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A Sith By Any Other Name

December 6th, 2010

One requirement of creating a fantasy world–particularly one set in a galaxy far, far away from Earth–is that you need to come up with a lot of proper names. Good fantasy monikers are tricky; without careful thought or imagination, you can wind up with the likes of Melf the Elf or the Xyclons. Or, God forbid, you get clever and start spelling normal names backwards, because no one ever thinks of that.

George Lucas actually did pretty well in this regard when drafting the first two Star Wars films. Tatooine, Jabba the Hut(t) and Moff Tarkin sound “spacey” but not silly. Okay, so Luke Skywalker is a generic “hero” name, but even that’s a step up from the early drafts when he had the surname Starkiller.

By the time of Return of the Jedi, we were being introduced to Sy Snootles, Droopy McCool and Ephant Mon. Perhaps Lucas’ creative apathy was starting to show, or perhaps the denizens of Jabba’s court were named by committee.

For The Phantom Menace, we learned that Darth was not Vader’s first name, but rather a traditional Sith title. And so it was that we met the first major villains of the prequels, Darth Maul and Darth Sidious.

I think Darth Sidious is a decent sobriquet. It’s suggestive of dark deeds without being entirely on the nose. Darth Maul is pushing things a bit, but even that didn’t bother me too much. It fit the character of what amounted to little more than a living beatstick.

In Attack of the Clones, we met the new Sith on the block, Count Dooku, aka Darth Tyranus. Dooku was allegedly derived from the Japanese word for “poison,” but that’s the kind of thing that seems witty until people actually start saying it aloud. (Ooo, Count Dooku, I’m so scared.) Then there’s Darth Tyranus, which was so on the nose as to be fully up the nostril.

Next came Revenge of the Sith and its chief baddie, the cyborg-with-a-hacking-cough General Grievous. At that point, we were just one step removed from Admiral Atrocious.

Making matters worse was the named-but-not-seen Sith Lord Darth Plagueis. Yes, Plagueis. It’s like the Sith weren’t even trying anymore.

I recognize that, at least according to the single example we’ve seen, Sith are named by their masters. And as the Sith master/apprentice relationship is antagonistic at best, perhaps the students are deliberately given douchey handles just to piss them off.

That brought us to The Clone Wars. The original micro-series gave us Asajj Ventress–of whom I wholeheartedly approved. On the other hand, it also gave us a bounty hunter named Durge, who might as well have been a ’90s X-Men villain.

It’s gotten worse since then with the advent of the ongoing Clone Wars TV show. General Loathsom is bad enough, but Cad Bane? Cad Bane? Did Mr. and Mrs. Bane say, “Our boy just doesn’t sound despicable enough?”

And recently there came word of a new villain to be introduced during the 2011 run of episodes. A horned creature alleged to be a close relation of Darth Maul, his name is…

is…

Savage Opress.

Savage.

Opress.

For fuck’s sake. Does George Lucas own some sinister Magnetic Poetry set?

Why not dub him Hayt Eyestabb or Mongrel Beatshiswife? Hell, go for broke and call him Evil McSitherson.

Coming in 2012: Meet Count Dooku’s twisted second cousin, Darth Murderpants!

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