It’s fair to say that all though I am a huge Star Wars fan there are others out there who do take it to another level. A level I have to admit I admire. I mean anyone who is willing to compile books, blogs and videos about the flora and fauna of a made up planet to add depth to a story loved by millions across the world is alright in my book. How else would I win Star Wars Trivial Pursuit?
Many franchises have these devoted fans, but as far as I know, none of these franchises have the vast array of literature, video games and TV shows which allow fans to be able to dig into the ‘universe’ far deeper than was ever imagined when Star Wars: A New Hope was first released in 1977.
One of the most endearing things I find with the Star Wars ‘extended universe’ is how the most minor of characters are given full back stories. These back stories have, overtime, given characters like Jabba the Hutt’s laughing sidekick "Salacious B Crumb" (who appears in Return of the Jedi for only a few minuets) real notoriety and popularity. I would hedge my bets at saying most, fairly big Star Wars fans would know Salacious’ name if shown a picture. He was even ‘November’ in a Star Wars calendar I had bought for me whilst I was at university for goodness sake!
Take Boba Fett as another example. He barely says a word yet he is arguably one of the most popular characters in the series.
Due to the fact that I have personally gathered, what some probably call "an unhealthy knowledge of Star Wars" during my 29 years on this planet, I hope to add that little "je ne sais quoi" to the Star Wars films that are so special to me and many others.
Let’s start with one that might be familiar to some of you.
Wedge Antilles, a pretty obvious choice to those already in the know. Wedge is, to the untrained eye, just another one of those rebel blokes in an orange jump suit who flies around with Luke when he is on that snowy planet. Yet to those "in the know" Wedge is a famed pilot who actually founded Rogue Squadron (N64 owners may remember the excellent game of the same name) with none other than Luke Skywalker himself.
He was one of very few that was there for the destruction of both Death Stars and lived to tell the tale. Luke wasn’t even instrumental in helping blowing up the second Death star. He was too busy playing happy families with his estranged father.
We know from Wedge’s Wookipedia page that he was orphaned at the age of 17 and built a dislike for the Empire after his girlfriend was murdered by them. This is what spurred him on to joining the rebellion and subsequently destroy both Death Stars. Hell hath no fury and all that.
Wedge goes on to appear in many of the Star Wars comics and books, becoming a highly decorated star pilot and well respected member of authority on Coruscant--even fighting for the freedom of that particular planet. Wedge’s character has always been seen by people contributing to the extended universe as a familiar character they can use to link their particular stories to the original trilogy, without using one of the bigger names of the saga.
Wedge has come in and out of retirement three times during his career as a star pilot, and has saved the day on every occasion. Hats off to the guy and let’s hope, for his sake, he can now enjoy his well overdue retirement in peace.
The next character in question is an Ewok. That Ewok in Return of the Jedi that has a little animal skull head-dress and carries a staff. He is also the Ewok that invites the Rebel group (Han, Luke, Chewy etc) to become part of their settlement after they are captured.
This little Ewok, named Logray, who appears on screen for no more than 5 minuets has had quite the life...
First off that skull on his headdress is that of a ‘Churi’ bird which is a large bird native to the moon of Endor. (You have to love the fact that the skull of a bird on a Ewok’s head has a name). His staff has spinal bones hanging from it. These bones were taken from enemies he has defeated along the way.
Turns out that Logray was one of the main characters in the E-E-E-E-Ewoks cartoon which I remember from when I was knee high to a Ewok myself. He was a great warrior in his early years that learnt to use that special ingredient in the Star Wars universe: The Force. He learnt this from an evil sorceress named Morag.
He used the powers he had learnt to escape Morag’s evil clutches and became a shaman and one of the most trusted Ewok’s in the tribe.
After the famous Battle of Endor, Logray was found out to be a bit of wet blanket, presumably hiding behind a log or something while Wicket and the other Ewok’s kicked some Imperial arse, and was exiled from the tribe. Logray then placed a curse on our most beloved of Ewok tribes.
When Logray’s successor managed to lift the curse of our Churi skull wearing Teddy Ruxpin, he had Logray’s name removed from the ‘village song of remembrance’ and was never spoken of ever again! Poor old Logray.
Finally let’s take a look at the career of a character that to many British men and women in their late twenties and older, would know as Mr Bronson (Michael Sheard) from the popular kids TV drama Grange Hill.
In the Star Wars universe we know him as "Admiral Ozzel" (or to his friends Kendal), the chap with the ginger moustache who gets force choked to death by Darth Vader towards the beginning of Empire Strikes Back.
Ozzel has appeared mainly in comics outside of the films and obviously due to his untimely death, these comics are all set before the original trilogy.
Kendal began life with a silver spoon in his mouth, as I expect most folk who end up associating themselves with the Empire did. After all, the majority of them are posh English men. He was educated at a military school and graduated with very high honours indeed (Captain of the Line) which meant that from the off he could command his own Star Destroyer.
Alas, life wasn’t that simple for our buddy Kendal. He was considered "not ready" to lead in battle and was assigned to a teaching post. (Those who cant teach eh Ozzy!)
It wasn’t until the Clone Wars all kicked off and Senator Palpatine got a bit desperate that Ozzel was promoted to the ‘Grand Army’ and was given a chance to prove himself. He served the Emperor well during the Clones Wars and impressed with his leadership skills. So much so that he was given his own Star Destroyer to captain when the ‘Galactic Empire’ was formed.
It appeared that from this moment on Admiral Ozzel got a little to big for his boots and began to plot against the Emperors apprentice. It wasn’t until this plot was discovered that he was sent to work on the Star Destroyer occupied by Darth Vader himself, so the Emperor could keep his eye on him. It was here on this ship that Ozzel gave the order for the fleet to approach Hoth (snowy planet with men in orange jump suits) at light speed so they could surprise the Rebel base. This tactic backfired and ultimately cost Kendal Ozzel his life.
So there you have it. Three condensed profiles of characters that feature in the original trilogy for a very short space of time, but in comparison to screen time, have pretty large amounts of expanded fiction written about them.
Scratch the surface of the smallest detail in Star Wars and you can usually find something you never really needed to know, but will treasure knowing forever.