If there’s one particular image that makes Star Wars Star Wars, it’s the lightsaber duel. They have a key part of almost all of the Star Wars stories, especially the Skywalker saga.
From the three-way duel of The Phantom Menace to Yoda and Count Dooku clashing blades in Attack of the Clones, the lightsaber duels are always highlighted, even in the dreaded prequel trilogy.
So picking favorites can be quite the task. Probably the easiest way to break it down is to consider the three trilogies – the prequel, the original and the sequel. Here’s what some fans came up with.
The prequel trilogy
A topic on Reddit included two choices from the prequels: The “Duel of the Fates” fight from Episode I and the battle between Obi-Wan and a turned Anakin Skywalker from Episode III. Of those two, Obi-Wan vs. Anakin/Vader takes the lead, and that’s more than understandable, considering that’s the battle on which the entire prequel trilogy revolves.
That was talked about even before the prequel trilogy existed – it was referenced in the novelization of Return of the Jedi.
Yet the battle of Episode I is so effective that it has its own name – “Duel of the Fates,’ with a John Williams theme that has become instantly recognizable even though the prequel trilogy and The Phantom Menace in particular take a lot of abuse.
Williams was nominated for Oscars for all his Star Wars scores except the prequels – and especially with “Duel of the Fates,” that omission is regrettable.
As one fan put it, “This is really hard, I love both luke vs vader duels, duel of the fates and vader vs obiwan. All of them are amazing, but I guess I give DOTF some slight edge.”
The original trilogy
The key lightsaber battle of the original 1977 film was the one between Vader and Obi-Wan, which looks quaint by today’s standards. One of the jokes of the Honest Trailer for Rogue One is that movie showed Vader laying waste to a whole platoon of attackers. So by comparison, the duel in A New Hope seems tame. The narrator bellows, “Booo! Do more tricks!”
That established, the original trilogy presented not one but two more Luke/Vader duels that were at least equally memorable. The one in Empire Strikes Back led to the immortal “I am your father” line, but the one in Return of the Jedi arguably topped it, with Luke flying into a rage and very nearly killing his father after he had sworn to save him.
One fan on Reddit said “There’s some genuine emotion and internal conflict. And there’s a connection between the two fighters. It’s not just two or three basic strangers fighting after just meeting each other, like a lot of the other fights tend to be.”
The sequel trilogy
By contrast, the sequel trilogy seems to come up relatively short in all-timer lightsaber fights. The three key ones are probably Rey vs. Kylo vs. Finn in The Force Awakens, Rey vs. Kylo vs. the Throne Room guards in The Last Jedi, and the very last lightsaber duel to date, Rey vs. Kylo in The Rise of Skywalker.
Of these three, the throne room battle in Last Jedi came very close to winning the entire poll. One fan stated, “There’s not much to the fight itself in TRoS. Two things do happen during the fight though that are some of the rare things I like about the movie. Ben’s shrug was great. Rey and Ben’s final bond and the saber pass was perfect. The actual fight itself though was meh. I think it could’ve been great if they were actually fighting side by side again and then they took on Palps together, but you know, YEET.”
Maybe The Mandalorian will still come up with one?
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