NY TIMES – “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
Even as a jittery, tiny projection, Princess Leia is a commanding presence. She’s one of the most powerful figures in her galaxy — and one of the most iconic characters in our galaxy. This is how she went from secret baby to General Organa. (Many Bothans died to bring us this information.)
- Padmé Amidala, the former queen and senator and the wife of Anakin Skywalker, dies in childbirth, but not before naming her twins Luke and Leia. (How could she die during childbirth in a galaxy that has mastered hyperspace travel? Who knows.) Padmé and Anakin’s daughter is adopted by Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan and his wife, Queen Breha. Luke is sent to the desert planet Tatooine.
- Sixteen years later, like many teenagers, Leia becomes curious about her parents. As detailed in the novel “Leia: Princess of Alderaan,” she inadvertently discovers that her father, her mother and their friend Mon Mothma are deeply involved in the budding rebellion against the Galactic Empire.
- Leia joins the group that will become the Rebel Alliance.
- Bail Organa asks his daughter to go to Tatooine and seek out the former Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. Before she can depart, though, her ship is called to the Battle of Scarif, where a team code-named Rogue One is in the midst of stealing the schematics for the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star.
- That brings us to the events of “Episode IV: A New Hope.” After the ship she is traveling on is disabled, Leia escapes on her father’s smaller vessel, the Tantive IV, and manages to smuggle both a message for Obi-Wan and the Death Star plans inside the droid R2-D2 and send them to Tatooine.
- Leia is forced to watch as Grand Moff Tarkin blows up Alderaan — and her adoptive parents — with his fully operational Death Star, where she is kept prisoner.
- Leia is rescued by Luke Skywalker (whom she won’t discover is her twin brother for many years), Han Solo and Chewbacca. After Luke blows up the Death Star, Leia and the newest members of the Rebel Alliance become the most wanted people in the galaxy. The Empire begins hunting down all survivors of the Alderaan disaster — those who weren’t on the planet at the time — in hopes of finding Leia or drawing her out. As detailed in a Marvel Comics series, Leia leads a secret mission to find any survivors of her destroyed home planet.
- By the time the Battle of Hoth occurs at the beginning of “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” Leia is a commander in the Rebellion, which suffers a crushing defeat in the snow. She escapes with Han, Chewbacca and C-3PO, eventually ending up in Cloud City — where Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian sells them out. Han is frozen in carbonite, but not before Leia says “I love you.” “I know,” he says. Colder than carbonite, man.
- Now it’s time for “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.” Leia travels to Tatooine where, disguised as a bounty hunter, she unfreezes Han Solo in an attempt to rescue him from Jabba the Hutt. She is captured and forced by Jabba to wear a very unfortunate gold bikini, but she exacts her revenge on the slimy creature by strangling him with the very chain he used to enslave her.
- After discovering that the Empire has built a second Death Star (if at first you don’t succeed … ), Leia helps lead a successful mission to the forest moon of Endor. She forges an alliance with the adorable and shockingly violent Ewoks and finds out that she is Luke’s twin sister — and Darth Vader’s daughter.
- The Rebels destroy the second Death Star (when at first you do succeed … ), signaling the beginning of the end of the Empire.
- The New Republic is established. As detailed in the novel “Bloodline,” Leia, who is now married to Han, serves as a senator for several decades before her true parentage is revealed by a rival and her loyalty is called into question. Shortly before she is forced out of the Senate, Leia writes their son, Ben, who is studying with Luke, to explain that Darth Vader was his grandfather.
- Leia hears of a new threat gathering power on the outskirts of the galaxy, but she is unable to convince her former colleagues in the Senate that they should take it seriously. In a move that mirrors the formation of the Rebel Alliance, she gather allies, splits from the establishment and founds a paramilitary group called the Resistance.
- Behold the general Leia Organa, who is now commanding the Resistance from the planet of D’qar. She sends her best pilot, Poe Dameron, to Jakku to find a map with the location of her brother, Luke, who went into hiding after Leia’s son destroyed his Jedi Academy.
- The First Order destroys the entire New Republic government when it blows up the planet Hosnian Prime with its superweapon, Starkiller Base, which the Resistance then obliterates in kind. But there’s destruction closer to home, too: Leia’s son, Ben, has turned to the dark side. He goes by Kylo Ren now — and in a moment that seems as if it’s going to be a reconciliation, he instead kills his father, Han Solo. Poor Leia.