Solo: A Star Wars Story is a Star Wars movie (spoiler alert). There’s stars, there’s wars and there’s a whole mess of galaxy (far, far away) references that should equally delight and tire audiences. But the most consistent aspect of the entire franchise, more so than its sun-adjacent battles, is its bad guys, who typically take the form of strange alien monsters, battle droids, bounty hunter crime lords and black-clad goth punks with cool capes. Villains have always loomed large over the Galactic Empire.
Solo is no different.
After 40-plus years of Star Wars movies, we’ve seen all manner of antagonists take center stage. During that time, our perception of the “bad guy” in cinema has changed. Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in Die Hard practically invented the scene-stealing villain, and Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight immortalized that idea. So with that in mind, it’s time to look back at the Star Wars franchise and rank all of its bad guys by their respective coolness.
The idea of cool is admittedly subjective, but think about it this way: If these bad guys snuck out of the Death Star early and asked you to grab a drink, would you go? If they walked into the Mos Eisley Cantina, would patrons make way for them? If you were forced to attend an Imperial workshop on synergy, would you try to partner up with them?
16. General Grievous
Signature Move: Contracting space bronchitis
Coolest Moment: Quadruple-wielding lightsabers
Grievous is the least cool bad guy in the whole Star Wars movie-verse, and it’s really not even close. The dude is half cyborg, half living organism, so who knows if he’d prefer going out for a drink or an oil change. What are you supposed to do with that?
Plus, due to his cybernetic enhancements, Grievous is perpetually hacking up a lung, which also happens to be one of his few remaining living organs. You can’t have a good time, let alone enjoy some nice conversation, if one of your crew members is suffering from the black lung, Pop.
He’s like the sick kid from elementary school whose nose was always runny regardless of the season. No one was trying to hang out with snot rags back then, and no one is trying to chill with Grievous now.
15. General Hux
Signature Move: Loud noises
Coolest Moment: Snark-off with Kylo Ren
General Hux looks like he 100 percent attended boarding school throughout his entire childhood and was 100 percent beaten up at every single school he attended. He has a more punchable face than Clay Jensen in 13 Reasons Why; maybe it’s the side-burns.
Whatever the source of his “if you don’t fix your face, I’m gonna fix it for you”-ness, you know Hux spent his entire life snitching his way up the corporate ladder. He’s the type of guy who would absolutely rat you out if he caught you stealing extra cookies from Starkiller Base’s cafeteria. There’s a reason The Last Jedi opens with Hux getting dunked on by Poe Dameron.
You’d do everything in your power to avoid hanging out with Snoke’s lapdog.
14. Count Dooku
Signature Move: Getting played by the higher-ups
Coolest Moment: Being Christopher Lee
Overall, Count Dooku is easily the worst Star Wars villain in franchise history. His only saving grace is being played by the iconic Christopher Lee, who also portrayed Dracula and Saruman during his epic Hollywood reign. Dooku also gets a few bonus points for rocking a quality cape.
But pound-for-pound, he’s about as uncool as it gets.
Think about it: Dooku’s only purpose in the grand scheme of things is to be killed by Anakin (by beheading, no less), further pushing him toward the Dark Side. He was nothing but a pawn to Palpatine and an unwitting one at that.
That makes him a sucker. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, which in this case, is Count Dooku.
Signature Move: Not shooting first
Coolest Moment: Establishing Han Solo as a badass
It’s common in action movies for one of the main characters to kick someone’s ass and then yell to no one in particular that “you do not know who you’re effing with.” Though Han Solo didn’t need to make such a boastful claim in A New Hope, it’s quite clear based on their short encounter that Greedo did not, in fact, know who he was effing with.
Bad bounty hunter, but great wingman; Greedo single-handedly keys the audience in to how cool our boy Han is and indirectly lays the ground work for him to get his own prequel spinoff decades later.
But Greedo, buddy, we gotta work on your intimidation tactics.
12. Anakin Skywalker
Signature Move: Dissing sand
Coolest Moment: Podracing
Ugh, where to begin with little Annie?
At first glance, you might think Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker is actually cool. He’s got cool-guy hair and a badass facial scar and spends the majority of the prequels as a good guy. But don’t be fooled, young padawans, for Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith is indeed an uncool bad guy, thus his low-ranking on this list.
