I can’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars.
I mean, how could I? Star Wars has felt like a part of my life for as long as I can recall. I was that kid who left the house everyday decked out head-to-toe in Star Wars gear, I brought a Star Wars lunch box to school and decorated my bedroom with star fighters and carrier ships.
I can remember one thing about the start of my lifelong Star Wars addiction, however. Everything started with a beat-up VHS collection of the first three films, now referred to as the original trilogy. While the prequel trilogy was just hitting theatres in the peak of my Star Wars fervor, I was always drawn back to those classic films.
I could drag on the poor writing, misuse of CGI and sheer stupidity of the prequel, but that is not my point. What kept bringing me back to the original films in my youth was that I had fallen in love with the characters.
Or rather, just one particular character.
The opening sequence of A New Hope is about as iconic as a film’s first few moments can be. A massive Star Destroyer floats into frame, overtaking the significantly smaller rebellion ship, the Tantive IV. Complete hysteria overtakes the rebel blockade runner as the soldiers on board prepare to be boarded by the Imperial troops. It seems like all hope is lost for the good guys, as the looming shadow of the Empire inches closer with every second.
That is, until we are introduced to a figure draped in white, communicating with the lovable R2-D2. Shrouded in shadow, the figure quickly places something in the care of the astromech droid. Surely this could not be the transmission containing the Death Star plans that the villainous Darth Vader is currently tearing the ship apart to find. The audience is lead to believe that this is indeed the case. Who is this mysterious woman who would dare to defy a Sith lord? Just for a brief moment, we get our first look at the incredible character that is Princess Leia.
Leia was my first childhood crush. From those first moments on the Tantive IV, I was completely infatuated. The princess was my first real encounter with a strong female character. The prior foundations of princesses in my childhood were the likes of Peach and Zelda, who often served no other purpose than an object to reclaim in a videogame. Princess Leia was a diplomat, a rebel, a leader and an all around hero.
The thing that gets overlooked about Leia is just how calm and collected she is. Luke often gets a lot of flak for being whiny, especially in A New Hope. Han Solo is a rugged brute with something of a short temper. We see these characters lose their cool more than once in the original trilogy, but Leia is always the wise badass we wish we could be. As she’s held captive on the Death Star, patiently awaiting rescue, Leia stands up to Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin all while single-handedly keeping the rebellion alive.