A trip to the mall took me on a journey into the LEGO Store for the first time in quite a while. While I continue to collect and build Star Wars LEGO sets, my purchases have dropped off a bit over the past few years for a variety of reasons. As a result, I rarely make an effort to actually go into the LEGO Store, but on this particular day I decided to explore what the store had to offer.
As I perused the shelves, I came across a set that piqued my interest. Called “Defense of Hoth,” the set comes with two tripod guns, a rotating laser canon, and most importantly, three Rebel fighter minifigures in Echo Base gear. What truly caught my attention, though, was that these Rebel minifigures offered a cross-section of representation that is otherwise lacking in The Empire Strikes Back. In the film, all of the Rebel soldiers engaged in the defense of Hoth are white men. However, in this small Lego set, only one of the minifigures is a white man. The other two are a black man and a white woman. Without hesitation, I eagerly purchased Defense of Hoth and was excited to add some diversity to the Rebel minifigure battalion on my shelf at home.
Having other events to attend to the rest of that day, it was not until the following morning when I put the set together. Sitting down with my coffee and with my young son watching and offering his “assistance,” I got to work on the set with gusto. And with less than a minute surpassing, my zeal turned into confusion when I realized that while the male minifigures have two faces, the female minifigure only had one.
It is not uncommon for LEGO minifigures to have two different faces. Turned one way, perhaps the minifigure will look happy but turned around their face may give away a sense of anger or determination. In the case of the male figures in Defense of Hoth, this is the case. One way, each figure looks stoic, while the other way, they are gritting their teeth and displaying a sense of determination. The female soldier, however, does not get to display any this gritty determination. Instead, her other face is blank (see the featured image).
My own face was bemused. “How could it be,” I wondered to myself, “that in a set which intentionally offers representation the woman was given just one face to display?” As I considered this question, I decided it was also important to be fair to LEGO, that perhaps I had purchased an anomaly, a version of the “Defense of Hoth” in which the female soldier was incorrectly misprinted. Mistakes do happen, and so I decided to head back to the LEGO store and purchase another “Defense of Hoth” set to explore this possibility. Doing so, I discovered that it, too, was lacking the second facial option for the female solider.
Dumbfounded, I decided to go straight to the source. Sending a message to The LEGO Group, I inquired why I was now in possession of two “Defense of Hoth” sets that, while amplifying representation in one way, was lacking in this other, rather noticeable way. And as luck would have it, I received a response. This is what I was told:
You’re right — the rebel fighter minifigure doesn’t have a reversible head when both of her male colleagues do. We agree, it would have been better if she, too, had the range of expression given to the other minifigures included in this set. We asked one of the designers why this was the case, and they let us know that for sets with generic figures that don’t have storylines, like the rebel fighters here, they incorporate heads that are already available to them. Although this set has reversible head prints for the male fighters, it may be that in another set, there could be female figures with reversable heads and a male head that doesn’t have a reversible print. But your point on representation still stands.
We understand the importance of representation in our products, and we believe that our LEGO® sets are for all children. Our mission is to inspire the builders of tomorrow, and we want all children to feel inspired by our products. Feedback like yours helps us to be better at this.
Years ago, when I wrote my piece LEGO Star Wars: A Paucity of Female Minifigures, I was left unimpressed by the response to my question at that time about why there were so few women among the minifigures in Star Wars sets. This time, after contacting LEGO, I was left far more satisfied. I never anticipated that one of the designers would be consulted on this issue, and the response given by the designer was appreciated. Certainly, I can understand that the LEGO designers often utilize generic figures that are readily available, and that future sets could have the reverse issue, with female fighters having two faces and male counterparts with only one. Never-the-less, that my point on representation was affirmed is what is important. I am under no illusion that my message pointing out this discrepancy will case a tidal wave whereby generic minifigures are re-examined; however, that I was heard, that the importance of representation was acknowledged, and the information I provided was actually passed along to a designer, is most welcomed.
There is nothing truly remarkable about the design on the shirt (pictured above). For all intents and purposes, it is otherwise run-of-the-mill. The partial quote emblazoned in capital letters on is a recognizable one from Return of the Jedi: “I AM A JEDI LIKE MY FATHER.” Within the words, a LEGO version of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker from stands in a ready position with his green lightsaber ignited. Determination emblazoned on his face, this LEGO Luke is prepared to enter battle.
While I am conditioned by my life-long love of the franchise to notice Star Wars merchandise online and in-stores, I rarely linger on the products I find. On the one hand, I have more than enough Star Wars stuff, and on the other, many Star Wars products are pretty banal. Unless something really unique catches my eye, or I have a vested interest in a product, I typically “move along” rather quickly.
Yet, this t-shirt design, while not something I would buy for myself, never-the-less caught my attention. In fact, when I saw it, I found myself pondering what I was seeing. And the reason for this reaction was because in that moment I was looking at an image which fundamentally misrepresents Luke Skywalker when he states this quote in Return of the Jedi.
