When Disney acquired Lucasfilm and kickstarted the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the filmmakers brought back many fan-favorite icons, like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa. But J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens was primarily focused on introducing new characters like Rey, Finn, and the villainous Kylo Ren.
Some of these new characters felt like re-treads of well-known Star Wars characters – like the masked Sith warrior and his throne-mounted puppet-master – but others, like cool-as-ice Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, were welcome additions to a galaxy far, far away.
9 Supreme Leader Snoke
Throughout The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren conferences with a hologram of his master, Supreme Leader Snoke, the true leader of the First Order who manipulated Kylo to do his bidding. Aside from his much vaguer backstory, there’s nothing that separates Snoke from previous Star Wars big bad Emperor Palpatine. He’s like a “We have Palpatine at home” meme.
Andy Serkis, the master of performance capture who brought life to Gollum, Caesar, and King Kong, deserved a more physically demanding role than one who spends the whole movie sitting on a throne.
8 General Hux
The side villain, General Hux, is a typical smarmy Imperial bureaucrat cut from the same cloth as Peter Cushing’s iconic portrayal of Grand Moff Tarkin. However, it does get a little old within a couple of minutes of The Force Awakens, but the character, nevertheless, is kept around for the entire movie.
Hux is somewhat elevated by Domhnall Gleeson’s talents as an actor, but the character is far too one-note to leave a lasting impression on fans.
7 Maz Kanata
Lupita Nyong’o is one of the greatest actors in the world, but she was squandered in The Force Awakens with a one-dimensional Yoda homage, whose primary function is to impart exposition to Rey and lead her to a “mystery box” Force vision.
The Falcon’s detour through the weird alien-infested bar in Maz’s castle feels like a rehash of the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence from the 1977 original. Nyong’o deserved a much more substantial role than the one burdened with explaining the plot.
6 Kylo Ren
When Kylo Ren’s masked, black-clad appearance was first revealed, Star Wars fans expected a rip-off of Darth Vader. But he’s not like Darth Vader; he comes across like a whiny kid who wants to be like Darth Vader. He worships his grandfather’s charred helmet and pledges to finish what he started, despite being far less powerful and intimidating than him.
Making Kylo a Vader wannabe offered a subversive twist on The Force Awakens’ familiar formula, but his worship of Vader’s mask retconned Anakin’s redemption. Although he isn’t a very menacing villain, the character is elevated by Adam Driver’s nuanced performance.
One of the many things that The Force Awakens borrowed from the original 1977 Star Wars film is making the MacGuffin a droid. Much like R2-D2 stored Leia’s message for Obi-Wan in the original movie, BB-8 stores the incomplete map that leads to Luke Skywalker’s location in The Force Awakens.
BB-8 manages to be as adorable as R2-D2 without ripping him off. His spherical design and vocal inflections provided by Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz made BB-8 a totally unique astromech droid.
One of the biggest changes that the sequel trilogy made from the previous two Star Wars trilogies was having a female lead. Daisy Ridley gave Rey both the bright-eyed optimism of Luke Skywalker and the dark edge of his father Anakin, which made her hero’s journey unpredictable.
Although her arc wasn’t planned in the long term, The Force Awakens introduced Rey as a more or less anonymous desert scavenger and a quintessential underdog that everybody in the audience could look up to.
While Rey and Poe could be compared to previous Star Wars characters, Finn is utterly unique in a galaxy far, far away. A Stormtrooper had never been a protagonist before, and on top of that, a few scenes in The Force Awakens suggest that he’s Force-sensitive, which is another first.
John Boyega is more than likable enough to fill the audience surrogate role as an everyman outsider, who’s unexpectedly thrust into the Resistance’s fight. Finn is responsible for some of The Force Awakens’ funniest moments, like “That’s not how the Force works!” while his reluctance to join the war against the First Order, and his tangible friendships with Rey and Poe gives the character some real dramatic weight.
2 Captain Phasma
Captain Phasma is easily the most badass villain in the sequel trilogy (although, granted, her competition is Kylo Ren, Hux, Snoke, and a hastily resurrected Palpatine). Gwendoline Christie gave Phasma the same fierce conviction and unfaltering dedication to her violent duties that she gave Brienne of Tarth, her star-making role in Game of Thrones.
Due to her sparing dialogue and imposing appearance, Phasma was compared to fan-favorite icon Boba Fett. In The Force Awakens, she was a delightfully sinister baddie who developed a fascinating rivalry with deserter Finn.
1 Poe Dameron
Out of all the characters introduced in The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron is the one who most closely resembles the pulpy space heroes that inspired George Lucas to create the saga in the first place. He cracks wise while he’s being tortured, he acts before thinking it through, and he has an adorable boy-and-his-dog dynamic with his trusty droid BB-8.
As a charming, roguish pilot and an unwavering hero of the Resistance, Poe is like Han Solo meets Luke Skywalker. Oscar Isaac has both the suave charisma of Harrison Ford and the bright-eyed sincerity of Mark Hamill to pull this off.
NEXT: Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ 10 Most Egregious Scenes
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