From the Ordo Moon Dragon in Star Wars: The Bad Batch to The Mandalorian‘s krayt dragon, there seems to have been an influx of fantasy creatures introduced in Star Wars. Through the myriad of works that have built its expansive world, the fictional galaxy has become home to a variety of fantastically original creatures, some of which have become iconic in their own right, like the rancor, the sarlacc, and exogorth space slugs. But no other creature in the Star Wars galaxy is rooted quite so strongly in real-world mythology as dragons.
Dragons have actually been in the franchise from its very beginnings in 1977: as C-3PO wanders the deserts of Tatooine in Star Wars (now A New Hope), he encounters the massive skeleton of a creature known as a krayt dragon. This species recently made its most cinematic appearance to date in an episode of season 2 of The Mandalorian, when the titular bounty hunter helps Cobb Vanth, the villagers of Mos Pelgo, and a band of Tusken Raiders defeat a greater krayt dragon. Following hot on the heels of this was the “Replacements” episode of The Bad Batch, which featured the first appearance of the Ordo Moon Dragon.
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Answering the question of how many varieties of dragons exist in the Star Wars universe is challenging, not least because it isn’t entirely clear how a creature receives that classification. With regards to the two most visible examples in The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch, although their general physiology is reminiscent of the dragons of western folklore, they could perhaps better be considered large reptiles, much like the Komodo dragon, as they are missing many key features of prototypical modern dragons from Game of Thrones or The Witcher, such as fire-breathing or particularly sharp intellect. The temptation to liken these beasts to the fantasy archetype is probably due to their evocative names more than anything.
To be fair, Star Wars has always had a healthy amount of science fantasy mixed in with its more straightforward science fiction, as the mysticism of the Jedi Knights and the Sith Lords can attest. However, in streamlining the lore after their acquisition of Lucasfilm, Disney removed some of the more outlandish details found in the nooks and crannies of Star Wars. As such, there were once many more diverse examples of dragons in Star Wars Legends, previously known as the Expanded Universe. With Arkanian, Ithorian, and (fan-created) Ubese Thorn-Back War varieties, among others, the types of dragons in these stories numbered well into the dozens. There was even a winged subspecies of rancor called simply the “dragon-rancor.” However, the majority of these dragon species have yet to make their way back into canon.
The confusion over dragons in the Star Wars franchise highlights some of the trouble working in such an imaginative setting: the etymological constraints of certain words will tie them inexorably back to our real world. After all, for all of the films’ originality, Star Wars creator George Lucas has been open about the fact that he drew just as much from real religious beliefs and mythology as he did from old Flash Gordon serials. But in exchange for this challenge to complete independence, some of the beauty in the invention can also be found here, as the definition of what makes a Star Wars dragon unique has yet to be defined. And seeing as The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Bad Batch have been recent Disney+ projects, it looks like the creative people behind these stories have some interest in this area as well.
Next: The Rise of Skywalker Subverts Star Wars’ Monster Cliche
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