The build-up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi was an intense one, which was nearly overshadowed by the introduction of the Porgs. Lucasfilm and Disney received harsh criticism for including the puffin-like adorable Porgs, with several hardcore Star Wars fans claiming that the Porgs are a merchandising ploy and nothing else. Many others were sure that that they were going to be the main focus in the movie, calling them the new Ewoks, and even worse, the new Jar Jar Binks. But now that The Last Jedi has been released to critical acclaim, it has been revealed that the Porgs are a perfect lighter tone for the mostly dark movie and most importantly, they do not take over or seem forced in any way.
Rian Johnson did a great job surprising even the most hardcore Star Wars fans and one big surprise was how well the Porgs fit into The Last Jedi. They are not some Force sensitive birds and they are not involved in any physical attacks with their sharp teeth, which was assumed before the movie came out. Instead they are like a cute reset button for when situations in the storyline get to be a little too intense. Neal Scanlan, who worked on The Last Jedi and co-designed the Porgs recently said that they give the audience a chance to take a breath from the emotional rollercoaster ride. He explains.
"They play a kind of, a sort of moment in the film where they give you a chance to re-set, and take a breath of what is a rollercoaster visual and an emotional ride. They're mischievous, there's a lot of little scenes in the movie where they are in the way or misbehaving."
Rian Johnson spoke about the creation of the Porgs, which came about in a really simple manner. Johnson revealed that the flying inhabitants of Ahch-To were created after the crew arrived at Skellig Michael and noticed that there were many birds on the island. He also echoed the sentiment that they are there for "lightness" in the movie to balance everything out. The director had this to say about the origin of the Porgs.
"When we first scouted Skellig Michael, the island where we shot Luke's stuff, it was covered in puffins. It's a bird sanctuary, actually. So there were all these adorable little puffins all over the island. It was first just like, 'OK, let's come up with the Star Wars version of that.' Also, I knew that I wanted any opportunity for lightness or comic relief I could find on the island. So that combination led to the Porgs. I apologize. (Laughs) No, I love 'em, I really love 'em!"
The Porgs have their vocal critics online and there were even anti-Porg factions on The Last Jedi set. John Boyega (who plays Finn) said, "They're nasty, to be honest. There were really tiny ones all bunched together in a hole in the Falcon and they just looked like a bunch of cockroaches." Boyega's hatred for the Porgs is a bit strange since he does not even share any scenes with the adorable creatures. However, Daisy Ridley says she has an adorable toy Porg at home while new cast member Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) went full Porg for Halloween. Tran said, "I even made my own costume. My Porg love goes deep." Even Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) manages a soft spot for the critters. "What's everyone's problem?" she asks. "I do not understand how people can possibly hate the Porgs."
The Porg fear was all completely unnecessary. The Porgs are not scary nor are they overused, they are light notes of comedy in The Last Jedi. They are friends of Chewbacca and the new copilots on the Millennium Falcon and they were used perfectly in the movie. They fly around Ahch-To and make nests, screech-chirping in the background and maybe more than a little mischievous, especially when they find discarded Lightsabers or find junk in the Millennium Falcon to make glasses out of. Everybody can agree that the Porgs did not ruin The Last Jedi, instead they elevated it and gave us all a chance to breathe and take in what we just saw. You can read more about Neal Scanlan's thoughts and designs of the Porgs via Metro.