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Lit Which movie villain has the EU done the best at expanding?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Ghost, Oct 21, 2023.


Which movie villain has the EU done the best at expanding?

  1. Darth Vader

  2. Tarkin

  3. Boba Fett

  4. Jabba the Hutt

  5. Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious

  6. Darth Maul

  7. Nute Gunray

  8. Jango Fett

  9. Zam Wessell

  10. Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus

  11. General Grievous

  12. Kylo Ren / Ben Solo

  13. Captain Phasma

  14. General Hux

    0 vote(s)
  15. Supreme Leader Snoke

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 8

    Oct 13, 2003
    Which movie villain has the EU done the best at "expanding" and fleshing out, beyond what we already knew about them in the movies? (Though when it comes to Vader/Anakin, try to focus only on Vader, to be fair). Both Legends and New EU.

    This is NOT "favorite," it's a discussion on which character was most flesh-out beyond the movies.

    Please explain your choice(s).
    Vialco likes this.
  2. ConservativeJedi321

    ConservativeJedi321 Force Ghost star 6

    Mar 19, 2016
    I voted Dooku, he's a character that the films imply has a deeper motivation and already stands out from other Sith in his dress and demeanor, but his character gets *so* much more depth in the EU (Both Legends and Canon), that if he wasn't a Sith it would be easy to sympathize with him.
    Vialco and Alpha-Red like this.
  3. Darth Scotland

    Darth Scotland Jedi Knight

    Jun 3, 2018
    The modern Marvel comics have done very well with Vader, strengthening and enhacing what's in the movies.
  4. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Chosen One star 7

    Apr 25, 2004
    Dooku and Boba Fett. Specifically, their portrayals in Dark Rendezvous and LOTF respectively.
  5. The Positive Fan

    The Positive Fan Force Ghost star 4

    Jan 19, 2015
    Canon has done some genuinely amazing stuff with Vader, Tarkin, and Dooku. I added Phasma to my vote as the novel and comic series did a good job of giving her the fleshed out backstory and personality she wouldn't otherwise have had.
    Watcherwithin, Alpha-Red and Jedi Ben like this.
  6. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 9

    Jul 19, 1999
    You did continue onto Black Spire?

    As I consider those two books the examples for showing a very different sequel era.
    The Positive Fan likes this.
  7. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 25, 2013
    Darth Maul, but mostly because he gets so little characterization in the movie. He's basically Star Wars' version of the Nazi Mechanic or Thuggee Overseer from the Indiana Jones movies; he's there to give the heroes an awesome fight sequence and then die. Everything that fleshed him out into an actual character came from other material.
  8. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 30, 2012
    The Lucenoverse makes me want to vote for Sheev or Nute.
    PCCViking and Foreign32567 like this.
  9. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    My picks were, well, the OT characters. But I have a good reason for being so boring!

    Darth Vader, well, he's the central character of the two trilogies. So he's already the best-developed character of all the villains. He's not a Darth Maul or Nute Gunray who benefits disproportionately from anything you do with him because the movies didn't really develop him. It makes it a challenge to develop him further, and of course an awful lot of material isn't really concerned with that. It's content to just use Vader as an ominous villain and leave it at that. But there is a lot of material that has done a genuinely good job of expanding on him. Shadows of the Empire is a standout, memorably exploring Vader's conflicted feelings about himself and his son, awoken at Bespin. It's a classic example of a book trying to genuinely interpolate that important character development between movies, and does a great job of portraying it. It also does something really interesting by showing Vader dealing with the rival for the Emperor's favor, prefiguring the whole Rule of Two thing by showing Palpatine engineering a challenger to Vader's position just to keep him on his toes, as Vader has to negotiate a pretender to his position by showing his political chops before finally, magnificently cutting loose and crushing Xizor like a gnat. This is something the EU did well as a whole, developing the idea of Palpatine constantly challenging Vader with trumped-up rivals to keep him on his toes, which always allowed Vader to show his dominance while also exploring the Vader-Palpatine relationship. There's a lot of stuff that has really nailed Vader and helped develop our understanding of him by showing him grooming darksiders himself, or developing high-functioning subordinates, or masterminding elaborate traps. There's also some stuff that's less successful -- a lot of Dark Times stuff went overboard on showing him as Anakin moping over Padme and didn't nail the sense of transition -- but some of it was quite good.

