There’s no denying the significant impact of certain moments that take place throughout the Star Wars films. That being said, let’s take a look at the 15 most powerful Star Wars moments:
The Star Wars franchise is full of incredibly profound, downright powerful moments. Some of them are tragic, while others fill you with hope. Some make you angry, and others trigger a gentle dose of nostalgia.
Star Destroyer Fly-Past (A New Hope)
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was the first film of its kind.
Naturally, George Lucas needed a way to express to the audience the very scale of his creation, and he managed to do so as soon as the opening crawl concluded.
Seeing the Tantive IV fly over Tatooine is a gorgeous shot, but to then see the massive size of the Star Destroyer pursuing it as it flies overhead is a true testament to the success of Lucas’ use of practical effects.
The discrepancy in size also speaks volumes about the threat the evil Galactic Empire poses to the Rebel Alliance.
The Battle Of Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back)
The Battle of Hoth is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’s equivalent of the Star Destroyer fly-past in A New Hope.
It’s the scene that shows you the massive scale of the film, this time introducing new, visually stunning elements to up the ante compared to its predecessor.
Sure, we’d seen spaceships and new planets, like the desert-covered Tatooine.
However, the lustrous, snow-covered tundra of Hoth being traversed by the massive AT-AT walkers was our first real insight into just how diverse the Star Wars universe had the potential to be.
Lightsaber Battle In The Forest (The Force Awakens)
When we witnessed the lightsaber battle between Finn and Kylo Ren (and then Rey and Kylo Ren), it had been 10 long years since we’d seen a truly epic lightsaber battle on the big screen.
The bright, hopeful blue clashing against the lucid, hateful red, cast against the nighttime backdrop of the snow-covered forest is a true visual spectacle.
Furthermore, the choreography helps bridge the gap between the slow-paced lightsaber battles of the original trilogy and the high-energy theatrics of the prequels, creating a beautiful blend of old and new.
The Battle Of Scarif (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
Some people have complained that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story doesn’t truly achieve a momentum of “Star Wars proportions” until the third act.
Admittedly, the film does start off slow, but by the time we reach the Battle of Scarif, there’s no doubt it’s a Star Wars film.
Even prior to this portion of the film, Rogue One certainly earns its merits as the newest installment in the Star Wars movie franchise. Still, it’s this battle that manages to pull in even the staunchest of critics.
Han Solo Frozen In Carbonite (The Empire Strikes Back)
For the most part, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope tells a complete story, allowing it to work as both a piece of the larger Star Wars machine, as well as a standalone film (some suspension of disbelief required).
However, with The Empire Strikes Back, it became abundantly clear that things were different this time around when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite and taken by Boba Fett.
In addition to the realization that the fate of Han Solo would go unresolved in the film, the feeling of incompleteness is exacerbated by the fact that Han and Leia's love story comes to fruition only to be put on indefinite hold.
Darth Vader Saves Luke (Return of the Jedi)
As Emperor Palpatine blasts Luke Skywalker with his Force lightning, we see Darth Vader look towards his evil master, then at his son writhing in pain, then back again.
This goes on for what seems like minutes, but finally, Darth Vader hoists up his master and casts him into the bowels of the Death Star, killing him and saving the life of his son.
As powerful as this moment is when it takes place, it’s actually made even more compelling because of the prequels (surprisingly).
The prequels, after all, retroactively introduce the idea that Anakin is the chosen one that will put an end to the Sith.
To see this come to fruition in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi becomes all the more satisfying when you factor this in.
Darth Vader Unmasked (Return of the Jedi)
The helmet, cape, and robotic suit - all solid black – make Darth Vader an imposing figure in the Star Wars universe.
And yet, there’s something surprisingly human about him when we finally see him without his mask in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Perhaps it’s just that – for the first time, we see that there really is a human face behind that mask.
Described by Obi-Wan as more machine than man, it’s an incredibly profound moment to see Darth Vader gaze upon his son’s face with his own true eyes in his final moments.
In fact, the entire redemption arc of the story might not have worked, at least not as successfully, if not for this moment of vulnerability and humility by the former Anakin Skywalker.
Rey Finds Luke (The Force Awakens)
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was built entirely around the search for Luke Skywalker, and we knew he would eventually appear.
Still, that doesn’t lessen the impact when it finally happens in the closing moments of the film.