Normally, when a bad guy monologues, it sounds threatening and menacing and forces you to pay attention; bad dudes should be commanding like that. But Anakin’s “point of view” speech falls flat in terms of both logic and emotional resonance. His argument doesn’t make sense when you deconstruct it and, worse, doesn’t make us care.
On top of that, cool bad guys are usually smart—either tactically or verbally through clever quips. Anakin is neither, getting out-debated by Obi-Wan Kenobi in their discussion of the Jedi Order and Galactic Senate and then getting out-dueled by his master who warned him that he had the high ground.
That’s like Kobe telling you before the game that he’s going to drop 50 on you, and then you go and let him.
11. Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine
Signature Move: Jazz hands, ughh, lightning fingers
Coolest Moment: Pulling off the longest of cons and eradicating the Jedi Order to install himself as Galactic Emperor
Power? Absolutely. Intelligent? Obviously. Compelling? Without a doubt.
Darth Sidious AKA the Emperor AKA Palpatine is the greatest overall villain in the Star Wars franchise, but he really isn’t all that cool. If you think about it, he’s just a crazy old guy with a lot of power; we already have one of those in the White House right now ,and it is most decidedly uncool (and not in the Almost Famous way).
Also, does anyone know a member of the geriatric community who spends all day in a robe and doesn’t smell funky? That’s what I thought. Imperial workers aren’t going to be racing to enter a raffle where the grand prize is lunch with this decrepit politician.
No one is trying to turn up with Palps.
10. Orson Krennic
Signature Move: Whining
Coolest Moment: Every time he wore that cape
Director Krennic knows how to glad hand and kiss ass, working a room of Imperial officers like no other upper-middle management man in the galaxy. He may not be sincere, but at least he has his moments of charm.
But the second things don’t go his way, he will throw a massive hissy fit in front of all of his co-workers. It isn’t pretty.
Do your best to avoid getting stuck on a group project with this guy. You know, like the Death Star.
9. Captain Phasma
Signature Move: Not living up to the hype
Coolest Moment: That time she just stood there
A lot of being cool is just looking the part, and when it comes to pure aesthetics, there are few villains in the entire saga that can match Captain Phasma. Her chrome Stormtrooper armor is one-of-a-kind, highlighting her forward-thinking fashion sense and visual badassery.
But strip away the fancy outerwear and you’re left with a materialistic and hollow individual who lacks substance. In other words, everyone who has ever been cool in high school.
Phasma’s shelf life as one of the cool kids in Star Wars was short lived, but for a brief moment there, she was a star.
8. Supreme Leader Snoke
Signature Move: Poor periphery vision
Coolest Moment: Manipulating Kylo Ren and Rey
Yeah, I know that Supreme Leader Snoke looks like an aged Deadpool. But do you see that cool robe he’s rocking? He may be a dictator, but at least he’s doing his best Hugh Hefner impression!
Snoke may not have delivered on all the fan speculation, but he was the most powerful person in the galaxy for a time, and he did it with more style than the Emperor.
Force-FaceTiming Kylo Ren and Rey? Hanging out in the coolest throne room in Star Wars history? Re-building the shattered Empire into the more powerful First Order in just 30 years?
Snoke was impressive if nothing else.
7. Kylo Ren
Signature Move: Dispatching father figures
Coolest Moment: Freezing blaster fire in midair with the Force
In his full get-up, Kylo Ren is one of the coolest and most intimidating-looking bad guys we’ve ever been given—and he comes complete with the best lightsaber in the franchise. He’s also exceptionally powerful, extremely well-acted and an interesting character due to his familial relationships and mysterious turn to the Dark Side.
So, yeah, there are elements of cool in there. If I saw him stalking down the halls of a star destroyer, I’d definitely think he was a badass. But Kylo Ren is also the most emotional of the bad guys, prone to childish outbursts and temper tantrums. When he’s not making a scene, he’s sulking like a more pissed off Jon Snow.
We can’t be roaming in the club and have him bring down the vibe with his negative energy. We also definitely can’t have him impaling a drunken club-goer for accidentally cutting in front of him on the bathroom line.