    Palpatine is in a similar boat: we have seen quite a bit of him already, but the EU did a really fantastic job of showing us even more. Palpatine's depiction as a dark mastermind who played off all his subordinates against each other, created a complex Empire only he could rule, and ultimately sought eternal life and transformation of the galaxy into a twisted Sith theocracy is largely a function of Dark Empire and sourcebooks building on his ROTJ image, yet it lines up so perfectly with the PT and gives us a really magnificent, twisted villain by building on ROTJ. Palpatine is a fantastic example of the EU taking a character whose outline we already have and just building on it and building on it to create something even greater.

    Boba Fett, on the other hand, is a prime example of the opposite kind of development. He's an enigma in the films, a set of armor and an intimidating presence, but nothing in the way of characterization, really. So the EU has to develop him; anything it does with him is by definition expanding and defining him. A lot of stuff just used him as that same sort of badass antagonist, but the EU had several stories that did an excellent job of developing Fett as a man with an idiosyncratic code. Daniel Keys Moran did an incredible job of turning him into a real character, and a lot of other stories like Twin Engines of Destruction helped. Then we got thrown for a loop with the prequels, and we got more EU working to develop the young Boba Fett into the hardened hunter, while key development was done in Abel's article work, brilliantly taking everything and stitching it back together to create a nuanced characterization out of stories both good and bad. Then we got Karen Traviss taking him and trying to make him her own, a regretful old man. Not all of it was successful, and Boba has been pulled in several different directions, some much better than others, yet he's also a great example of the EU's ability to reconcile all that into an overarching characterization that might not be ideal but that works.

    The EU did a lot of work to set Jabba in a larger context, giving him a whole supporting cast, setting up rivalries with other crimelords, and generally establishing him as a sort of nexus of the fringe setting. He's been integrated quite well into a lot of stories, and a highlight is the Hutt-clan political intrigue of the Han Solo Trilogy, which shows his rise to power and his relationship with Han. Jabba can easily just be a name or a sort of grotesque figure, but there are several stories out there that have really used him as a character and enriched the setting.

    Tarkin is yet another type. He's someone I think has been badly underused in the EU, but there's still a lot there, in large part due to sourcebook work. There have been a few key narrative depictions of Tarkin, most notably in Cloak of Deception and Rogue Planet showing him as a rising player, but a lot of Tarkin's backstory and characterization come to us courtesy of sourcebooks. They show him as the sort of key political philosopher of the Empire's New Order right behind Palpatine, a thinker and a doer who has risen to extraordinary informal power within the Empire, a polymath and power broker who cuts a really fascinating figure.

    And in large part it's that lack of sourcebooks and reference works that limited the development of the prequel characters. Dooku is a really fascinating guy, but the EU (and obviously I'm only interested in talking about the original EU here) was never quite able to settle on a depiction of him. We had a great depiction in Dark Rendezvous, showing a Dooku who seemed on the edge of remorse, we had a few references to him as this sort of principled opposition figure generating the Separatist movement yet we never really saw it, we had a stray depiction of him as a xenophobic aristocrat from Stover. Most stuff just sort of used him as the guy on the holocomm telling the Separatists to do bad guy stuff, with no real attempt to reconcile his role with his supposed image as this Separatist idealist. His past as a Jedi was really intriguing, but because the EU wanted to focus on the Clone Wars, we never really got the kind of stuff that would go back and flesh out his past as a Jedi properly. And there was never the kind of reference material that could forge a unified characterization of Dooku or unravel all the gaps in the record -- his past as a Jedi, his recruitment by Sidious. And Dooku suffered significantly from this limited focus and lack of reference material.

    It's a similar story with Grievous, who got a tragic backstory and a badass introduction, but was almost entirely used as a cartoon villain. Gunray was a character the EU never really wanted to focus on, and without reference material to flesh him out, you can't say he was well developed. Darth Maul got some good stories using him as an action character, but he never really got the kind of internal characterization that would enrich him like the similar Boba Fett did. He was just kind of an enforcer, an attack dog. Zam got like one story. Jango was used for a few stories and got a backstory, but the EU didn't really give us a deep sense of his characterization, and hasn't even really exploited him as an action character the way it did Boba. The prequel villains as a whole are just very underdeveloped, in large part because of the limited run of stories with a focus on repetitive Clone Wars action, in another large part because of the lack of thorough reference material to develop backstories and characterizations.