There are many many alien species we have come to associate with Star Wars. In the original trilogy we had Rodians, Twi’Leks, Duros, Bith, Aqualish, Ithorians – the list goes on and on. Hardcore fans can name even the most obscure. These were the aliens we as an audience and a fandom came to know and love. The prequels (love ‘em or hate ‘em) brought back many of the familiar species of the original trilogy and introduced us to new ones such as the Neimoidians, Toydarians, Gungans, Dugs, Zabraks, Kel Dors (who doesn’t love Plo Koon?), Togrutas, Pauans, Kaminoans, and others. The Clone Wars and Rebels series added a few more. The galaxy far, far away was growing, but where are all the familiar species now? Now, it feels like a different galaxy altogether (sort of).
When the news came that Star Wars was coming back and the sequels were upon us I was excited to be introduced to new aliens and re-familiarize myself with aliens we knew from previous films. When the first photos of Maz’s Castle were released I was blown away, until I realized there wasn’t one single familiar alien in the photo aside from an old guy that resembled someone from the Mos Eisley Cantina. To me, that seemed strange. Surely there would be a Twi’lek or Rodian somewhere in this seemingly shady place on the outskirts of civilized space. Sadly, when the film came out and we saw more, I was disappointed by the lack of species we knew from the past. Aside from Admiral Ackbar, a few of his fellow Mon Calamari, and Nien Nunb, we really had nothing else.
In The Last Jedi we got even more new alien faces at Canto Bight and as members of The Resistance, but once again no aliens from the George Lucas years. This really started to bother me, and I’ve spoken to a few people who feel the same. Aside from a few legacy alien side-characters we had no others to help ground us to the galaxy set up by Lucas, which was one populated by many different, already established species. They should pop up in the background, but we have yet to see this done in the sequels. Rogue One, while not a sequel, just barely gave us enough to wet our whistles. The argument that different regions of space would have different species is somewhat valid, but that wouldn’t limit other species from also visiting these regions of space given most of them have the luxury of hyperspace travel.
George Lucas was quite adept at world-building. When he made the prequels he knew that he had to blend new and old to maintain the world he set up previously. Although one might argue that much of the technology in the prequels appeared fresh and sleek in comparison to the original’s more “lived in” look, that can easily be explained by the state of the galaxy in those respective eras. The aliens however were balanced perfectly and that balance is currently lacking in the new films.
We know that the Story Group is very involved in maintaining the overall canon so one can assume that they have some input towards things of this nature in the new films. It surprises me that the production of the sequels cast aside more familiar aliens in settings such as Maz’s Castle and Canto Bight. There is concept art of Canto Bight that involve original and prequel species, so where are they in the film? Speaking of Canto Bight, I found the designs for these aliens very beige and non “Star Wars”. To me they all look like they stepped off the set of Doctor Who, which only further disconnects us from the Star Wars galaxy.
The numerous new canon stories in books, comics, and more recently the Battlefront 2 video game, feature many familiar alien species which are often main characters in these stories. In fact there are species from both the previous eras at Maz’s castle during the events of the game. There is even a portrait of my favorite space pirate Hondo Ohnaka hung up on the wall in one of the rooms. Shriv Surgaav, a Duros, has some of the best lines in Battlefront 2. His sarcasm and wit are endless. Having an alien character like this would do so much for the films. In fact they should put Shriv in Episode IX. Please do it!
In addition to bringing back some more familiar established species, instead of limiting them to the background, it’d be cool if they had small but important action and speaking roles. This is something George Lucas did that I think the new regime can learn from. Maz Kanata and Snoke are arguably the only two aliens that really have dialogue of any importance. Give more time to the aliens of The Resistance for example. Larger roles for our favorite aliens should not be reserved for non-film canon. Many actors would gladly get under the prosthetics and or animatronic creature masks to play a non-human character (Silas Carson as Nute Gunray and Ki Adi Mundi for example). The motion capture route is also always an option too. The technology has advanced greatly since Lucas made the prequels and he managed just fine with what was available then.
With Solo: A Star Wars Story coming soon, we can only hope that we get back to the basics of Star Wars aliens and not just because of the timeline in which the film takes place. It appears we may see the Pyke Syndicate involved in that film. Even still, we need more examples of this in the sequels. These species do not only exist in the past! Without them, the films lack balance and the galaxy starts to feel out of place from what we’ve already come to know. I am not sure what Lucasfilm’s reasoning for this is but I would love to find out. The lack of discussion I have seen on this particular criticism is surprising. Maybe myself and the other passionate Star Wars alien fans are being nitpicky, but I really think it should be addressed. I hope what I have said here today inspires more of you to think and talk about this issue. Do you think that we will/should see more classic Star Wars species? What do you think Lucasfilm’s reasoning is for their under-utilization?
Author: Austin D. (Dark-Porkins)