Star Wars Day 2022: (List) The Five Best Star Wars Villains (Who Aren’t Darth Vader)

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m a huge Star Wars geek. I have been since I was a kid, and I proudly wear that badge today. I saw all the movies in theaters going back to the original trilogy. I had the action figures, vehicles, storybooks, blasters, etc. etc. etc. In other words, Star Wars has played a HUGE role in my life, and over the years my love for it hasn’t waned.

Needless to say, when something like Star Wars Day comes along it gets me pretty excited. And what better time to focus on Star Wars that May 4th? So I thought it would be fun to revisit something Star Wars is well known for – its villains. Today I’m sharing my five favorite Star Wars villains within the current canon but with one significant omission – Darth Vader. I mean naturally he would be #1. So in an effort to give everyone else a fighting chance, I’ve decided to let him sit this one out. Tell me what you think…

#5 – Kylo Ren

Ok, so you could make a good case that Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren isn’t actually a villain. But he more or less played one for most of of the sequel trilogy. And he actually killed Han Solo (I can’t think of anything that would make you more of a villain than that). Regardless, from the very start I have loved the Kylo Ren character. One of the complaints is that he borrows too much from Darth Vader, but that’s kind of the point. Kylo is being torn apart inside and everything about his character conveys that, from his impulsive aggression to his iconic lightsaber with its crossguard hilt and cracked Kyber crystal. I love the emotionally ravaged Kylo.

#4 – Boba Fett

I have always loved Boba Fett beginning with his brief faceless presences in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi”. Admittedly, back then it was mostly the ‘cool factor’ that made him a favorite of mine. But over the years Star Wars has done a wonderful job fleshing out his story, starting with our introduction to young Boba in “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”. The brilliant animated series “The Clone Wars” provided even more insight into his journey to the world of bounty hunting. But it was his recent reintroduction to live-action in “The Book of Boba Fett” that really secured his spot on this list. With his Mandalorian background mixed and an intimidating mean streak, Boba Fett makes for a great baddie.

#3 – Cad Bane

Man I love Cad Bane. Hailing from the planet Duros, Bane is a ruthless bounty hunter and mercenary who can’t be trusted by anyone whether good or bad, Empire or Republic, Jedi or Sith. His notoriously cold businesslike manner makes him feared across the galaxy. He’s also extremely cool with a look and demeanor that feels yanked right out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. Cad Bane really came into his own during “The Clone Wars” and had a great appearance in “The Bad Batch”. And some may argue that he stole the series when he showed up in “The Book of Boba Fett”. Regardless of what he’s in, Cad Bane always brings with him a fascinating mix of menace and excitement.

#2 – Darth Maul

I wasn’t the only one blown away by Darth Maul in “Episode I: The Phantom Menace”. Everything from his terrifying appearance to his mind-blowing fighting style (kudos Ray Park) won him a legion of fans. Now if you only watch the movies it might surprise you to see him on this list, especially ranked this high. But as is often the case in Star Wars, Maul’s story is unpacked through other canonical series, mainly “The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels”. Maul has one of my favorite stories out of all Star Wars villains. It shows us someone burning with hate, not just for the Jedi (especially Obi-Wan Kenobi) but also for his one-time master Darth Sidious. I won’t spoil it, but the twisted layers of Darth Maul’s story is unlike anything else in the franchise.

#1 – Darth Sidious/The Emperor/Supreme Chancellor Palpatine

With his hideously scarred face, his snarling smile, and a voice that sounds like he’s gargling gravel, Darth Sidious is a truly chilling villain. He is the personification of evil and his impact can be felt throughout the entire Skywalker Saga. Sidious is not only frightening because of his horrifying appearance. He’s also cold and calculating, and it doesn’t matter who he has to go through to obtain and maintain power. Add to it the fact that he is the most powerful Sith and shows it throughout the franchise. And who doesn’t love Ian McDiarmid who has played the character since 1983. Sidious/Palpatine is not only a staple in the gallery of Star Wars villains. He’s the true mastermind behind most of the evils that shrouds the galaxy.

12 thoughts on “Star Wars Day 2022: (List) The Five Best Star Wars Villains (Who Aren’t Darth Vader)

  1. For me,

    1. Palpatine
    2. Orson Krennic
    3. Moff Gideon
    4. Darth Maul
    5. Cad Bane

    Honorable Mentions: Grand Moff Tarkin, General Hux, and Count Dooku.

    I don’t consider Boba Fett nor Kylo Ren villains. The former because of the show and the latter because of what happened to him in the end of TROS.

    • Really enjoyed Krennic. Moff Gideon and Tarkin were really close to making it.

      As I wrote in the piece, I went with Kylo and Boba as villains mainly because that’s what they were for most of their runs. Their endings definitely change how we look back on them now. But during that run they were such fun baddies.

  2. What a fun list! I was 9 years old when my mom took me and a friend to see the first one released and I remember it like it was yesterday. We sat on the front row in the center and it’s almost unbelievable that we were the only three in the theater. I remember other parents and kids saying they didn’t want to go see some ridiculous movie trying to be like Star Trek. Pardon my journey down memory lane. More on topic, my choice is Wilhuff Tarkin!

    • I love that. My memory is pretty similar. I was hooked after first seeing it. And I remember going to Empire and leaving as a boy in utter shock. It’s the movie that opened my eyes to movies in an entirely new way.

  3. That’s a pretty “handsome” list right there. And educational! I know nothing about Cad Bane (cool name and seemingly modeled on Clint Eastwood, just a tad?). And I really took to Adam Driver in Star Wars. I think he gets a lot of hate but Kylo Ren was so fascinating from an emotional standpoint

    • Absolutely agree about Kylo. He’s such an emotionally complex character and Driver really brought it to light over the course of the movies. As for Bane, he absolutely has Clint vibes. Actually, he’s much more fashioned after Lee Van Cleef who was in two of three of Clint’s Leone spaghetti westerns. Love that character.

    • It’s funny, I REALLY wanted to add Thrawn. But since I had limited it to current canon I wasn’t sure if he had been involved enough. He was GREAT in Rebels. And I think he’s going to have a big role in the upcoming Ahsoka series. I can’t wait.

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