In my piece Luke Skywalker: A Farewell to Arms I dive into the moment Luke Skywalker delivers the quote, the moment he truly becomes a Jedi in Return of the Jedi. As Emperor Palpatine goads Luke to destroy and replace Darth Vader, the young man has a moment of clarity. The anger which propelled Luke to violence and saw him teetering on the precipice of the Dark Side is washed away by an awareness which comes to him before he delivers the killing blow. Recognizing how close to darkness he has come, he turns toward Palpatine, he throws his lightsaber away. It is only then, after this action, when he declares “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
The t-shirt design presents a far different accounting of this critical moment. While keeping part of the quote which signifies his elevation to Jedi Knight – I AM A JEDI LIKE MY FATHER – it instead couples Luke’s declaration with an image of Luke that does not fit the scene in Return of the Jedi. Notably, the design is actually closer to an image of Luke from earlier in the film when he is battling Jabba the Hutt’s gang on the sail barge. Were the quote left out of the design, and we were just given the image of a LEGO Luke that mirrors Luke’s sail barge stance, none of this would really matter. Never-the-less, the image of Luke within the quote serves as a reminder that Star Wars creators and fans alike are often willing and eager to undercut one of the most radically subversive moments in the Star Wars narrative.
Admittedly, this is hardly surprising. Star Wars in general and the Jedi in particular have, overtime, succumbed to the flashy excitement of lightsabers. It is how Jedi are understood, how they are defined, how they are recognized. A symptom, at least in part, of the choreographed lightsaber battles of the Prequel Trilogy that added more gravitas and intrigue through balletic acrobatics, the snap-hiss ignition and hypnotic twirling of blue and green blades has come to be the defining feature of the Jedi Order. The franchise consistently telegraphs that being a Jedi is having a lightsaber ignited and at the ready. It is hardly shocking, then, that a shirt design depicting Luke Skywalker, even a LEGO version, would show him with his green lightsaber at the ready and superimposed within his iconic statement declaring his status as a Jedi.
But while this may not be surprising or shocking, it is nonetheless disappointing because it forces me to wonder if some of the most profound lessons in Star Wars are being lost. Star Wars has rightly been described as a form of modern-day myth, and as such, myth always has something to say, something to teach. In Return of the Jedi, the Jedi “return” precisely because Luke recognizes his capacity to fall into darkness and stops himself from doing so. Turning off his lightsaber and tossing it aside is not just a rejection of that darkness, it is a rejection of violence more broadly. Luke heroically displays that we, too, can reject violence through similar actions in our own lives.
Of course, to some fans, the act of disarming himself may seem foolish as he turns and faces down a powerful Sith Lord. Wishing he would have fought the Emperor and/or deriding Luke for being defenseless misses the point, though. Luke chooses the path of non-violence, willing to face his adversary, the Emperor, without his lightsaber because Luke recognizes and offers a lessons that is exceedingly important, one that the Star Wars franchise seems to have forgotten over time: the “elegant weapon of a Jedi Knight,” the lightsaber, is irrelevant to being a Jedi. It is NOT what makes him a Jedi; it is not what makes anyone a Jedi. Rather, Luke can declare “I am a Jedi” because he possesses something far greater than a saber of light. He possesses the Light Side of the Force. Choosing to face his enemy with only the Force as his ally offers the clearest sign that the Jedi have returned. But don’t just take my word for it, take the Emperor’s. He is the one who has the final say on the matter in the moment, and I will likewise give him the final word here.
“I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” Luke declares, standing with poise after tossing aside his lightsaber. And to this, the Emperor responds with a contemptuous affirmation: “So be it, Jedi.”
Allow me to cut right to the chase: the guy with a white beard on Endor in Return of the Jedi is NOT Captain Rex. Period.
Honestly, I am not sure what else to say about this topic because, on the one hand, it is dumb, while on the other hand, it is dumb. Yeah, you heard me, it is dumb. I tend not to be this blunt when it comes to debates within the Star Wars fandom but on this topic, I have decided that blunt honesty is for the best.
Okay, let me give you some context just to make sure you and I are on the same page. A long time ago, after Captain Rex was re-introduced in Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels, some fans began to speculate that Rex was one of the strike team commandos in Return of the Jedi. The reason why people thought this? Because this older version of the clone captain had a white beard and, oh my gosh, so did one of the Rebel commandos!
A white beard, that was it, that was the connection. Clearly this superficial similarity must mean that the commando and Captain Rex were one-and-the-same! Except, another pretty obvious and glaring problem was hiding in plain sight with this “fan”-tastic theory. Nik Sant, the commando in question, was portrayed in Return of the Jedi by L. Burner who is white. Captain Rex is a clone trooper and his likeness as a clone is based Jango Fett who was portrayed in Attack of the Clones by Temuera Morrison, and he is not white, he is Māori.
Nik Sant, white guy. Captain Rex, not white guy.
Pretty easy and simple to figure out that they are not the same person. Except, for some reason, this “debate” about whether Captain Rex is in Return of the Jedi just loves to pop-up periodically with people teasing the idea that maybe, juuuuuust maybe, it actually is Captain Rex. But it isn’t because, again, Nik Sant is white, and Captain Rex is not white.
“But Imperial Talker, sir, you have to admit it is pretty wild that Nik Sant is an old guy with a white beard AND Captain Rex is also, around that same point in the Star Wars timeline, an old guy with a white beard.”
Yes, how incredible wild! It is as if more than one character in Star Wars can be a guy with a white beard, and not just any white beard, but an immaculately groomed beard.
Here, how about we compromise: rather than continuing to speculate (as this recent Screen Rant article does) about whether Captain Rex is or is not the guy with a white beard on Endor (he isn’t), we instead make it a canonical fact that both Rex and Nik Sant were best beard buddies. Hell, let’s imagine that Nik Sant, having met Captain Rex one day roaming the corridors of Home One, was convinced by his new clone friend to grow and groom his facial hair just like Rex. Thus, their beards can be canonically linked whilst ensuring that Nik Sant and Captain Rex are not only maintained as individual characters but, perhaps most importantly, two silver foxes kicking the shit out of the Empire.
Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. I shared my thoughts on The 10 Sexiest Males in Star Wars in my previous post and it seems only appropriate to present the females I behold as the sexiest in Star Wars as well. I hope you enjoy the list and do leave a comment if you feel so inclined to join the conversation.
10. The Pa’lowick Sy Snootles. This singer exudes sexy in her voice and her movements. How could anyone resist her? Ziro the Hutt certainly couldn’t. Neither can I.
9. The Geonosian Queen Karina the Great. This powerful hottie is surrounded by Geonosian males who do nothing but serve her every need. How lucky are they!?!?!
8. The Gossam Shu Mai, Presidente of the Commerce Guild. You know what’s sexy? Money! And Shu Mai has loads of it.
7. The Tauntaun Luke is riding in The Empire Strikes Back. “Steady girl. Hey, what’s the matter? You smell something,” Luke asks his mount. Yeah, she does smell something, my insatiable desire for her.
6. The Yam’rii Kitik Keed’kak. It was attraction at first sight when I saw this giant, skirt wearing praying mantis in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
5. The Dowutin Ninth Sister, an Imperial Inquisitor. Musicians are sexy. Power is sexy. Money is sexy. And you know what else is sexy? Having a sensitive side where you are good at reading emotions. I just think the Ninth Sister would really get me. Also, she is hot.
4. The Sarlacc. I have a secret desire to be subjected to pain and suffering so how could I resist letting this beautiful girl digest me for 1,000 years?
3. The Thala-siren Luke milks in The Last Jedi. The Greek hero Odysseus had to tie himself to the mast of his ship to resist the sirens on his Odyssey and me thinks he would have to do the same for this sexy siren. She is irresistible.
2. The planet Zonoma Sekot. No offense to Mother Earth but this Rogue Planet just does it for me. I know the Yuuzhan Vong would agree with me. I bet Rick Sanchez would too.
1. The Millennium Falcon. Han tells Luke that, “she may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts…” Damn right she does.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of attractive guys in Star Wars, and while there are a lot of lists out there identifying the sexiest male (and sexiest female) characters, there are no lists offered by me. So naturally, I decided I needed to get in on the action and offer my own two cents on the subject. I hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on the sexiest males in Star Wars.
10. The Toong podracer Ben Quadinaros. Athletes are sexy and Quadinaros is the hottest one in Star Wars.
9. The Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser. He should be called Poggle the Sexier because this dude is damn fine.
8. The Twi’lek Senator Orn Free Ta. How could I not put a Twi’lek on the list? The species is so hypersexualized that it would be crazy not to include one!
7. The Wampa. Admittedly, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars film so I am slightly biased here. But come on, look at those muscles!
6. The Shawda Ubb Rappertunie. There was no way I was leaving the Growdi Harmonique player off this listen because musicians are soooooooooo hot!
5. The Imperial Probe Droid. Again, totally biased here. “Probe” is literally in the name. Need I say more?
4. The Skakoan Wat Tambor, Foreman of the Techno Union. A greedy, corporate tycoon he might be, but Tambor has it where it counts: in his bank account.
3. The Parwan Derrown. Cad Bane once said Parwans, “…fill themselves up with some kind of gas and float around grabbing stuff with their tentacles.” And now I can’t stop thinking about all those tentacles and what they could be grabbing!
2. The Hutt Jabba Desilijic Tiure. Sure, he might be a crime boss, but Jabba the Hutt has his own palace and sail barge. A life of luxury with Jabba as my sugar daddy sounds pretty nice to me.
1. The Gungan Jar Jar Binks. Do I even need to justify this one? No, I don’t think I do.
Young Anakin Skywalker turns and runs back to his mother, telling her that “I just can’t do it mom.” Offered the chance to flee his life of slavery on Tatooine, to travel the galaxy and become a Jedi under the tutelage of Master Qui-Gon Jinn, the 9-year-old boy has a reasonable moment of doubt. He has only ever known this life with Shmi, his mother. As an audience we know very little of their life prior to meeting them in The Phantom Menace, only small bits that are often short on details. Anakin and Shmi used to be the property of Gardulla the Hutt and are now owned by the junk dealer Watto. Shmi has taught Anakin to care for others who are in need, and she says he has no greed. Anakin is the only human who can fly a podracer, having incredible reflexes that are uncommon for a human. We learn these and other facts, but they remain superficial, lacking any depth to better understand the trajectory of the life Shmi and Anakin have lived together. When Anakin says he does not want to leave, and his mother never-the-less insists “don’t look back,” we are otherwise lacking any meaningful understanding of what looking back truly means.
Except, there is one very important piece of information that we did learn that something that is stunning and adds incredible depth to both characters. At one point, Master Jinn enquires about the boy’s father, wondering who he was. To this, Shmi offers something startling. “There was no father,” she tells the Jedi Master, “I carried him [Anakin], I gave birth, I raised him, I can’t explain what happened.” In other words, Anakin is quite literally a miracle.
Qui-Gon Jinn takes this information and runs with it, taking a blood sample from Anakin that evening, a sample which confirms what he already suspected, that the boy has a unique and powerful relationship to the Force. Curiously, though, Qui-Gon takes no further interest in Shmi other than briefly wanting to free her from slavery along with Anakin, something he is unable to accomplish. Once Anakin is freed, with plans set in motion for the boy to join the Jedi, Qui-Gon will also ask Shmi if she will be alright, but this is a question that Shmi has little time to contemplate. Her son has been set free, he can now leave the arid sands of Tatooine for a better life, something she could not offer him.
