When Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out in 2017, much was made of the little bird-like creatures called Porgs that were all over the island where Luke Skywalker was living. People assumed those were made mainly to sell toys. It turns out they assumed wrong.
That’s just one of many facts about that movie that some might say is leading to a re-evaluation of it. Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga faced all kinds of vitriol when it came out, but especially after the release of The Rise of Skywalker, opinions of the movie seems to have softened.
What are porgs?
The official definition on the Star Wars site is actually pretty simple – maybe a little too simple. All the entry says about them is “Small, flat-muzzled avians that flock about the rocks and roost in the cliffs of Luke Skywalker’s secluded island, porgs are inquisitive creatures.”
The Wookieepedia fan site goes into much more detail, saying they evolved from seabirds on Ahc-To — the planet to which Luke had fled. With Luke on the island, their curiosity got the better of them when they realized Luke’s lightsaber was not be to trifled with. Chewbacca cooked some for dinner, but after the porgs looked at him with sad eyes that put cats to shame, Chewie took pity on the creatures and tolerated them when they stowed away on the Millennium Falcon.
At some point, porgs were imported to the planet Batuu and sold as pets in the Creature Stall at Black Spire Outpost. This explains why you can buy a porg at the Galaxy’s Edge lands at the Disney Parks. Never let it be said that Disney can’t give merchandising a backstory.
What were porgs really for?
It was not unreasonable to believe that the Porgs were in the movie mainly to sell toys. Some fans thought it was the Ewoks all over again, as those love-them-or-hate-them creatures improbably helped to bring down the Empire in Return of the Jedi. However, according to a Fansided article, the porgs were a solution to a problem.
Remember the Tribbles from Star Trek that first appeared in the original series? Those were the little balls of fur that bred like crazy and appeared everywhere around the Enterprise.
The makers of The Last Jedi found a similar problem on the island off the coast of Ireland. That island had a lot of creatures called Puffins, birds that were everywhere around the island. It would have been impossible even for Industrial Light and Magic to CGI them out, so Porgs were created as a way to fold the creatures into the story.
On Reddit, one fan said: “I love this factoid because when I saw TLJ, the minute I saw a porg fly exactly like a football with wings, I went ‘it looks like a puffin!’ And then I learned they are puffins. Seriously if you’ve never seen a puffin fly, check it out. Little football birbs nyooming around.”
Has time been kind to ‘The Last Jedi?’
When The Last Jedi came out, some fans savaged it for not living up to their expectations and not confirming their fan theories, particularly relating to Rey’s parentage. YouTube videos called it a “complete cinematic failure.” petitions were started to declare the film non-canon, and writer director Rian Johnson received death threats.
Two things happened last year that seemed to have improved The Last Jedi’s fortunes. The Rise of Skywalker came out, as did Johnson’s follow-up movie, the murder mystery Knives Out.
Knives Out was well-liked and turned into such a hit that there are plans to make more movies with Daniel Craig’s detective character. On the other hand, The Rise of Skywalker became the least financially successful of the sequel trilogy, it got the lowest Cinemascore of any Star Wars live action movie, and it also prompted videos calling it a “complete cinematic failure.”
To be sure, hatred for The Last Jedi has not gone away, but Marvel fans have suggested Johnson could make an Avengers movie, and they didn’t get a lot of pushback for it. That will almost certainly not happen, since Johnson is concentrating on continuing Knives Out. He has shown more than once he knows how to turn a pesky problem into a plus.