I never knew C-3PO needed defending until recently but people have been throwing a lot of shade in his direction, especially in light of BB-8’s fresh new awesomeness (with no one willing to turn on R2-D2). I argue that C-3PO is one of the most entertaining parts of the original trilogy (A New Hope/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi) and has a notably great appearance in The Force Awakens.
Which are the one-to-three places I think he’s terrible and a waste of time? The prequel trilogy. Which is a place George Lucas managed to mess up a whole bunch of memorable characters.
In the original trilogy, the audience is told that C-3PO specializes in human-cyborg relations. He’s programmed for etiquette and protocol. He’s a people’s robot. It turns out, he has no idea how to act around people. He constantly reminds people of their odds of surviving things. He interrupts people at the worst times. He worries about everything. What a wet blanket! It’s silly but that kind of silliness helps to keep Star Wars fun.
In the prequel trilogy, C-3PO gets the short end of the stick. He’s cracking jokes. Bad jokes. Like saying, “I’m quite beside myself,” as his head is dragged next to his body. A truly cringe-worthy line but cringe-worthy because it’s so out of character for him. It’s as if when writing the prequels, George Lucas only remembered C-3PO as the comic relief and just wrote him some jokes. Give me the clumsy, bad-at-the-one-thing-he’s-programmed-to-do, relationship impeding, C-3PO! I’m actually wondering why there wasn’t a bunch of him keeping Anakin and Padmé from hooking up. Then the audience might have actually wanted to see their relationship (still probably not, though).
Then we get to The Force Awakens. C-3PO is on point. He’s back to his old tricks of ruining touching moments. In all honesty, when I saw C-3PO pop-up between Han and Leia as they were reuniting, my heart grew three sizes. It was the moment I realized that The Force Awakens was going to be OK. I thought, “They did it, they got Star Wars.”
As C-3PO goes, so does the Star Wars movie. Write him well and everything else should follow. Stay gold.