It is unsurprising that Qui-Gon’s focus becomes freeing Anakin. Afterall, The Phantom Menace is a story about the discovery of Anakin, the “One who will bring balance to the Force,” and his first steps on the journey to becoming Darth Vader. The Star Wars saga which creator George Lucas crafted by adding the Prequel Trilogy is the story of Anakin Skywalker, of his fall to Darkness and his redemption, but this story is not possible without Anakin’s mother. She is the linchpin, the one character who was needed to establish his inevitable importance. All of the other characters, the events, the details, all of it could be different, could be changed for us to arrive at Anakin’s downfall. Shmi, however, is central to Anakin’s story. Even though she occupies a mere sliver in the great canon of Star Wars, she never-the-less plays one of the most critical roles.
Miraculous births are fundamental to establishing the importance of religious figures, and virgin births are incredibly common across a wide spectrum of religious traditions. Jesus is the most obvious and well-known example, born to the Virgin Mary, but he is not the only one. In one Aztec story, Quetzalcoatl was born to the virgin. A legend about the Muslim poet Kabir describes that he was born to a virgin Hindu. The list goes on and on (just google it). Thus, what Shmi describes to Qui-Gon Jinn follows this archetype, establishing Anakin’s special importance as a religious figure.
However, with Anakin as the focus of this miraculous information, Shmi becomes lost in the background. For a long time, I took Shmi for granted, never stopping to consider that her agency and voice in the matter is hidden behind the veil of Anakin’s importance. She could not explain what happened, we are but neither is she given the chance to explain whether she even wanted a child, not to mention any other reactions/emotions she felt when she learned a fetus was developing within her. As a man, I have no clue what it must feel like for a woman to discover that she is pregnant. I am incapable of understanding this experience, all I can do is listen and learn about what is undoubtedly a very personal and varied reaction from one woman to the next.
On this point, I am not suggesting George Lucas should have put words into Shmi’s mouth on this topic in The Phantom Menace. That could have just made things far more awkward. I do think, however, that Shmi Skywalker deserves to have her story told in a much more dynamic way that elevates her agency and voice regarding a pregnancy that was imposed on her, not chosen by her. We should not assume that just because Shmi could not “explain what happened” that this implies a passive acceptance of the pregnancy on her part. Instead, what she honestly tells Qui-Gon Jinn should be the jumping off point for a deeper dive into her lived experience, for this particular aspect of her story to be written by a woman or women in such a way that elevates her to the same level of importance as Anakin.
And that is the thing that I believe needs to be emphasized. Shmi Skywalker is just as important as Anakin precisely because she is, at the very least and in my opinion, an equal partner in the balancing of the Force. Like Anakin, Shmi Skywalker is also a miracle, she is the Divine Mother, and it is long past time that her story, her agency, and her voice are amplified.
Fiction’s Fearless Females is in its fourth year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself feature pieces by Nancy and Kathleen from Graphic Novelty2, Kalie from Just Dread-full, Michael from My Comic Relief. Be sure to follow each of these blogs and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:
I suppose at the outset I should acknowledge two points that are necessary before proceeding. The first is that this piece contains spoilers from The Book of Boba Fett. Not a lot of spoilers, just a handful of details that help me explain my thought process. Secondly, the more significant point, is that as a Star Wars fan I am genuinely frustrated that I am sitting here writing this piece. This feeling being the motivating factor, rather than beating around the bush building to the big “reveal” about why I am frustrated I will just get right to the point:
Years ago, I wrote a piece in which I explained that Rotta – a character introduced in The Clone Wars movie in 2008 – should take over his father’s nefarious enterprise. In that piece I offered some ideas regarding how Rotta could be utilized, and while I was under no illusion (I never am) that the storytellers at Disney/Lucasfilm would ever come across my posts and use my ideas, I never-the-less was hopeful that Rotta would, eventually, make a future appearance in Star Wars. Or, at the very least, I held out hope that we would find out in some small way, even in a passing statement hidden in a book, where Rotta is or even if he is still alive.
When The Book of Boba Fett was teased in the end credits scene following the season two finale of The Mandalorian my hopes for Rotta’s return were raised. In this short teaser we watch Boba Fett, accompanied by the assasin Fennec Shand, enter Jabba’s throne room and kill Bib Fortuna, the Twi’lek who served as Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo. “Finally,” I thought to myself as I watched this short scene unfold, “Star Wars will address, in some way, what happened to Rotta the Huttlet!” My hope, unfortunately, was misplaced.
I waited to write this post until I watched the finale of The Book of Boba Fett. I wanted to be fair to the show, to the storytellers who put their time and energy into telling Boba’s Fett’s tale once he establishes himself as the daimyo, the self-appointed ruler, of Jabba’s fiefdom. But it became apparent I would write this piece following a moment of exposition at the outset of the show’s third chapter.
Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa begins with Boba Fett seated on the throne listening as a droid describes the areas of Mos Espa, the local metropolis, which were under the protection of Jabba the Hutt. The droid explains that “after the sail barge disaster there was a power vacuum; Bib Fortuna assumed Jabba’s mantle.” The droid then goes on to offer how Fortuna ruled, acknowledging that the Twi’lek did not have the same power as his former Hutt employer.
