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The Force Awakens, Thoughts About the Names

“I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.”

“The name’s Ahsoka Tano.”

“Han Solo. I’m Captain of the Millennium Falcon.”

“Fives! My name is Fives!”

“The name’s Rex. But you’ll call me ‘Captain’ or ‘Sir’.”

Some names come and go, but others are unforgettable. From Ahsoka Tano to Zam Wesell, Star Wars names (and names in general, for that matter) are a delicate subject, and when it comes to fiction, they’re either a hit or miss. There are common names that we share in our everyday world, such as Luke, Leia and Han, and others that are play on words, like Sidious, Savage and Maul.

In a recent report from Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy revealed the names of the characters featured in the 88-second teaser trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the majority of the community have accepted the names, others point out that some of the names don’t live up to the conventions previously seen in other Star Wars stories.

Finn on the run! Star Wars: The Force Awakens Digital Trading Card #76 Aurebesh: Finn

John Boyega plays the character Finn, but it remains unclear whether Finn is a first or last name. While causing much intrigue, the name also poses concern. If Finn is, in fact, the first name, then keeping the surname secret gives way to a much talked about theory, like Finn’s relation to recognizable characters. For example, Finn possessing a Calrissian or Leonis surname. That approach, however, would make the galaxy small and limiting. After all, it’s not necessary for the younger cast to be related to the classic original trilogy characters in order to carry the story forward.

“And how are you, Ames?”

“DX-578,” Ames said.

“What did you say?”

“DX-578. My operating number is DX-578” (80).

The fact that John Boyega’s character has a name and goes by that name is very telling of Finn’s personality. In Jason Fry’s Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy, Zare Leonis’ friend, Ames, went into the Imperial Academy to become a stormtrooper, dropping his name altogether and stressing that he should be recognized as his unique identifier. In A New Hope, TK-421 also had no name and he was just another number. Clone troopers created original names to avoid being regarded as such and became individuals despite the shared genetics. Finn having a name is more reminiscent of a clone trooper seeking to separate himself from the masses than a stormtrooper with a designation number looking to blend in to keep uniformity and be a good servant of the Empire.

In real world terms, Finn is a commonly used English and German-language surname, first originating as an Irish name with the meaning “fair”. The amount of Irish inspired names in Star Wars are probably few in number, if there are any at all, making Finn’s name all the more unique in that setting. Although it feels slightly more common than originally anticipated, the name itself is a good one for a character on the run.

BB-8 on the move! Star Wars: The Force Awakens Digital Trading Card #11 Aurebesh: BB-8

The first thing that jumps out about the ball droid’s name is the lack of a fourth character, as seen with C-3PO, R2-D2, and IG-88. Even if they’re completely different models, it would be interesting if BB-8 is a shortened version of a longer designation, similar to AZ-3 (AZ-345211896246498721347) in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Additionally, the droids we’ve come to know throughout the saga have developed nicknames: Artoo, Threepio, Qutee (QT-KT), etc. What sort of nickname will BB-8 pick up over time, if any?

Visually, it’s a very appealing name that suits the ball droid’s design (domed head atop a ball)–a design that also ingeniously matches the shapes of the characters “BB-8”.

Rey on her speeder! Star Wars: The Force Awakens Digital Trading Card #74 Aurebesh: Rey

Besides Finn, Rey is the only other character whose name doesn’t have a second name. If rumors are true, she may be related to one of the original three–Skywalker or Solo (or Organa). If that’s the case, the lack of a last name will keep the community guessing.

A couple of interesting things pop up about Rey’s name. First, unlike many other names in Star Wars, Rey is unisex. Though the detail may come across as insignificant, trivia-wise, it’s intriguing to know that the name is Spanish for “king” and derives from the Latin rex, which also happens to be the name of another Star Wars character. A king is a leader among men, so it’s fitting that this new female character will lead the charge against whatever evil threatens the galaxy.

Second, it’s a name that is very close to Ren. Although there have been characters with similar names (Sabine/Satine, for example), it seems unusual to have two characters appear in the same work with similar names. Many would chalk it up to coincidence, but there’s almost always a reason or significance behind such similarities, even if proven to be minor at a later point in time.

Poe Dameron in his X-wing. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Digital Trading Card #53 Aurebesh: Poe Dameron

There is no shortage of unusual pilot names in Star Wars. One merely has to recall Wedge Antilles, Jek Porkins and Biggs Darklighter.

Though part of the name conjures up a handful of modern images–Edgar Allan Poe, Po the Panda from Kung Fu Panda, Po from Teletubbies, Poe from Legend of Zelda, and Chien Po from Mulan–the second half, Dameron, feels adequately more from the realm of Star Wars. It’s one letter away from being ‘Cameron’, but Okadiah Garson in Star Wars: A New Dawn was also one letter away from being ‘Obadiah’.

Kylo Ren ignites his lightsaber! Star Wars: The Force Awakens Digital Trading Card #67 Aurebesh: Kylo Ren

Now, not everyone can be a Maul or a Savage. Assuming this individual is a Sith, Kylo’s name sounds as if they have yet to pick or have bestowed upon them a name similar to Vader, Sidious and Tyranus. We may be working with a character who doesn’t have a Master, or someone who has yet to reach the point of being assigned an alternate name. Or, Kylo Ren could, in fact, be their real name, similar to Anakin Skywalker prior to becoming Darth Vader.

The name itself, Kylo Ren, does strike interest. Although Ren is assigned a masculine pronoun, the name doesn’t scream any particular gender. The openness of it allows some fans to imagine the character as a female, instead. Given her role in Game of Thrones, it’s quite an easy task to place Gwendoline Christie as the shrouded figure with the crossbar saber. However, Kylo Ren has been assigned a gender, leaving fans to wonder what parts Christie, Nyong’o and the other female actors will play.

Lastly, other fans quickly pointed out the similarity to an old Legends character’s name, Ropagu space pirate Kybo Ren. Overall, Kylo Ren sounds both unthreatening and unassuming, especially in comparison with past Sith and dark side users.

As for the significance of the numbers and the red/blue borders, many dove into separate investigations. Visit the following posts for more opinions and information to formulate a few theories of your own.

2 comments on “The Force Awakens, Thoughts About the Names

  1. Tolkien’s work is replete with depth at every turn – the myths, the linguistics, the history. It is all based in ancient stories and cultural references. When Star Wars is at its best, these things are evident as well. Sometimes, with such a large Expanded Universe and wide range of projects, the quality can be lacking. So, I want to mention that Finn may prove to be a good example of a throwback, a reference and some truth evident in a well-veiled name. Finn can be a reference to more things than you noted. It is a name used in many more places than just as a surname. Fin is a slang name for a $5 bill, and may be a self reference to a very famous clone trooper. It’s a small bill, but not insignificant in our wallets. Also, it could be a callback to Huck Finn and his great journeys of escape that are so much a part of our literary psyche. And regardless of anything else, we will love these names come next December once they are attached to real characters that we will contemplate for years to come.

    • Great points, James! We will definitely love them by the time December rolls around. I’m already kind of used to them by now! Looking forward to this brand new year of Star Wars!

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