Everyone’s favourite Princess-turned-General, Star Wars’ Leia Organa was a force to be reckoned with from the moment she first appeared on screen, flipping stereotypes on their head from the off, and refusing to be the damsel in distress. In her first scenes, as her ship is breached and she’s taken prisoner, she doesn’t cower; instead, she fires her blaster gun at the bad guys, smuggles out a message to the good guys, and serves unadulterated sass to her captors. Thus, a legend was born.
Taking control of her own would-be rescue, and telling the men how it should be done, she was never forced to play second fiddle; she was truly the heroine of the saga. That said, and despite being a trailblazer for strong women when there were so very few in fiction, there’s no denying that Leia was sexualised (we all remember the metal bikini), but the true power of that scene isn’t how good Carrie Fisher looks, it’s the fact that Leia strangles her abductor with the very chains he used to try and bind her. She doesn’t need men to rescue her. Nor does she need a flashy lightsaber or even The Force. No, all she needs is her bare hands and a determination to survive.
Though it’s Leia of the original trilogy that most of us think of with the most nostalgia, Leia of the later movies is just as inspiring – if not, more so. Having dedicated her life to fighting the good fight, Leia is still on the front lines some 40ish years later. Older, wiser, but still snarky as hell, she’s not only a member of the Resistance; she’s its founder and leading General. Leia is quite literally the boss; an inspirer of hope throughout the Galaxy.
Wary of avoiding specific spoilers for the most recent film, suffice it to say that The Last Jedi lets us see another side of Leia, tapping into whole new realms of strength in more ways than one; stoic in her measured yet maternal leadership, but also vulnerable and human in the wake of her years of loss. And speaking of that loss, let’s just take a moment to appreciate that by this point, Leia has lost pretty much everyone and everything she loves (her home planet and adoptive parents have been destroyed; Han is dead; her brother is missing; her son has gone to the Dark Side) and not only is she still leading with strength and conviction, but not once has she been so much as tempted by the Dark Side herself, despite her strong Force connections – putting those Skywalker men to shame, you might say.
With the untimely and tragic loss of Carrie Fisher, Leia’s ultimate fate remains to be seen. We can only hope they do a true screen icon the justice she deserves. Whatever the outcome, may The Force be with her, always.