“Beyond any political analysis, the prequels have a lot more to offer than might be perceived at surface level. One of the main characters over the course of the trilogy is a 14-year-old girl elected by her people to serve as queen. Within the plot of The Phantom Menace alone, Padme Amidala accomplishes several things:
1. She escapes capture by an invading force called the Trade Federation. […]
2. She goes undercover on a dangerous planet controlled by gangsters. […]
3. She singlehandedly organizes an alliance with an alien race to take back control of her homeworld. […]
While it might be easy to dismiss Padme Amidala as little more than a few elaborate costume and makeup changes, those remarks are ultimately doing a disservice to her journey. There may be parts of the prequels that are worth critiquing, but other aspects shouldn’t be so readily dismissed simply because the films themselves are generalized as being bad movies.
It’s interesting that when we think of “strong female characters,” the examples most often pointed to are those fictional women who have literal, physical strength — but that’s not the only thing that should define a female character. While Padme does possess the physical ability to handle herself — in Attack of the Clones, she frees herself from her chains on Geonosis long before Obi-Wan and Anakin have even finished discussing an escape plan – her strength is also signified by her skills as a politician and a natural leader. After her term as Queen of Naboo ends, she is elected as the planet’s Senator – costume changes and all. There are some unfortunate aspects of Padme’s later arc; in Revenge of the Sith, she spends most of the film sidelined from any action due to her pregnancy, but she serves as a driving force to influence Anakin and all of the decisions he makes – even if those choices lead to a miserable end for them both.
Those who don’t look back on the prequels with any fond feelings might overlook Padme or not consider her an action hero when compared alongside her film predecessor and canonical progeny, Leia Organa, but there’s more that unites these women than mere genetics. There are shades of the same defiance in Padme’s vote of no confidence against Chancellor Valorum as there are in Leia standing up to Darth Vader. They both experience threats against their home planets — and eventually their very lives — but no amount of opposition and intimidation can scare them away from doing the right thing. They both have no problem wielding a blaster against their foes even when the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against them. Sure, they’re both “strong female characters” — if by “strong” you also mean capable, intelligent, quick-thinking and compassionate.
As a whole, the Star Wars franchise has made some strides in certain areas of representation – but it does have a ways to go in depicting a galaxy far, far away that reflects all of the fans who enjoy it so much. Hopefully, as the franchise continues to expand, fans will have the opportunity to see more female characters who embody all aspects of strength. With that in mind, we shouldn’t forget that the women of this universe — both existing and waiting to be created — don’t have to be defined by their ability to fight or hold a blaster or a lightsaber. There is strength in passion, proactiveness and intuition — traits that the women of Star Wars have never been lacking in.”
Read the whole article at SyfyWire.