(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

It’s hard to overestimate how excited the world was to meet BB-8, way back in the day when the new Star Wars trilogy still offered an undiluted fountain of potential and optimism. We didn’t know what story was coming our way, we didn’t know who any of these new characters were, we certainly did not suspect the whole thing would end with Rey fighting her grandfather, Emperor Palpatine. We basically just knew that they were happening. In those early days, that was still pretty exciting.

Then we met BB-8, and everyone flipped out even more. And with good reason, regardless of how everything turned out, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect reassurance that Star Wars was going to be in good hands. BB-8 had everything. It was cute and it didn’t just match the Star Wars aesthetic – it felt like a natural evolution of that world.

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

It’s amazing how brilliant George Lucas’ prequel story appears on paper, versus how little of that particularly brilliance comes through when watching the actual prequel films. The films have their fans for sure, but it’s truly difficult to imagine viewers getting emotionally caught up in the tragedy of young Anakin Skywalker and the fall of a republic as told in those three movies. Obi-Wan’s disappointment in his former Padawan is about the only emotional resonance I’ve ever felt when watching Revenge of the Sith.

But the story is deeply tragic, and a lot of Star Wars media since the prequels has been smart enough to repackage it in a way that does heighten the drama of what Lucas put together. The later Clone Wars episodes get into this in a big way, but really that entire show exists under the shadow of events we know must come to pass. The more we fall for these characters in their animated form, the more we dread their fates. The show can at any moment deliver unadulterated adventure, humor and whimsy, but always within the context of eventual tragedy.

Clone Wars is far from the only source exploiting this general story. The 2019 video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order also takes the events of Revenge of the Sith as a contextual starting point. Though it takes place five years later, the game’s major figures offer a collection of individual stories tied to the dreaded Order 66 and fall of the Jedi. Obviously, this is true of the game’s main character, young Padawan Cal Kestis. But by far the game’s most interesting figure comes in the form of disgraced Jedi Cere Junda.

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Kallus in Star Wars Rebels

(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

With all the acclaim given to Star Wars: The Clone Wars in recent years, it can be easy to overlook Dave Filoni’s other great animated Star Wars show, Star Wars Rebels. That makes some sense. For one, Rebels lacks the immediate proximity to a Star Wars property enjoyed by Clone Wars. While some familiar faces do appear, the show’s central cast is mostly populated with new characters. Many of the Rebels characters who are familiar originated in the earlier show, implying its higher importance. Furthermore, Clone Wars recently got a big injection of relevance by debuting a brand new (and final) season, which will also spin-off into another series, The Bad Batch, in the future. When one chooses which Star Wars animated show to jump into, Clone Wars seems an obvious choice.

Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to skip Rebels altogether. Not only does it continue some of Clone Wars’ best storylines in totally satisfying ways, it also developed its own great inner-mythology as well. Just look at the arc of Alexsandr Kallus, voiced by the great David Oyelowo.

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DJ in The Last Jedi

(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

Great news! This article does not intend to re-litigate Star Wars: The Last Jedi. No one needs that in their lives at the moment, and my views on the film are too down-the-middle to please anyone anyway. Instead, we’re here to take a closer look at one of its stand-out characters, DJ – a gloriously strange character played by the gloriously strange Benicio del Toro.

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

The Star Wars prequels truly offer an impressive avalanche of ideas and top-notch design work – they just don’t have the time to do a satisfactory dive into hardly any of it. Instead we’re teased with the existence of Kamino or Aura Sing or that cool glowing orb they hoist at the end of The Phantom Menace. It’s up to comics, video games, books and other Star Wars extensions to really explore it all.

And that’s fine. Star Wars has always been this way. Sometimes, however, an interesting thing happens where the offscreen evolution of a character grows too complex to match the version in George Lucas’ mind, and going back to rewatch the original iteration feels a bit jarring. Typically, the evolution results in a net positive all-around. Darth Maul is super cool in The Phantom Menace and only gets better the more you learn about his Clone Wars and Rebels adventures.

This is not, however, the case with Kit Fisto.

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

Things move fast these days, and the season finale of The Mandalorian already feels like old news, despite only arriving a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, not everything that happened has been talked to death yet. Luke Skywalker? Yes. The Book of Boba Fett speculation? Yes. The death of Bib Fortuna? Not as much. Time to fix that!

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

A year from now, we will all be arguing passionately about The Book of Boba Fett, the surprise new Star Wars show set to arrive in December 2021. Given The Mandalorian’s excited willingness to bring animated Star Wars characters into the live-action realm, and given the character’s bounty hunter profession and personal past with Boba Fett, it feels like a certainty we will see Cad Bane on the show (obviously this is mere speculation and not an actual certainty). The whole thing is just too juicy for Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni to pass up.

But wait, who the heck is Cad Bane?

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

You can already tell the Disney Star Wars era will go down in history for some specific things. One will be a massive increase in content for sure. Another will be a slow takeover by Clone Wars and Rebels mythos. Somewhere on the list, however, needs to be an acknowledgment of the great improvement Star Wars droids have undergone in these new offerings. 

Save for BB-8, you probably don’t remember any of their names. Nevertheless, the Disney-era droids tend to be among the most exciting elements of a new Star Wars film or TV show. I’m not sure what unique characteristics I would assign to Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso or Bodhi Rook, yet I could talk all day about K-2SO, IG-11 or the subject of this article: L3-37. Both in writing and performance, these droids tend to outshine their human co-stars. It’s just a shame that they are almost all dead as a doornail. Or something worse, in L3-37’s case.

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

Imagine it’s 1983. A few years prior, you left the Star Wars galaxy with a couple doozies to consider. Not only did audiences learn Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father, but their favorite rogue and smuggler, Han Solo, ended that film frozen in carbonate and captured by the bounty hunter Boba Fett. For those of us who are a bit younger, it’s hard to imagine how torturous and exciting those three years between films were for Star Wars fans, the galaxies of possibilities they conjured for what Return of the Jedi had in store for them. And then the film arrived and spent a significant amount of running time… finally ending The Empire Strikes Back.

What Return of the Jedi lacks in storytelling, it more than makes up for when it comes to new characters. Before we even get to the Ewoks, Jabba’s barge is a fascinating place to hang out, filled with all kinds of new Star Wars weirdos to ogle, including Jabba himself. If you just have to spend an hour-long story layover somewhere, you could do a lot worse.

Among all the new creatures, Jabba’s Palace hosts one of Star Wars’ most pleasantly obnoxious aliens: Salacious B. Crumb. The B stands for bastard.

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(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)

It doesn’t take much for a Star Wars character to become iconic. It helps if they do something cool, but looking extra good will do the trick as well. Just consider Boba Fett. Yes, he is a tough bounty hunter, but we’re not currently watching the second season of a show about Bossk. It’s all about that incredible mask. The Star Wars machine is great at taking a small primary nugget and drawing it out into an entire universe of backstory. To a certain extent that even includes the aforementioned Bossk!

JJ Abrams and his team made many attempts to bring new, exciting elements like this to The Rise of Skywalker. By far, the most successful was a little adorable alien guy named Babu Frik. We know he’s called Babu Frik because characters say his name a lot. They say his name a lot because it was likely clear on set they had something special. They probably knew they had something special because Babu Frik is a practical character, puppeteered and voiced by the same person, Shirley Henderson. All I’m saying is Star Wars and puppets are usually a good idea.

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