The Evolution of Leia Organa

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The Evolution of Leia Organa

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
From "Obi-Wan Kenobi" to "Rise of Skywalker," this is the evolution of Leia Organa. For this video, we're diving into the heroine's character arc across films, series, comics, and novels. Our countdown includes childhood, the Resistance, politics & rebellion, and more!
Transcript

The Evolution of Leia Organa


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re looking at the evolution of Leia Organa. For this video, we’re diving into the heroine’s character arc across films, series, comics, and novels. We’ll be focusing on Star Wars canon, rather than Leia’s adventures in Legends.

Princess, General, and bonafide badass, Leia has been blazing trails across the galaxy since her introduction in “A New Hope”. Setup as a traditional damsel in distress, she immediately defied expectations, taking charge and rescuing her rescuers. While leadership was in her blood, there were several key events in her childhood and teenage years that formed her into the resourceful and determined character we met in the Original Trilogy.

Childhood


The daughter of Senator Padmé Amidala and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, Leia was born right after her twin brother Luke in the year 19 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). While her birth represented a new hope for the future, it came in tragic circumstances. Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side had precipitated the fall of the Republic and rise of the Empire; and the heartbroken Padmé died after childbirth. Nonetheless, the Force-sensitive Leia carried memories of a woman who was beautiful and kind.

To keep the twins safe from the Emperor, Yoda and Obi-Wan hid them - Luke on Tatooine and and Leia on Alderaan as the adopted daughter of Senator Bail Organa and his wife Queen Breha (BRAY-huh). Leia Amidala (AHMih-Daw-luh) Skywalker became Princess Leia Organa. Although raised in the royal palace and subjected to endless lectures on etiquette from her aunts, she remained idealistic, headstrong, and independent. She also demonstrated keen insight into people’s true natures.

However, Leia also learned hard lessons about the dangers beyond the palace walls and the darkness that had overtaken the galaxy. At age 10, she was kidnapped by the the Imperial Inquisitor Reva. Her misadventure saw her form a bond with Obi-Wan, but also brought her face to face with the cruelties of the world and ravages of the Empire.

Politics & Rebellion


Given the threats around her, Leia underwent martial training as a teenager and became a crack shot with a blaster. Her sidearm of choice was a Defender sporting blaster pistol. She also began her political career, becoming a junior legislator and her father’s aide in the Imperial Senate. When she took his place, she became the youngest Senator ever elected. As a politician and princess, Leia undertook diplomatic and humanitarian missions across the galaxy. Despite her hard work, the press lampooned her as a “princess playing dress-up". Fortunately, the public came to embrace her.

During these missions, she discovered that her adoptive father and Senator Mon Mothma were organizing a rebellion against the Empire. Although her parents initially forbade her to get involved, Leia was a born Rebel and soon made herself indispensable.

After the Galactic Civil War broke out, Leia volunteered to transport the stolen plans for the Empire’s new battle station, the Death Star. Captured by the Emperor’s apprentice Darth Vader, she nonetheless found a way to get the plans to her old friend Obi-Wan. Even under interrogation, she refused to give up the location of the Rebel base. She was forced to watch as the Death Star obliterated her home planet Alderaan - and with it, her adoptive parents. She suffered another blow when, during her escape, she watched Vader strike down Obi-Wan. Her grief was profound, but would only fuel the fires of rebellion inside.

