Friday, December 11, 2015

The Wild World of 'Star Wars' Aliens


By Brandon Engel - As soon as any fan of Star Wars hears the jazzy theme from the Mos Eisley Cantina, only one thing comes to mind: aliens. From sketches in a concept artist's notebook to the screen, the aliens of Star Wars have made a lasting impression on generations of science fiction fans. With the impending release of The Force Awakens, it’s a great time to take a look back at some memorable aliens from the series.

Wookiees

Audiences were first introduced to Wookiees with the mighty Chewbacca, Han Solo's copilot and everyone's best friend. The idea of the Wookiee co-pilot stems from George Lucas' memories of driving with his malamute Indiana in the passenger seat. Certain fans might remember the appearance of Chewbacca's family in 1978's Star Wars Holiday Special, including his father Itchy, wife Malla, and son Lumpy.

Ewoks

Before there was Jar Jar Binks, Ewoks tore the community apart. When it was decided that Wookiees would not be the primitive aliens used in Return of the Jedi to overthrow the Empire, the Ewoks were born - in fact, the name "Ewok" comes from a shuffling of the sounds of the word "Wookiee." Two movies and a cartoon series were spun off from these vicious little teddy bears.

Gungans

Gungans are perhaps the most notorious of the alien species of the prequels, represented by the character Jar Jar Binks from Episode I: The Phantom Menace. From the planet of Naboo, Gungans were known for their development of advanced technology and their underwater cities. Named for George Lucas' young son's name for trucks, the amphibious aliens were designed to look like hadrosaur dinosaurs.

Zabraks

First seen in the prequels, these humanoids are currently undergoing a schism. Darth Maul from Episode I: The Phantom Menace was originally a Zabrak. But in season three of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it was revealed that he and his brother were actually Nightbrothers from the planet Dathomir. What matters is that you can still play as a Zabrak in many current Star Wars games including the recently released Battlefront.

Twi'leks

These brightly colored aliens are notable for having what look like a pair of leggings on the back of their heads. In the expanded universe, these head-tails are used for communication. From heroic Jedi Aayla Secura to Jabba the Hutt's villainous majordomo Bib Fortuna, these aliens are a vital and vivid part of the Star Wars universe. A spin-off Star Wars series, Star Wars Rebels (channel details here), also feature a Twi’lek named Hera Syndulla, who is the owner and pilot of the Ghost.

Hutts

Gigantic and sluglike, Hutts are not the friendliest people to be around. The Hutt Clan was probably the most well-known and powerful crime families in the galaxy and ruled over systems known as Hutt Space. Jabba is the most famous of these aliens, though enslaving Leia and keeping Han captive in Return of the Jedi did not endear him to anyone. In The Clone Wars, he was given a son and a cousin. Little Rotta has not been seen since, and Ziro the Hutt, equally evil crime lord, was killed after double-crossing Jabba.

Yoda's species

Yoda's species remains a mystery but that isn’t to say he isn’t worth noting. Although small in size, Yoda was a legendary Jedi Master who has trained almost all the Jedi in the Order for over 800 years. Another of his species was seen in the films - a female named Yaddle in The Phantom Menace, who was on the Jedi council. However, despite occasional appearances in games and books there has never been a name given to these tiny aliens and perhaps we will never know what they are called.

These aliens and even more species can be found throughout the Star Wars films as well as the Star Wars expanded universe, including comic books, games, shows, and more. And when The Force Awakens is released, perhaps we'll see some familiar extraterrestrials as well as some new ones. One thing is for sure, this empire is sure not to fail in giving its fans incredible diversity in characters of all alien races.

Ultimate Star Wars

Star Wars: The Jedi Path and Book of Sith Deluxe Box Set

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]



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