Rogue of the Week: Admiral Ackbar

Thursday, 05 May 2011 16:33 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Rogue of the Week: Admiral Ackbar

Yesterday, May 4th, was Star Wars day because the date allows for near-constant repetition of the pun "May the fourth be with you."  This clever means of maintaining the pop-cultural omnipresence of George Lucas' six-film space opera resulted in plenty of Star Wars quotations, cosplay photos, steampunk Boba Fetts, and all manner of ironic tributes the interstellar civil war in a galaxy far, far away.  Yet we noticed that one deserving character was definitely not getting the attention he so richly deserves.  Admiral Ackbar, the Mon Calamari man with a plan a speech impediment, is now the first fictional character to earn the title 'Rogue of the Week'.

Ackbar didn't sleep his way to the rank of Admiral in the Rebel Alliance so that a punk bounty hunter or a cowardly wookiee could hog all the glory on Star Wars day.  Ackbar appeared in Return of the Jedi, and his role on paper is mostly just as a reciter of exposition, laying out the plan for the coordinated assault on the second Death Star.  But he's so much more than an exposition emporium.  Leading the attack in the skies above the Ewok-infested moon of Endor, for example, the Admiral got to deliver the line, "It's a trap!" which kicked off the original trilogy's climactic battle.  

The perfect line reading by voice actor Erik Bauersfield helped Ackbar become a one of those online memes that today's misbegotten youth are always talking about.  Check out these examples of Ackbar's power, courtesy of Memebase (via Dan Platt & Pat DeYoung).

memes - Admiral Ackbar: England Immigration Has Gotten Out of Control

memes - Admiral Ackbar: Five Finger Salute

memes - Admiral Ackbar: Never a Heart Piece

memes - Admiral Ackbar: Set the Facts Straight

One excellent line and some meme-dom do not a Rogue of the Week make, however.  The true coolness of Ackbar rests the old-school practicality of his creation.  While the Stars Wars prequel trilogy became infamous for it's almost exclusively CGI aliens and actors like Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson looking vaguely lost in front of digital landscapes, Admiral Ackbar is, fundamentally, a puppet.  In certain shots, he was a half body puppet, while in others an Ackbar headpiece rested on an actors shoulders.  The expressions of Ackbar were controlled by puppeteer Tim Rose

In a fistfight with Jar Jar Binks or Dexter Jettster, Ackbar clearly comes out on top, his white uniform covered in Gungan blood. 

So on May 4th next year, remember that though he may be fictitious Admiral Ackbar will always be commander of the Rebel Fleet.  Pay tribute appropriately.

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