(A version of this post was shared with Laughing Place on October 7, 2022.)
The most successful superheroes in the universe rarely complete the mission on their own. In fact, the most successful good guys usually have a trusty sidekick by their side (or at least pulling some strings in their corner). Our two-part series on favorite Disney sidekicks began with those primarily in the animated medium (with one magical exception). For part two in our series, let’s applaud some favorite sidekicks in the Star Wars Galaxy and Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The galaxy far, far away is chock full of colorful characters – some furry, some scaly, some mechanical, and some that look an awful lot like you and me. Many are good, plenty are bad. A handful have attached themselves to the cosmic stars of others, and in doing so endeared themselves in the hearts of Star Wars fans everywhere. Here are a few of the best sidekicks in the Star Wars galaxy.
We don’t care what that Mos Eisley cantina owner says – we love droids. They come in all sizes – tall, short, square, round,. They are usually shiny, and can have anywhere from zero to over a dozen limbs. In short – droids are almost as varied as the live characters who inhabit the universe. And every few years, we fans get a new droid to celebrate. Here are the best ones who have served as trusty (and sometimes rusty) sidekicks.
C-3PO and R2-D2
More affectionately known as Threepio and Artoo, this pair has literally been through multiple wars together, throughout every chapter of the Star Wars saga. Threepio – a protocol droid – has the distinction of having been built from spare parts by a child who would later become Darth Vader. And since the time young Anakin Skywalker first took to the skies to begin his Force-filled life, Threepio has been a loyal – if not occasionally irritating – servant for the good guys. He spent most of his time under the family line of Queen Amidala and Princess (later General) Leia. Never one to be let in on the plan, he’s been “persuaded” to conduct a search for an old Jedi Master, and once temporarily served as an interpreter for Jabba the Hutt. He’s even been blown to pieces several times, but always successfully reassembled. Through it all, Threepio’s loyalty has never wavered, even when he’s had to endure the edgy impatience of Han Solo.
Threepio’s puny partner Artoo originated with royalty. The astromech droid successfully guided Anakin Skywalker throughout space in the Clone Wars of the Old Republic. Long after the Clone Wars ended, Artoo’s loyalty to the Republic landed him in the service of Princess Leia, until his search for Obi-Wan Kenobi led him to Tatooine. From that fateful moment (when his competitor droid R5-D4 malfunctioned on the grounds of Owen and Beru’s moisture farm), Artoo took the reins as Luke Skywalker’s trusty companion, and has since accompanied him throughout his journey of becoming a Jedi. Artoo’s short astromech body and spunky bleeps and squeeks make him the most “cuddly” and celebrated droid in the galaxy.
When the Star Wars sequel trilogy greeted fans in 2015 with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, a new droid was naturally part of the mix. The aptly-named BB-8 fit the bill. This smooth, round droid rolls like a ball bearing, and his rounded head atop his soccer ball body makes him look indeed like the number that inspired his name. BB-8 burst onto the scene as Resistance fighter Poe Dameron‘s astromech droid. At the direction of his master, BB-8 fled the desert in a narrow escape from Kylo Ren on a quest to deliver a map to General Leia. The speedy little droid eventually found Leia – with the help of Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a previously unknown scavenger named Rey – to share the map needed to find long lost Jedi Luke Skywalker. BB-8 went on to serve many different fighters in the war against the First Order, proving his ability to sidle up to anyone who needed his assistance.
“I’ll be there for you…Cassian said I had to.”
Not one to dwell on pleasantries or “beat around the bush”, K-2SO is all business when it comes to taking care of his job – and his master Cassian Andor. The former Imperial security droid was reprogrammed by Andor following an altercation during Andor’s days as a Rebel agent. K-2SO is strong, direct, and has much quicker reflexes than his protocol or astromech contemporaries.
During the battle on Scarif, K-2SO made the ultimate sacrifice when he gave his life protecting his master from Imperial Stormtroopers. Andor and fellow Rebel Jyn Erso eventually stole the plans to the first dreaded Death Star, and transmitted them to the Rebel Alliance, sowing the seeds for what would become one of the greatest upsets in Star Wars history.