Her rescuers, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, had expected to liberate a pampered princess. But they were sorely mistaken. A strong leader and fearless fighter, Leia brought them into the fold of the Rebellion. In reprisal for the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire hunted down surviving Alderaanians, and Leia set out to save what remained of her people. Her affirmation after doing so summed up the values that had shaped her: “We are Alderaan. We answer rage with wisdom. We answer fear with imagination. We answer war with hope.” Over the next few years, Leia coordinated several notable missions, destroying Imperial facilities, forging new alliances, and scouting locations for the Rebellion’s next base. Along the way, she found herself falling for a certain scruffy smuggler …

After the Empire discovered the Rebellion’s new base on Hoth, she was forced to confront these feelings. Aboard the Millennium Falcon, she fled with Han to Cloud City on the planet Bespin, only for Han’s “friend” Lando Calrissian to double-cross them. Although desperate to rescue Han, she had to attend to a higher duty first - a running theme throughout her life. While the Alliance Fleet gathered to attack the Second Death Star, Leia led a mission codenamed Operation Yellow Moon to throw the Empire off the trail. Once this was accomplished, she infiltrated Jabba’s Palace to save Han … which did not go as planned. Thankfully, Luke wasn’t far behind, and after killing her captor and escaping, Leia and her companions rejoined the war effort, helping to destroy the Second Death Star.

Jedi Training & the New Republic


Before the climactic battle, Luke had revealed that he was in fact Leia’s brother and Vader their father. Leia was really a Skywalker. Interestingly, according to the short story “​​There is Another”, Yoda thought Leia’s temperament would make her a better Jedi than her brother. However, Obi-Wan insisted that Yoda train Luke.

In the original Expanded Universe stories, Leia went on to train as a Jedi and helped found the New Republic, eventually becoming its Chief of State. She and Han had twins, Jaina and Jacen, as well as a son, Anakin. Jacen’s fall to the Dark Side was integral to the Second Galactic Civil War. However, these stories are now categorized as “Star Wars Legends”. Leia’s character arc in official canon has some of the same beats, but mixes in even more tragic turns ...

The canon version of Leia also trained under Luke as a Jedi, but stopped when she foresaw her future son dying if she continued. Returning to politics, she became the New Republic Senator for the Alderaan sector, and gifted her people the remains of the Death Star to build a new home in space. On the same day that the Empire formally surrendered, Leia and Han, who had married on Endor, had a son, Ben Solo - named after Obi-Wan’s alias “Ben Kenobi”.

All seemed right with the galaxy. But in the background, the Dark Side was still at work ... While pregnant, Leia had felt both the light and dark side within her son. When he was 10, she sent him to train at Luke’s Jedi Academy. The Emperor had survived however and infiltrated young Ben’s mind. In the year 28 ABY, the public revelation that Leia was Darth Vader’s daughter derailed her political career and left her son feeling betrayed. Turning to the Dark Side, Ben destroyed the Jedi Temple and pledged allegiance to Snoke, Supreme Leader of the neo-Imperialist First Order. This heartbreaking disaster drove Leia and Han apart, each blaming themselves. But just as Padmé never gave up on Anakin, Leia continued to hope that her son, now going by “Kylo Ren”, could be redeemed.

The Resistance


Disillusioned with politics, Leia had resigned as Senator to establish the Resistance, a paramilitary organization dedicated to defending the New Republic. Now “General” Leia Organa, she tasked pilot Poe Dameron to find her brother, knowing he’d soon be needed. The First Order struck first however, using their superweapon Starkiller Base to destroy the seat of the New Republic. While the Resistance was able to destroy the base, Han was killed - by none other than his own son.

Although reeling from this loss, Leia led the Resistance to safety, and narrowly survived being blasted into space. On the planet Crait, she was at last reunited with her brother, who sacrificed himself to save them. As she rebuilt the Resistance, she trained Rey as a Jedi. However, as revealed in the novelization of “The Rise of Skywalker”, Leia had a secret: her ejection into space had taken a dreadful toll. Leia was dying. She used the last of her strength to call to her son, pulling him back to the light. Becoming one with the Force, she joined her brother - finally finding peace.

Embodying hope, but tempered by hardship, Leia was a force to be reckoned with throughout her life. Thanks in no small part to Carrie Fisher’s inimitable performance, she remains a pop culture icon. Brave, quick-witted, and razor-tongued, Leia is one of Star Wars’, and cinema’s, greatest heroes.
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