From A New Hope (1977). Image is a screengrab via 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm
16. Star Wars: A New Hope
Arguably, the original Star Wars trilogy is more of an ensemble cast than anything else. It begins with the backwoods life of young Luke Skywalker, and soon grows to include Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. However, there’s no denying that Star Wars introduced a truly fascinating woman in the character of Leia Organa.
As played by Carrie Fisher, Leia is no ordinary princess in distress. It’s true that Luke and Han first encounter her while she’s imprisoned on the ominously-named Death Star. And she really is a princess of sorts, being the daughter of high-ranking Senator Bail Organa. Clearly, the worlds of Star Wars have an interesting mix of royalty and elected government officials. At any rate, Leia soon proves to be more fighter than a damsel, as she shoots her way through a slew of storm troopers.
Eventually, we learn that she’s actually the leader of the Rebel Alliance, the resistance force that takes in young Luke and his compatriots. Later on, in the new Star Wars movies, she’s become General Organa, leader of the Resistance. Leia is clearly a strong-willed leader with formidable tactical skills.
It’s true that things go a little wonky, representation-wise, when she crosses paths with Jabba the Hut and ends up in that infamous metal bikini. To be fair, though, it’s worth noting that she eventually defeats the intergalactic gangster, strangling him with her own slave chain.
Fisher brought her own considerable energy to the role, infusing Leia with a unique strength and intelligence that resonates with viewers even today.