Favorite Fictional Characters, #290: Padme Amidala
Let's be honest - there were very much two versions of Amidala. There was the weepy, whiny, Sweet Valley Naboo pushover who made goo-goo eyes at a nine-year old budding serial killer she later secretly married after he became an actual genocidal maniac and eventually died of post-partum script hackery. Let's not talk about her. Instead, let's talk about bad-ass Padme. Queen Amidala, Senator Amidala. The woman who led her entire planet as a teenager, who used Keira Knightley as a human shield, who stared down the refugees from the animatronic Chuck-E-Cheese stage show called the Trade Federation. Who had the brains and humility to forge an alliance with the Gungans based on mutual need and equality. Who refused to let her people suffer while she stayed in comfortable exile on Coruscant. Who did everything she could to fight off the inappropriate advances of a petulant Jedi stalker, who tried to talk sense into him and temper his emotionally abusive rages even as she unwisely succumbed to his relentless pursuit.
(It didn't hurt that Natalie Portman brought talent and beauty to the part, even when the dialogue and script probably made her roll her eyes.)
I still think Anakin used Jedi mind tricks on Padme. How else to explain the sudden about-face she makes in the middle of Episode II? This was a smart, ambitious woman who knew how the galaxy worked, and she was going to give in to this narcissistic, turbulent upjumped sand slave from Tatooine? Was it the the good girl-bad boy thing? Was it her need to fix things that makes her think she can fix this broken soul? Even after they hooked up, she was still a hot ticket, holding her own in the pits of Geonosis and sporting the best bare midriff since Uhura from the mirror universe. She was a tough and strong and sexy broad. Until, apparently, she got pregnant and suddenly melted into a weak, mewling baby-locker. Congratulations, George Lucas. Luke and Leia's mother was one of the most independent, ass-kicking politicians in the galaxy and you made her into a forgettable footnote.