|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (December 2014)|
Chewbacca (//), nicknamed "Chewie", is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. He is a Wookiee, a tall, hirsute biped and intelligent species from the planet Kashyyyk. Chewbacca is the loyal friend and first mate of Han Solo, and serves as co-pilot on Solo's spaceship, the Millennium Falcon. Within the films of the main saga, Chewbacca is portrayed by Peter Mayhew in the Star Wars on Episodes from III to VIII (Mayhew shares the role with his body double Joonas Suotamo on Episode VII and VIII). Suotamo took over the role alone in the upcoming, as yet untitled Han Solo movie. The character has also appeared on television, books, comics, and video games.
|Star Wars character|
Chewbacca in Star Wars
|First appearance||Star Wars (1977)|
|Created by||George Lucas|
|Portrayed by||Peter Mayhew (Episodes III–VIII, Holiday Special)
Joonas Suotamo (Episode VII-VIII, Untitled Han Solo film)
|Voiced by||Ben Burtt (vocal effects)|
|Occupation||Co-pilot and first mate on Millennium Falcon|
Chewbacca, a 200-year-old Wookiee, becomes Han Solo's companion after Han, an Imperial officer at the time, refused an order to kill him, for which Han was dismissed from the Imperial Navy and became a smuggler. To repay this debt, Chewbacca protected Han for the rest of his life, and served as his co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon. Standing at 8 feet tall, Chewbacca is covered with long hair, and wears only a bandolier. His weapon of choice is the Wookiee bowcaster (a crossbow-shaped directed-energy weapon). Chewbacca was named one of the "greatest sidekicks" in film history by Entertainment Weekly.
In other countries
Chewbacca's creation as a "gentle, hairy, non-English-speaking co-pilot" was inspired by George Lucas seeing his own dog sitting up on the passenger seat of his car. It is said that Chewbacca's name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.
In all five screen appearances, Chewbacca was played by Peter Mayhew, who was chosen for his height of 7'3" (2.2 m). Five identical costumes were made for Mayhew: in the three original films and a holiday special, the suits were made of yak hair and mohair. In Revenge of the Sith, the suit was made of more comfortable materials, though Mayhew's filming only lasted a day. Only Mayhew's blue eyes could be seen in his costume, but fans easily recognize him by his gestures, and his co-workers claimed the ability to tell when a stand-in was taking his place.
Chewbacca's voice was created by the original films' sound designer, Ben Burtt, from recordings of walruses, lions, camels, bears, rabbits, tigers, and badgers in Burtt's personal menagerie. The individual recordings were mixed at different ratios for Chewbacca's different utterances. One of the most prominent elements in the voice was a black bear named Tarik, from Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California.
The original costume was created by Stuart Freeborn and his wife Kay Freeborn, who hand knitted the torso section. During preproduction of The Force Awakens, Creature Effects Supervisor Neal Scanlan commented that the original suit was far more sophisticated than they had originally realized, leading him to entirely scrap their first attempt at making the new suit, go back and study Freeborn's work in order to better appreciate how it worked, and attempt to emulate it.
First appearing in Star Wars (1977), Chewbacca and Han Solo accept a charter to take Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to the planet Alderaan. When they find the planet destroyed by the Death Star, the two smugglers are drawn into the Rebel Alliance. As part of a plan to rescue Leia, Luke tries to put handcuffs on Chewbacca to make it look like he's a prisoner. Chewbacca almost attacks Luke believing him to be selling him and Solo out, but Han explains that he knows what Luke has in mind and convinces the Wookiee to play along. After rescuing Leia and taking her to the rebel base on Yavin IV, the two smugglers are given reward money in the value of a payload lost by him to which he owes Jabba The Hutt. Somehow, Chewbacca is able to convince Han to put his debt to Jabba aside for the time being and help The Rebels in their fight against the evil Galactic Empire's Death Star. They manage to save Luke from being killed, also allowing him to be the one to destroy the space station.
