In Defense of the Poor Ewoks
Introduction: Why Are They Hated?
It is a simple and sad truth that Ewoks are an often maligned race in the Star Wars Galaxy. This is unfair as they are actually a fine addition to the the movies. Now, mind you, I am not at all going to justify the Ewok Movies, The Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. Technically speaking, I have not watched them. So I guess for all I know they are good movies, but from all that I have heard about them, I find this highly doubtful. Those are not the point of this article though. The point of this article is to defend the appearance of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, which was a good movie. I wish to give three basic defenses for the Ewoks. Two of these defenses will answer objections that are frequently heard.
Defense #1: They are not just cute, childish teddy bears.
An often held objection to the Ewoks is that they are nothing more than cute, childish teddy bears. I will say that on the surface this might appear to be true. But perhaps we should instead think of them as alien bears. From what I understand, bears are not animals that one wants to take lightly. Now, Ewoks are not the size of a grizzly bear, but they do have these nice sharp, long, pointy sticks called spears to make up for it. They can also build traps. This of course is shown by the fact that they managed to capture our valiant heroes, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, C-3P0, and R2-D2 in a trap. These cute, childish teddy bears then decided to cook these heroes and have them for dinner, except for C-3P0 because they thought that he was one of their gods. Can someone please explain to me what is cute and cuddly about this? Now, I will admit that the Ewoks are definitely designed to appeal to children. There is nothing wrong with this so long as they also serve an overall purpose in the plot, which they do.
Defense #2: The battle did not go as much in the Ewoks’ favor as some people seem to think it did.
Another objection is that there is no way a native tribal group could stand up to a power like The Empire and win. This is correct as far as it goes. Obviously, The Empire could easily bombard the Ewoks from space. However, they are not in a position to do that in the movie. They are instead on the Ewoks’ homeworld in the Ewoks’ forest. Forests are not a good place to carry on a battle if your enemy knows the terrain better than you. They can find all these nice little places to hide and launch ambushes from. Surprise can be a quite useful tool in battle. Just ask the British during The French and Indian War. What is more, the tribal group is not alone. They have The Rebels. Not a very large group of Rebels, sure, but a large enough group. I digress from the main point here though. If you’ll actually watch the battle scene with the clip that I have helpfully provided, you might notice that the battle is not entirely going the Ewoks’ way.
I apologize for the quality
After the initial element of surprise wears off, things start to go somewhat against the Ewoks and The Rebels. In point of fact, Ewoks get killed. This removes the entire idea of childishness. This is not a Saturday morning cartoon like G.I. Joes where nobody dies. There is a good chance that they would have been defeated if not for Chewbacca taking one of the AT-STs and turning it against The Empire.
Defense #3: The Ewoks fit perfectly in with a theme that runs through The Original Trilogy.
Let’s take a moment to step back and look at the The Trilogy as a whole. In A New Hope, we are introduced to The Rebel Alliance that is fighting against the evil Galactic Empire. There is little hope left in the galaxy. The Rebel Alliance is weak, and The Empire has just finished making a massive planet destroying superweapon. Yet against all odds, The Rebel Alliance stands because it is the right thing to do. They fight, and they triumph. The weak stand up to the strong. Move into The Empire Strikes Back. The Rebel Alliance is on the run. The Empire catches up with them. Many escape. Our valiant band of heroes still continues to fight against the evil of The Empire. This time though they do not come out unscathed as Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and Luke Skywalker loses his hand. Again the weak stand up to the strong. Now, we enter Return of the Jedi. In the movies, the Ewoks are one of the weakest people groups technology wise that we see, yet they despite their weakness stand up to The Empire. The little guy rises up and fights. Yet again the weak stand up to the strong.
It is for these three reasons that I believe the Ewoks should not be so maligned. Yes, they are designed in such a way as to appeal to children, but there is more to them then just the child appeal. They are ferocious warriors and hunters that are willing to fight for their world and for their friends. They are in fact a good addition to The Original Trilogy and fit in with it perfectly.