Every movie in the Star Wars galaxy brings with it a host of new races, creatures, and stories. The Last Jedi is no exception to this rule, bringing to life (or bringing off the page into stunning 3D) no fewer than five amazing creatures never before seen on the big screen.
These five creatures hail from the three central locations in the movie: Ahch-To, Canto Bight, and Crait. Each has its own place in the film and the Star Wars universe as a whole, adding a touch of life to the stellar tableau. They also make pretty good marketing tools, it seems.
Even though the word Lanai never appears in the film, the amphibian “Caretakers” on Ahch-To take a special place of honor as the newest among the many sentient races in the Star Wars galaxy. These ancient creatures (apparently descended from a genetic offshoot of the porgs due to their birdlike feet) speak their own tongue and maintain the grounds where the Jedi first sprang forth.
The Lanai have made preserving the temple their role in the galaxy for thousands of years, and they’re none too fond of any visitors mucking around with it. The temple site was filmed at the ancient monastery on Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichíl), a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the nun-like creatures worry over the buildings like they were their own children. They’re also a bit judgemental, at least when it comes to Rey.
Even though they’re not explicitly sentient, the porgs can be judgemental in their own way. At least one knows what a roasted member of his species looks like and doesn’t want to join a certain Wookiee for dinner. It’s ironic, in a way, as director Rian Johnson has confirmed the correct term for a group of porgs is a murder. The cute and flappy little misfit creatures cause no end of trouble when they get off Ahch-To, though we can forgive them due to their Wookiee-like battle cry.
The porgs served a dual purpose in the film. The digital forms of the avian creatures were often superimposed over actual puffins on Skellig Michael, removing the real-world birds from the scenery. With Skellig Michael being off-limits for most of us, either due to the distance or the rigorous requirements to preserve the UNESCO heritage site, the closest we may get to chasing our own murder of porgs is herding their real-world counterpart cousins in the Galapagos or on other coastal islands hosting real-world puffins and petrels.
The Thala-sirens likely reminded Luke of home and days long gone spent drinking blue milk with his aunt and uncle before the dark times, before the Empire changed his life forever. Given the presence of mammary glands on and the excretion of green milk by the otherwise aquatic creatures, we have to assume these manatee-like beasts are mammals. That’s about all we want to deduce about this particular Ahch-To inhabitant.
Credit: Star Wars – Behind the Scenes
The Last Jedi wasn’t actually the first time we encountered these large-eared, furry “space horses.” Chuck Wendig mentions them in the Aftermath novels, and they first appeared in the Join the Resistance books for children. Rose Tico couldn’t wait to get her hands on one when they first appeared in the film and with good reason.
These creatures are apparently as strong as they are fast, literally chewing up the scenery and stampeding through obstacles as they assist Finn and Rose in the Last Jedi. Anyone who loves Star Wars and has ever dreamed of having a pony, especially one that looked more like a horse and less like a varactyl, is sure to find a newfound forerunner for dream pet.
These guys are better than porgs. There, I said it. They don’t chew on cables, and they actually play a pretty important role in the Last Jedi. The vulptices are creatures whose fur has apparently become crystallized with the salt on Crait over the years. According to creature designer Neal Scanlon, “they’ve taken on the very surface of the planet they live on.” This gives each vulptex the appearance of being a crystallized white fox. That’s pretty awesome.
Star Wars is usually on point when it comes to merchandising, but even with porgs likely to make future lists of top marketing campaigns, we can’t quite figure out why the vulptices aren’t also lining stores shelves. These crystalline critters are cute in their own way, and they’re at least twice as useful as even the battle-cry porgs.