme’s death. This dream, the product of Palpatine’s manipulation is what leads to Anakin’s descent to the dark side and Padme’s death. Some criticize Padme dying of a broken heart but it does happen in real life and her death made Anakin’s downfall even more tragic. Her death is what fully committed Anakin to the dark side.

Later in the comics, we see Darth Vader on a mission to discover what really happened to Padme, where he even visits her grave. He discovered that her handmaids also searched to find out what happened to her. They also keep her politics alive under her name. Overall their relationship is seated in deep love, that overcomes multiple obstacles however the tragic end somehow makes it even more epic.

Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones (© 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Thomas: Complicated romantic relationships are something that Star Wars LOVE but for me, there’s nothing more complicated than Anakin and Padmé’s relationship because it’s full of contradictions. They have truly wonderful moments where you can see they’re deeply in love. After all, they do have a music theme – “Across the Stars Love”. It’s a wonderful piece of music and among my favorites from the Prequel trilogy. In Attack of the Clones, the scene where they kiss just before entering the Geonosis Arena is so beautiful and the score adds a lot to it as well. Throughout this movie, you find small moments that show their love. You find the same thing with The Clone Wars and the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. There’s one moment that comes to mind from Senate Spy, Anakin brings dinner to Padmé and calls her apartment “home,” it’s a small but sweet scene, I love it!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

But there’s also a lot of toxicity happening in their relationship, mostly because of Anakin. He’s very possessive, way too much and his possessiveness leads to jealousy. The episodes from The Clone Wars featuring Rush Clovis explore with a lot of depth that side of their relationship. It even almost goes to the breaking point in “The Rise of Clovis” because Anakin attacks Clovis for flirting with Padmé. That’s too much for her. She knows there’s this darkness in Anakin that is poisoning their relationship but she also loves him so she chooses to concede both parts and lives with it. It’s very complicated. This relationship is central to the Prequels because it’s a big part of why Anakin falls to the Darkside.

Padmé And Politics – A Queen And A Senator

Darcie: From the very start Padme is an annoyance and threat to Palpatine. In The Phantom Menace as a young Queen, she fights both politically and physically with military force against the Trade Federation. Her actions to save her people are not only commendable but inspirational. She uses her words and her fashion (but more on that later) to make herself appear much older than she is, allowing herself to be taken seriously on a universal stage. On Naboo when she is fighting to take control back from the Trade Federation she pulls a gun from her throne. Not only is this an awesome scene but it highlights Padme’s willingness to join the fight, something we see her do on multiple occasions.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (© 1999 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes in and this makes her dangerous to Palpatine and his plans for the Empire. Her actions and successful show of leadership and power in The Phantom Menace not only secure her role as senator but also a reputation of a fierce negotiator. That is why Palpatine is determined to have her assassinated in Attack of the Clones. But what makes her even more of a threat to Palpatine is her relationship and political guiding of Anakin, her moral compass although not perfect certainly has some influence over Anakin. Furthermore, on a political front, Padme disagrees with the clone army being used after The Clone Wars with possibly the most powerful line in Star WarsSo this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.” Her alongside Bail Organa are in disbelief – the only two key non-Jedi to feel this way. She even has her doubts about Palpatine although she never names Palpatine – when she questions if she as part of the galactic senate is on the wrong side. Some argue that she may be force-sensitive however it is her career as Queen and Senator that have made her incredibly intuitive.

Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones (© 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

As a child I loved watching the powerful scenes where Padme would speak both as a Queen and as a senator. As a little girl, these scenes were so inspirational because yes Padme wore pretty dresses, but her political knowledge, her courage, and her willingness to enter battlegrounds to fight for her beliefs are what defined her. And to a child, she made me feel like I too could be passionate, clever and powerful.

Thomas: Padmé is elected the Queen of Naboo at the age of 14, that’s so young and yet she does what she has to do. She shows incredible courage in The Phantom Menace to save her people from the Trade Federation blockade. She also showcases great ingenuity with the decoy idea of protecting herself while still being secretly there. She reveals herself when it’s needed – to convince the Gungans to join the fight. This scene is one of my favorite of TPM, it’s so empowering and inspiring. Here, right there, that’s what I call a leader. It’s how I would define her as a queen, she leads, she inspires people. I also love that she tries diplomacy first by going to Coruscant and asking for help but when she realizes it’s not going to work, she goes back to Naboo for the fight.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (© 1999 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

As a senator, she is as inspiring as she was a queen. She’s the type of politician who’s an activist standing up for what’s right and for people who don’t have a voice. Throughout The Clone Wars, she’s on the frontlines of politics to do that. She’s not the usual politician who stays in their office and only see things from their small bubble. Padmé is actually a politician who goes on the front to resolve the problems, to help. For example in “Heroes on Both Sides”, she secretly travels to Raxus, the capital of the Separatists to engage in peace talks to end the war. In “Corruption”, she goes with Satine Kryze to investigate the corruption and end it. In “Shadow Warrior”, when tensions arise with the Gungans, she’s the one who goes there to appease these tensions by figuring out what is going on. That’s what I love so much about her, she is a person of action and not just words. It’s what makes her such a great Senator. In the episode “Pursuit of Peace”, she delivers a speech broadcast throughout Coruscant and it’s so inspiring. It goes back to what I said of her as a queen, she leads, she inspires people.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (© 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Teckla Minnau. Teckla is one of my aides. Like so many of the people that we tell ourselves we’re here to serve, Teckla lies in a district that rarely has electricity and running water as a result of the war. Her children can now only have bathe every two weeks, and they have no light in which to read or study at night. The Republic has always funded these basic services, but now, there are those who would divert the money to the war with no thought for what the people need to survive. If not for people like Teckla and her children, who are we fighting for? My people, your people, all of our people. This war is meant to save them from suffering, not increase it. I support our brave soldiers, whether they come from the clones factories or from any of the thousands of systems loyal to the Republic, but if we continue to impoverish our people, it is not on the battlefield where Dooku will defeat us, but in our own homes. Therefore, it is our duty and our responsibility to preserve the lives of those around us by defeating this bill. – Padmé Amidala

That’s why, I think it’s too bad the scenes with Padmé and the delegation of 2000 were cut from Revenge of the Sith (they’re canon though) because it is on par with what I mentioned from what she does in The Clone Wars.

