In my introduction Star Wars: the Animated Series… Wait, what? I made it no secret that I love Darth Vader. I kind of feel as though George Lucas works in a very limited spectrum when it comes to Star Wars, or anything, for that matter; he’s either amazing or he fails beyond belief. I didn’t feel this way about his antagonists until Revenge of the Sith. If there is one aspect in his work that he excels at, it would be villains.
I don’t think I need to repeat myself when it comes to Darth Vader, but it wasn’t just him. We got Boba Fett who’s pretty awesome, and Darth Sidious who, despite being a complete cliché, has so much passion for everything he does. All that said, many of you may have noticed that this post is a little late. My last Star Wars post was almost two months ago, and the reason for this is simple:
I really do not want to write this.
Yes, when George Lucas does well, he does really fucking well. But when he messes up, it’s just painful. There are many things I like about Star Wars villains. Some of them are just so fun to watch, whether it’s Ventress’s well-deserved revenge, Palpatine’s quest to conquer the universe and annihilate the Jedi, or even Aurra Sing’s or Hondo Ohnaka’s search for money. And to be perfectly honest, female villains tend to be some of the few women in this series with any sort of personality. Like the other antagonists I just mentioned, we see their motivations. We know what drives them into doing what they do. Hell, sometimes I want these people to come out on top. I feel the same way about most antagonists, but in a show that’s headed toward Sidious’s rise to power, in many ways, I expect the villains to win some of the time. And sure, the people they kill may be extras for the most part, but The Clone Wars is not afraid to let a Jedi get run through with a red Lightsaber.
All that said, well-written characters don’t help to elevate poorly written ones to their level. They make the poor characters look all the worse. And the problem here is not with the characters that are interesting; it’s that fact that the other characters just cannot compare.
There is one character that I’m thinking about in particular here, and I hesitate to even call him as such, since he’s nothing more than a plot device to move the filler along.
General Grievous is the main reason behind me not wanting to write this post. Just to let everyone fully understand how much I don’t like this character, I read Asajj Ventress’s Wookipedia page four times before writing this, I read Dooku’s page three times, and I read Aurra Sing’s page twice. I hate Grievous so much, I refuse to look him up and plan to write all the following on memory. When I went to his Wookipedia page to check that his name is actually spelled this way, my internet almost crashed—and then it almost froze when I went back just now to make that link. I was also hesitant to search him, because I have trouble believing that anyone would do what I’m about to do, and that is putting any sort of effort into writing about him. I have never seen a more useless character.
Even Bella Swan has more depth than this waste of time, and in comparison, a likable personality. Hell, Padmé Amidala is a better written character, and I’ve already said that she exists simply to be a political spokesperson for George Lucas. Anyone who’s been following me knows how much I hate her. I would much rather watch Jar Jar Binks and C3PO centric episodes. This is how useless I find Grievous. At least Jar Jar and C3PO are comic relief characters, albeit painful ones, but their attempts to set the tone are much more believable than Grievous’s existence.
I suppose I should start with when Grievous was first introduced to us. This takes us out of the animated series for a moment and into Revenge of the Sith. Remember how the movie just spat Grievous onto us at the very beginning? No, you don’t? Yeah, it wasn’t very memorable. That’s probably because shoving a random villain who’s never been mentioned before into a fight and having all the other characters know who he is fails to be a good introduction. I remember not knowing anything about this character but feeling as though the movie expected me to. I don’t read the comics or the books for Star Wars. The movies are what’s important, and it’s a bad sign when even that gets lazy at telling you the basics about what’s supposed to be a main antagonist.
And nothing about him makes sense. Is he supposed to look so funny? Is he meant to be just laughable instead of scary? Really, I would like to know. Did anyone else find this guy a complete joke of villain? Furthermore, can anyone tell me how he changed the story? What was so important about him? He shows up at the battle, has a fight that goes nowhere—maybe it was supposed to introduce him and show how intimidating he is—before getting killed in a battle with Obi-Wan that affected the outcome of nothing. Did Obi-Wan really need to be off planet during Order 66?
So not only does Grievous not do anything plot related, he’s completely irrelevant in any other regard. I don’t understand his motives, nor can I find any relatable quality in him. And the animated series just left me more confused. I know more about him has to be explained in the comics and whatnot, but that’s not what’s important here. I shouldn’t have to go look up Star Wars in a completely different medium to figure out why I should care about a character. His personality should transcend all mediums to make an audience give a crap about him, but the only consistency he seems to have is something between dumbass and douchebag.
