The Force Awakens has been acclaimed as a true heir to the original Star Wars trilogy – and it may well spawn some cult heroes too.
The return of Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo has been a reminder of some of cinema’s greatest characters, while seismic shit stain Jar Jar Binks is thankfully absent.
Most of the audience for the seventh Star Wars films know their Death Star from their Millennium Falcon. You’ll know the Galactic Empire are still a bunch of willingly evil bastards. But do you know your Slave I from Sy Tootles?
If not, here’s our Top 10 cult characters so you don’t look a newbie twerp when you hit the cinema this weekend.
Admiral Ackbar is a member of the hilariously titled Mon Calamari breed, which essentially means he’s a giant goldfish trained in cosmic military battle. His finest hour is during the Battle Of Endor at the end of Return Of The Jedi, by which point he’s leader of the Rebel Alliance fleet.
Walking around the bridge of his ship barking orders at his fleet, Ackbar looks much like Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October, if Connery had a giant fish head instead of a beard and chiseled stare. He also sounds strikingly similar to Connery too, had he swapped his Scottish accent for a mouth full of milkshake. All round, though, you wouldn’t fuck with him.
Greedo is the bounty hunter in A New Hope who came close to claiming Jabba The Hutt’s price on Hans Solo’s head, back when Star Wars costumes were at their best. Before Solo blasts him from point blank range in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine, you could clearly see it was just a person with a green mask and leather jacket on. But you just didn’t care.
Ponda Baba is the frequenter of Mos Eisley Cantina that, through some unfortunate sequence of events, seems to have a pair of testicles in place of his chin. Along with his partner Dr Cornelius Evazan, Baba is a renowned spice smuggler for the giant slug crime lord Jabba The Hut.
He and Evazan went out for a liquid lunch at the infamous Cantina at the same time that Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive in A New Hope. When Baba starts a fight with Skywalker, Evazan brags he faces a death penalty in 12 systems. Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t take too kindly to the whole affair, disembodying Evazan and relieving Baba of his right arm.
Max Rebo Band
Max Rebo Band were Jabba The Hutt’s house band before he got strangled to death by Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back. Made up of blue elephants like keyboard player Max Rebo, backstabbing songstress Sy Snootles, flautist Droopy McCool, soulful wailer Joh Yowza and drummer Al-Rev, amongst others, they released such hits as Jedi Rocks and (That Joyous Night) I Ate My Mate.
Like all great bands, they disbanded at the peak of their powers. Three of the band went on to enjoy limited success in The Palpatines, Sy Snootles wound up a spice addict and McCool predictably did a Syd Barrett, wandering off alone into the Dune Sea.
The Modal Nodes
The Modal Nodes are the most famous of Star Wars’ jizz bands alongside Max Rebo Band. Bad management unfortunately ended their tenure as the biggest band in the galaxy early, with the band playing out their later days in exile on Tatooine.
Galactic smashes including Mad About Me, Solitary World, Tears Of Aquanna, Worm Case and their cover of Dune Sea Special are all genuinely amongst John Williams’ finest work.
Lando Calrissian is probably the coolest of all Star Wars characters. A smooth talking conman with a winning smile, sharp dress sense, killer tache, heap of charm and serious gambling habit, he starts life in The Empire Strikes Back as a bit of a hustler, but ends up a galactic hero when he navigates the Millennium Falcon – the ship he lost in a bet to Hans Solo – to the heart of Death Star II in Return Of The Jedi.
Actor Billy Dee Williams mooted that he could return at some point in the new trilogy when speaking in February about the fact that he wasn’t amongst the cast announced for The Force Awakens. “People were pretty upset about it,” Williams said. “But I have a feeling I’m going to show up.”
Wedge Antilles is Luke Skywalker’s wingman in A New Hope. Despite the fact he bails when Darth Vadar shows up in the firefight, despite no visible damage to his X-wing, he transpires to be one of Lucas’ finest feats of storytelling. Barely given any dialogue, he makes amends for his earlier shortcomings by accompanying the Millenium Falcon into the heart of the Death Star II in Return Of The Jedi, this time seeing his mission through to the end.
Antilles is one of several Star Wars characters who sound like their own porn star name, alongside the likes of Jek Porkins and, best of all, Biggs Darklighter.
Possibly the most iconic cult Star Wars character of the entire franchise, Boba Fett is the most feared bounty hunter in the Star Wars galaxy. Which basically means he’s really good at being paid to kill people. He flies the Slave I ship, which is the ying to the Millenium Falcon’s yang.
George Lucas sent shockwaves through the Star Wars community when he tossed Fett into the jaws of the Sarlacc (the giant hole in the ground with teeth in the scene where Princess Leia dons her infamous metal bikini) in 1983’s Return Of The Jedi. Everybody thought Fett was dead until Disney announced he’d survived earlier this year. Paving the way for his return in The Force Awakens? We’re not saying. But we wouldn’t bet against him reappearing at some stage in the new trilogy.
Sebulba is the reigning champion of the Outer Rim Podrace who uses shady tactics including sabotaging competitors’ vehicles and using illegal weaponry to guarantee victory. Despite his utterly unsportsmanlike conduct, Sebulba is popular with crowds at Podraces, which is why organisers turn a blind eye to his misdemeanours.
However, he’s beaten by young slave boy Anakin Skywalker in the Boonta Eve Classic in The Phantom Menace. Outwitting this four handed cheat proves the force is strong in this one, and sets the boy on a path that leaves an indelible mark on the galaxy. Cue Darth Vader breathing noise.
The Rebel’s successes are always thanks to the help of a series of unlikely heroes, and none more so than the final fight in Return Of The Jedi, where the Ewoks help knock out the shield generator protecting the Death Star II.
He might not have been a chief, but Teebo was definitely the most rock ‘n’ roll Ewok in the franchise. That’s proven by the fact he plays drums on Stormtrooper helmets at the party on Endor at the end of the final film in the original trilogy.
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum