Welcome to my first blog where I rank my all-time favorite lightsaber battles in Episodes I-VII of Star Wars! For the purposes of these rankings, a lightsaber battle is defined as at least two individuals fighting against each other with lightsabers. All individuals involved must be wielding lightsabers in their fight. So fighting or killing with lightsabers against individuals who don’t have lightsabers doesn’t count. By this definition, there are 13 lightsaber battles in Episodes I-VII of Star Wars. I have ranked them from favorite to least favorite, explaining why each battle is where it stands on this list. Of course this list is highly subjective and I’d love to hear any opinions whether they be similar, different, or anywhere in between. Enjoy!
- Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Count Dooku (Attack of the Clones)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker is one of the best duos in Star Wars. They have such a deep, complicated relationship. At this point in the story, despite their disagreements on many matters, they do respect each other and work well together. Therefore, it’s pretty disappointing to see Anakin squander the opportunity to work with Obi-Wan to battle Count Dooku, instead letting his anger get the best of him and dooming any chance he and his Master have of defeating Dooku together. Most battles on this list start off in epic fashion and are able to maintain if not heighten the epic nature as the conflict unfolds. However, Anakin’s foolish move immediately makes this fight less epic as Obi-Wan and Anakin at full strength is way better than just one of them against Dooku. What saves this battle is that we get to see how powerful and dangerous Dooku is, since prior to this point his character has been so heavily shrouded in mystery. He’s the only character other than the Emperor to have Force lightning. What also saves this battle is that individually, both Obi-Wan and Anakin are able to hold their own against Dooku. But both of their defeats are kind of disappointing as they might’ve been able to take him down if they’d worked together. This battle can also be appreciated for the role it plays in pushing Anakin toward becoming Darth Vader. But it lacks the epic nature of most of these other battles from making it less exciting from the very beginning.
- Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious vs. Mace Windu (Revenge of the Sith)
- I didn’t include the three other Jedi masters who show up with Mace Windu because they don’t do much fighting. Almost immediately after Palpatine takes out his lightsaber and flies through the air, he dispatches all of them. That being said, the fight solely between Palpatine and Mace Windu is fascinating to watch. It’s the first time we see Palpatine use a lightsaber and the first time we see Mace Windu fight a Sith Lord. These are two of the all-time best when it comes to fighting with a lightsaber and it’s awesome to see that. The quality of the lightsaber duel is superb. This is fitting as the future of the galaxy is heavily influenced by the outcome of the duel. Why this battle ranks lower is that it doesn’t quite contain the emotional gravity and complex relationships seen in so many of the other lightsaber battles. Other than their professional dealings as Chancellor and a Jedi Master on the Jedi council, Palpatine and Mace Windu have no relationship in the movies. Furthermore, while Mace Windu is a cool badass who brings a unique perspective to the Jedi Order, I don’t care about him about as a person like I do so many of the others on this list. He’s not as developed and we don’t get to know and get attached to him as we do with many other characters on this list, and that makes me less emotionally invested in this battle. In a lot of ways this battle is less about Mace Windu and more about Palpatine becoming the Emperor of the Galactic Empire and manipulating Anakin into becoming Darth Vader. This also makes me question if Palpatine and Mace Windu are as evenly matched as they appear, and if Palpatine lets Mace Windu disarm and defeat him in order to manipulate Anakin. Even Mace Windu’s death seems to be less about him and more representative of the Jedi Order’s impending demise, and the demise of Anakin’s remaining Jedi-like qualities (until they resurface in Return of the Jedi).
- Yoda vs. Count Dooku (Attack of the Clones)
- This had the potential to be among the very best lightsaber battles. The two battles between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader/Anakin rank pretty high on this list, largely because of the richness of their long-term relationship. There’s such tragedy in seeing how the master and apprentice who once had such a good relationship are now pitted against each other, with the apprentice consumed by the Dark Side. The master is devastated by what the apprentice has become, wondering what they could’ve done differently or better to prevent it from happening, remembering the apprentice younger and filled with so much hope and positive potential. There could’ve been a lot more focus on the relationship between Yoda and Count Dooku and the emotional dynamics. Yoda was Dooku’s master, but Dooku turned to the Dark Side and became a Sith Lord under the tutelage of Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine. This so closely mirrors the Obi-Wan and Anakin story. If the story had taken more advantage of that, developed and focused on the relationship between Yoda and Dooku more before and during the battle, this could’ve been a lot stronger.
- Seeing Yoda using a lightsaber and fighting a Sith Lord for the first time is awesome and something long-awaited for by many Star Wars But it didn’t end up being as awesome as it could’ve been because there’s too much of a comedic tone in the way Yoda fights, particularly with the exaggerated sound effects he makes while dueling Dooku. Watching Yoda duel the Emperor without making those comedic sound effects is way more satisfying and allows the audience to focus much more on the conflict at hand. But seeing more of Yoda’s abilities with the Force and for the first time ever with a lightsaber make this a great fight, as does seeing that Dooku is so powerful that while not as powerful as Yoda, he can still hold his own against his former master.
- I have mixed feelings about the fight’s ending. Dooku was clever to exploit Yoda’s compassion and how much he cares about his fellow Jedi, but it also feels a bit like a copout resolution. It makes sense considering Dooku’s reliance on the Dark Side and that he can’t best Yoda, so he manipulates his understanding of his old master. This is the best instance of using Yoda and Dooku’s relationship to enhance the depth of the conflict. There are a lot of great things going for this battle, but it ends up ranking lower on the list because it’s not as emotionally powerful, and things get a little too comedic with Yoda’s fighting.
Image taken from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/star-wars-the-force-awakens-jj-abrams-promises-lightsaber-duels-will-be-primitive-and-rougher-and-a6754296.html