On top of all that, he’s not really introduced to us in the animated series anyway. It’s just like Revenge of the Sith. He’s just there and all the characters know who he is already, so no one explains anything to me. Like, how the hell does someone with such bad battle tactics become a general? His name is Grievous, so is he a Sith? I know he fights with Lightsabers he stole from the Jedi he’s murdered, but is he Force sensitive or not? I can’t tell, and since I refuse to read his Wookipedia page, I won’t be looking it up either, so if anyone knows, I’d love to hear it.
I know there should be so many more things to talk about with him. I mean, he’s a prominent character, one of the main antagonists, but there’s nothing to say. Not really.
He has poor health… or maybe he’s from a race of tiny lizard aliens and uses the suit to make himself powerful. Having only a heart and a head doesn’t make him interesting. We need to know what happened to make him like that, even if we don’t find out immediately after his introduction, but it should still reflect in his actions to let us know that this tragedy affects him. Maybe whatever caused it is the reason behind his utter hatred of the Jedi. But once again, I don’t know. His motivation is to kill the Jedi, so naturally he joins the oh-so-evil Separatists, but it never explains why that’s his motivation. What the hell did the Jedi do to him? Is there a connection between that and his poor health?
I can only assume George Lucas felt the need to tell us this in another story, but once again, that doesn’t matter.
Not having watched season four, I don’t know whether or not we ever find out anything about him, but even if we did, it wouldn’t erase the fact that he spent the three previous seasons and an entire live-action movie being nothing more than a cardboard cutout.
Let’s compare him to Ventress for a minute. Once again, we have another let’s-kill-all-the-Jedi villain, who was just dumped on us the same way Grievous was. Everyone knows who she is but us, and they all act as though they’ve dealt with her before. Introductions are important. There’s a reason most writers don’t skip over them, but despite all that, something about Ventress’s character works, whereas Grievous’s doesn’t. And I’m going to theorize that it’s because she has an actual personality. She may be evil, but she’s fun and sassy, and despite having all the workings of a Sith, she’s loyal to Dooku, at least until he tries to kill her. Before that, she had no intentions of hurting him.
Ventress is a woman scorned. Remember in my last post where I did nothing but bitch about female portrayals. I’m going to step back and retract that argument when it comes to female villains, particularly Ventress. It’s hard to tell if someone in this series is a strong character or stronger than the others when everyone sucks so hard. But like Ahsoka, Ventress has grown on me quite a lot. She just has such passion behind everything she does. We can tell something bad happened in her past, because of the way she acts and treats others. Her outlook on life and interactions with the Jedi tell us a lot about her, and in season three we finally find out what that is, and suddenly her character makes all the more sense.
First of all, unlike everyone else, Ventress gets obsessed with Obi-Wan and not Anakin. This was my first tipoff. Logically, we would assume that since Anakin is cruel to her and Obi-Wan is nice, she’d be hell bent on just the opposite. We find out that she had been sold into slavery as a young girl before being picked up by a Jedi Master and trained in the ways of the Force. Unfortunately, her master, whom she had grown to love almost like a father figure, was killed in front of her, and that filled her with rage and a disdain for the Jedi for not avenging him.
Keep in mind that all the following is speculation from watching the show, so feel free to disagree with me and let me know why, but the impression I got is that Ventress blames the entire organization for what happened, for not caring, and thinks the Jedi are horrible people. Anakin lives up to her views on the Jedi, but Obi-Wan does not. He’s kind to her, he talks to her politely, he proves her views on everything wrong in his own actions, and Ventress cannot stand that.
Furthermore, after being picked up by Dooku and trained in the dark side, she still has that sense of loyalty her first master taught her, something Dooku has to know. They have a respect for each other; she gets a new master, and he gets a hardworking student without the fear of her betraying him. And it stays that way until Palpatine orders Dooku to kill her, something he is hesitant to do. The plan fails, and she turns her rage on him.
I also mentioned in the last post that it would be interesting if there had been a third side in this war who liked neither the Separatists nor the Republic. In way, in the last few episodes featuring Ventress, she becomes that. It’s a shame that they wrote her out of the series so quickly, because out of all the villains, she’s my favorite… besides Vader. I want to see more of her. I’m even tempted to go get some of the comics just for her.
But the time and effort that went into her character just highlights the failure surrounding Grievous. If you remove Ventress from the series, not a lot changes plot-wise, but the whole show is filler anyway and we’d be missing out on some really good episodes and character development. Everyone else is so stale that we need someone decent to watch. If you removed Grievous from the series, we miss out on nothing, and all that would change if they just gave him a personality. I didn’t want to make this post entirely about him, but I just cannot get off it. Why does he exist? Even in the movies, nothing would be lost in his absence.
Once again, I’m sorry it took me so long to get this post up, but I’m breaking it here, so until next time when I continue talking about villains, thanks for reading and feel free to let me know your thoughts.