How ‘Star Wars’ Failed Padme's Character
An Examination Of The Pivotal Character's Underutilization
If one looks at the story of Star Wars, Padme Amidala is one of the most essential characters in the entire saga, perhaps outside of Leia. Padme and Leia are the emotional foundations in the saga and, in many ways, important players in galactic events. Yet sadly, Padme's importance is never given much agency in the movies. Even some of her expanded material is diminished or outright ignored. A trend that is now only slightly getting reversed, but not enough.
Relegated to the Sidelines
In The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, Padme is very much at the forefront of events in the prequel trilogy. Heck, one could argue that in The Phantom Menace, Padme is the main character since it is her planet that gets invaded. The perspective of the film is also largely told from her point of view, with her being present for most of the important events and plot points during the course of the film. Everything revolves around her needing to unite the Gungan and Naboo people to repel the droid army of the Trade Federation. So she pretty much goes through her own hero's journey.
In Attack of the Clones, much of the story revolves around Padme and ensuring she is protected from assassination attempts. This is why Anakin is given the task of guarding her, to prevent her assassination from the Separatists, which eventually leads them to Geonosis to save Obi-Wan. Again, she involves herself in events, frees herself from the Geonosians, and even gets a couple of shots in along the way during the climactic battle of the film.
In Revenge of the Sith is when things take a bit of a dive. Padme is essentially reduced to just a love interest role and nothing more. An obstacle as part of Anakin's turn to the dark side of the Force. She hardly participates in any of the major events until the end when she tries to convince Anakin to come back to the light. Her role would have been significantly increased had some of her deleted scenes been kept in. Scenes of her joining the founding members of the Rebel Alliance in response to Palpatine's continued assault on democracy. Sadly without these scenes, her role is greatly diminished.
Even within the wider Expanded Universe, her role was diminished. When the prequel moves were being made, not many EU books or comics expanded on her role, choosing to instead focus on the Jedi and clone troopers of the prequel films. Even before the prequels, Luke and Leia in the post-Endor novels never really had much interest in learning about their mother in any significant way; it was always very Anakin-centric. It honestly sometimes makes one wonder if Padme had to die in Episode Three and could have gone on in post prequel stories.
Reverse the Trend
Recently we have seen an attempt to reverse the trend, starting with The Clone Wars, which had several Padme-centric episodes dealing with the political ramifications of the war as well. These episodes highlight her time during the war and show how she is trying desperately to keep what tiny vestiges of honor and democracy the Republic still had.
As of late, we are getting more Padme novels that show her early time as Queen and as Senator. Gaining a deeper look inside her head and seeing how she navigated the ways of political life on Coruscant. As well as dealing with her own personal issues along the way.
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Written by Joel Davis
Syndicated from Culture Slate