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 (Revenge of the Sith)
- It’s awesome to see Obi-Wan and Anakin committed to working together against Count Dooku, a great example of what this duo is capable of when they’re on the same page. I wish Obi-Wan wasn’t removed from the battle so quickly for this reason, but I understand why that decision was made as the primary purpose of this battle is to push Anakin toward the Dark Side. Speaking of the Dark Side, it’s fascinating to watch a current Sith Lord (Dooku) battling a future Sith Lord (Anakin). Fans often debate about which Jedi or Sith are superior or inferior to each other. Here we see for ourselves whether Dooku or Anakin are ultimately more powerful. The battle is also a clear and efficient way of portraying how much Anakin has grown in his abilities and power during the Clone Wars, which is necessary in his journey to becoming Darth Vader. It’s fitting that this fight which is so integral to Anakin turning to the Dark Side sidelines Obi-Wan while Palpatine watches on and encourages Anakin to kill a defenseless Dooku.
- Obi-Wan and his training have been crucial to keeping Anakin in a good place, but in this situation Palpatine takes the reins and guides Anakin toward the Dark Side, culminating in the highly symbolic act of murdering Dooku with both Jedi and Sith lightsabers. This fight definitely helps create the transition of Palpatine becoming Anakin’s master instead of Obi-Wan. Palpatine’s manipulation of both Dooku and Anakin runs deep in this scene. Christopher Lee’s acting is phenomenal and despite all the horrible things Dooku has done, you can’t help but feel a little sorry for him as he realizes Palpatine manipulated and betrayed him, always intending for Anakin to be his apprentice and right hand. The battle is intensely personal and intense, though the Anakin-Dooku relationship is definitely not quite as rich as relationships of other opponents on this list. In many ways it mirrors the battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, having the new apprentice defeat the old apprentice through fear, hate and anger, though not quite as epic.
- Rey and Finn vs. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (The Force Awakens)
- Every lightsaber battle contains emotional charge which heightens the conflict. But there’s an emotional charge in this particular lightsaber battle unlike any other as it almost immediately follows the death of Han Solo, arguably the most beloved character in all of Star Wars. And the individuals in this battle are all deeply tied to Han: two individuals who Han became a father figure and mentor to (Rey and Finn) and Han’s son who ruthlessly killed him (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo). These circumstances create an emotional charge for both the characters and the audience unlike any we’ve ever encountered in a lightsaber battle. That’s an astounding feat considering the significant emotional charge within every battle on this list. There’s such amplified anguish and anger in this fight for these individuals, none of whom are masters of the Force and of a lightsaber. Kylo Ren is trained in the ways of the Jedi and the Dark Side, but hasn’t completed training for either. Prior to the fight Finn only wielded a lightsaber once and there’s no concrete evidence he is Force-sensitive (though there are some that will argue this point). Rey is beginning to discover and tap into her Force-sensitive abilities, but has never wielded a lightsaber before. The fighting is more “raw” than any other lightsaber battle, but that’s partly what makes it so impressive and thrilling to see what these three young individuals are willing and capable of doing considering their lack of experience and knowledge.
- It’s an adrenaline-fueled battle following Han’s tragic death. In the wake of such heartbreak, we need hope restored, we need to see that good can still triumph despite insurmountable odds. Rey and Finn do this by taking on the powerful Kylo Ren. The moment where Anakin and Luke’s lightsaber goes to Rey instead of Kylo Ren, Rey using her instincts and innate abilities to tap into the Force and her potential to defeat Kylo Ren . . . these are moments that give the audience what we need. The only reasons this battle is ranked seventh is because the quality of the fighting is lower than most of the others, but this makes sense as these individuals have received incomplete or no formal training. And while a beautiful friendship has blossomed between Rey and Finn, and an intriguing rivalry is beginning to form between Rey and Kylo Ren, the character relationships in this battle aren’t as rich as some others on this list. The relationships between these new characters are really well-developed in The Force Awakens, but many of the other relationships in battles on this list are the products of several movies and many years, whereas the relationships in this battle are fairly new. In time, these relationships will be just as developed and just as rich as many others on this list. And for Rey and Kylo Ren (maybe for Finn too, depends on whether or not he’ll be revealed to be Force-sensitive or not) their abilities and powers will definitely continue to grow as well. Lightsaber battles featuring Rey and Kylo Ren in Episode VIII and Episode IX will likely rank high on a future version of this list.
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