When Luke removes his cloak, turns around, and comes face to face with Rey, whose hand is outstretched, offering him his lightsaber, time seemingly stops.
Luke is only on-screen for a minute, but it’s an incredibly powerful moment that feels like an eternity.
Order 66 (Revenge of the Sith)
When Anakin kneels before Chancellor Palpatine, swearing allegiance to the Sith and becoming Darth Vader, it seems as though his descent to the dark side is complete.
However, when Order 66 is issued, we witness just how much farther Anakin can fall.
As the former Anakin Skywalker approaches the younglings in the Jedi Temple, what’s about to take place becomes horrifyingly clear.
It also becomes abundantly clear that Anakin is completely gone, and that only Darth Vader remains.
The final season of the Clone Wars animated tv show further fleshes out Order 66 by devoting several episodes to the event.
Seeing the clones forced to kill their former Jedi allies is heartbreaking, especially since some of them were momentarily aware of what they were doing but couldn't get past their conditioning.
Lord Vader Rises (Revenge of the Sith)
Say what you will about the prequels. Say what you will about Anakin’s rapid descent to the dark side.
Despite all of their faults, the prequels ultimately delivered what they had been building towards for six years when we finally see Darth Vader; not Anakin Skywalker, but Darth Vader!
Even if the aura of the character was soon hurt when he screamed, “Noooooo!,” the initial sight of the Lord Vader we know and love is still a truly powerful Star Wars moment.
‘Chewie, We’re Home’ (The Force Awakens)
One of the common complaints with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is that the film relies too heavily on fan service and nostalgia.
I won’t argue with the validity of those complaints, but I will say there’s something truly special about seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca board the Millennium Falcon for the first time in the film.
Regardless of your thoughts on The Force Awakens as a whole, it’s hard to deny the nostalgic glee that fills your body when Han says, “Chewie, we’re home.”
The Death Of Han Solo (The Force Awakens)
After appealing to the nostalgia of longtime Star Wars fans for the first two-thirds of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, director J. J. Abrams made Kylo Ren the most hated person in Star Wars by killing Han Solo.
It’s not like it came out of nowhere, either. From the moment Han shouts, “Ben,” it’s clear that he isn’t going to make it.
Still, the second the former Ben Solo’s lightsaber ignites, impaling his father through the torso, the realization that Han Solo is no more hits you like a ton of bricks, even in subsequent viewings of the film.
Darth Vader Unleashed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
Until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars fans have had two options when it came to witnessing Darth Vader truly unleashing his fury.
There were the clunky, awkward lightsaber battles from the original trilogy, and the overly choreographed, though admittedly beautiful battles in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
The problem with the latter, though, is that without the iconic cape and cybernetic costume, it doesn’t really feel like Darth Vader; rather, it still feels like Anakin Skywalker.
With Rogue One, Darth Vader fans were given everything they could have possibly wanted from the Dark Lord of the Sith.
From the moment you hear the sound of the lightsaber igniting to the moment the surviving Rebels escape with the Death Star plans, it’s complete mayhem.
If the ruthlessness of the former Anakin Skywalker isn't enough, it’s made all the more bone-chilling by the crimson luminescence Vader’s lightsaber casts in the hallway as he lays waste to the Rebels as only Darth Vader can.
Luke’s Vision (The Empire Strikes Back)
The use of caves as allegories in literature is a concept dating all the way back to Ancient Greece.
That being said, few moments from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back are quite as chilling as when Luke Skywalker enters the dark and ominous cave in the Dagobah System.
The significance of Luke seeing a reflection of himself in Darth Vader’s helmet can be interpreted in a number of ways.
However, the most obvious of these interpretations is that Luke sees what can become of himself if he succumbs to fear; the first step on the destructive road to the dark side of the Force.
‘No, I am your father!’ (The Empire Strikes Back)
In all of Star Wars lore, nothing has managed to match the gravitas of Darth Vader revealing that he is, in fact, Luke Skywalker’s father.
And in all honestly, it’s hard to imagine anything ever will.
This is a historical moment in sci-fi and fantasy cinema. It's the scene that popularized the trope of a hero who must fight his own villainous father.
And in a time before the widespread use of the internet or online fandoms, can you imagine the sheer surprise in the movie theater?