‘Star Wars’: The Best Villains

It goes without saying that the Star Wars franchise is massively popular. There are a multitude of reasons for this, including its mix of genres, its innovative special effects, and its beloved musical score.

Perhaps the greatest reason for the saga’s success is its characters. The franchise has no shortage of memorable characters, including a unique rogues gallery of antagonists. Let’s look at the best Star Wars villains.

Cosplayers dressed as Kylo Ren and Darth Vader | Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

Darth Vader

Darth Vader isn’t just one of the greatest Star Wars villains, he’s one of the greatest villains in film history. From his unique design to his relationship with his son to his chilling voice (which was provided by James Earl Jones in one of the greatest examples of voice acting ever), every aspect of the character’s execution in the original trilogy was perfect.

His portrayal as a young man in the prequel trilogy is a little more controversial. Some fans feel that the young Anakin Skywalker comes across as whiny and annoying, ruining the mystique of the character. Others find the prequel saga to be a compelling tragedy about a gifted young man who is overcome by his personal demons.

A cosplayer in Germany dressed as Darth Vader | Caroline Seidel/picture alliance via Getty Images

Either way, the prequel trilogy stands as a testament to how much the character resonated with audiences. If people weren’t intrigued by Darth Vader in the first three films, Hollywood never would have created another three films just to explain his backstory.

Darth Vader has been mentioned a few times in the sequel trilogy. Although Vader hasn’t made any appearances in the story of Rey and her pals, some fans believe that he may soon return to the saga. Even if he doesn’t return, his presence is still felt indirectly through his grandson, Kylo Ren.

Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren on display in a shop window | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Because Kylo Ren has expressed ambivalence about the dark side, some believe that he will redeem himself in The Rise of Skywalker. Such a redemption would make Kylo even more similar to Darth Vader, whom he constantly emulates. Kylo’s internal conflict, combined with the question of whether or not he will renounce the dark side, has made him endlessly fascinating and inspired much debate over his character. His close connection to Rey has also made him stand out from the crowd of Star Wars villains, who are rarely this close to their adversaries.

Not only is Kylo well-developed, he’s also been played to aggressive perfection by Adam Driver. The costume designers of the sequel trilogy also deserve praise. After Vader’s mask became one of the most recognizable images in all of pop culture, they were able to create an equally creepy and cool mask for Kylo Ren.

Jabba the Hutt

Jabba the Hutt at Madame Tussauds | JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Darth Vader and Kylo Ren are great for their complexity; Jabba the Hutt is great due to his simplicity. He is one of the most brilliantly repulsive creatures in science fiction. His humanoid face combined with his reptilian skin and slug-like body conveys that he has the intelligence of a person but that he constantly indulges his most grotesque, animalistic impulses.

The fact that he is never depicted moving around in Return of the Jedi somehow makes him more imposing. It comes across as though he is too important within his crime syndicate to actually move for anybody; he simply has other people move him around on his little platform. The voice that Lucasfilm devised for him is one of the few voices in science fiction to truly sound alien. Who knew that a character who only speaks gibberish could be so effective?