/Answers: Our Favorite 'Star Wars' Moments

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. In this week's edition, we're celebrating the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by fondly recalling our favorite Star Wars movie moments, the individual beats or reveals or lines of dialogue that stand out above all else for us.

Lindsey Romain: Leia Senses Luke is in Danger

I can't really put my finger on why this moment, of any Star Wars moment, comes to mind when I try to nail down a favorite. But when I close my eyes and think of a quintessential piece of the saga, this is always where I land. Perhaps because it's heavy on the unknowable mysticism stuff that I love in Star Wars, and probably because it's centered on Leia, my favorite character. Leia's Force connection is something I've always wanted more of, and though this is arguably more a show of Luke's powers than her own, their sibling revelation in Return of the Jedi means I can decontextualize this as hers too. There's something so very Star Wars about Force mind-melds like this, something that makes me feel giddy and delighted the way I'm sure some people do when they see a lightsaber ignite. The music does a lot of the work as well, leaning heavy into the Force theme, pulling all the right strings. Chewbacca's protective roar after Leia demands they turn around is another little thing I've always loved.

Chris Evangelista: Rey Reclaims the Lightsaber

The marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was so effectively deceptive that I'm almost certain everyone thought it would be John Boyega's Finn who ended up being a lightsaber-swinging user of the Force. There was even a banner released featuring Boyega's character posing with a lightsaber. And while Finn does get a brief moment to use the most famous Star Wars weapon in the final film, he's quickly defeated by the far-more-skilled Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). During a big climactic battle in a snowy forest, Finn and new Star Wars heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) face-off against Kylo Ren as everything is literally falling apart. After Finn gets knocked out, the lightsaber flies from his hand and lands in the snow. And it's not just any old lightsaber: it's the lightsaber that used to belong to the missing Luke Skywalker.

Director J.J. Abrams cuts to a close-up of the saber, and then cuts to Kylo Ren stretching out his hand, attempting to use his Force-powers to make the laser sword fly to him. We see the lightsaber begin to shake; then it rises; then it flies – not into Ren's hand, but past him. When I first saw the film, there was a split second where I assumed the saber would then land in the hands of Luke Skywalker. Remember, at this point, Mark Hamill's master Jedi character had yet to appear in the film, so I figured that since the movie was close to ending, he would have to show up soon. "Ah, this must be Luke's big arrival," I thought. I was wrong: instead, the lightsaber flies into the hands of Rey, who promptly fires the weapon up, its eerie blue light reflecting off her determined face.

I practically leapt out of my seat. This moment is incredible. It's incredible for many reasons, including editing, pacing and expectation. Also, because even though we know Rey can use the Force at this point, this still seems unexpected. On top of all that, here, at last, was a major female heroine in a Star Wars film finally having an iconic moment where she wields the most famous weapon in the entire Star Wars galaxy. Much has been written about Rey being a "Mary Sue," which seems to be shorthand for people online complaining that a female character is strong and competent and can handle herself; I don't want to go into that, because honestly it's a really, really, really stupid opinion that just doesn't hold water. Instead, I'll say I bought Rey's journey through The Force Awakens every step of the way, which made this big triumphant moment where she ignites that lightsaber all the more satisfying. And the battle that follows that moment isn't too shabby, either.

Ethan Anderton: The Empire's Surprise Ambush on Cloud City

Just as we're starting to trust and like Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, we have the rug pulled out from under us when we see he's betrayed Han Solo, Leia Organa and Chewbacca by selling them out to Darth Vader and the Empire. The sheer surprise of this scene is one of the reasons that I love it so much. It's one of a few twists that come from this influential sequel. But what I really love about this scene is something that is so cool that it became a meme.

As the meme famously states, when Darth Vader is standing there in the dining room after Lando opens the door, "Han doesn't look incredulously at Lando; he doesn't duck or run away. What does Han do? He starts shooting at the motherf***er." That's exactly right. There is no hesitation from Han Solo to take this opportunity to take out Darth Vader. He draws his blaster and just starts firing away. It's a truly badass moment for the character in a long line of badass moments.

Outside of that, I also love how cool Darth Vader plays it too. He just uses the Force to snatch the blaster and asks them to sit down and eat with him. Oh, how I would love to see that scene play out, especially because we've never seen Darth Vader (in his current form) eat anything. Does he even have to eat? Maybe he just has vitamins and nutrients fed into his system through his suit. I'm sure there's an answer to this question, but this train of thought is too fun for me to go find the answer.

