Although fans are bitterly divided over the most recent Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, we can all agree on one thing – Porgs are seriously cute.
In a world where people are attacking each other over their opinions about what’s essentially a soap opera set in space, the adorable Porgs are the only thing bringing us together as we simultaneously go ‘awwwwwww’.
However, is there more beneath those cute puffy faces and big wide eyes which look into your soul?
Of course the cynics among us instantly see one thing whenever the puffin-like creatures appear on the big screen: lots and lots of dollar bills.
Porgs have taken over the world with merchandise popping up in stores everywhere.
Not only can you buy cuddly Porg soft toys, you can also get your hands on Lego sets, bedding, t-shirts, figures and a cute children’s book called Chewie and the Porgs.
Your dog can even have some Porg merchandise of its own, as there’s also a Chewbacca throw and Porg pillow set available to buy!
— Harry (@DocEgonSpengler) December 20, 2017
Lucasfilm and Disney have certainly realised the marketing potential the little guys have, hence the amount of merchandise on sale.
Randomly popping up at various points in the film, the Porgs serve no purpose to the plot and it appears they’re only there to sell toys to children – and us kids disguised as adults.
Walking adverts, they certainly expose the dark side of Disney’s Star Wars empire reminding us how, at the end of the day, these films only really exist to make money and so the more the audience is taken advantage of, the better.
With the sheer popularity of Porgs being so evident, I can guarantee you this technique will be used more and more in future films.
This isn’t the first time Star Wars have done this though and Porgs were always going to be compared to the Return of the Jedi‘s Ewoks.
The teddy bear-like creatures were also aimed at younger audiences and a lot of Ewok merchandise has been sold down the years.
However, it could be argued Endor’s natives actually serve a purpose to the story as their surprise counterattack helps the rebels attack the Imperials meaning it doesn’t feel like they only exist to sell toys?
Did I see a Porg attack a First Order stormtrooper in The Last Jedi, no I did not!
Let’s be honest though, Porgs add a lot of fun to the film, acting as comic relief while also making The Last Jedi family-friendly, meaning a new generation is now able to enjoy the Star Wars saga.
They’re also a lot cuter and better than those irritating Ewoks, so I don’t really care they’re walking adverts, they’re just too damn adorable.
Yes I’ve been caught in Disney’s clever trap but I say to you good sir, BRING ON ALL THE PORG MERCHANDISE AS I NEED IT ALL IN MY LIFE!
If you want a little teaser of these cute creatures in action, check out the footage below:
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Interestingly the Porgs were created not by a marketing executive but as a special request from director Rian Johnson, which destroys all those theories you cynics had.
Asking the special effects team to create something which looked like a combination of a ‘puffin, seal pup and a pug dog’, the porgs were born.
Special effects artist Neil Scanlan told Metro:
So he said to us, ‘the place where Luke is, there happens to be these little characters called Porgs’.
So we were like, ‘Oh my gosh! They have a name already’. When you close your eyes and say the name ‘Porg’, it does suggest something. Porg is a great name.
With that information, we effectively, me and the concept team, just sketched away and played for several weeks.
One day, one of the guys came up with this drawing which looked like an oval potato, with little legs and big eyes.
It was in the tradition of one of the key elements of being a Star Wars character. You think of BB-8, there’s a clear silhouette to BB-8.
Any child can draw BB-8 and we’d all know what it was. So could we with this design? Rain saw it immediately.
So we then literally fleshed that design out, coming up with ideas so the audience could engage with them.
It worked because whenever The Last Jedi is mentioned, so are the Porgs.
I want to adopt all the porgs pic.twitter.com/TxsoKb0cJY
— Danielle Sepulveres (@ellesep) December 19, 2017
I’d watch an entire movie with no dialogue centered on #porgs.
— Har Mar Superstar (@HarMarSuperstar) December 21, 2017
Star Wars Episode 9 should just be a foreign film with Porgs.
Directed by Xavier Dolan.
— Nolan Dean (@nolandean27) December 21, 2017
It also turns out Porgs had a very practical and functional reason to be in The Last Jedi.
Filming on Skellig Michael, just off the coast of Ireland, the scenes shot on what is Ahch-To to Star Wars fans, were an absolute nightmare for Johnson and his team.
This is because the island is a protected wildlife preserve for hundreds of puffins – which do bear a resemblance to Porgs.
Since they weren’t allowed to interfere with the animals, the pesky puffins kept cropping up in shots and so they were just replaced in the edit with Porgs.
In an interview with StarWars.com, creature concept designer Jake Lunt Davies revealed:
From what I gathered, Rian, in a positive spin on this, was looking at how can he work with this.
You can’t remove them. You physically can’t get rid of them and digitally removing them is an issue and a lot of work, so let’s just roll with it, play with it.
And so I think he thought, ‘Well, that’s great, let’s have our own indigenous species’.
This one simple thought led to one of the best decisions made in cinema history: bringing in the Porgs.
Yes, they do benefit Disney by making them a lot of money but The Last Jedi just wouldn’t be the same without the little guys.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.