Princess Leia, born as Leia Organa and later known as Leia Organa Solo, is the lead female character in the original Star Wars trilogy. The character was created by George Lucas and was played in the movies by Carrie Fisher. Carrie’s Princess Leia gained iconic status in the 70’s because of two major factors. One is her ‘cinnamon bun’ hairstyle. The second is the metal bikini she donned when Leia was held as a slave by Jabba the Hutt. The metal bikini gave her unprecedented fame as an entire generation’s sex symbol, which continues even to this day.
Princess Leia is the younger twin sister of Luke Skywalker. Both of them were born to Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. Their mother was a senator and the former queen of Naboo and father later turned into the Sith Lord, Darth Vader. Padmé dies right after they were born, and their father was already set on the path to darkness. So, Leia is adopted by Senator Bail Organa and Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan.
During her lifetime, Leia has been more than just a princess. She is a politician, a warrior, a Jedi knight, a diplomat, an undercover agent, and much more. In fact, in one of the original drafts of the movies, George Lucas intended to give her more prominence in the movies than what her brother, Luke, enjoys. More than two dozen actresses auditioned for the role of Leia including Sigourney Weaver, Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, Farrah Fawcett, Kathleen Turner, and others. When Carrie Fisher was cast into the role of Leia, she was only 19. Later in 2014, Carrie revealed that although she enjoyed the role of Leia, she personally would have loved to play the role of Han Solo.
In the original film, Star Wars, Leia was captured by Darth Vader aboard her ship Tantive IV. At the time, she was a member of the Imperial Senate, but was acting as a spy for the Rebel Alliance. She was in possession of the plans for the Empire’s secret weapon and hid them with a droid, R2-D2. She programed the droid in time to find the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. Vade tortured Leia to reveal the location of the Rebel base, which she doesn’t. When he threatens to destroy her home planet, Alderaan, she gives him the wrong location. Despite her supposed cooperation, Vader destroys Alderaan anyway. She was later rescued by Obi-Wan, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO. She then led the rebels in a battle at the end of which Luke destroys the Empire’s secret weapon, the Death Star.
In the second edition, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the Rebel base on Hoth is attacked. Leia aids in its evacuation and escapes the planet aboard Han’s ship with him. The ship’s hyperdrive is damaged and they find refuge in a nearby asteroid field. While they were unknowingly in the stomach of a space slug, romance brews between Han and Leia. Han then seeks out his old friend, Lando’s help in Cloud City for repairing his ship. Lando, double crosses Han and hands him over to Vader, who freezes him in carbonite. This is when Leia confesses her love to Han, when he is frozen. As she escapes Cloud City with Lando’s help, she senses that Luke is in trouble and saves him after his nearly fatal lightsaber duel with Vader. At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Han is sent in carbonite to Jabba.
In the next movie, Return of the Jedi (1983), she infiltrates Jabba’s palace along with Chewbacca and tries to rescue Han from his grip. However, Jabba captures them and keeps Leia as a slave with him. This is when she is seen in her iconic metal bikini. Later, Luke and Lando pull off a rescue mission, at the end of which Leia strangles Jabba with the very chain he used as a leash on her. Everyone escapes to the forest moon of Endor, where Luke reveals to Leia that both of them are twin siblings, and that Vader is their father. She then leads the Rebel forces along with Han in the final battle against the Empire. They destroy the second Death Star too. With the help of the Ewoks, they manage to overpower the forces of the Empire, and put an end to the Empire itself.
The Star Wars saga has spawned numerous novelizations, comics, TV movies, video games, TV series, and so on. In much of this content, Leia can be seen, often playing a significant role in the events. After the fall of the Galactic Empire, she played a crucial role in restoring peace during the Galactic Civil War, subsequent galactic conflicts, and other major attacks on the Galaxy’s peace. She served in the position of Chief of State of the newly formed New Republic twice. Many alternate universe stories portray Leia taking up a variety of responsibilities, including that of a mother of three. In fact, in an alternate ending, she even turns to the dark side and fights her brother Luke in a lightsaber duel.
Fisher reprised her role, again as Leia, in the latest installment of Star Wars, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, Leia is more mature, and battle weary. The movie follows the events that again involve her family and its brush with the Dark side of the Force.
During the 1980s, Leia became a feminist hero. Her portrayal of a brave and courageous woman, who was unhindered in any way by the nature of her gender, made her a symbol of the empowered woman. With that, Leia has appeared on a variety of Star Wars merchandise through the years. She even appeared on a 2007 US postage stamp and a 2015 UK postage stamp. Despite her heroics, she is best known in the popular culture as something as silly as her cinnamon bun hairstyle and the metal bikini she wore as a slave with Jabba the Hutt.