Lupita Nyong'o Joins 'Star Wars Episode VII' Cast: The Series' 9 Most Badass Female Moments

Lucasfilm's announcement Monday that actresses Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie will be joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII is welcome news to fans. After all, when the initial cast was revealed last month, many were disappointed by the lack of diversity and the announcement of only one woman, newcomer Daisy Ridley. As Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson put it:

Something about this particular franchise, the way that it has been so culturally permeating, here and around the world — and the fact that J.J. Abrams has previously, with Alias and Lost and the inherited diversity of the original Star Trek, told stories about lots of different kinds of people — made me hope that some old wrongs would be righted, or new strides made. But, it would appear not. Unless there are more major roles to be cast, J.J. Abrams and everyone else involved with Episode VII didn’t see fit to include more than two significant female characters, nor did they seem all that concerned with any other kind of diversity.

With the addition of two new amazing women to the cast, now's the perfect time to take a look at the women who have appeared in Star Wars so far. Even though the series only had Princess Leia and Padmé Amidala as female leads, the galaxy would have been doomed without them negotiating and fighting alongside their male counterparts.

Here are nine of Star Wars' most badass female moments.

Leia Takes on Squad of Stromtroopers

When Darth Vader captures Princess Leia's starship at the beginning of A New Hope, she doesn't immediately run for the escape pods with her crucial intelligence. Instead, she risks capture at the hands of the Empire, and places the Death Star plans desperately needed by the Rebellion in R2-D2. Then, she stays behind and shoots some stormtroopers. Like you do.

Queen Amidala decides to return to her invaded planet to free her people

Despite what becomes of Padmé Amidala by the time we reach Revenge of the Sith, she shines as Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace. She may only be 14 years old, but we can easily see where Leia gets her determination and political savvy. Not only does she escape her occupied planet to demand the Galactic Senate, but she then decides to go back to her invaded planet to save her people.

Princess Leia Stands Up To Vader and Tarkin

Right after some mind probe torture in A New Hope, Leia is taken to speak with Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. At this point, she's already completely resisted their torture. As the two men try to get the location of the rebel base out of her, she takes this moment to stand up to her captors, offering up some great one-liners.

Amidala devises a military strategy to take back her planet

Upon returning to her planet, Padmé decides to stop letting her decoys take center stage and reveals herself as the true Queen of Naboo. Then, she forges an alliance with the Gungans, devises a military strategy to take over the palace, and leads the charge blaster in hand. Needless to say, she captures the Viceroy and saves her people.

Leia rescues her rescuers

Luke Skywalker and Han Solo may have freed Leia from her prison cell, but man, did they lack an escape plan! Leia finds their escape route as she grabs Luke's blaster, shoots, and proclaims "Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy."

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Even after their brush with death, she makes sure Han knows they're going to do what she says from then on. She may have needed a hand escaping, but she's not some helpless princess.

Shmi Skywalker Lets Go of Anakin

Even though Shmi's character is basically ruined in Attack of the Clones, this moment in The Phantom Menace is not to be forgotten. Enslaved on Tatooine, her son was probably the only good thing in her life — yet she refuses to hold him back from his chance at freedom. Shmi knows she'll probably never see him again, but still tells him to go and not look back. Now that's brave.

Leia kills Jabba the Hut

Did Jabba really think he could put Leia in that slave outfit and live? She already stood up to this notorious gangster once, dressed as the bounty hunter Boushh, and then she succeeds where many have failed — she chokes him to death with her own chain. By now, hopefully the galaxy has learned it's lesson: Don't mess with Leia.

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Padmé fights in the Battle of Geonosis

We saw some of Padmé's battle skills when she retook Naboo, but it's in Attack of the Clones that we see what she's really made of. She doesn't wait around for Obi-Wan or Anakin to save or protect her — she just jumps right in fighting for the Republic.

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Leia takes out two stormtroopers ... while injured

A little blaster burn isn't about to take Princess Leia out of commission. Things don't look good for her and Han in this Return of the Jedi scene, until she reveals a hidden blaster. Right after proclaiming their love, Leia kills the two troopers watching them. Who says badasses can't be deadly and romantic?

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