From Luke Skywalker To Darth Vader: The Evolution of Cool

By Shea Bennett
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

When we’re very young, certainly before we hit our teenage years, our favorite characters from our favorite movies and TV shows tend to reflect our nature during this period of our lives. They’re often innocents, like us. Possibly naïve and often untrained in the ways of life, our icons at this time almost have a virginal status about them.

As we mature – certainly as we enter and move through puberty – we tend to look for increasingly darker characters for inspiration. These new icons, while rarely all bad or certainly evil, are significantly less good, clean and wholesome than the folk we used to appreciate. They’re mostly heroic, but have an unsavoury edge that is enormously appealing.

Once we are well into our teenage years, and certainly as we approach adulthood, even those guys aren’t dark enough. They’ll always be somewhat cool, but as we age and the demands of life weigh heavily upon us, we become more cynical and appreciative of darkness. Often we will find ourselves, consciously or otherwise, thinking that the mostly bad or downright evil creations are the epitome of style and sophistication.

I present to you, then, four examples of this evolution of cool.

Star Wars (IV-VI)

Stage 1: Luke Skywalker

Stage 2: Han Solo

Stage 3: Boba Fett

Stage 4: Darth Vader

(Indeed, one can argue that Luke became far more appealing as he himself became a darker character. But he’s no Vader.)

Star Trek (TNG)

Stage 1: Commander Data

Stage 2: Jean Luc Picard

Stage 3: Q

Stage 4: The Borg

(It’s worth observing that Picard himself became significantly cooler when Borgified into Locutus in The Best of Both Worlds.)


Stage 1: Spider-Man

Stage 2: Wolverine

Stage 3: Magneto

Stage 4: Venom

(Magneto in the movies is cooler than Magneto in the comics, and vice versa for Venom.)


Stage 1: Superman

Stage 2: Batman

Stage 3: Lex Luthor

Stage 4: The Joker

I’m sure you have your own favorites and your personal order might differ slightly from the above. I urge you to hit the comments and list your own evolutionary cool timelines.

Geeks are Sexy needs YOUR help. Learn more about how YOU can support us here.