With more and more information slowly leaking out about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there are plenty of things that have us excited about Episode VIII coming out this December. But not everything is coming up roses for Star Wars and Disney, as some across the internet have begun to show concern about one aspect of the movie: the Porgs. The adorable little creatures, seemingly a cross between a penguin and a puffin, were recently featured in a Star Wars sneak peak in Entertainment Weekly.
Maybe the angst will be all for nothing, with the little guys playing a minor role in the movie. But you can’t blame fans for being a bit nervous, given the franchise’s history with characters meant to do nothing but draw in kids and sell toys. Sometimes it works — nobody complained about BB-8, for example — but when it’s bad, it’s so bad.
Sure, the Porgs look pretty darn cute. But there’s a strong possibility that Disney and The Last Jedi could be making a big mistake. We looked back at a few examples from the previous films.
Jar Jar Binks
We decided to start out with the biggest and most obvious blunder: Jar Jar Binks. George Lucas had full creative control over Star Wars at the time that he wrote the prequels, with few others in his ear telling him “no” on certain ideas. That’s how we ended up with Jar Jar, the uncoordinated, nonsense-talking Gungan from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Among the many problems with the film, Jar Jar was the most egregious, ranging anywhere from annoying to somewhat racist.
Fans were absolutely outraged over the character, trashing The Phantom Menace on the internet for being such a massive letdown following the 16-year wait between Star Wars movies. Lucas heard the complaints, for what it’s worth, cutting Jar Jar down to just a handful of lines in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and not even having him speak in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
The battle droids
In the original films, the Empire sports an army of storm troopers in white battle armor and helmets. They’re faceless drones that rarely speak — set up that way intentionally so that the audience would feel little, if any, emotion toward them when our heroes shot them with lasers. But going back to the prequels, Lucas changed the format to using battle droids as the bad guys.
In general, that’s somewhat fine. But the CGI droids talked in a funny, robotic voice and said weird little catch phrases like “roger roger.” Outside of being pretty annoying, the battle droids brought up a pretty serious ethical question: If an army made up entirely of blaster-wielding droids was feasible, why did the Empire use real people as soldiers?
It’s simply another swing and a miss.
It was pretty cool that Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams found a role in his movie for actor and Star Wars fan, Simon Pegg — known for the cult comedy classic, Shaun of the Dead. But fans were often left wondering just where Pegg was throughout the film until they saw the credits: Unkar Plutt. Wait, that giant, ugly junk dealer was Pegg?
There is a deleted scene that fans can find on the internet where Plutt, angry that Rey and Finn stole the Millennium Falcon from his possession, tracks the two down and ends up having his arm ripped out of its socket by Chewbacca. Considering the subject material, the scene ended up being cut. Without the closure, we’re left with nothing but a hard-to-look-at slob that speaks in a deep voice and stands behind a screen. Oh, and he was also Simon Pegg inside a suit.
Going back to The Phantom Menace, we have yet another Gungan. Boss Nass, the leader of the green, water-dwelling people of Naboo, was voiced by renowned British actor Brian Blessed. Like Jar Jar, Nass was a funny talker that also liked to shake around his chubby cheeks and make silly noises. What was the purpose of this? Can you imagine what actors such as Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Samuel L. Jackson were thinking when they saw the final cut?
Other than looking back and realizing that Nass has a striking similarity to Donald Trump, there is not much redeeming about this character. He only appears in Revenge of the Sith for a brief moment at the very end, without saying a single word. The misuse of Blessed’s talents is bad enough, but this character — and seriously, the Trump comparisons are hilarious — was a massive mistake.
Salacious B. Crumb
Most fans probably don’t even know this name. It takes the ultimate die-hard Star Wars fan to know who Salacious B. Crumb is. Remember the annoying little jackal that hung by Jabba the Hutt’s side in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi? That’s Crumb. He liked to laugh, make squeaky noises, and attack C-3PO’s eye on Jabba’s sail barge. Fortunately, he died when the barge was blown up by Luke Skywalker.
It’s not as if Jabba the Hutt wasn’t a vile enough character. On his own, the obese slug-like creature was sleazy, slimy, and all-around disgusting. He didn’t need this irritating little guy next to him. But because Return of the Jedi is part of the original trilogy, most fans look past this character as a major mistake made in the franchise. He is only around for the first third of the movie, doesn’t play a major role, or even have a name that is said on-screen. Still, we could’ve done without him.
Finding out that Anakin Skywalker’s beginnings were as a slave on Tatooine was bad enough for some fans. It’s hard to picture Darth Vader, the most feared villain in the entire galaxy, being forced into slavery as a child. But Watto, the Toydarian junk dealer that owned Skywalker and his mother, was one step over the line. While the pain that was Jar Jar Binks took center stage in The Phantom Menace, Watto was just as obviously racist.
With his long, hooked nose and clearly Middle Eastern accent, the image was enough. The fact that he was a greedy little man, obsessed with gambling and owning slaves as his property, took it a step further. Then, in Attack of the Clones, Watto made a brief appearance sporting a little black hat and a beard. That’s right, Lucas decided that it wasn’t clear enough that Watto was supposed to be an offensive Jewish stereotype.
There is some division on the topic, considering that Return of the Jedi is held in such high esteem by Star Wars fans, but the Ewoks were terrible. Fans of a certain age will argue that they were essential to the plot of the movie, and that is true in many ways. But the same argument could be made for Jar Jar Binks, who was both a terrible character and intertwined in the plot of the prequels — so much so that some maintain that he was very responsible for the rise of the Empire.
The Ewoks were cute, cuddly, teddy bears that spoke a weird language and worshiped C-3PO as a god. It was fun, right? Lucas knew by the time that Return of the Jedi came around that Star Wars was a cash cow, and he had full rights over merchandising. So what was the best way to make money? Sell lots of toys and products. Who likes to buy toys and products relating to space adventures? Kids. Who likes teddy bears? You get the point.
Nostalgia tells us that the Ewoks are fine, but in reality they were just a well-constructed plan for Lucas to squeeze more money out of the franchise. The same could be said for a lot of the characters on this list — not to mention the fact that practically every movie featured a stormtrooper with some slightly different trait.
Star Wars will always find a way to make money, even if it means forcing Porgs on the fans.
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