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« Star Wars: October 2016 | Main

Star Wars

Minor characters in Star Wars

Min's main complaint about Rogue One is that a lot of the characters didn't get developed, so i thought this from Tegan O'Neil was interesting (i'm quoting liberally from a much longer piece about various sub-topics, but click and read it all).

The toys weren't secondary to Star Wars, the toys weren't a spin-off - the toys may even be Star Wars at its most primal. The movies? They last a couple hours. But the toys carry a promise of something more. ...to really understand what I'm saying you need to find someone like Hammerhead. Hold him in your hand for a moment. Here's a character who appears onscreen in the original Star Wars for literally a second, says nothing, does nothing, just sits there and looks interesting for less time than it takes for the viewer to register what they're seeing. And yet he rates a 3 3/4" toy, a tiny plastic icon representing a character without even a name.

Now, of course, you can easily learn that Hammerhead's real name is Momaw Nadon, and he is a native of the planet Ithor. But that doesn't matter. Kids in 1978 didn't know that, they just knew that he was one of the coolest looking aliens in the film. Because he didn't do anything onscreen, that meant his story was yet to be told. But you could tell that story, you could tell any story you wanted, because that was Star Wars. You always want the camera to linger on details for a little longer than it does, but it's always gone, moving on to the next bit of the plot - everything else on the margins is left for you to figure out on your own.

After the Expanded Universe officially began in the early 90s, every secondary, tertiary, and quaternary character in the series got a backstory... Maybe it's still canon, maybe it isn't. It doesn't matter. What matters is that thousands of kids in 1978 bought that toy and built entire mythologies just around that one guy, and they were all a thousand times more engaging and interesting than anything a professional writer could ever come up with, because that's how being a kid works.

Rogue One gets that. Star Wars is a place where not only can any passing character in a movie have an interesting backstory, but you know they do. Maybe it hasn't been written yet. Maybe he'll get his own spin-off novel. Doesn't matter. Characters in Star Wars are always introduced as if they have just concluded the greatest adventure of their lives, and are just chilling in the downtime while waiting for their next adventure to start. You don't know what Han Solo was doing in Mos Eisley before being approached by Obi-Wan, but you're sure it was interesting...

A good Star Wars story, then, is one that expands on everything you've seen before while always implying the existence of even more awesome stuff just around the corner. Of course the spies and guerillas who stole the Death Star plans have their own backstory. The first time you see Baze and Chirrut onscreen, you want to know everything about those guys. Gay warrior monks in space? Sign me up. Of course, you learn nothing about them in the movie itself. Everything you need to know about them is right there on the screen. One day someone will write stories about Baze and Chirrut - hell, someone is probably doing so right now. And if they're any good - that is, if they're Proper Star Wars - it will only leave you wanting more.

I doubt this will appease Min. Baze and Chirrut occupy a space that is larger than Hammerhead if smaller than Han Solo, so i'm not sure if the "they're not supposed to be developed" explanation holds. But i was surprised to see someone addressing Min's complaint at all.




min: Ok, mebbe it's that i'm getting old and can't pay attention long enough to remember shit, but Baze and Chirrut were so not developed, i don't even know who the fuck Baze and Chirrut are! I don't know who any of the actual main Rogue One characters are. Zero recollection of their names. I just know "chick who was in Northanger Abbey", Donnie Yen, "Donnie Yen's friend", "pilot guy", and "Rebellion guy".

Evidence for the "i'm old" explanation - i couldn't for the life of me remember Kylo Ren's name from Force Awakens. I just started referring to him as "Ra's al Ghul" when talking to people because my brain couldn't be bothered to create a new subfolder for this character.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2017, 12:52 PM | Star Wars | Link



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