In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Chewbacca finds a dismantled C-3PO in a junk pile in Cloud City and rescues him from being melted down. He later tries to repair him, but does a terrible job at it. Before Han is frozen in carbonite, he asks Chewbacca to look after Princess Leia for him. When Lando Calrissian is able to save Leia and Chewbacca from being taken to Darth Vader's ship, he uncuffs the Wookie, who upon release starts strangling him for selling them out. When Lando explains that they still have a chance to save Han, Leia has Chewbacca stop choking him. Even though they're unsuccessful at saving the frozen Han, they make it back to the Falcon with R2-D2. Chewbacca carried C-3PO on his back throughout their escape to the Falcon. When Leia hears Luke's cry for help, she has Chewbacca turn the ship around to rescue him. After doing so, they attempt the jump to lightspeed but fail, even after Lando's men fixed it. Chewbacca is furious at Lando and goes to fix it himself, having spent part of the movie trying to do so. What none of them except for R2-D2 realize is that the hyperdrive had been deactivated by the Empire, which R2-D2 had learned from Cloud City's central computer while helping them escape. Admiral Firmus Piett's men disguised themselves as Lando's repairmen and deactivated the hyperdrive as part of Vader's plan to capture Luke and turn him to the dark side of the Force, but R2-D2 is able to fix it allowing them to make the jump to hyperspeed and get to the Rebel fleet. While Luke heals and is given a robotic right hand to replace the one he lost against Vader, Lando and Chewbacca prepare to leave to find Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett and rescue Han.
In Return of the Jedi (1983), Chewbacca pretends to be the prisoner of a bounty hunter named Boushh, which is actually Leia in disguise as part of Luke's plan to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt. During the Battle of Endor, Chewbacca and some Ewoks commandeer an AT-ST from the empire and use it to shoot down other walkers and imperial troops.
In the 2005 prequel film Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca and Tarfful fight in the Clone Wars when their planet Kashyyyk is invaded by the Separatist Alliance. They also help Yoda escape his clone troopers, who had been ordered to kill him. Chewbacca is not identified until Yoda says goodbye to him at the end of a scene.
On April 7, 2014, it was confirmed that Mayhew would reprise his role as Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the film, set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, he and Han are piloting a cargo vessel and find the Millennium Falcon, which had been stolen from them. Chewbacca and Han help the rogue stormtrooper Finn, the scavenger Rey and the droid BB-8 escape from a gang of mercenaries on board the Falcon. They then fly to Maz Kanata's castle so that Maz could help them get BB-8 to the Resistance. But before Chewbacca and the gang could get Maz's help, the First Order attacks the castle and captures Rey while Chewbacca, Finn, and Han are saved by X-wing pilots led by Poe Dameron. Without Rey, they fly to a Resistance base, where Chewbacca and Han reunite with Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2. They also soon reunite with Rey, who escaped from the First Order. Chewbacca helps in the fight between the Resistance and First Order. When Han is killed by his son Kylo Ren during the battle, an enraged Chewbacca shoots Ren in the side, leaving him severely weakened, kills many Stormtroopers and then sets off explosives that allow Poe and other X-wing pilots to destroy Starkiller Base, the First Order's battle station. Chewbacca shortly thereafter rescues Rey and Finn from the wilderness of Starkiller Base following their duel with Ren. As Starkiller Base blows up, Chewbacca escapes in the Falcon with Finn and Rey, and later, along with R2-D2, helps Rey find Luke.
Han Solo spin-off film
The Clone Wars
In the season 3 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Chewbacca is captured by Trandoshan hunters, but is freed by Ahsoka Tano and agrees to help her and two younglings escape. He builds a transmitter out of parts from the damaged Trandoshan ship, but it seems unable to work. Later, he and Ahsoka attack the Trandoshan fortress, killing many in sight, before they are found and assisted by other Wookiees led by Tarfful.
In 2015, Marvel Comics published a five-issue miniseries titled Chewbacca written by Gerry Duggan and art by Phil Noto. The comic is part of the canon developed subsequent to Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, and the end of Dark Horse Comics' publication of Star Wars comics.
