Attack of the Clones,  Prequel Trilogy,  Revenge of the Sith,  The Phantom Menace,  The Rise of Skywalker

The A.V. Club contributor says Padmé was her “perfect heroine” and wants her to get “her due” in Episode IX

padmé

From The A.V. Club:

“[…] Though I’m sure screenwriters J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio will craft a fitting tribute to the princess-turned-general [Leia Organa] and find a way to continue the story in her absence, Episode IX will still have a palpable void—in particular, where Leia’s maternal influence over Kylo Ren presumably would’ve been. And one option for filling it could be to call back a character who’s thus far been notably absent from the continued Star Wars mythos: Queen, Senator, Skywalker-twin mother, Kylo Ren grandmother, and all-around underappreciated Star Wars heroine, Padmé Amidala.

I’ll readily admit that, her horrendous Revenge Of The Sith arc aside, I perhaps have a greater fondness for Amidala than most fans.

[…] I see much of Padmé’s stiltedness as a conscious acting choice on Portman’s part. After all, she’s a young woman who’s spent her entire life within the stuffy, mannered world of galactic politics; Attack Of The Clones delightfully reveals that Padmé had her first kiss with a boy in her “Legislative Youth Program” when she was 12. At its best, Portman’s performance juxtaposes Padmé’s public-facing formality with her more casual private persona. And in her defense, as Harrison Ford once famously said, “George, you can type this shit, but you sure can’t say it!”

[…] [Padmé is] first and foremost a political leader, one who’s primarily concerned with the importance of preserving democracy. This has led many Star Wars fans to write her off as “wooden” or “boring,” but her political skills are exactly what make Padmé such a compelling character to me.

Even as a kid, I adored watching Padmé grapple with big political concerns, all while struggling with the fact that, as a young woman, people were less inclined to take her seriously. Early in The Phantom Menace, the Emperor tells his Neimoidian allies, “Queen Amidala is young and naive. You will find controlling her will not be difficult.” But that turns out not to be true. As a teenage queen, Padmé is curious, observant, empathetic, selfless, and brave. She’s willing to both put herself in harm’s way and humble herself before a political rival in order to save her homeworld. It’s no wonder the people of Naboo tried to amend their constitution to get her to stick around as queen once her two terms were up.

Though Attack Of The Clones is the weakest of the prequels, it’s probably the best showcase for Padmé as a character. As a Galactic Senator, she’s clear-eyed as she balances her idealism about how democracy should work with her pragmatism about how it actually does. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but she’s also thoughtful about where and how she does so. And while very little about her relationship and repartee with Anakin actually works, the film features several delightful moments in which Padmé puts Anakin in his place whenever he jumps in with an opinion she didn’t ask for. That Attack Of The Clones also solidifies Padmé as the best-dressed person in the entire Star Wars universe is just icing on the cake.

Even amid her disappointing Revenge Of The Sith denouement—inexplicably losing the will to live after giving birth is perhaps the most insulting death she could’ve been given—Padmé at least gets to deliver some particularly savvy political observations as Chancellor Palpatine transforms the Republic into his Galactic Empire. “So this is how liberty dies,” she notes dryly, “with thunderous applause.” As a nerdy, opinionated young girl, Padmé was the perfect heroine on which to project my dreams, much as so many people did with Luke in the original trilogy.

It’s a little disappointing, then, to see Padmé completely forgotten in these new Star Wars films. Obviously I don’t expect her to suddenly turn up as a central character, given that she died long before the start of this new trilogy. But Episode IX has the perfect opportunity to bring her spirit back into the fold. As the one most personally betrayed by Anakin’s turn to the dark side, Padmé could easily fill the role Leia presumably would’ve played in challenging Kylo Ren’s obsession with Vader. Perhaps in encountering her old journals (holographic if Portman wants to return; written if she doesn’t), Kylo could develop an emotional connection to his grandmother, the same way he already has one with his long-dead grandfather.

Given how much the new films have tried to distance themselves from the prequels, there’s probably no realistic chance of Padmé finally getting her due in Episode IX—even if the inclusion of Jimmy Smits’ Bail Organa turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly moving parts of Rogue One. But hell, I’d even accept a Jimmy Smits hologram, talking about how much he respected Amidala as a political ally and how much his adoptive daughter reminds him of her. Because in a universe strangely devoid of mother figures, it would be nice to see the franchise remember it still has some inspiring ones in its past, just waiting to pass down their wisdom.”


“ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Caroline Siede is a pop culture critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. Her interests include superhero movies, feminist theory, and Jane Austen novels.”

0 Comments

  • Eduardo Vargas

    I’m beyond tired of seeing people at this point say that Padme’s arc in ROTS was somehow bad or horribly executed-

    It wasn’t and I have no patience for that crap

    • Anticitizen One

      Me too. Even when they say positive things about her they have to say a bunch of nonsense. Just like how they treat the rest of the PT. It’s because she doesn’t fit the Strong Female Character™ archetype in that movie that they demand. And “OMG there’s romance. And no strong woman would ever have a romantic relationship.” What they want is some cookie cutter crap to make up for their own insecurities.
      Padme’s story makes perfect sense if one considers how an actual person might respond to what’s in front of her. In that light, she’s probably the most realistic character in the entirety of Star Wars.

      • Moose

        I think many people (including folks at Disney) misunderstand the idea that Star Wars is a fairy tale. The first words that come on the screen at the beginning of each film tell you as much (“A long time ago…” sounds an awful lot like “Once upon a time”). A character dying of a broken heart fits into a fairly tale perfectly, although it might upset some folks’ modern sensibilities.
        On the more mythological side, Padme’s role in Episode III is reduced because we are leaving the halcyon days of the goddess (represented by Padme) and moving into the dark days when the galaxy is ruled by male gods and devils (Vader and Palpatine).
        II think that even Ms. Siede here recognizes that Disney has, by now, removed all of the fairy tale/mythological ethos of the Lucas 6. That may be the real reason that she wants Padme back.

  • PrinceOfNaoo

    I’m in love with Padmé. She’s a great character and alongside Anakin the most nuanced and authetic Star Wars has ever brought to light.

    They don’t fit any stereotype and that’s what makes them “controversial” or “disliked”. They’re just too complex for the average blockbuster and Disney to comprehend.

  • lovelucas

    Next to total bashing I really hate back-handed “compliments” for the prequels. And this is one of them. They actually need no defense. So many negatories just totally missed George’s message. And Padmé did NOT die of a broken heart. Don’t believe the droids – they only speak limited science.

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