Luke Skywalker. Kylo Ren. Qui-Gon Jinn. What do these names have in common? None of them make much linguistic sense to us earthlings, and all of them sound cool. That has been the guiding principle when it comes to naming “Star Wars” characters for a full 40 years now, leading to millions of people repeating such monikers as Grand Moff Tarkin and Baze Malbus as if they aren’t made-up gibberish.
Not that that’s a bad thing; quite the contrary: “Star Wars” has expanded into the biggest franchise of this or any other galaxy not in spite of its quirks but because of them. Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no fun to be had in taking a closer look at some of these names and raising a quizzical eyebrow — like when you repeat a word so many times it loses all meaning.
“Solo,” the latest Star Wars Story, has more than its fair share of silly names. Here are the best and worst of them.
Best: Enfys Nest
Even though it sounds more like a villain’s hideout than an actual villain, this is a memorable moniker nevertheless — not least because the character who carries it ends up being one of the best things about this Star Wars Story for reasons that shan’t be spoiled here. Suffice to say that, should there be any more entries in this sub-series, Enfys Nest is one of the figures we most look forward to seeing more of.
Worst: Tobias Beckett
You get Woody Harrelson in a “Star Wars” movie and this is what you name him? It brings to mind a certain Never Nude from “Arrested Development” and the author of “Waiting for Godot” all at once, which sounds appealing in theory but doesn’t quite lend itself to a mustachioed smuggler who essentially teaches Han Solo how to be Han Solo.
Best: Lady Proxima
It may sound too similar to Proxima Midnight of “Avengers: Infinity War” fame, but “proxima” is quite simply a neat-sounding word and adding “lady” to the beginning of anything gives it an air of gravitas. It helps that this aquatic baddie is played by the Oscar-winning Linda Hunt, who likewise lends some prestige to the intergalactic goings on.
Worst: Rio Durant
Coming to a galaxy near you, the most fuel-efficient SUV ever manufactured by the Empire: the brand-new Rio Durant! This four-armed pilot can’t play basketball and has possibly never been to a real river, but don’t hold that against him — he’s voiced by Jon Favreau and proves far more likable than his name might imply.
Best: Dryden Voss
This may just be the archetypal “Star Wars” name: normal enough at first glance but utterly bizarre once examined. A quick google search for “Dryden” brings up a 17th-century English poet, whereas Voss is both an idyllic village in water and a brand of upscale water named for said town. There are many others in this vein: Poe Dameron, Wedge Antilles, Rose Tico, and so on and so forth. Kudos to Paul Bettany for being part of such a proud tradition!
Honorable Mention: Han Solo
Ever wonder why Han Solo is so named? Neither did we, but that doesn’t mean that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” isn’t going to tell you. Enjoy the exposition!