In April 2014, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded by Lucasfilm as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise.
The 1978 television program Star Wars Holiday Special introduces Chewbacca's family: Mallatobuck (his wife), Lumpawarrump (his son) and Attichitcuk, Chief of the Kaapauku Tribe (his father). They live together on Kashyyyk. The Star Wars Holiday Special consisted of a frame story in which Chewbacca and Han must prevent Darth Vader from spoiling Life Day, and get home to be with Chewbacca's family. It aired only once.
Chewbacca appears in the Han Solo Adventures trilogy of books written by Brian Daley, including Han Solo at Stars' End, Han Solo's Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy, originally published between 1979 and 1980.
Chewbacca's family also appears in the non-canon Star Wars Legends books (Star Wars books published before December 2014), most notably The Wookiee Storybook, The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy by Michael P. Kube-McDowell, and The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn by A. C. Crispin. The latter also introduces other family members, including a sister named Kallabow and cousins named Dryanta and Jowdrrl, as well as the matriarch, Ellen.
In the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, set just after the events in Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca is forced to leave Kashyyyk after he narrowly escapes a major Imperial attack on the planet. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine enslave most of Kashyyyk's population for forced labor on the construction of the Death Star. To escape, he joins a ship of smugglers who are friendly to the Jedi.
The novel The Hutt Gambit explains how Chewbacca and Han first meet when Han, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Han's commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Han refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a "life-debt" to Han, and the two become business partners and best friends.
In the 1999 novel Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore, the first in the New Jedi Order series, Chewbacca sacrifices his life to save Han's son Anakin from a collision between the planet Sernpidal and one of its moons. Lumpawarrump and Lowbacca offer to assume Chewbacca's life debt to Han.
Lucasfilm followed Vector Prime with a four-issue comic book titled Star Wars: Chewbacca, in which C-3PO and R2-D2 travel the galaxy to collect the stories of beings who knew or met the Wookiee.
In the fighting game Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, Chewbacca is a playable character.
In Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Chewbacca appears briefly at the Mos Eisley spaceport as an NPC, assisting Jaden Korr in disabling the tractor beams holding both the Millennium Falcon and the Raven's Claw captive.
In LucasArts' game Kinect Star Wars, the player acts as gunner on a spacecraft piloted by a young Chewbacca.
He was a playable (LEGO version) character in Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy and Lego Star Wars: The Video Game as he had a big role in the original trilogy movies but is only in one level in The Video Game. The level is where Chewbacca's home is under attack, Yoda helps him and so at the end of the level Chewbacca and another Wookie lead him to a space pod to escape, just as in the film. He also appeared in Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Chewbacca will be a playabale character on the Death Star DLC from Star Wars: Battlefront 2015, which will come out on September.
IGN has been fond of the character, choosing the character as the 9th top Star Wars character, listing his relationship with Han Solo as one of their top 10 movie bromances, claiming him as one of the characters they would like to see in The Clone Wars, and choosing him as one of the characters they would like to see in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and (along with Han) its sequel. UGO Networks listed the character as "one of the most bad-ass archers in popular culture."
In contrast, Roger Ebert in his 1997 review of the Special Edition re-release of The Empire Strikes Back declared that the character gave the worst performance of the film: "This character was thrown into the first film as window dressing, was never thought through, and as a result has been saddled with one facial expression and one mournful yelp. Much more could have been done. How can you be a space pilot and not be able to communicate in any meaningful way? Does Han Solo really understand Chew's monotonous noises? Do they have long chats sometimes?"
Chewbacca is one of the few fictional characters to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards. Because fans complained that he should have received a medal along with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo at the end of A New Hope, MTV presented the award as a medal bestowed by Carrie Fisher. Peter Mayhew had voiced concern about Chewbacca being skipped in the original medal scene as well, but noted that Chewbacca does get the last "line" in the film as compensation.
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