Who are we kidding? All droids aside, Chewie has to be the most iconic “classic” sidekick in the Star Wars galaxy (though a certain tiny 50-year-old may have taken the mantle of the overall most beloved sidekick in the universe). The galaxy’s most famous Wookie owed a “life debt” to Han Solo, and paid it back in spades over the course of their partnership. Also referred to as “Fuzzball” and “Walking Carpet”, the masterful copilot of the Millennium Falcon has been a steadfast ally to Han literally up until Han’s dying day. And after witnessing Han’s final moments at the hands of his own son Kylo Ren, Chewie transferred his loyalty to those who would make his friend most proud – Resistance fighters Finn and Rey. As C-3PO once advised his friend Artoo, “Let the wookie win.”
Grogu. Baby Yoda. The Child. The Asset. No matter what you call him, one fact is certain – this little green being took the world by storm in November 2019 when he appeared in the first episode of The Mandalorian. The tiny 50-year-old baby was initially just the subject of Mando’s next “job.” But this strange, speechless, and adorable creature immediately won the Mandalorian’s heart, leading to a series of complications involved with protecting the ultimate Star Wars MacGuffin. Within a very short period of time, Grogu went from simply being protected by Mando, to being truly loved by him. In return, Grogu exhibited some curious Force-ful abilities, which he used to protect his armored friend.
Grogu took an already highly anticipated debut of The Mandalorian and brought the show to an unforeseen phenomenon. Disney did not appear to be ready for the immediate and immense popularity of Baby Yoda (as he was first called). Third-party, unlicensed merchandise beat Disney to the punch by several months. But within half a year, The Child was everywhere, and in most any store. Not bad for someone who consistently eats frogs and takes naps.
Next in our series of incomprehensible sidekicks, we have another fantastic copilot. Nien Nunb was introduced to Star Wars fans in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi as a member of the Rebel Alliance. The Sullustan was paired with Lando Calrissian to pilot the Millenium Falcon during the battle in space over Endor. Nien Nunb would continue to serve the Rebellion, and later the Resistance. His steadfast service to the good guys culminated in a final battle with Emperor Palpatine’s fleet in Exegol. Nien Nunb became a true favorite of Star Wars fans over the years. Fun fact: According to Lucasfilm creators, his name came simply from his being listed “number nine” in creature packaging for the film.
“Fate sometimes steps in to rescue the wretched.”
The most kick-butt sidekick in the Star Wars story might be Fennec Shand. Who wouldn’t want a deadshot sniper mercenary as a partner? Fennec spent most of her adult life as a highly skilled bounty hunter, but met her match at the hands of Din Djarin – more affectionately known as Mando. Djarin left her for dead, and the recently resurfaced Boba Fett found her still alive. After Fett saved her life, Fennec indebted herself to help him reclaim his ship, settle some personal scores, and even start his own business in the trade world. Seeing as Fett proved to have lost a step or two from his glory days as one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy, Fennec’s presence proved indispensable to the bounty hunter-turned-businessman.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Superhero comics have some of the most memorable sidekicks in all of pop culture. Tried and true allies are a little hard to come by in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU), but a handful have made a presence for themselves, much to the delight of their beneficiaries. Here are a few favorites.
Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts
Two of the best sidekicks in all of the MCU just happen to have been introduced to us in the very first MCU film – 2008’s Iron Man. Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts both share a relationship of employment for Tony Stark, so their statuses as Stark’s sidekicks are more of an extracurricular activity.
Happy functions as Stark’s head of security, on-scene bodyguard, and personal escort. But beyond this professional relationship, Happy has also been Tony’s long time best friend. He goes everywhere Tony goes (except when Tony dons the suit). In fact, Happy is quite often the glue that holds this “Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist” together. Following Tony’s death in the battle with Thanos, Happy proceeded to care for Tony’s “kid”, Peter Parker. Though Peter’s adolescent ways irritate Happy to no end, Happy’s ongoing care for the kid demonstrates his homage to his best friend Tony.
The relationship of Pepper Potts with Tony is a little more…complicated. Yes, Pepper is employed by Tony – first as a personal assistant, then as CEO of Stark Industries. And yes, she and Tony did develop a personal relationship that eventually went well beyond professional. But every step of the way, Pepper had Tony’s back – whether it be cleaning up his mess, nursing him back to health, or even killing his enemy Aldrich Killian. With such a strong personal and two-way relationship, can Pepper really be considered a simple sidekick? I suppose “from a certain point of view” to quote an old Jedi Master from another galaxy.
Agent Phil Coullson didn’t exactly burst onto the scene in the MCU. His overly dry “governmental” personality grew slowly on audiences. Coullson first appeared as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to debrief Tony Stark following his captivity in Afghanistan. Then, he humorously (and unsuccessfully) led an effort to excavate Thor’s hammer from the New Mexico desert. But Agent Coullson is best known for being S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury’s right hand man during the first portion of the Infinity Saga. Coullson valiantly fought the good fight on the Avengers’ helicarrier, but met his end at the hands of Thor’s brother Loki. His sacrifice proved to be exactly what the Avengers needed to rally together to defeat the God of Mischief. Agent Coullson, we salute you.
We first meet the snarky and spunky Darcy Lewis in 2011’s Thor. As a friend of Jane Foster and a fellow student, Darcy has significant brains to back up her attitude. The one-time political science major was steadfast in helping Jane work through the complications of a romantic relationship with the God of Thunder. She also worked with Jane and Professor Erik Selvig to understand just who Thor may be, and how to work with him. Unfortunately, Darcy lost both Jane and Professor Selvig to the Thanos “Blip”, and this sidekick had to forge her own path. The newly minted doctor of astrophysics somehow found herself back in the middle of the Avengers saga when strange supernatural incidents were occurring in the town of Westview, New Jersey. We’ll leave that story for another time.
“I am Groot.” These three words quickly became fan favorites when the Guardians of the Galaxy hit the MCU. This Flora Colossus (giant tree) first appeared as an accomplice to petty bounty thief Rocket Raccoon. When an entanglement with Peter Quill and Gamora landed the four in an intergalactic prison, the group decided it would be better to combine their talents and suffer together as a family than to fail alone. Groot’s allegiance to Rocket remained strong, though he also extended his loyalties to all who would be known as Guardians of the Galaxy. Whether the size of a tree (Guardians of the Galaxy), a sapling (Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2), or a “teenager” (Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame) Groot’s allegiance to his friends never wavers (and neither does his popularity – especially the Baby Groot version of this super-sidekick).
What happens when you mix a supernatural talent with a resistance to mentoring a smug prodigy? You get Wong. The hard working, all business, non-smiling librarian of the mystic arts met Dr. Stephen Strange while Strange was at his lowest point. While Wong didn’t care for Strange’s arrogant antics, he begrudgingly helped the doctor learn the ways of the mystic arts, even helping him to become Sorcerer Supreme. Wong has consistently had Strange’s back while protecting their mystical strongholds of Kamar-Taj and New York Sanctum. In recent years, Wong stepped out of the shadow of Strange, became Sorcerer Supreme himself, and branched out into many other realms to assert his sour strength in defense of many appreciative recipients.
Speaking of supporting Dr. Strange – would his semi-sentient Cloak of Levitation count as a sidekick? This magical item has an intuition and mystical connection to its master, as well as flashes of humorous personality.
“Sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer and that losing it was almost comparable to losing a loved one.”
The perpetually whimsical and curious Kronan rock warrior Korg first met Thor in captivity under the Grandmaster of Sakaar. Korg’s assistance in helping Thor and Bruce Banner escape from the Grandmaster placed him high on Thor’s loyalty list. Since that celebratory prison break, Korg has helped Thor save Asgard’s people, fought along the God of Thunder in the Infinity Wars, established New Asgard on planet Earth, and saved New Asgard’s children from Gorr the God Butcher. Not bad for a pile of rocks!
There you have it – super stellar back-up for some of the most notable heroes in the universe. Check out our companion list of favorite sidekicks in the (mostly animated) Disney universe. If you’re willing to stray to the dark side, check out our favorite Disney and Pixar henchmen and goons and favorite Star Wars and Marvel henchmen and goons!
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