Now, that Bib Fortuna placed himself on the throne following Jabba’s demise in Return of the Jedi is not entirely surprising even if it is odd that he somehow survived the destruction of the sail barge. It is reasonable enough to think that Jabba’s majordomo would step into the vacuum following the Hutt’s death, knowing as he would how the criminal empire was run. Yet, this only makes sense if we presume that Rotta the Huttlet is somehow out of the picture when Fortuna moves himself onto the throne. Basically, either Rotta needs to have died before the events of Return of the Jedi, he had to die in the sail barge explosion, or Fortuna would need to eliminate him from contention in some other way. Whatever the case may be, there has to be some accounting for Rotta’s absence.
I was hopeful The Book of Boba Fett would address this, that in acknowledging the obvious power vacuum after Jabba’s death there would be some type of explanation about what happened to Rotta. But when, in Chapter 3, the droid explains that Fortuna took over without mentioning Rotta I knew, right then, that this show would not account for Rotta the Huttlet. I wanted to be wrong but intuitively I knew I wouldn’t be. Never-the-less, as I said, I also felt that I needed to be fair to the creators of The Book of Boba Fett, allowing their story to play out, and doing so on the off-chance a reference to Rotta was dropped into the show.
I mentioned earlier in the piece that I have written about Rotta the Huttlet before and back then, just as now, I feel his absence from Star Wars is a massive problem. With a 7-part show dedicated to a new ruler on Jabba’s throne, The Book of Boba Fett was THE place for Star Wars to address, in some way, the fate of Rotta the Huttlet. But it didn’t, and as a result I am left to ask if the erasure of Rotta is intentional. I cannot help but wonder if the creative directors at Disney/Lucasfilm are choosing to ignore the Huttlet who helped introduce us to The Clone Wars animated series? Have they decided that he is just not worth consideration, that it is easier to skip over him because he is an inconvenience to the story they want to tell? Frankly, I don’t have the answer. At this point, I don’t know how to account for Rotta’s continued absence in Star Wars and to be entirely honest I am no longer hopeful his fate will ever be adequately addressed.
I do not want to belabor the point regarding Rotta’s erasure any further. Instead, I will offer my own form of positivity, a hopeful idea to salvage Rotta that the Disney/Lucasfilm creators will neither see nor use. But I offer it anyway because, for my own sanity, I would like to settle the issue. So here is the idea:
Rotta the Huttlet is still alive. He survived the sail barge disaster because he was not on the sail barge. He was captured by a criminal gang known as the Red Key following his father’s death, although the Red Key was unaware they had Jabba’s son. In turn, the Red Key planned to install the Huttlet as their puppet ruler of Mos Pelgo, aka Freetown, but were ultimately thwarted by the town’s new lawman, Cobb Vanth. Placed in the care of Malakili, the former Rancor keeper in Jabba’s palace, the orphaned baby was given the name Borgo. Perhaps Malakili knew he was now the guardian of Jabba’s son, recognizing the child from their time in the palace, or perhaps not. It does not matter. Rotta the Huttlet, the true heir to Jabba’s criminal empire, is alive and he is waiting for the day he can reclaim his rightful throne from the imposter daimyo Boba Fett.
In 25 ABY, Chewbacca died on Sernpidal when Dubido, the planet’s smallest moon, crashed into the world. Moments before his death, Chewbacca had heroically saved the life of Anakin, the youngest child of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo. Having been caught in high winds due to the impending disaster, Chewbacca sprang into action to save the teen, returning him to the Millennium Falcon. But more winds picked up, this time knocking Chewbacca away from the Falcon. With Anakin at the controls of the freighter, Solo stood on the ramp scanning the area, seeing his Wookiee friend in the distance. Anakin though, recognizing the peril they were in, made the difficult but necessary decision to pilot the Falcon away, leaving Chewbacca on the surface of Serndipal, howling in courageous defiance, as Dubido crashed into the planet.
Depicted in the 1999 novel The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore, the death of Chewbacca was the first major loss of a main character from the Original Trilogy films to take place in Star Wars. It was as shocking as it was unexpected, a heroic but tragic end for the beloved Wookiee. As an adolescent Star Wars fan, only 14-years-old at the time, it was difficult processing Chewbacca’s death. This was not because death was a foreign concept to me, or because I was naïve in thinking our heroes live forever. Rather, it was because his death felt like the loss of a close friend. Chewbacca may have been Han Solo’s loyal companion, but he felt like MY loyal companion as well, and the unexpected loss of the Wookiee left a hole that was, at the time, difficult to fill.
To the intensity of Chewbacca’s death was added the emotional turmoil it exacted on the other characters, particularly Han and Anakin. Almost immediately, even before the Falcon left the Serndipal system, Han blamed Anakin for the death of Chewbacca, a rift opening between the father and son. Anakin justified his decision, pleading that he had no choice, there was no way to save Chewbacca and escape the unfolding cataclysm. Plus, he would remind his dad, they had refugees from Serndipal on-board, they were responsible for these lives and had to get them out of harm’s way. Han was unconvinced, unable to process the pain of his dear friend’s demise, he would continue to lay blame at Anakin’s feet for the remainder of the novel, and while healing the rift between father and son would begin by books end, healing the inner turmoil each felt would not abate. In the next book in the series, Dark Tide I: Onslaught by Michael A. Stackpole, Anakin would continue to question his actions, convinced he had caused Chewbacca’s death. And Han, in his only appearance in the novel, is disheveled and obviously drunk, trying but failing to cope with the Wookiee-sized hole in his heart.
