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Celebrating five years of tirelessly defending and endlessly discussing all things Star Wars from a certain point of view rarely seen elsewhere! Enjoy the occasional gen and het fic! Be amazed at the coherent sentences!

July 2014
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lazypadawan [userpic]
Evil SW characters

The other day, I thought about the damned among the SW pantheon, the baddies who croak unredeemed and unforgiven.  Interestingly, three get their just desserts in ROTJ.  They were all different shades of evil, wicked for different reasons, but evil just the same.

First, let's look at bounty hunter extraordinaire Boba Fett.  He was bad not just because he was an antagonist and made our heroes' lives difficult.  He was bad because he was greedy to the point where morals were no barrier to what he wanted to accomplish.  In other words, he'd do anything, hurt anyone, and kill anybody for money.  When Han is tortured and frozen in carbonite, Fett's concern for his well-being is measured only in monetary value.  His progenitor Jango is pretty much the same way; he doesn't care who he has to kill nor is he ever concerned about the implications of using his genetic material to spawn a clone army.  All he cares about is getting paid. 

Jabba the Hutt is a creature of the id, a being who lives primarily for self -indulgence thanks to his own greed for money.  He kills in part for enjoyment, watching a poor dancing girl die purely for amusement.  He eats constantly, smokes whatever it is in his hookah, and ogles scantily-clad prisoners all day long.  Every day is a party to Jabba, with life and death as his entertainment.  If Jabba was a victim in that movie Seven, he'd be the guy whacked for gluttony.

Darth Maul and General Grievous live to fight and kill.  They don’t question their orders or their own actions; it's all about the enjoyment of watching others die (both have a preference for killing Jedi).  They have no conscience whatsoever.

Count Dooku wins the "it takes one to know one" award when he tells Anakin in ROTS "double the pride, twice the fall."  We don't know the precise reason why Dooku agreed to join the Sith but it can be surmised he's a man of tremendous pride.  As long as nobody else in the galaxy was paying attention to the rules, he wasn't going to either.  As long as everybody else was getting theirs, he was going to get his.  Everything he'd been taught and everything he'd believed in his whole life was cashed out in pursuit of power.  He didn't care a gazillion beings were killed in a phony war for Sith dominance.  He didn't care about his fellow Jedi anymore.  Just give him some cool lightsabers and show him how to zap people, and he's yours.

The worst one of all is of course, Palpatine.  If he's not the devil, he's just about as bad.  Everyone else exists for one reason and that is how they can be used to attain more power for himself. Dominion over others is the only thing that matters to the guy.

What about Vader then?  Well, I'm going to address how he's different in another post.


 

Comments

Vader had a good motivation to turn bad i think. i do think Grievous is very neat even if he is bad. hmm i like that about Seven, i think Vader would be Brad Pitt.

I'm sure there's a bunch of Fett-fans out there that would disagree with your assessment that Boba Fett (and his father) are evil, and they would point out such things as Boba's moral code (he doesn't kill indiscriminantly, but only kills his bounty (or those who stand in his way of a job), and while motivated by money, he is not ruled by passion (except his on-again-off-again-feud with Han Solo). ultimately, whether his actions are evil or not might come down to the situation - is tracking down a known dangerous criminal to turn them over to the authorities an evil action?

but ultimately, Fett's code is not good because it often leaves the moral decision making to someone else. while motivated by money, i don't see that he is necessarily greedy - a greedy assassin/bounty hunter might steal from his targets as he captures/kills them, but Fett shows no indication of that - the only payment is the job. perhaps his sin is also a bit of pride. he lives for this reputation of being the best.

You should see the comments on the cross-post I have on my starwars.com blog! Sheesh!

For some reason, in SW you don't see the bounty hunters chasing after crooks who jumped bail as you do on Dog: The Bounty Hunter. They're more like hired mercs/hit men. In any case, Fett leaves the moral decision making to whoever hires him because...he wants the dough! He may not pick pockets, but doing anything for money is greed nevertheless. You are right about the issue of pride though. Part of what he does is to enhance his reputation.

well, i'd imagine the bounty on crooks who jump bail is not as high as the bounty on criminals who destroy government property or smuggle contraband. but yes, the bounty hunters at the top of the food chain in SW (the ones we see) are all basically hit men.

i don't think Fett would do anything for money - because then some of his targets could buy their freedom by paying Fett more than his employer might. his reputation for completing a job and never letting his quarry escape is worth more to him than credits.

heh.. gotta link to your sw.com blog?

I'd like to point out that Fett's code is a matter of ethics, not morals- that is, it determines what he will do based on what is professional and expedieant, not what is right- it is immoral to kill innocents who get between you and a bounty, but not necessarily unethical.

perhaps for fett it is the same thing.. what is right is defined as what is best for business.. which is what is professional and expedient and presumably discrete.

but yes, his code is more a matter of ethics.

Good post, lp.

There's also Tarkin. He is true evil as well. He ruthlessly follows Imperial policy and throw in his own sadistic twist when he decides to destroy Alderaan. Any conscious he had was probably lost when he was a kid.

Good point about Tarkin; I forgot about him ;). I view Tarkin as a ruthless guy who would do anything to further his ambition, even kill a billion people just to prove a point.

Here via Jedi News.

The Fetts were amoral, not evil, imho. A mercenary outlook on life isn't necessarily "evil," at least not by my definition of evil (a willful and malicious desire to harm, destroy, kill, hurt, etc.). The Fetts never hurt or killed anyone for pleasure or malice -- they did it for the money, as you said.