6. Grand Moff Tarkin
Signature Move: Smugness
Coolest Moment: Actor Peter Cushing demanding to be shot from the waist up so he could wear slippers because he found Tarkin’s boots to be uncomfortable. True story.
Grand Moff Tarkin is cool in the same way that Tywin Lannister is cool. They’re both ruthlessly pragmatic and calculating leaders who get the job done with remarkable efficiency. They both also have piercing blue eyes that can peer into your soul, find your greatest insecurity and destroy you with a single remark.
Would I want to be friends with Tarkin? No so much. But do I think I could learn a thing or two from someone as accomplished and revered as he? Definitely. Distinguished military members are always pretty cool.
5. Jabba the Hutt
Signature Move: Immobility
Coolest Moment: When Leia unfreezes Han and then Jabba begins laughing menacingly off screen
Sure, Jabba may have the rotund figure of a poorly rolled up sleeping bag, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t cool.
Jabba, a gluttonous and vile gangster, oversees a vast criminal organization. He’s basically the Al Capone of his sector, a wheeling and dealing overlord with keen intellect and appetites for the, uhh, stranger things in life. Anyone who has a rancor pit in his basement clearly isn’t messing around.
Jabba is also a master of leisure as evidenced by the luxuriousness of his floating palace. Had things not gone sideways for the gangster when attempting to feed our heroes to the Sarlaac, it looked as if all involved would have enjoyed one helluva party.
4. Boba Fett
Signature Move: Standing silently
Coolest Moment: When he stood silently
Boba Fett is vastly overrated as an actual Star Wars villain due to the fact that he just stands around doing nothing and is then given the most embarrassing death of any big bad in the series. I don’t care if he has a great backstory in the Expanded Universe, the movie version doesn’t live up to his reputation.
But he sure as hell looks cool in his Mandalorian armor and, as we’ve established, looking cool is more than half the battle. Sometimes, all you need is a Grad-A costume and a strong presence to make the cut.
3. Darth Vader
Signature Move: Badly needing an inhaler
Coolest Moment: Every single time he Force-chokes someone
Would I want to get a drink with Darth Vader? Probably not, nor do I want to be his friend. Normally, an asthmatic buzzkill would not be the most popular star pilot in the fleet. But being pals with Darth Vader is like landing on the same dodgeball team as the biggest kid in school. Immediate advantage.
Vader is an absolute unit of a man who immediately tips the balance of power in favor of whichever side he’s on. Don’t overthink this one, make the obvious pick.
Kylo Ren may look cool, but he’s a self-admitted Vader wannabee. Darth is the original foreboding bad guy with a cool costume. Just one look at the helmeted Sith Lord and you can tell this guy is a smooth criminal. Plus, he managed to marry the gorgeous Padme when he was in his prime.
Not bad, Darth. Not bad.
2. Darth Maul
Signature Move: Long sullen silences
Coolest Moment: Epic lightsaber duel
Darth Maul benefits from several attributes: the absolute best character design in George Lucas’ entire career, being the apprentice of Darth Sidious and boasting the most talented lightsaber skills in any Star Wars movie. His climactic duel against Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace is the single-most electric action sequence in space movies. Period.
Dude can throw down.
For such a small role, Maul’s impact looms large over the series. Fans adored his villain so much that he was resurrected in the animated Clone Wars series and given even more cool things to do (along with a pair of super cool robot legs because Star Wars).
Anyone who is rocking a double-edged lightsaber and can kill Liam Neeson can sit at my lunch table.
1. Dryden Vos
Signature Move: Luminous skin glow
Coolest Moment: That time he helped Young Han Solo become Harrison Ford Han Solo
Dryden Vos was originally played by Michael K. Williams (The Wire) and was intended to be a half lion CGI/motion capture monster thing. But when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were canned midway through production of Solo: A Star Wars Story and Lucasfilm hired Ron Howard to oversee sickeningly expensive re-shoots, Williams’ schedule prevented him from returning to the film.
As a result, Howard went out and tapped my main man Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War) to fill in and, this time, without the half lion CGI/motion capture monster thing angle.
Bottom line: anytime you’re deemed cool enough to replace a half lion CGI/motion capture monster thing portrayed by Omar Little, you must be pretty freaking cool.