5 minor Star Wars characters who made a big impression
Some Star Wars characters have played such a large part in the movies that they’ve made the leap to being identifiable with the overall saga itself. Their images are on tie-in merchandise and their names are known in popular culture. They’re the Han Solos, the Darth Vaders, and the Yodas. They’re not only known for what trilogies they’re a part of, they’re even metaphors for a certain type of character in movies: a rogue with a heart of gold, a powerful and intimidating bad guy with a cool look, and a spiritual guru.
This article, however, is a look at a different type of character from the Star Wars movies. I’ll be looking at characters who despite not having a lot of screen time were hugely memorable to the audience or had a big impact on fandom. As far as the criteria for inclusion in the article, the characters that I’ll be considering are non-recurring characters.
Of course the list would begin with Greedo. After all, his scene was already well known just for revealing to the audience important aspects of the character of Han Solo, one of the most popular characters of the saga. Their confrontation shows Han as a savvy and experienced character with a cynical side, to contrast him to the more innocent and idealistic Luke whom the audience has already met. Han’s handling of the threat from Greedo shows him to be someone used to having to watch his back and get out of tough situations. All of that significance was already present in the scene before the changes made in later releases of Star Wars: A New Hope, starting with the 1997 Special Edition and continuing all the way to the “Macklunkey” edit of 2019. It’s kind of remarkable how many versions there are now of what was once, at its core, a fairly straightforward scene. The “who shot first?” debate and Lucas’ views on the original scene and subsequent changes to it only add to its importance. It makes it significant not just for the character of Han, but for its role in discussions about writer/director/creative intent versus the history of a work, and audience memory and experience of it. When a famous and cool scene is changed and altered over and over, it can feel like a little piece of the unifying work is being torn away.
I’m listing them together despite them being separate characters, as they seem destined to be linked together in the saga; they’re both Imperial officers who appear in the same movie, who both fail Darth Vader and are killed by him in the same manner. To the audience, the fates of these characters show the power and mercilessness of Darth Vader, and also the stress and pressure of serving the regime that they do, and the lack of margin for error. But at least for Captain Needa, Vader does accept his apology.
For the mocking cackle and the character’s look alone, he would be memorable enough to include on this list. His expression is is a combination of taunting and annoyance, and yet, he also looks designed to be made into a plush toy. Jabba’s Palace is one of the more memorable settings in the Star Wars saga, and having it filled with unique and memorable characters like Salacious Crumb shows why. Everywhere you look in the place, there’s another figure in the background with their own story to tell. (There’s a book, Tales from Jabba’s Palace, that explores this premise.) Adding to his memorability is the way he attacks C-3PO, pulls out his eye, and then gets an electric shock from R2-D2. It’s a short bit in the midst of a larger action scene, giving Salacious Crumb one last sadistic moment, and gives Artoo the opportunity to come to a character’s rescue yet again.
The pod race is one of the more memorable parts of Star Wars Episode I, and Anakin’s rivalry with Sebulba gives some interest to what would otherwise be a trip to a foregone conclusion, at least from the audience’s perspective. Further, Sebulba is a fairly well-realized CGI character in a movie where some of the other CGI characters are hit and miss. He’s an aggressive character, attacking a much bigger Jar Jar Binks at one point, and is willing to use whatever tactics he can get away with to win.
He has an infectious good humor about him, and brings out a warmer side of a usually fairly stoic Obi-Wan. Dex also provides key information to Obi-Wan to get his investigation in Attack of the Clones started, and in just a couple of short minutes, his conversation with Obi-Wan hints at a character who’s experienced a lot. He has the air of a guy who could talk to you for hours about an event in the news, or would have a story ready about a place that you mention you’re going to.
Part of the fun of the Star Wars movies is how much there is going on in them, with the feeling created by the detail of the settings and the effects. Although the audience is focused on watching one story with one set of characters, there are so many others going on as well, with their own perspective on the events unfolding.