We have so little information on Maul and Grievous that it's hard to say what their motivations are. We have absolutely no idea what made them they way they are, and we also don't know if they enjoyed their jobs, either. Grievous might have, but there's no indication on Maul. For all we know, Maul could have been tricked into Palpatine's service same as Anakin was. Jabba borders on amoral, but his treatment of slaves and willful destruction of others for his own ends does make him evil, so we're agreed on that.

Now, Dooku is one of my favorite villains, second only to Vader. Admittedly, I've spun up a lot of theories and ideas for him, but he's got a sort of style I like in my villains. I think of Dooku as an Obi-Wan type. They seem to bear enough similarities in my mind, like Qui-Gon and Anakin, that Dooku could be "what if Obi-Wan turned Sith?" He's also a sort of proto-Vader, as in a good Jedi gone bad. I think it's very possible that Dooku believed in his own lies and his own "certain point view," much like Vader did in RotS. While this belief and the very possible route of "good intentions gone bad" does not excuse him (or Vader) for his actions, I do not see him as pure evil. In fact, I often wonder if Qui-Gon had lived, if he might have tried to redeem his Master, as Luke did Vader. In the end, Dooku is double-crossed by a greater evil without anyone being able to prove if he was redeemable or not.

As for that greater evil, even Palpatine had a moment of tenderness. He rushes to save his new heir in RotS the moment he senses Vader's in danger. Upon finding Vader's ruined body, smoking and maimed, he stays with him, watching over him like a father would a son. He even heals Vader as best he can. While Palpatine is undeniably evil, it is interesting that a man who so quickly double-crossed Dooku after being defeated keeps Vader around after a severe defeat by Obi-Wan.

I'm not sure how "different" Vader is, beyond the fact that instead of being killed, he was redeemed. He was an evil created by selfish love and a misguided desire for control. A redeemable evil, because he had fooled himself into believing it was all worth it, or that he had no hope of turning away from the dark side until Luke came along. The fact that he had sunk so low and committed so many horrible misdeeds, and yet was able to be saved by his son's faith and love is the most beautiful part of the saga. Redemption of any sort -- even for any of the villains listed above, including Palpatine -- is a beautiful thing, imho.

If you dig under the surface and think about it, nothing is purely black-and-white in the Star Wars universe.

Re: Here via Jedi News.

The Fetts certainly were amoral and weren't ideologues like the Sith but my argument is that they embraced amorality for materialistic and egotistical (since someone brought up the issue of maintaining a reputation) reasons, which is evil.

I don't know, I think Maul had a pretty good time fighting Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon up until the time Obi sliced him in half ;).

Dooku is a fascinating villain, partially because he's the only Sith Lord who looks like a normal person ;). Very dapper, too. It's interesting to speculate what could have happened if Qui-Gon was around, or even if Dooku would have joined the Sith had Qui-Gon not died. In any case, I think most evil people, who I think genuinely exist, believe their own lies and certain points of view. It doesn't change that they are evil. And no, poor Dooku doesn't get the chance to change.

As for Palpatine, yes he does pat Anakin on the head post duel and I think that left an impression on Vader (especially this was right after his "brother" left him burning alive). But, while Palpie might have some sort of odd sense of affection for lack of a better term for Vader, his concern for Vader is largely fueled by self-interest. Palpatine cashed out Dooku to gain someone "younger and far more powerful." He wasn't about to give up his hard-won prize, and while Vader could never fulfill the potential of a healthy, whole Anakin, Vader was still the greatest apprentice Palpatine could hope to have. Palpatine wouldn't be able to lure Yoda or even Obi-Wan to his side. Other than those options, he'd have to take out an ad in the paper.

You've hit on why I consider Vader is different, which I'll get to in my follow-up.

Re: Here via Jedi News.

The Fetts certainly were amoral and weren't ideologues like the Sith but my argument is that they embraced amorality for materialistic and egotistical (since someone brought up the issue of maintaining a reputation) reasons, which is evil.

Hmm, I think we view amorality differently. I think amorality is wrong, but not necessarily evil. Evil tends to be more malicious for malicious sake. Then again, the label of "evil" is too easily bandied about everywhere, IRL and fandom, imho. But that's more of a philosophical debate, and has no place here. But I get where you're coming from, even if I see it differently. ;)

I don't know, I think Maul had a pretty good time fighting Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon up until the time Obi sliced him in half ;).

Maybe so, maybe so. But it's still no indication of his thought processes or motivations.

In any case, I think most evil people, who I think genuinely exist, believe their own lies and certain points of view. It doesn't change that they are evil.

I'm not challenging the fact that his actions are evil. I guess I just tend to look at the characters in shades of gray. I do think Dooku was evil, but he didn't start out that way, and trying to get inside his head and find out what twisted him and think about what might have unraveled that knot in his soul tends to make him more human to me. But that's probably because I write a lot of Dooku gen, and spend a lot of time thinking about him. I quite possibly put more depth in his character than necessary. XD I do think he was at some point duped, however.

But, while Palpie might have some sort of odd sense of affection for lack of a better term for Vader, his concern for Vader is largely fueled by self-interest.

I do agree with you on that, and again, I certainly think Palpatine is evil (a label I don't easily apply, even to fictitious characters), but that little bit of affection -- as twisted and selfish as it might be -- gives him a bit mroe depth than most people are willing to give him. Not a lot, but adds that dash of human that makes him more interesting.

I just tend to argue for humanizing characters; I've a thing for adding depth and running with extrapolations and theories on characterization. I spend way too much time thinking about SW when I should be thinking about my own work. ;)