“But most important of all, we’ve learned that the Emperor himself is personally overseeing the final stages of the construction of this Death Star. Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”
Mon Motha uttered those now famous words during the briefing before the attack on the second Death Star. That one, single line of Star Wars dialogue triggered decades of debate. Who were the Bothans? Where were they from? What did they look like? Some of those questions were answered in the old Expanded Universe-now-Legends material. However, a recent tweet from a Lucasfilm executive may have just turned that debate on its ear.
Star Wars MythBusters turned to Twitter to ask Matt Martin, a Lucasfilm Story Group exec, a relatively simple question: “Is there a reason why [B]othans [sic] missing from Star Wars: Alien Archive – Species Guide?” Ziro.hu first reported Martin’s reply. Contrary to Legends lore, Martin hypothesizes:
“Bothans have yet to show up in canon. Maybe Bothans aren’t even a species?!?”
That sparked the Twitter thread that you can read here:
— Star Wars MythBusters (@MythbustersStar) October 26, 2018
Lucasfilm Exec Reignites Bothan Debate
For decades most fans have operated under the assumption that Bothans were, in fact, a distinct species. Of course that assumption was fueled in good part thanks to Timothy Zahn and the Thrawn Trilogy, in which Zahn described the species in detail. They were a humanoid species, covered in fur.
As Zahn described them, they have almost cat or lion-like facial features, and their fur shifts reflexively with changes in their emotions. The most famous Bothan of Legends lore was Councilor Borsk Fey’lya. (The featured image above shows Fey’lya during the time of the Rebellion.) With all the material out there, fans thought they knew the Bothan species fairly well.
Consequently, Martin’s postulating calls into question whether the species is a species at all. He goes on in the Twitter thread to say “[m]y point was only that RotJ doesn’t establish them as a species. It just said they died. What if they’re more like a nationality?”
What do you guys think? Are the Bothans a species? A sect? Perhaps they’re just a Rebel cell akin to Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. Let us know what you think. Send us your comments or tell me on Twitter: @JJ_Goodman.
[NOTE: Updated November 2, 2018 to reference Zir.hu as the original source material for this article.]