It's no argument that for a while, the Ewoks were heavily marketed towards children.

Animated series

Stuffed animals

That one map from Mario Kart

However, at least to me, their appearance in Return of the Jedi doesn't really gel with their later cutesy, innocent demeanors.

Among other reasons,

  1. They are all armed and totally down for violent warfare.

    • Weapons
  2. They kill people.
    • Death to the Empire!
  3. They eat people.
    • THREEPIO: I'm rather embarrassed, General Solo, but it appears you are to be the main course at a banquet in my honor.

  4. They're inspired by the Viet Cong.

Given that the Endor natives were originally going to be Wookiees, it further complicates things.

When Lucas originally created the Ewoks, was their appeal to children a factor?

  • Doesn't #5 (they were Wookies) prove that the answer is most certainly "no"? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 23 '16 at 1:30
  • @DVK-in-exile Not necessarily, when Lucas was creating the ewoks, potential marketability could have been a factor. – Rogue Jedi Jun 23 '16 at 1:33
  • 2
    You seem to be confused. Greedo shot at the Ewoks first and they just shot back. With logs. That was always how Lucas intended it. He's sorry if you liked the other version better. – Machavity Jun 23 '16 at 3:12
  • An Ewok rainbow bridge? Everything else I can accept, but that stretches my suspension of disbelief too far. – Xantec Jun 23 '16 at 15:53
  • @Xantec Well, it is a Marvel comic. – Rogue Jedi Jun 23 '16 at 15:58
up vote 9 down vote accepted

It does appear that Lucas meant for them to at least be more child-accessible, if not for children.

According to People, Lucas specifically told the director that they should be "cuddly".

He also wanted the Ewoks to be more approachable than the other aliens in his bestiary. "Keep them a little cuddly, so we want to hug them a little," he advised Jedi director Marquand. But when Lucas first saw the Ewok costumes, he thought they had a case of the "terminal cutes." The performers weren't thrilled, either. Recalls 3'4" Margarita Fernandez, 24, "When we first looked at each other as Ewoks, we thought 'Yuk.' Then they began to grow on us."

The article goes on to make an unsourced (but believable) claim that they were designed to be marketed towards children.

The movie Ewoks were designed with an eye to having the appropriately furry 'n' fuzzy appeal to little consumers.

Speaking more broadly, Lucas once said that Jedi was "designed for kids", so it's fair to say that the Ewoks were designed to at least be child-accessible.

Jedi is almost incomprehensible in certain areas. It's designed more for kids...The plot runs along for a five-year-old who doesn't understand any of the machinations of the thing. But you can go back and look at it again and still find it interesting.

It's sometimes hard to say because George Lucas retcons George Lucas so often you can never really tell what he intended anymore.

Lucas has asserted that all of Star Wars is for kids

"The movies are for children but they don't want to admit that. In the first film they absolutely hated R2 and C3-PO. In the second film they didn't like Yoda and in the third one they hated the Ewoks... and now Jar Jar is getting accused of the same thing."

I mean you're calling out marketing to kids some cuddly little savages. If you step back and think about it, virtually nothing about the Star Wars universe is really kid friendly. Han Solo kills a bounty hunter in cold blood. Luke's aunt and uncle are massacred and he has to cremate their bodies (I had to explain that one to my kids). Ironically, my kids had few issues with the Ewoks because they were, indeed, cute.

What I don't see is any attempt at making them a pure marketing ploy at the time. I mean, compare the Ewoks to Jar Jar Binks (who was a walking, talking marketing tool). Here's George talking about ROTJ

At about 0:46 he talks about the Ewoks and he, rather blithely, states

I took the Wookies and cut 'em in half

Lucas originally made Endor for the Wookiees, but wanted a primitive culture to overthrow the Empire (Wookiees could, you know, fix starships). So you've got to invent a new race here. But the video makes it sound like pre-retcon Lucas was taking a pragmatic step and just took one furry race, made them shorter, and called it another furry race. I doubt very much that marketing wasn't far from his mind(Lucas is a master at marketing toys), but, as you note, the troubling aspects of their society make them far from perfect kid subject matter. All of the kid specific stuff that came afterwards just avoided the subject (most notably the two Ewoks live action made-for-TV movies, neither of which depicted them as pure savages).

I mean, who can't forgive the whole "we eat humans" thing after seeing this face?

enter image description here

  • 5
    Well, not exactly cannibal. We don't see them eating other ewoks, do we? – Jon Kiparsky Jun 23 '16 at 5:32
  • The difference is that Han never had a Saturday morning cartoon where he taught the values of friendship and teamwork. – Rogue Jedi Jun 23 '16 at 12:52
  • 1
    @RogueJedi True, but Han did visit Chewbacca's family for Christmas that one time... – Machavity Jun 23 '16 at 13:00
  • @Machavity Hey! Life Day's Earthly analog was designed to be American Thanksgiving, and you know it! – Nate Jun 23 '16 at 18:26
  • @JonKiparsky Removed the cannibal references – Machavity Jun 23 '16 at 23:53

In ROTJ, he created them to be half as good ewoks, then he made them do stuff he didnt realize wold make them little kid-ish. Then marketing, merchandise, and 3rd party media came in...

  • 1
    Do you have anything to back this up? – Rogue Jedi Jun 23 '16 at 12:50

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