Hoai-Tran Bui: "I am One With the Force, the Force is With Me"

I would be the first to admit that I didn't love Rogue One. I loved what it was a trying to be: a grim war movie about unsung heroes. But for the majority of the movie, Rogue One seemed to forget about those unsung heroes it was trying to showcase, burying their pivotal character moments and arcs beneath convoluted plot development and way too much planet-jumping. Because of that, the core crew of Jyn, Cassian, Chirrut, Baze, and Bodhi remained flat archetypes — until the final moments of the film.

Yes, we've heard everyone rave about that rapturous third act of Rogue One: the heart-pounding battle that saved the movie from mediocrity. But it wasn't the space battles that caught my eye, but the delicate moment of pure, unadultered faith from the blind Force-sensitive warrior, Chirrut (Donnie Yen). Cornered in a battlefield where hope of stealing the Death Star plans from the Empire is slowly dimming, Chirrut takes drastic action. "I am one with the force, the force is with me," he apprehensively chants, repeating his familiar mantra that takes on a whole new meaning in this scene. The din of the battle fades away as Chirrut slowly walks to the switch that opens communication to the Rebel feets. It's the first of the film's few moments of clarity into the characters, underlining Chirrut's enduring hope and trust in a greater cause (and by extent, the Force), and the acceptance of his tragic fate. In that moment, I caught a glimpse of the movie Rogue One wanted to be: a portrait of hope in the face of overwhelming odds, and of the oh-so-human willingness to sacrifice life for the greater good.

Matt Donato: Han Solo, Frozen in Carbonite

My entry this week is going to be shorter than usual because, frankly, my "favorite" Star Wars moment isn't particularly happy. It's morbid and dark, but when I think Star Wars, for some reason the image of Han Solo frozen in carbonite is all I see. Right after responding to Leia's "I love you" proclamation with "I know," we see it A gigantic hunk of frozen space-stud stuck writhing in pain; an agonized pose from the galaxy's top rugged rambler. It's a huge creative gamble that, with inherent gloom, pays off.

We're so used to Han being the epitome of cool, calm and lucky – not a scared, glorified chunk of granite. The Empire surely strikes back and steals an adoring character in the process. In that moment, watching for the first time, we're unsure of how things will play out. Chewy, Lando and the rest watching Han act as Darth Vader's test dummy to see if carbonite freezing will kill him. It's just heavy, man. Like, emotionally – not just the physical Han slab.

Ben Pearson: The Legendary Wilhelm Scream

You probably know all about the Wilhelm scream, but just in case, a very brief refresher: first recorded for a movie in the early 1950s, the sound effect gained modern prominence when Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt discovered it in an archive and dropped it into A New Hope. Since then, the easily-identifiable noise of a man almost comically screaming in pain has been used in hundreds of other movies and television shows – including every Star Wars movie.

When I was in my early teens, I noticed during a viewing of A New Hope that the effect was something I'd heard elsewhere, and it made me curious enough to seek out more information about its origin; that was one of the first times I really thought about a sound designer's job and took the time to consider aspects of production I hadn't thought about before. So my favorite Star Wars moment has to be the first use of the Wilhelm scream in that movie, during Luke and Leia's escape sequence in the Death Star. For me, it epitomizes a lot of what I love about Star Wars: excellent production design, heroic characters backed into a wall (figuratively and literally), and the thrill of wondering how they're going to get out of the situation in tact. The image of Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm is ripped straight from the sci-fi serials that were such an inspiration to George Lucas, but the Wilhelm scream that precedes it never fails to put a grin on my face.

Jacob Hall: John Williams' "The Asteroid Field" Kicks in

John Williams' music for the original Star Wars trilogy is the greatest motion picture score of all time and The Empire Strikes Back features the greatest piece of music in all three movies. Does this mean that "The Asteroid Field" is the best piece of music ever recorded for a movie? Possibly. It certainly feels that way, doesn't it?

You know the scene. The Millennium Falcon attempts to evade the clutches of the Empire by flying into an asteroid field, a suicidal move from a desperate crew of rebels. As C-3PO rambles on about statistics and their chances of death, Han Solo mutters "Never tell me the odds!" And then it happens – we cut to an exterior of the ship as it flies by the camera, TIE Fighters in hot pursuit and Williams' score really kicks into overdrive with a melody that sums up Star Wars in every possible way. It's playful, but not without a sense of danger and adventure. There's a whimsy to it, as if the film is giving permission to smile and have a good time even as our heroes keep falling further and further into a pit of despair. I can't hear those soaring opening notes and not feel chills all over my body. Everything I love about Star Wars, everything that I grew up adoring and everything I treasure now, is encapsulated right here, in that music.

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