Shocked by his death I wished that Chewie would miraculously return. Yet, I also knew Chewbacca was not coming back from the dead even though he could and would still appear in stories prior to the cataclysm on Sernpidal. And appear he did in a unique form almost immediately. Published a couple months after Vector Prime was released, the Dark Horse comic series Star Wars: Chewbacca offered unique, in-universe tributes to the recently deceased Wookiee. These stories allowed the most memorable characters like Luke, Leia, and Han to reminisce and offer personal reflections on Chewbacca’s life. Likewise, those who did not feature in the Star Wars films, such as Chewie’s wife Mallatobuck, offer tales which expanded on the Wookiee’s exploits, further illuminating his already remarkable narrative.
While the Chewbacca comic series offered a moment for characters and fans to reminisce on Chewbacca’s life, the fact remained that he was gone. At least, that was the case until Disney wiped the slate clean, removing Vector Prime and the death of Chewbacca from the Star Wars canon. Relegating the Expanded Universe to the realm of “Legends” in 2014, Disney/Lucasfilm chose to resurrect Chewbacca with the introduction of a brand-new storyline. Admittedly, this was an unsurprising move on the part of “the House of Mouse,” one that was even understandable. With new films on the horizon in 2014, the powers-that-be needed to ensure that fans who only watched the Star Wars films did not need to play catch-up on the galaxy, reading and learning about events/characters spanning decades “in-universe.” Thus, if Chewbacca were to die once more it would be under different circumstances, which brings us to a rather jaw-dropping moment in The Rise of Skywalker.
The “Death” of Chewbacca
Having just been captured on the desert planet Pasaana by a couple Knights of Ren, Chewbacca is loaded onto a transport to be whisked off to a First Order Star Destroyer. But as the transport lifts off the ground, it is caught in the middle of a struggle of wills between Kylo Ren and Rey. Seeing the transport with Chewie moving away, Rey reaches out with the Force, stopping the vessel in mid-air. Kylo Ren also reaches out with the Force, attempting to snatch the transport away from Rey. Digging deeper and deeper into themselves and their connections to the Force, Rey suddenly taps into something hiding far beneath the surface: the Dark Side of the Force. Force-lightning shoots from her fingers, hitting the transport and killing all on-board, Chewbacca included.
The scene is stunning, a prime example of a “holy shit” moment that made my jaw drop. Not only has Rey, the heroine of the Sequel Trilogy, used the Dark Side, her action also results in the death of her friend, her co-pilot, and a beloved Star Wars character. The implications are far-reaching and gut-wrenching. Going forward, her other friends – Finn and Poe – must be exceedingly cautious around her, wondering if Rey will be set-off again, perhaps even killing them! Rey, too, must question the same, struggling with having killed Chewie and considering the threat she poses to the others. As an audience, we too must tread lightly with Rey, the death of Chewbacca serving as the beginning of her turn to the Dark Side of the Force, her premonition of sitting on the Sith throne, which she describes to Finn, now a very real possibility.
Except, none of that happens. Even though The Rise of Skywalker provides an unquestionable “holy shit” moment on par with other “holy shit” moments in the Star Wars franchise, the film goes out of its way to reassure us that Chewbacca is not dead. Exactly two minutes and six seconds after the electrified destruction of the transport we discover out that Chewbacca is now a prisoner on-board a First Order Star Destroyer. Although we initially saw Chewbacca being loaded onto a First Order transport, and we hear Finn emphatically declare that Chewbacca is on the transport which Rey in turn destroys, as an audience we get to breath a collective sigh of relief that our favorite Wookiee has not met his demise because he was, in fact, on a different transport.
Additionally, while the audience discovers right away that Chewbacca is alive, slightly more time will pass, fourteen minutes and nine seconds in film runtime, before Rey discovers that she did not kill her friend. When the aforementioned Star Destroyer arrives in orbit above Kijimi, the planet the Resistance heroes travel to following Pasaana, Rey will sense Chewbacca’s presence, knowing in that moment he is still alive. That Rey can sense him here and now and could not do so right after she “killed” him on Pasaana is a point the film conveniently ignores. Regardless, knowing that he is on the orbiting vessel, the group set out to free their friend, infiltrating the Destroyer and rescuing the Wookiee from his temporary First Order captivity. Although doing so will waste valuable time in their quest to save the galaxy, another point that is otherwise ignored, the rescue mission will end successfully, bringing Chewbacca’s non-death story-arc to its finale.
What begins as a “holy shit” moment in The Rise of Skywalker ends up being nothing more than a narrative bait-and-switch which happens at lightspeed. In all honesty I’m not sure why the movie so rapidly reassures us that Chewbacca is not dead, undercutting the shock of his death just as we begin to process it. It’s as if writer/director J.J. Abrams did not trust the audience to struggle with the emotional turmoil of Chewbacca’s loss, at least not for more than the two minutes and six seconds we believe he is gone.
Additionally, just as I fail understand why we were reassured of his survival so quickly, I likewise find it difficult to grasp why his death was not permanent. As I explained, his death would have added long-term ramifications to the narrative beyond the immediate shock value it provides. Moreover, Chewbacca should have stayed dead because after he is rescued, he has no real utility for the remainder of the film, being given very little and often peripheral screen-time. True, he does momentarily mourn Leia’s passing when he is told she has died, and at the end of the movie he is given a medal by Maz Kanata, an obvious call-back to the medal ceremony in A New Hope (I will address this topic in a separate post). Otherwise, after Chewbacca’s survival/rescue, he is really just along for the ride, offering little but his presence to the plot.
