My Rankings for Every Lightsaber Duels in Star Wars
The moment you hear that hiss and the sight of the plasma beam coming out of the hilt, you know shit’s about to go down. Each of the main Star Wars movies has at least one lightsaber duel. With The Rise of Skywalker coming out soon, I’m taking a trip down memory lane. These are my rankings for worst to best lightsaber fights in Star Wars thus far.
For this, I will only be using the duels that occur in the main films. In other words, no Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Rebels, or other material. However, I will do them in separate posts, so don’t worry.
#12-Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode IV: A New Hope
This may have been the one that started it all, but it’s also the slowest one. In order to buy time for Luke and his friends to escape, Obi-Wan duels his fallen apprentice and friend one final time. However, the duel itself is very slow-paced and lacks excitement. In addition, while I’m not certain, I think Obi-Wan let Vader win.
Thankfully, some fans decided to remake the duel with more modern tech, and the results are cooler.
#11-Rey vs Kylo Ren, Episode VII: The Force Awakens
I had doubts about the sequel trilogy, but I held out hope that at least the lightsaber duel would be epic. After all, the fights in the Prequels were some of the best in the franchise. Those hopes were dashed when I actually saw Rey and Kylo Ren fight.
While I admit that seeing Rey call Anakin’s lightsaber to her was an epic moment that convinced me she was Luke’s daughter, that was the only cool thing about this fight. It lacked any of the elaborate acrobatics or techniques we saw in previous films. I understand that JJ Abrams wanted to return to Star Wars roots, but the lightsaber duels were some of the best things about the Prequels. This felt like a step back from what I was used to.
#10-Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi And Yoda VS Count Dooku, Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
In hindsight, I think its safe to say that Attack of the Clones is the weak link in Star Wars. The movie’s great when there’s actual action being shown, but then we have Anakin’s “I hate sand” speech. What was great, though, was the duel of Dooku vs. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda.
Despite putting up a valiant fight, Obi-Wan and Anakin are still no match for the more experienced Sith Lord, with the latter losing his arm to the Count’s blade. However, then Yoda shows up and turns the tables on his former Padawan. As a result, we got to see the legendary Jedi Master in action for the first time, and even in his advanced age, he’s a deadly opponent. The one problem is that he kept jumping all over the place like Kermit the Frog. Which I know is ironic since Yoda’s voice actor Frank Oz is part of the original cast of The Muppets.
#9-Anakin and Obi-Wan vs. Dooku, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Despite being the apparent big bad of the Clone Wars, Count Dooku barely does anything in Revenge of the Sith. While trying to “rescue” Chancellor Palpatine from General Grevious’ flagship over Coruscant, Anakin and Obi-Wan engage in their final duel with Count Dooku. Obi-Wan gets knocked out, and Anakin’s forced to duel the Sith Lord on his own. Ultimately, he ends up winning and straight up kills the Sith Lord.
In a movie with no less than five lightsaber duels, this one wound up being my least favorite. While Anakin’s victory shows how far he’s progressed since Geonosis, this fight lacks the savage brutality, high stakes or emotion of the other fights in the movie. In addition, Anakin’s victory is soured by the fact that it was a test by Sidious to see if he could be turned to the Dark Side.
#8-Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. General Grevious, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
General Grevious hated the Jedi, but he hated Obi-Wan the most. As a result, when Obi-Wan confronted him on Utapau, the cyborg decided to fight him himself instead of siccing the entire army on him like any sane man would do. The result is a brutal and winding chase and battle which ends with Obi-Wan finally putting an end to the cyborg.
Going into the movie, we knew Obi-Wan would win due to plot armor. That still didn’t stop me from being impressed with their duel. Grevious was a terrifying opponent and one of the few non Force Users able to wield a lightsaber. Despite
#7-Kylo Ren and Rey vs Praetorian Guard, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
After failing to convince Luke to join the fight against the First Order, Rey allows herself to be captured and brought to Snoke to try and redeem Kylo Ren. In an unexpected twist, Ren ends up saving her life by killing his master, doing what Grandpa Vader could never do. As a result, the two fight back-to-back against Snoke’s Praetorian Guard.
Firstly, I can’t remember the last time a Dark-Sider had the guts to kill their master, so when I saw Ren do it, I was impressed. Secondly, I think this fight was a huge step above the snoozefest that we got in The Force Awakens. While not at the same level of the Prequels, this lightsaber duel showed off how powerful both Rey and Kylo Ren were. On their own, they’re incredibly powerful, but together, the two are unstoppable. Too bad Ren decided to stay on the Dark Side.
