Ranking the best moments of modern day Star Wars: Numbers 6-10

On Twitter, Bryan Young recently asked his followers what their favorite moment of the modern Star Wars era (the Disney era) is, and there are too many great ones to count.  Inspired by that, we’ll be taking a look at this author’s top 50 moments from recent Star Wars material.  Today, we look at numbers 6-10.

10. Vader’s comic awesomeness

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Darth Vader kicking butt and being awesome (various Star Wars comics)

The Star Wars comics have been great and (for the most part) really well-done, but there might not be a bigger star in these publications than Darth Vader.  There have been two different Vader comic series, and the main Star Wars comic is set in-between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and therefore also features Vader.  And make no mistake: these comics have certainly added to our understanding and fear of the dangerous Sith Lord.  There are many epic moments, but a few in particular stand out.

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In a showdown with Vader at an Imperial factory, Luke, Han, Leia, and the crew try to take down the Sith and escape.  Chewbacca fires on Vader but he deflects the blast by hurling stormtroopers in the way, and later he comes face-to-face with Luke – knowing only that he’s the pilot who destroyed the Death Star.  Vader asks, “Who are you?” to which Luke replies, “You killed my father.”  Vader then answers chillingly: “I’ve killed very many fathers.  You’ll have to be more specific.”  Later in the comic, Vader single-handedly takes down an AT-AT (driven by Han and Leia) using just the Force and his lightsaber.

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In another moment (shown in both the main Star Wars comic and the Darth Vader comic), Boba Fett reports back to Vader after being hired by the Sith to find out the boy’s identity.  Fett tells Vader his name: “Skywalker.”  Vader doesn’t respond to the bounty hunter, instead caught up in memories of Padme and Palpatine’s explanation that Vader killed her.  Vader’s anger is obvious, and clenching his fists he uses the force to crack the window of his Star Destroyer.  He contacts Palpatine immediately, and afterward is determined that the boy will be his.  It’s an iconic moment, as it’s when Vader first learns that his son is alive – and that it was his son that blew up the Death Star.

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One other epic Vader moment (among many) comes in the Star Wars and Darth Vader crossover “Vader Down,” which might still be my favorite volume of Star Wars comics to date.  Vader’s TIE comes in contact with a Rebel fleet, and the two sides engage in battle.  Luke realizes that the only chance is if he rams this pilot, so he literally crashes his X-Wing into Vader’s TIE, sending them both crashing to the planet surface.  A massive and desperate Rebel operation then gets underway, realizing that Vader is down – alone and stranded on the surface.  That leaves the Sith Lord to fend for himself, but he does so quite capably.  When numerous Rebel soldiers explain that they have him surrounded, Vader simply ignites his lightsaber and utters the epic line: “All I am surrounded by is fear.  And dead men.”  Long story short: Vader kicks butt.

9. The epilogue

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The ending of Star Wars Rebels (Rebels Season 4, Episode 16: “Family Reunion and Farewell”)

After The Clone Wars ended early, Dave Filoni finally got to end a show on his own terms with the fourth season of Star Wars Rebels – which, by the way, stands out as some of the very best work Lucasfilm animation has done with any project.  They consistently raised the bar in the final season, and they wrapped it up perfectly in the finale.  The entire hour-long finale was great, but it was the epilogue that was perhaps most amazing and most memorable.  Set in a post-ROTJ world on a thriving Lothal, Sabine Wren narrates what happened following the events of Rebels: the Imperial retaliation never came to Lothal, because the Empire got preoccupied fighting the Galactic Civil War – and the Battle of Endor was the decisive blow.  After the war ended, Zeb took Kallus to Lira San to show him that he hadn’t wiped out the Lasat people, and Zeb and Kallus lived among them.  Hera and Rex fought in the Battle of Endor, and by that time Hera had a child, Jacen Syndulla, the son of Kanan Jarrus.  Sabine stayed on Lothal to watch over Ezra’s homeworld, but following the Civil War realized that Ezra was still out there – so, together with Ahsoka Tano, they set out to find Ezra and bring him home.  Accompanied by the familiar Star Wars music and transitioning into the iconic Star Wars end credits, Filoni got to end his show on his terms, and it was beautiful.  The epilogue was perfect, emotional, and so fulfilling to those who had followed the crew for four seasons.

8. “Jedi Night”

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Caleb Dume’s sacrifice (Rebels Season 4, Episode 10: “Jedi Night”)

Hera Syndulla, the love of Kanan Jarrus’ life, has been captured.  After a failed attack to liberate Lothal and a crash-landing, Hera was taken captive by the Empire going into the midseason break for Rebels season four.  It ended with a hint that Kanan was going to launch a plan to rescue her, and it led to lengthy speculation and anticipation – and the payoff didn’t disappoint.  Ezra hatches a plan to infiltrate the city, so him and Sabine head to find a transport while Kanan goes for Hera.  She is being tortured by the Empire, but Kanan heroically breaks into Governor Pryce’s office (with the Return of the Jedi theme blaring) and rescues his love.  They escape from Rukh and pursuing Imperials and wind up atop a fuel cell, awaiting pickup.  The two share a kiss, but just as Ezra and Sabine arrive with a transport, so does Pryce with Imperial walkers.  The walkers fire on the fuel cells, so Kanan springs into action: using the Force to push back the explosion, Kanan allows the others to escape.  Hera runs toward him, but Kanan uses his other hand to push her back into the shuttle.  He then gives one strong push to move the shuttle out of the blast radius as he is consumed by the fire, sacrificing himself.  It is the only time in the show’s four-year run that one of the main characters is killed, and it was certainly done really well.  It’s emotional, beautiful, and heroic.

7. The Master Returns

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Yoda talks with Luke on Ahch-To (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

When we meet Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, he’s not in a good place – in fact, he has cut himself off from the Force.  Throughout the film we see him regain his hope and open himself back up to the Force, but after he finds Rey discussing with Kylo Ren Luke decides to burn down all of it – the tree, the texts, all of it.  But an old friend appears before he can do so: Master Yoda.  With Luke unwilling to actually go through with setting the tree on fire, Yoda calls a lightning bolt to do the trick.  Yoda explains to his old pupil that it’s time for Luke to move past the books – the sacred Jedi texts, which weren’t exactly page turners.  Luke addresses his failure bluntly with Yoda, saying that he can’t be what Rey needs him to be, but Yoda explains that when he told Luke to “pass on what you have learned,” he meant failure as well as success because “the greatest teacher failure is.”  He then shares some sage advice with Luke: “We are what they grow beyond.  That is the true burden of all masters.”  This entire scene is perfect and wonderful: Luke and Yoda conversing after all these years, sitting by at night on Ahch-To watching the tree burn, with Yoda once again teaching Skywalker.  To see Yoda on screen again is pure excitement, and to see his interaction with Luke brings back so many wonderful memories all while creating new ones.

6. A Star Wars horror film

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Darth Vader pursues the Death Star plans (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

Darth Vader is one of the most iconic in movie history, and though he’s not the focal point of the new trilogy of films, he has certainly been present in the current era of Star Wars media.  And this much is for sure: they have handled the Sith Lord with care, taking his villainy to a whole new level.  Nowhere is that better illustrated than in Rogue One‘s most popular scene.  The Rogue One strike force successfully managed to steal the Death Star plans and transmit them to the Rebel fleet, though Grand Moff Tarkin fired the superweapon on the planet and wiped them out.  The Rebel fleet attempts to flee with the plans – only to be stopped by the arrival of Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer.  It turns out that the plans were transmitted to the Rebel flagship, which was disabled in battle, and Vader takes a boarding party to the helpless cruiser.  As Rebel soldiers frantically try to pry open a door to get the plans to another ship, Vader appears: in a dark corridor, the villain’s iconic breathing is heard before his red lightsaber lights up the room.  The soldiers open fire, but Vader proceeds to slaughter them all.  One of the soldiers just manages to sneak his hand through the door and hand off the plans before he is stabbed through the chest.  Though the Rebellion makes off with the plans as the Tantive IV races away, Vader managed to wipe out the troopers who stood in his way.  The scene is such an amazing one and one that Star Wars fans won’t forget.

 

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