Perhaps most importantly, though, maintaining Chewbacca’s death would have served as a reminder to audiences that death is something we must all face, as terrifying as that may be. I certainly do not begrudge those who were relieved, like Rey, Finn and Poe, that Chewbacca survived in The Rise of Skywalker. I get it, I really do. It is hard to encounter death, especially the death of a beloved character. It can cut you to the core. And discovering they are still alive is a blessing and a huge relief. When Chewbacca became the first Original Trilogy character to die in the Expanded Universe it ripped my 14-year-old heart out. I was in disbelief that the Wookiee was no more, I wanted him to still be alive, but my disbelief and all of the accompanying emotions were necessary parts of the grieving process. I was in denial but, deep down, I knew, just like Han and Anakin did, that Chewbacca was no more. In this way, Chewbacca’s heroic but unexpected demise in Vector Prime reminded me, as I am sure it reminded so many other Star Wars fans at the time, that death, as Yoda would go on to say in Revenge of the Sith, is a natural part of life.
In her book A Short History of Myth, author Karen Armstrong notes that myth “is nearly always rooted in the experience of death and the fear of extinction.” We are, Armstrong points out, “meaning-seeking creatures,” and a great many of the myths we have told for millennia have attempted to find meaning in the reality of death. In this vein, Vector Prime and the stories of The New Jedi Order served then, and still serve today, as a continuation of the modern-day myth that Star Wars was always meant to be, forcing us in this particular case to confront and wrestle with what it means to be mortal. Chewbacca’s death in Vector Prime is a mirror in which we are meant to see ourselves, our fragility, our own extinction. Like Chewbacca, we cannot escape our finite existence, but what we can do is face it, face it with the same howling defiance of a mighty Wookiee.
I recently came across two Star Wars…articles?…on cbr.com that left me genuinely dumbfounded. One is titled “10 Characters Obi-Wan Never Interacts With” and the other is “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With.” As the titles both imply, each goes on to list a variety of characters in Star Wars whom Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, respectively, never encounter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely opposed to pointing the obvious at times, particularly when presented in relation to a genuine question such as “did Obi-Wan Kenobi interact with Watto in The Phantom Menace?” Given the relative proximity to one another in the same film, both being in/around Mos Espa at the same time, it is a worthwhile question that one may ask and that can easily be answered with a resolute “No” followed by a short description. That in and of itself is fine, I have no problem with that.
What is NOT worthwhile and is, in fact, a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time is a list of random Star Wars characters from across the spectrum of films that one can easily say “never interacted” with literally any character an author chooses. In the list of “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With” the author…no, sorry, the “lister”…states that another character who “didn’t get a chance to met [their typo, not mine] Darth Vader is Qi’ra from Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Well, yeah, of course they didn’t “met” because Darth Vader isn’t even in the damn film and it is the ONLY film Qi’ra appears in. So why even put Qi’ra in the list!?!?!
Maybe if the lists were more focused, more directed towards a single Star Wars film that considered the major/minor characters Obi-Wan or Vader, respectively, never cross paths with, maybe that could be worthwhile. Perhaps then such a list could then be beneficial, at least adding something semi-interesting to a conversation about Star Wars. But that is not what these lists are for. No, the randomness of the lists belie their true purpose: both are just mundane filler with “Star Wars” in the title for another run-of-the-mill comic book site.
And so, to highlight how utterly pointless such drivel is I happily and annoyingly present to you “10 Characters Dathcha Never Interacts With.” Feel free to skip the list and go do something else. Like, literally anything else. You do not have to keep reading because nothing I present below will be worth your time. That is, unless, you are a fan of really bad jokes.
10/10 Dathcha Never Interacts with Director Orson Krennic
Why the hell would they interact? Dathcha is the Jawa who shoots R2-D2 on Tatooine in A New Hope while Orson Krennic is the Imperial Director of Advanced Weapons Research in Rogue One.
9/10 Wat Tambor and Dathcha Don’t Met One Another
Of course they don’t met! Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and Wat Tambor he is the Skakoan leader of the Techno Union who signs Count Dooku’s treaty in Attack of the Clones. Wait, did the Jawas also sign the treaty? I’ll be back, I need to go suffer through the bad CGI and bland dialogue in Attack of the Clones to find out if Dathcha was one of the original Separatist leaders.
8/10 We never see Dathcha with Princess Leia
Now, let’s be clear…and this is REALLY important… both ARE in A New Hope. But no, they never cross paths, probably because Leia never actually goes Tatooine in the film. She just sends R2-D2 instead.
But hey, I guess that is something, right!?! Like, wow, Character A (Leia) interacts with Character B (R2-D2) who then interacts with Character C (Dathcha). That is wild! So Character A never meets Character C, but they have a connection through Character B!!!! Does that ever happen in other stories?
7/10 Dathcha and General Hux Don’t Have Team-Up to Solve Crimes
I was hoping to find a connection here but to no avail. This is probably because Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and General Hux is a First Order officer who appears in the Sequel Trilogy. But I do think it is worth Lucasfilm giving these two a series on Disney+ where they team-up and solve crimes. It could be called “Jawa and First Order.” Give it a second and you’ll get the joke. Or not. Whatever.
6/10 Ahsoka Tano and Dathcha Haven’t Interacted…
…although, I have to be honest, they may have at this point. I don’t really know because I can’t keep track of Ahsoka Tano anymore. She seems to be everywhere in Star Wars all at once so at this point she and Dathcha could be best friends.
