Having recently finished an Original Trilogy binge, I’ve really been struck by how little Princess Leia does in the first two films and how dependant she is on the male characters.
Let’s take a journey back to Episode IV — A New Hope.
The movie starts with her being captured by a man and held prisoner. She then, as far as we are aware, makes no attempt at escape and is only rescued when three males come to rescue her. (Though to be fair, she does withstand torture.)
She is then extremely ungrateful and borderline verbally abusive towards them.
She also says some incredibly racist remarks; “Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?” I mean, that’s like the Star Wars equivalent of me walking behind a large black man and saying “Will someone get this walking barbecue out of my way?”
They then manage to escape and, during the Tie-Fighter attack, she does absolutely nothing. Chewie’s the one flying the ship and Han/Luke are the one’s defending it. All she does it sit there.
And then for the last 20 minutes she’s completely dependant on 30 men risking their lives and, once again, she does absolutely nothing other than stand there and look worried.
On to Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
The film does get off to a good start by establishing her as a clear leader by giving orders and taking questions from pilots. But it all falls apart when she has to be pretty much dragged out of danger by a man when Imperial troops enter the base.
The above mentioned man also saves her from being crushed from a collapsing roof and the only reason she manages to get off planet is because of his ship. She does absolutely nothing to help herself survive. The only reason she is alive is because of Han.
She then becomes a back seat driver and contributes nothing other than arguing and pissing off the guy that SAVED her life.
She does seem to have some mechanical experience later on (thank God)
She’s then captured again by the same male in the first film and then has to be rescued by another male! (At least a black one this time!)
For the rest of the film I do have to give her points for taking control of the situation. She does try to warn Luke it’s a trap and she does try to save Han. And in Return of the Jedi she does do a decent job in protecting herself and taking the initiative.
(That’s assuming that you ignore the whole getting captured by a male slug, forced to wear a Gold Metal bikini and having to be rescued by another male.)
They definitely seemed to have improved her character as the films went on, but early on at least, I find it hard to believe that she could be considered a good role model or strong female figure.