This article contains potential spoilers of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, so don’t read ahead if you haven’t or are planning on seeing the movie.
One of the things the Star Wars franchise is known for is introducing captivating, brand-new characters with the release of each movie: Master Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, Jar Jar Binks in the prequels, BB-8 in The Force Awakens, Porgs in The Last Jedi, and more recently, The Child in The Mandalorian. These characters are usually introduced as the comic relief or to appeal to the younger viewers, and may or may not be essential in driving the plot. The newest installment in the Skywalker Saga is no exception. This time, in a galaxy far, far away, we meet Babu Frik.
Babu Frik resides on the snowy, mountainous planet of Kijimi, located among the Mid Rim of the fictional Star Wars galaxy. He is an Anzellan creature which are native to Kijimi. Not much else is known about the Anzellans, however, their eyes are capable of seeing details you and I would need a microscope to see. Kijimi is also home to the Spice Runners of Kijimi, a group of “spice” smugglers led by Zorii Bliss (played by Keri Russell) — whom we also meet in The Rise of Skywalker — and of which we find out that Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) was also a member during his youth. Babu Frik worked alongside the Spice Runners of Kijimi as a droidsmith, someone who modifies and reprograms droids; Babu Frik is significant to the story as he is able to do so, regardless of the droid’s safety protocols.
The release of The Rise of Skywalker was met with mixed reactions from fans, however, one thing everyone could agree on was that Babu Frik was the MVP and stole the show! But what is it about the little guy that makes him so great?
- He’s Cute
My first impression of Babu Frik reminded me of an article I once read about “cute aggression,” the phenomenon in which humans want to squeeze, pinch or crush things they find adorable or attractive. With his big eyes and scrunchy, wrinkly face, he looks like what I imagine the outcome of a foursome with a pug, the Crazy Frog, James Hong’s character in Blade Runner (1982) and the worm guy from Labyrinth (1986) would be. Not to mention his brains! Contrarily, I think it’s human nature for people to also want to protect the things they find adorable at all costs. Babu Frik made his debut only just over a month after the debut of The Child on The Mandalorian on Disney+, so right off the bat, he had huge competition among the hearts of Star Wars fans. Many fans and critics alike have said that they think Babu Frik is even cuter than that of The Child, even going so far as to call him “daddy.”
- He Sounds Familiar
Shoutout to my dad for initially educating me on this one: you might not realize it at first, but Babu Frik was voiced by someone you may recognize! Scottish actress Shirley Henderson provided the noises, shouts, giggles and speaking voice of Babu Frik. She is best known for her role as Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films. Cross-franchising at its absolute finest!
- He’s Old School
With advancements in computer technology since the 1970s, computer-generated imagery (CGI) is typically used nowadays to bring the creatures of Star Wars to life, but surprisingly, new characters such as Babu Frik and The Child are brought to life by puppetry and animatronic technology; the same technology that gave life to their predecessors, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt, to name a few. Puppetry, in my opinion, is a dying art form. The physical endurance required from Frank Oz and the other puppeteers from The Jim Henson Company to operate such puppets is unparalleled! Thankfully for Shirley Henderson, who helped operate her character behind the scenes, Babu Frik is only nine inches tall as opposed to Jabba the Hutt, who weighed one ton and was possibly the most expensive puppet ever created in history. Puppetry is unique, original, but scarce outside of public broadcast television, it seems. I think by utilizing old-school techniques like puppetry and animatronics, the filmmakers of The Rise of Skywalker were trying to take the audience back to when we first met Luke Skywalker in the very beginning and remind us of the things that made us fall in love with the story in the first place.
- He Ultimately Saves the Day
Babu Frik comes into the picture after Rey discovers a dagger inscribed with Sith text, previously belonging to a Sith assassin named Ochi who worked for the resurrected, evil Emperor Palpatine. As per protocol, C-3PO’s programming prevents him from interpreting the language, so Dameron suggests having the translated text extracted from the droid’s memory by none other than Babu Frik the Anzellan droidsmith. Babu Frik is asked by strangers to commit the dangerous act, all while the First Order conducts night raids through the streets of Kijimi. Babu Frik does so without question or fear, only with laughter and enthusiasm. If it wasn’t for Babu Frik, Rey and the gang wouldn’t have known the coordinates to the second wayfinder, leading her to the planet Exegol to confront Palpatine and take him down once and for all. They wouldn’t be able to pick up where Luke Skywalker left off; every choice made and act committed by Luke and even his father Darth Vader would have been for naught, and there really would be no franchise.
Depending on your opinion, Babu Frik is either the sole saving grace of an irredeemably bad movie OR a brief source of sincerity, hopefulness and levity within an action-packed flick. One thing’s for sure: Babu Frik has stolen the hearts of everyone and you can now view his scene in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in its entirety here!