5/10 Dathcha and Darth Sidious Never Discuss the Dark Side of the Force
This one is just so obvious I’m not even gonna write anything else. Moving on…
4/10 Millard Fillmore and DathchaNever Interact
Last I knew, the 13th President of the United States was not in A New Hope. Then again, maybe he was thrown into the film in one of the special editions of the Original Trilogy. I will have to go back and look more closely because maybe, just maybe, President Fillmore and Dathcha do interact and I have missed it. I will update this if I find anything…
3/10 Dathcha Doesn’t Fly with Gold Leader in the Battle of Yavin
Unfortunately, our brown robed Jawa friend never has the privilege of joining Jon Vander, aka Gold Leader, in the final battle of A New Hope. But it is a neat thought, right? Like, what IF Dathcha somehow survived the faux Tusken slaughter, stowed away on the Millennium Falcon, made his way to Yavin and jumped in the Y-Wing with Gold Leader!?! That would have made for an amazing and completely unnecessary Star Wars twist!
Actually, come to think of it, that might already be one of the short stories in “From a Certain Point of View.” I wouldn’t know, though, because I never read the anthology.
2/10 Datcha Didn’t Participate in the Immaculate Reception
Dathcha was not playing for either the Oakland Raiders or Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs. So there was really no way for him to be part of one of the greatest plays in American Football history. Although I wonder if George Lucas was watching and the play inspired him to create the Jawas! Now that is a really REALLY dumb thought but I am gonna hold out hope that it might be true.
1/10 Finally, Dathcha never interacts with Obi-Wan Kenobi OR Darth Vader…
…OR DOES HE!?!?!?!
No, no he doesn’t.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! If you made it this far I hope you enjoyed what you read and do be sure to check back in for my next post: 10 Star Wars Characters the Rancor Never Eats
Seeking a refuge for healing and peaceful contemplation, Jedi Knight Nomi Sunrider returns to the planet Ambria and the dwelling of Master Thon, her former Jedi Master. Traveling with Sunrider is her beloved 4-year-old daughter Vima and fellow Jedi Knight Sylvar who, like Nomi, seeks the peace and wisdom which Master Thon can offer. The joyful reunion with Master Thon is brief, however, disrupted by the sudden ambush of reptilian creatures swelling with the Dark Side of the Force and controlled by Sith assassins. Commanded to destroy Master Thon and his company, the Sith-controlled creatures surround the Jedi and launch their assault.
Found in the fourth issue of Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War, a Dark Horse Comics series published in the 1990s which details stories of the Jedi living thousands of years prior to A New Hope, the vicious attack by these dark side creatures was emblazoned in my mind as a ten-year-old Star Wars fan, the deadly battle masterfully captured in a single image. The muscular reptiles tower above the Jedi , mouths baring sharp teeth and yellow eyes manifesting the evil driving them. In the background, Oss Willum – a Jedi being mind-controlled by a nefarious Sith spirit – commands the attack from high ground while his accomplice Crado, an acolyte of Sith Lord Exar Kun, stands closer to the fray. At the edge of the battle the Jedi Sylvar slashes at a creature with her yellow lightsaber while closer to the center Master Thon grabs one of the reptiles by the neck, pushing it away with his own muscular arm.
It is Nomi Sunrider who truly stands out, though; she is the reason this image is so unforgettable. Resolve and grit etched on her face as she braces for an attack, Sunrider holds her right arm in front of her, lightsaber in a guard position, the blue blade extending across her body horizontally. In her left arm Nomi clutches her daughter Vima, the child clinging to her mother in fear of the reptilian attackers.
Today, the power on display in this image, what it conveys about Nomi Sunrider, is apparent to me in a way I could not fully appreciate as a young Star Wars fan. Back then, I was enamored by the battle itself, the action being my focus above and beyond any subtle metaphors a picture meant to convey. Yet, this image of Sunrider stuck with me, it captured my imagination in a way other moments in Star Wars comic books did not. Why that is I cannot say. The simple fact is that the image never left my memory, and as a result, I have always had a fondness for Nomi Sunrider. For that I am incredibly grateful because when my interest in Star Wars shifted away from the “Wars” as I got older, when I began to experience the deeper layers of characters and events, my understanding and appreciation for Nomi Sunrider fundamentally shifted.
Sunrider’s story in Tales of the Jedi is rich and complex, with moments of incredible joy and devastating heartache. Through it all one thing remains a constant: her love for Vima. As a young Star Wars fan I could not fully appreciate the power in this image, or Sunrider’s story more fully, because at that time I could only see Nomi Sunrider as a Jedi Knight. I was obsessed with the Jedi, trapped in the belief, like Luke Skywalker, that the Jedi were great because they were warriors. In a sense, the glow of Sunrider’s lightsaber in the image blinded me to the deeper and far more important meaning being conveyed. I could not see back then as I do now that that the brave determination embedded on Nomi Sunrider’s face and reflected in her defensive stance is not that of a Jedi alone. No, it is more significantly that of a mother protecting her frightened young child.
Nomi Sunrider is the very best of the Jedi Order in Tales of the Jedi, a living symbol of Light Side of the Force which the Order serves. But her devotion to the Light Side cannot and must never be disconnected from her devotion to her daughter. Nomi Sunrider’s fearless love for the Light Side of the Force is fundamentally grounded in her motherhood, in the unconditional love she has for Vima. And that is exactly what is reflected in this singular image.
Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s third year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief, and Green Onion of Green Onion Revival Project. Be sure to follow each of these blogs and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links: