The Star Wars films consistently elicit as much ire from dedicated fans as zeal. If you don’t believe that, you’ve clearly never spoken to anyone about The Last Jedi or Rian Johnson. The films get a lot of things right — even if some of it wasn’t wholly intentional, but they also get a lot wrong, like a certain gungan who was given power in the Senate. No aspect of the films reflects that better than their antagonists, which range from masterfully written to woefully underdeveloped. That’s what we’ll be exploring in this list.
Before we do, let’s clarify a few things. As most folks reading this already know, many of the Star Wars characters have been explored in great detail through comic books, novels and television shows, but we won’t be looking at any of that here. We’re only interested in these villains as they are depicted in their respective films in regards to how they are written. That means, no matter how great the actors were, their skills will not be taken into account. We’re only looking at the characters. Now that that’s clear, let’s take a look at the seven villains the Star Wars films nailed and the eight that were badly written.
15. FAILED IT: NUTE GUNRAY AND THE TRADE FEDERATION
One of the aspects of the prequels you’ll hear some fans criticize is the overarching plot involving trade disputes and politics. The prequels begin with the Trade Federation’s blockade of questionable legality around the planet of Naboo. The Jedi Order sent Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to resolve it in The Phantom Menace and… well, the rest, as they say, is history. Not great history, but history all the same. That plot smoothly sent them to Tatooine and to Anakin Skywalker, but not before hitting a few Jar Jar-sized speed bumps and tedious franchisers. Ultimately, the character and the attached political sect failed to add anything substantial to the story.
Nute Gunray (Silas Carson, Tom Kenny), Viceroy of the Trade Federation, seemed to be in the film as a clumsily implemented device to bring Palpatine into the picture. In the context of the overall plot, Gunray and the Trade Federation had potential, but ultimately, the character and the attached political sect, failed to add anything substantial to the story other than a narrative skeleton over which something great was written. It could have added to the depth and size of the Star Wars universe, but it didn’t. It could have further highlighted Palpatine’s skills and qualities as a character through conflict, like any real relationship between a businessman and a politician, but it didn’t. It could have been used in a variety of ways, but it wasn’t. It was just disappointing, more so in later films.