Long ago (the 1970s/80s) in a place far, far away (Hollywood, CA) a space opera fairy tale named Star Wars was created. The character names clued you in right away that even though they had blasters and space ships and stuff, this was mythology. Many character names held a key to that character’s destiny. Luke Skywalker wanted to be a pilot. Darth Vader was death, and an invader. There was grumpy loner smuggler named Solo. And there was a princess with a pretty fantasy name.
In the sequels we got characters whose names evolved only slightly. You could probably tell before you knew anything else about him that someone named Jabba the Hutt was going to be a) big, and b) a criminal. Lando Calrissian was probably going to be a little flashy, a little smooth, and a little less than trustworthy.
Decades went by and the stories went on, and new people came in, and no one ever went out of their way to consider the names. Because, really, in some ways, names don’t matter here. Sometimes, though, the names are just bad enough that they can’t be ignored, and as much as I enjoyed Rogue One, those names… really? The franchise needs to do better.
Cassian Andor. I do appreciate the franchise’s commitment to recycling though, as we’ll see with one of the leads in Rogue One, a hardened Alliance captain named Cassian Andor. The Star Wars script developers can always repurpose a group of letters, even if that group is nearly forty years old. I don’t need to say much. The letter in bold are the letters “Cassian Andor” and “Lando Calrissian” share:
I’m being needlessly picky, you say. There are only 24 letters; certain phonemes get reused. Yes, I agree. I mean, look at how many letters the names “Luke Skywalker” and “Admiral Ahkbar” share. Right? And “Leia Organa” and “Padme Amidala.” Well, not quite so many, really, and in the case of the women, mostly vowels.
Face it. Lando Calrissian/Cassian Andor? It’s almost the same name.
Unless his name is meant to evoke the Ewok moon of Endor. That would be very different, and highly unlikely. Or a prince of Naria, which is equally unlikely. (Prince Caspian of Endor?)
Saw Gerrera. What an interesting last name for a grizzled, bad-tempered old warrior, since is very close to guerrero, the Spanish world for warrior. And Gerrera gets called by his first name only once, I think, when Jyn’s mother contacts him and calls him “Saw.” Everyone else rattles off his entire name. I spent a good part of the movie thinking his first name was Saul –or Sol – actually, which I would have liked, because Sol Gerrera would nearly translate as Warrior Sun. And that would be cool.
Bodhi Rook is the Imperial pilot. Okay, I think this name is ridiculous in terms of the world-building of the Star Wars universe, but I’m going to go with it, because Bodhi means “awakened” in the Buddhist tradition. Yes, this story takes place long, long ago and far away where there are no Buddhists, but to the extent that this story has always been a fairy tale, or mythology, I’ll let them get away with it. Why won’t I let them get away with it for Gerrera? Because “Saul Gerrera” sounds like a contemporary person who would sell you a timeshare and that irritated me. As for Rook… well, you’re barely coming in under the wire of “trickster-bird, kinda like Crow or Raven,” and it sounds good with Bodhi. So, I’ll let you go with a warning. This time.
Jyn Erso. Our main character is named Jyn Erso, which sounds cool when you say it out loud; as in, “My name… is Jyn Erso,” or, “You know who I am. I… am Jyn Erso.” Jyn is short for Jynessa, which is a pretty, and pretty vanilla, fantasy name. I can’t help wondering, though, if she ended up getting this name because they didn’t have a name for her at first and conjured up “gyn” as a shortcut for “female.
K-2SO, the battle droid. There is nothing wrong with that name. It works just fine (even for mountain climbing fans who probably snickered over “K2”). Just fine. Carry on.