Star Wars has captured the imaginations of generations. A classic example of the space opera genre, many of us have grown up pretending we could be Han Solo piloting the Millenium Falcon, or Luke Skywalker hewing down legions of Stormtroopers with his trusty lightsaber. Or, if you were one of the weird kids like me, you'd have pretended you were one of the countless alien species seen skulking in the smoky background of backwater cantinas or shuffling aimlessly around desert scrap heaps.
In spite of their often-limited roles, these aliens populated the numerous alien worlds visited by our favorite (if Human-centric) heroes and served to immerse you a great deal in the fantasy of being in a galaxy far, far away. What you might not know is that nearly all of these aliens have detailed backstories, elaborating on their physiology, their home planets, and even their cultural practices.
To enlighten you and broaden the horizons of your inner geek, here's everything you need to know about the 3 most iconic Star Wars aliens to appear in the films:
Perhaps the most readily recognized alien character in the Star Wars movies, Jabba the Hutt is a corpulent, fleshy mound of elephantine wrinkles and skin. With wide, watery eyes and a mouth big enough to chow down on creatures the size of a human child (a treat which Jabba is portrayed in the films to enjoy), Jabba is the sort of villain you immediately love to hate.
The 'Hutt' in Jabba the Hutt is not just a title, but a reference to Jabba's species of massive slug-like creatures native to the planet Nal Hutta. Like Jabba, all Hutts have wide mouths, large eyes, stubby arms, and thick, bloated bodies. In the Star Wars Legends continuity, the body of the typical Hutt is so densely muscled that they were naturally resistant to blaster fire; however, it the revised canon, the Hutts are merely obese, the products of their self-indulgent and hedonistic lifestyles.
While some Hutts were known to use live furry creatures as hairpieces, clothing viewed as entirely optional for members of their species. Their favorite foods include gorgs, slime pods, and Tatooine paddy frogs, most of which were consumed live. Some Hutts also had a penchant for smoking hookah pipes.
Also like Jabba, the Hutts were often notorious crime lords, the heads of massive criminal empires that span entire star systems. Undisputed kingpins of the most lucrative spice smuggling, slavery, gambling, and bounty hunting rings in the galaxy, the Hutts might look slovenly, but intergalactic outlaws would be wise never to turn their backs on a Hutt...lest they wind up encased in carbonite or, perhaps worse yet, dropped into the rancor pits.
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Strong, steadfast, and yet oddly plushy, Chewbacca was an instant hit with many kids the moment they laid eyes on him and remains such a fan favorite that he (and other members of his species) returns as an important character in several later films. Chewbacca's species is one of the few that's actually mentioned by name in the movies: Han sometimes refers to his best friend and co-pilot as "the Wookiee."
Native to the densely-forested planet Kashyyyk, Wookiees and are a species of hairy humanoid giants. They were very physically strong, reputed to be able to rip a man's arms from their sockets. Despite their fearsome temperament and ability to fly into a berserker rage when provoked, Wookiees are typically regarded as intelligent, sophisticated, assertive, trusting, and, unsurprisingly, extremely loyal.
Though they often learn to understand many galactic languages, such as Basic, Wookiees aren't possessed of the biology to speak them, and as such, tend to stick to their native language of Shyriiwook, rendered as a complex series of growls and purrs.
Because of their loyalty, temperament and brute strength, Wookiees have come to play important roles throughout galactic history. During the Clone Wars, the Wookiees were staunch allies of the Republic, successfully repelling a Separatist invasion of Kashyyyk with the help of Jedi Master Yoda.
And of course, there's Chewbacca, ever-loyal companion of renowned smuggler Han Solo, who would go on to win many impressive victories against the evil Galactic Empire. Too bad the Empire never did listen to Han; they could've saved their armies a lot of casualties if they'd just "let the Wookiee win."
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With a war-painted face, fierce animal-yellow eyes, and a brow lined with horns, the alien Darth Maul served, however briefly, as the literal face of a new generation of dark Jedi. Darth Maul's species is known as the Zabrak, a race of horned humanoids who live on the inhospitable and predator-infested planet Iridonia.
Darth Maul was actually an offshoot of his species: he was one of a colony of Zabrak males who lived on Dathomir and served the mystical Nightsisters. These 'Nightbrother' Zabraks often call themselves Dathomirians. In the Star Wars Legends canon, Zabraks had two hearts and were known to exhibit a wild and independent streak.
Self-determined and domineering, the Zabrak were often regarded by outsiders as single-minded, stubborn and arrogant. Many Zabrak bore facial tattoos, which were made up of thin lines, streaks or other patterns. These tattoos are given ritualistically to young Zabrak coming of age, and symbolize many things including lineage, place of birth, or even an individual personality trait.
Like Maul, Zabrak have the potential to develop Force-Sensitivity, and over the long history of the Star Wars universe, many Zabrak did indeed train as Jedi.
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