#6-Yoda vs Darth Sidious, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This was the kind of lightsaber duel that would make fans drool. As Obi-Wan confronts Anakin on Mustafar, Yoda faces off against Darth Sidious in the Halls of the Senate. The resulting fight between the two masters of the Force, while brief, was very brutal with neither holding back. Seeing the two fight on almost even footing reinforced just how powerful each was. In the end, though, this duel resulted in a draw with neither side claiming victory. As a result, it gets placed halfway on this list.
#5-Mace Windu vs Darth Sidious
While Return of the Jedi showed us how powerful Darth Sidious was in the Dark Side, it was Revenge of the Sith that showed us how deadly he was with a lightsaber. Faced with a team of four Jedi led by Mace Windu, the Dark Lord of the Sith drops his facade at last and unleashes his full power as a Sith; and it was terrifying!
From the primordial howl he gives to the sight of him cutting down three Jedi Masters in seconds, this duel reminds us how dangerous Darth Sidious is. However, what I love about this fight was seeing Mace hold his own against the Sith Lord. In fact, some fans speculate that had Anakin not intervened, Master Windu would have won.
#4-Luke vs Darth Vader, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The climax to what many consider to be the best Star Wars movie saw Luke recklessly head to Cloud City to rescue his friends. Too late, he realizes that its a trap as he faces off against Darth Vader. While he manages to put up a valiant fight, even briefly pushing the Dark Lord back, Luke proves no match.
Going into this lightsaber duel, we knew that Luke had little chance of defeating Vader. This only made it all the more painful to see Luke battered and dismembered by the end of the duel. However, the real trauma is more emotional. In this now legendary, Vader drops one of the biggest bombshells in the history of storytelling: that he’s Luke’s father. Not sorry if I spoiled it!
#3-Luke vs Darth Vader Round 2, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
In an effort to redeem his father/protect his friends, Luke let himself be captured by the Empire. This leads to him being brought to the Emperor and forced to duel his father once more. Only this time, it’s a far more even duel. At least, until Luke refuses to fight his father anymore.
The film had already shown how far Luke had progressed in the year between Episode V and Episode VI, but this lightsaber duel drove that point home. Not only did Luke match Vader blow for blow, but once he finally snaps and lets his rage out, he completely overpowered him. Seeing the once invincible Vader be brought to his literal knees was a sobering moment. Thankfully, Luke had the common sense to refuse to give into his anger.
#2-Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul, Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Say what you will about The Phantom Menace, but it has three things that redeem it, and this lightsaber duel’s at the top. In the midst of helping to free Naboo from the Trade Federation, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan engage in a ferocious duel against the Sith Lord Darth Maul. The end result was one of the most exciting displays of swordsmanship in the entire franchise.
In many ways, this fight came to exemplify what Star Wars could do with lightsaber duels for me. From the fast and furious clashing of lightsabers, to the acrobatics, the Duel of the Fates, this was leaps and bounds above what had come before. Also, it’s why I’m so critical about the fights in the Sequel Trilogy. If George Lucas could do this twenty years ago, then JJ Abrams has no excuse.
#1-Anakin vs Obi-Wan, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This was the fight that fans had been waiting for since Empire. Needless to say, what we got in Revenge of the Sith didn’t disappoint. Having learned of Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader, Obi-Wan fights him in a terrifying duel that will shape the Galaxy for decades.
More than any other example, I consider this to be the definitive lightsaber duel in Star Wars. Considering its importance, it’s no surprise George Lucas’ team went all out. From the lava-strewn surface of Mustafar invoking an image of Hell, to John Williams’ masterful music, this fight screams epic! In addition, the fact that Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen spent weeks practicing so they could fight shows the level of dedication the cast had.
In the Star Wars films themselves, this fight manages to be both epic and heart-breaking all at once. On one hand, it’s the most amazing lightsaber duel in the films. On the other, it symbolizes the death of the brotherly bond that Anakin and Obi-Wan had. The final sight of Anakin burning alive beside that river of lava’s enough to bring tears to one’s eyes.
May the Force Be With You
Do you agree with my picks? What has your favorite lightsaber duel been from Star Wars? Let me know in the comments! Until then, may the Force be with you!
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