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Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (© 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Padmé And Her Sense Of Fashion

Darcie: Not only is Padme a powerful force throughout the Prequels, but she is also visually powerful. Her costumes making her the center of attention whenever she is onscreen. The films make sure that Padme is always visually on show however she never looks out of place. The Prequels are full of amazing outfits and stunning visuals and Padme embraces the world she is part of. Her fashion reflects her powerful personality with the use of layers, bold colors, and large gowns. The costumes we see her in when she speaks at the Senate are often larger, with showy headdresses these highlight her personality whilst making her appear older and more regal. Padme uses her fashion as a means of power-play which is incredibly fascinating to watch. When she is alone with Anakin we often see her in thinner fabrics with styled hair but no over-the-top headdresses. Her battle outfits of which we see three: the purple one in The Phantom Menace, the White one in Attack of the Clones, and the Beige pregnancy one in Revenge of the Sith are all practical – something that rarely happens in movies of this genre.

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Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (© 1999 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

We see Padme in no less than 61 costumes throughout the prequels and each one is full of detail. Similar to the kimono-inspired Jedi robes Padme is seen in kimono-style costumes on multiple occasions which subconsciously signals that the importance of her character matches that of Anakin and Obi-Wan. Some costumes appear in pop culture more than others such as the White costume worn in Attack of the Clones, the Red queen gown from The Phantom Menace, and the rainbow dress also from Attack of the Clones. Whilst all three of these outfits are spectacular so are the other 58. I could not even pick a personal favourite. Padme’s outfits were certainly the first thing I noticed in Star Wars and why I paid attention to the films as a child.

Thomas: Padmé has an incredible sense of fashion. Throughout the movies and The Clone Wars, we get to see so many different outfits (and hairstyles that go with them) for this character, it’s simply wonderful. But beyond being beautiful costumes, it gives Padmé a natural presence. She really has costumes for every occasion. She has outfits for official queen and senator duty, she also has really practical and simple outfits for aggressive negotiations and adventures while still keeping her visual style. Even when she travels as a refugee from Coruscant to Naboo in Attack of the Clones and when she secretly travels to Raxus in Heroes on Both Sides, her costumes retain a certain aesthetic while also fitting to the environment around her. I love that these two costumes in particular have some similarities in terms of colors (they both have different shades of orange) because they both served the same purpose – allowing Padmé to travel without being recognized.

Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones (© 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

OVERALL:

Thomas: When the Prequel trilogy was released, there was a lot of Padmé merchandise. I remember owning several Padmé figures. However in recent years, as a collector I’ve been disappointed in the lack of Padmé merchandise but more generally it’s a problem I’ve seen with women characters. There is only one Black Series figure of Padmé, just like Leia from the Sequel trilogy. Nowadays when there is a Padmé figure, it’s in her white outfit from Geonosis, it’s like it’s the only outfit she had – S.H. Figuarts, Black Series, and Hot Toys (even though that one was just presented at events and not announced). It’s a nice adventure outfit but there are also so many different outfits she had that could also make great action figures! Padmé is a central character of the Skywalker saga, she should have more merchandise these days. I’m not just talking about figures but t-shirts, mugs, and all. Generally speaking, we need more Prequel merchandise, not just Original Trilogy focused merchandise. I have to salute Hot Toys for this as they keep giving us characters from the Prequels but other brands need to follow.

In terms of Padmé’s involvement with recent storytelling, I’m glad she got two novels focused solely on her character but I’m sad it was E.K. Johnston who wrote them as I really struggle with her writing style. She appeared in a Thrawn novel with Anakin. She also appeared in several episodes of Forces of Destiny, which is a micro-series celebrating the women of Star Wars. So I’m really happy that she was part of this series because it allowed new fans to get introduced to this character. But overall, I wish we’d get more Padmé stories. I’d love to see a comics series focused on the character and more. If we could see Natalie Portman play Padmé again, it would be the best thing ever. The Obi-Wan Kenobi series would be the perfect opportunity for that – flashbacks.

Darcie: Overall Padme will always be my favorite Star Wars character. Her passion, her resilience, her will power and her ability to love are what make her one of the most inspirational female characters of all time. This is why I am always disappointed that Padme seems for the most part a forgotten of the Star Wars universe. All I wanted was a Padme reference in the Sequel Trilogy, a reference that never came although I shouldn’t be surprised considering the Prequels were generally ignored throughout the sequel trilogy.  Recently, however, there has been a universal embrace of the prequels and not just by Star Wars fans but by Disney too. I have noticed that Padme has been featuring on Star Wars social media more often which is a great step forward. LikeThomas, I am hoping to see Padme again in the Obi-Wan series – I would even settle for a few references.

Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith -010
Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (© 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

Going forward I would like to see some of Padme’s bold fashion feature in the Star Wars universe as well as some political storylines. I would also like to see more merchandise: Padme costumes being sold next to Disney princess ones as well a stronger prequels presence at the Disney parks.

 

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