This first came up in an interview with Joel Edgerton. Talking about his return as Owen Lars in the new Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, I asked if he gets an “It’s me!” moment like so many other characters seem to get when they make a dramatic return to the Star Wars galaxy. (Edgerton, for his part, confirmed that if they give him two seconds to get his moment in the sun, he will turn it into four.)
But the Star Wars movies have a lot of “It’s me!” moments. (And I call them “It’s me!” because, in Return of the Jedi, Han Solo literally says, “It’s me,” even though that particular moment isn’t technically an “It’s me!” moment under these rules. The “It’s me!” moment is that little beat a returning fan-favorite character gets where they appear on screen for maybe just an extra second or two, just to visually announce to the audience, “Hey, look, it’s me! I’m back!”
And these “It’s me!” moments usually cause the audience to erupt in applause. But that’s the thing, it has to be the return of a fan-favorite character. (So, in the first Star Wars, Alec Guinness dramatically removing his hood when he looks up at R2-D2 doesn’t count, even though it’s totally an “It’s me!” moment, but that was Guinness saying, “Hey, look, it’s me! The legendary actor! Alec!,” as opposed to, “It’s me, your old pal Ben.”)
These are effective scenes! But some are better than others. Tuesday is the 44th birthday of the original Star Wars so, why not, let’s rank all the best “It’s me!” moments in the Star Wars films.
14. Anakin Skywalker, Return of the Jedi
For some reason, George Lucas thought Hayden Christensen needed to be inserted into the last scene of Return of the Jedi, replacing Sebastian Shaw. And this is nothing against Christensen, it’s just this change makes absolutely no sense, even in the context of the story. But, Christensen is most definitely looking at the camera saying, “It’s me!,” but with an added twist of, “Yeah, I can’t believe it either.”
13. Chewbacca, Revenge of the Sith
We see Chewbacca before this moment, at least we are pretty sure it’s him. But this, when Yoda says Chewbacca’s name, is Chewbacca’s true “It’s me!” moment in the movie. And it’s still very weird Yoda and Chewbacca hung out: to the point that Yoda is riding around on Chewbacca’s back. I still wonder if this ever came up between Ben and Chewbacca in the cantina. “Oh, we’re in luck! This Wookiee knows Yoda!”
12. Darth Maul, Solo
Another bizarre moment, especially since most people watching Solo just assumed Darth Maul was dead, since we all saw him die in The Phantom Menace. Beyond that though, the dramatic removal of his hood does make for a pretty good, “It’s me!” moment.
11. Darth Vader, Rogue One
It was a minor surprise we saw Vader at all in Rogue One, so his long, dramatic walk towards Krennic was a nice, “It’s me!” moment for the audience.
10. R2-D2, The Phantom Menace
It may not seem like it now, but this moment got a massive amount of applause when The Phantom Menace was in theaters. First of all, R2 rams himself right into Jar Jar Binks and is called, “rude.” Then R2 gets his true moment as he turns around fully for the audience. Then R2 gets a whole other moment a few minutes later when they read his name out loud for saving the crew and, once again, the audience applauded.
9. Boba Fett, Return of the Jedi
This happens when Boushh (who we don’t yet know is Leia, which later becomes its own “It’s me!” moment; Jabba’s palace is filled with “It’s me!” moments) enters Jabba’s palace with Chewbacca as a prisoner. We see Boba Fett first react in a hostile way, but eventually gives Boushh a nod of approval, which also serves as Fett’s official “It’s me!” moment.
8. Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Phantom Menace
Lucas knew what he was doing when both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon dramatically turn around at the same time and remove their hoods. Then, of course, Obi-Wan gets to say the fan favorite line, “I have a bad feeling about this,” which for all intents and purposes is, “Hey, it’s me!” Though, since it’s not the same actor returning, this had to go to a special outside committee to make sure this scene qualified as an “It’s me!” moment, but the scene got the green light from our panel of judges, so it’s included.
7. C-3PO, The Force Awakens
Based on the look on Harrison Ford’s face alone, this is the funniest of the “It’s me!” moments.
6. Leia Organa, Return of the Jedi
Up until this point, we still thought this was a mysterious bounty hunter who had captured Chewbacca. (Well, sort of, spoilers were not really a big deal in 1983.) Instead, it’s Leia who gets a dramatic, “It’s me!” moment, even though she probably shouldn’t have taken off her helmet here. I wrote about this when I tried and failed to figure out Luke’s whole plan to rescue Han from Jabba (it literally makes no sense), but imagine if Leia and Han had successfully got away at this point. How would that have gone? Han would have said, “Thanks for coming to get me. I’m glad we are all safe.” And Leia would have had to tell Han, “Oh, no, actually Jabba has C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca now.”
5. Yoda, The Last Jedi
Yoda gets the only “It’s me!” moment to start out from just seeing the still very recognizable shape of his head from behind. This is truly one of the great moments of the Sequel Trilogy and also a scene we probably don’t talk about quite enough. In theaters, this was less the sound of applause and more the sound of one giant gasp. Yoda truly earns his, “It’s me!” moment here.
4. Lando Calrissian, Return of the Jedi
This is a personal favorite because, in the context of the story, it makes no sense. There is absolutely no reason for Lando to pull his mask down and reveal his entire face to the rest of Jabba’s palace. The only reason to do this is to show the audience, “It’s me! Lando!” (Though, I’d still watch a full movie about how Lando got that guard job at Jabba’s palace in the first place. Did he go to his interview with that mask on? Or does Jabba realize he hired Lando, but just doesn’t realize he’s working with the Rebellion? That maybe Lando is just down on his luck these days after losing his gig at Cloud City and needs to earn a few credits on the side? Anyway, either of these two scenarios seems equally plausible.)
3. Luke Skywalker, The Force Awakens
As it turns out, The Force Awakens is filled with “It’s me!” moments. Which, being the first direct sequal to Return of the Jedi, makes sense. Though, of all the moments in all the movies, no actor is trying harder to make a “It’s me!” gesture and “It’s me!” face than Mark Hamill. I would not be surprised to learn that Mark Hamill had to physically be stopped from saying, “It’s me!”
2. Han Solo and Chewbacca, The Force Awakens
What’s remarkable about this scene is that it was heavily used in the marketing for The Force Awakens and yet it still killed when it played in theaters, in context with the rest of the movie. For the purposes of this list, seeing Harrison Ford as Han Solo for the first time in 32 years isn’t quite as good as the number one choice, but as far as pure adrenaline, this one is hard to beat.
1. Bail Organa, Rogue One
Of course, not as popular of a character as Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke, Leia, or Lando, but this is the epitome of the “It’s me!” moment. This is what every actor returning to Star Wars should strive for. This is the moment you want: out of the shadows, the score swells, all the other characters are looking around dramatically, and then, boom, “It’s me!” Plus, Rogue One is a movie where we are following basically a fresh slate of new characters. So having our friend Bail (and Leia’s adopted father) from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith show up made us all feel pretty good. This is “It’s me!” perfection.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.