Pass on what you have learned about Star Wars to a new generation. But don't be surprised when their specific tastes differ.
Are you a parent with children who love the galaxy far, far away? Parenting Padawans is an exclusive StarWars.com column that discusses the various questions and factors that come into play when introducing your younglings to Star Wars.
Every Star Wars fan has his or her favorite character. You do. I do. We all do. And in a universe populated with such amazing characters, it’s hard to choose just one. Still, despite thousands of characters to choose from, most people settle on one of the core cast (for obvious and legitimate reasons). Just take a look at the favorites identified by contributors to this site. You’ll see a lot of love for Luke, Leia, and Han (particularly Han).
As my kids were absorbed into the Star Wars universe and became more familiar with the stories, it was clear that attachments were quickly being made. My daughter gravitated to the Jedi and strong females. My son developed a love affair with stormtroopers and clone troopers. They both love R2-D2 and BB-8.
None of this is surprising.
However, as we explored the saga further and they became more intimately aware of not only the central cast but also the secondary and tertiary characters (the Outer Rim, as it were), I was occasionally thrown for a loop. “What? Really? You like him??”
But this is Star Wars we’re talking about here. Normal rules don’t apply. I have a much stronger emotional response to who they like…and who they don’t like. Still, I can’t object too strongly to any of the following five characters. (Well, maybe one I can.) I may have been surprised to learn that my kids love these specific characters, but at the end of the day, I’m just thrilled we can geek out together and share a mutual love of the same universe.
1. Chewbacca: Sure. Right about now, you’re saying, “Wha? Chewie? Why is this a surprise?” Well, I’ll tell you why, and bear with me. I might stir up some controversy among all of the Wookieephiles out there.
Almost everything of consequence we know about him (from the films) comes to us through a third party. Not only are his words translated or summarized for us, but it’s up to Han, Luke, and Leia (and, to a lesser extent, Lando) to broadcast Chewie’s motivations to the audience.
It’s not until Han is frozen in carbonite and when the two are reunited with a big hug in Jabba’s dungeon that we really get a sense for the connection they share – and a genuine deepening of Chewie’s character. And it’s not until The Force Awakens that his personality is allowed to shine and we really feel for him, emotionally.
Listen, I like Chewie just as much as the next guy, but I never thought of him as anyone’s favorite character. Until he became my daughter’s favorite. Her rationale? “He’s big and hairy and I want to give him a hug.” How can you argue with that?
Plus, she does a mean Chewbacca impression.
2. Ezra Bridger: Let’s be clear: Ezra is an awesome character. It’s not all that surprising that my kids love him. However, it’s surprising to me that he’s my daughter’s favorite character on Star Wars Rebels. She thinks Leia is pretty awesome, and Rey is far and away her favorite new character from The Force Awakens, but it’s Ezra she favors among the Ghost crew.
Star Wars Rebels is a show that features three strong, independent female protagonists that are well developed, treated with respect, and have defined character arcs. That’s equal to all seven feature films combined.
Slowly but surely, the Star Wars universe is becoming a more inclusive place, and characters such as Rey, Ahsoka, Sabine, and Hera are enormously refreshing. In addition to just being awesome characters, they also act as a brilliant welcome sign to the legions of girls and women who so desperately wanted to see themselves in the saga but didn’t identify as “royalty.”
My daughter doesn’t want to be a princess. She doesn’t want to be a senator or a queen. She doesn’t want to be the damsel in distress. She wants to be a brave Jedi who can take care of herself. So even though she likes Sabine’s tough attitude and Hera’s strength, she really just wants to wield a lightsaber and fight some bad guys. I love that one show has given her so many great characters to admire and emulate. And the fact that she seems to be seeing beyond (or ignoring) gender is awesome. Plus, the fact that Ezra is a kid doesn’t hurt.
3. Jaxxon: OK, this one is probably mostly my fault. I love Jaxxon. I make no apologies for that. The very idea of a six-foot-tall, wisecracking green rabbit smuggler is one that’s too amazing not to embrace with every ounce of my fandom. And I readily admit that I talked him up big time to my kids.
As an experiment, I began reading the original Marvel comics run to my kids at bedtime. After the first six issues of that series (which were an adaptation of A New Hope), the story enters uncharted territory and follows the exploits of Han and Chewie. During the first seven issues of our read-through, I kept prepping my kids with the promise of Jaxxon. “Just wait until Jaxxon shows up! You’re gonna love him!”
Then, in issue #8, he does. My kids immediately fell in love. Sadly, he only appeared in five issues of the original Marvel run and then disappeared. But not before making his mark on the Star Wars saga and causing ripples in the fan community that exist to this day. Still, my kids love that big green rabbit.
4. Kligson: I know what you’re thinking. Who? To the best of my knowledge, Kligson appeared in exactly one story: Marvel Star Wars #47 (May 1981 issue), which was later retold in the 1983 Read-Along Book & Record Droid World. I’ve written about my daughter’s love for the vintage read-along stories before, but Droid World holds a special place in her heart. For some unfathomable reason, it was the story she always requested. It was the story that was always on in the car. It was the story we heard hundreds and hundreds of times. At this point, I can probably narrate the book by heart.
The story centers on a mission Luke undertakes to seek help from “an electronics genius named Kligson,” despite the warning that “he lives all alone on a place called Droid World. But the man is a bit strange. Downright weird, if you ask me.” Turns out that Kligson is (spoiler!) a cyborg and really just misunderstood.
So what’s the appeal with Kligson? He may not be the most well-developed character, but he was one of the first “Expanded Universe” characters – not only in the history of Star Wars but also in my kids’ exposure to the saga. Listening to the story of Droid World (which is how it always was; they almost never read the actual book with the illustrations) fired their imaginations and showed them that there were worlds and stories beyond those told in the films. And Kligson played a huge role in that.
5. Jar Jar Binks: Listen, parenting is hard. Every day is something new: challenging, rewarding, and surprising. Often, our kids look to us as heroes, trust us implicitly, and believe everything we say. It’s incredible. And as a parent of small kids, it quickly becomes apparently that many of their interests come filtered through our own (see Jaxxon, above). Yes, they develop their own likes and dislikes at a very early age, but it's not often that they choose to go in the completely opposite direction.
So why am I surprised they like Jar Jar? Because I wouldn't count him as one of my favorites. It honestly came as a bit of shock when they really took to him. My kids only watched The Phantom Menace recently, long after seeing the original trilogy multiple times, much of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and all of Star Wars Rebels. And lo and behold, both of them laughed along with Jar Jar’s antics and wound up loving him.
It was eye-opening -- and humbling -- for me to watch them truly develop their own preferences independent of me. But we still agree on Star Wars in general. And I still call that a win. How about you? What characters were you were surprised to learn that your kids (or friends or significant other) love? Sound off in the comments.
Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He’s also a contributor to GeekDad and runs The Roarbots, where he focuses on awesome geeky stuff that happens to be kid-friendly. On top of that, he cohosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates geek culture by talking to people who create it. With two little ones and a vast Star Wars collection at home, he’s done the unthinkable: allowed them full access to most of his treasure from the past 30 years, opening and playing with whatever they want (pre-1983 items excluded).