The Acolyte Could Fix The Phantom Menace’s Most Embarrassing Mistake

Let’s not let this get out of hand.


Star Wars is great because of how alien everything seems, both figuratively and literally. Whole species, planets, and cultures being created out of thin air is part of the joy of science fiction... but imagination can only go so far. Most Star Wars aliens still speak English (or Basic, if you’re thinking in-universe), partly because there aren’t that many ways to create a foreign-sounding accent without veering into the offensive.

Twenty-five years ago, The Phantom Menace accidentally stepped on the wrong side of that line, and now an upcoming Star Wars series has the chance to fix it.

The Neimoidian species was created for The Phantom Menace, where they’re featured as a key part of the Trade Federation, the group behind the blockade of Naboo. Perhaps most memorably, when Neimoidian bigshot Nute Gunray learns Darth Maul is Palpatine’s Sith apprentice, he frets, “This is getting out of hand; now there are two of them!” which has become a beloved prequel meme.

Nute Gunray and the Trade Federation helped throw the Republic into disarray.


But the stilted Neimoidian accent struck many Star Wars fans as a caricature of East Asian cultures. The Neimoidians aren’t based on any single society, but the similarity is certainly notable. Now, a Korean promo for the upcoming series The Acolyte shows a brief glimpse of Neimoidians. Since they’ll be in the show, could The Acolyte give the species the update they — and viewers — deserve?

It wouldn’t be the first time a Disney+ series was used to add nuance to an offensive characterization. The Tusken Raiders were portrayed as a savage, primitive species until The Book of Boba Fett gave fans a look at how complex Tusken culture is. Like any culture, they have their own language, art, and religion. This strengthened the Star Wars universe; it’s a lot easier to believe an alien species is real if they’re more than an old cliche.

Hopefully, The Acolyte can add similar depth to the Neimoidians. Maybe we’ll hear them speak in their native language, or maybe the accent can just be erased. Alien characters don’t need to remind terrestrial audiences of dated and offensive caricatures, and The Acolyte could continue a modern Star Wars practice by quietly acknowledging this.

The Acolyte premieres June 4, 2024 on Disney+.

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