From the Bainbridge Island Review:
The Star Wars saga has created a good many memorable characters over the years, since its 1977 premiere, that have been passed down through the ages since. It seems, though, that for every Lando Calrissian there’s a much more obscure character hiding in the background, and frequently these characters have much more going on than simply adding to the verisimilitude of an intergalactic world.
Star Wars is one of those series that seems to cultivate a backstory for nearly every aspect of its universe. There’s lore for everything from the stripes on Han Solo’s trousers (see: Corelian bootstripe) to the sordid past of Malakili, the rancor handler in Jabba’s palace. So, instead of using this opportunity to laud all the ways that Boba Fett’s armor is totally sick (it would take way too long) we’re gonna take a look at three Review staffer’s favorite lesser-known Star Wars characters.
Nick: Momaw Nadon
For those of you who played sports, Momaw Nadon is the alien shown in “A New Hope,” shortly after Ben and Luke enter the cantina in Mos Eisley. He looks like a cross between a slug, a hammerhead shark and a piece of brown taffy. On the surface it’s easy to pass up Nadon as just another costume thrown into the cantina scene to add to the intergalactic “wow” factor, but in accordance with the laws of Star Wars, Nadon has an incredibly rich inner story, rife with tragedy and hard decisions.
Nadon doesn’t live in Mos Eisley by choice, but because of his exile from his home planet, Ithor. You see, in order to spare his homeworld from destruction at the hands of the empire, Nadon made the difficult choice to divulge Ithorian agricultural secrets to the empire. The empire spared Ithor but Nadon was banished. All of this is according to the 1989 book “Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope” which served as a supplement to “Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game.” In the film, Nadon actually has less than 10 seconds of screen time.
Also according to his backstory, Nadon keeps a secret garden, tucked away in the hills to the south of Mos Eisley, where he grows crops and occasionally hides rebel operatives. The thing that I love about Nadon, is he’s a team player; he sacrificed his life on his homeplanet to save the Ithorians — that, and I’m pretty sure he’s got the secret to growing some serious tomatoes.
No, even before you ask, it’s not because he shot first (or did he?).
The ill-fated bounty hunter, now known almost exclusively as “that blue guy Han Solo kills in Mos Eisley,” is my favorite ancillary “Star Wars” character because he is a loser in the classic Greek tragedy sense. A doomed sideline personality whose sudden, iconic death has spawned more passionate fanboy theorizing and philosophizing than the assassination of JFK.
According to series lore, poor Greedo had a long history of being on the wrong end of things way before he ever sat down across from everyone’s favorite scruffy-looking nerf herder.
Chronologically first appearing in deleted scenes of “Episode One,” the young Greedo was introduced by way of his beginning an argument with Anakin Skywalker after the famous Boonta Eve Classic, which he adamantly insists Anakin only won by cheating. The young Rodian and the boy who would become Darth Vader fight, until Qui-Gon Jinn breaks it up.
At this point, Greedo’s friend sagely advises him: “Keep this up, Greedo, and you’re gonna come to a bad end.”
From a young sore loser and wannabe thug, Greedo grew to be a bumbling bounty hunter — presumably to avoid having to get a real job. By the time of the Clone Wars, he was employed by everyone’s favorite Hutt. There then followed an embarrassing and shameful episode wherein he was hired to kidnap the daughters of a Trade Federation official to use them as leverage during a dirty political deal. He got one, at least, before the other clocked him over the head with a statue. He was thus quickly identified (Tatooine’s basically a big small town) and forced to lead the understandably angry father and his equally mad son to where he’d hidden the other girl in Mos Eisley. Greedo did — and then slipped away as his partners in crime were slaughtered by the rescuers.
Later, on that most fateful day, he spied the wanted smuggler Han Solo in Mos Eisley Cantina and jumped at the chance to collect the huge bounty on his head — or just kill him and take the Millennium Falcon. Finally, it seemed, Greedo might have his day. Alas, it was AGAIN not to be for the unlucky Rodian.
His last words?
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
Maybe, in a way, he had. The seemingly suicidal schemer did more for establishing the famed character of Han Solo in a few lines of closed captioned banter and a quick death than dramatic expository dialogue aplenty could ever hope to.
Thanks, Greedo. Sorry about the mess.
Brian: Anyone who gets an arm chopped off
I am seriously overmatched here on this Star Wars stuff. Insider scoop: the picks above came after three hours of newsroom debate, which resulted in my eyes getting glazed over as I kept trying — unsuccessfully — to turn the topic to the original “Planet of the Apes” films.
But, it’s May the Fourth. And so, I’ll offer my favorite from my limited Star Wars experience. (Embarrasing admission: I’ve seen only the first three original Star Wars movies. Except for about 15 minutes of the first film from the second series, the one with Jar Jar, I haven’t seen any of the newer films. That means no prequels or sequels or anthologies. Also, no cartoons, Star Wars video games, television series or whatever. I did see the infamously bad “Star Wars Holiday Special” when it aired on TV in 1978. On that, I’ll say this: The screenwriters for that dud really should have had their hands loped off.)
So, my favorite lesser-known character: Anyone who gets an arm chopped off who isn’t a main character (as in, someone not Luke, the droids or Darth Vader). These minor characters really stole some scenes in their limited screen time, you know. Call them “one-armed bandits.” Really, you have to hand it to them.
In the first film, it was Ponda Baba in the cantina scene. As a Star Wars know-nothing, how do I know this character’s name? Google, which has also taught me today that there has been only one film in the series (“The Phantom Menance”) where no one gets a hand lopped off. Apparently, though, Darth Maul got his legs chopped off. Wouldn’t know.
In the “Empire Strikes Back,” my nod goes to Wampa, the character that loses an arm after Luke Skywalker awakens from his icy sleep and mentally and Force-fully coaxes his light saber out of a nearby snowbank.
Seriously, I didn’t know Wampa had a name, either. I always thought of the beast as a spacey aboniminable snowman with an unfortunate underbite.
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