In Praise of del Toro’s DJ

Greetings, Star Wars fans. We’re still reeling from The Last Jedi. I’ve seen it 5 times and it just might have become my favorite Star Wars film. No joke. Let’s take a look at one of my favorite characters: DJ.

The character if DJ is, in my mind, probably one of the most underrated characters in The Last Jedi. I say underrated because people are barely talking about his performance at all. Some people found it jarring to have an “A-list” actor in Star Wars, and maybe that’s fair, but it didn’t affect me because I hadn’t seen much of his previous films. I saw Sin City, but his role there was totally different so it didn’t affect my viewing of TLJ.

I like almost everything about him. The stutter, his world-view, and his portrayal by Benicio del Toro. The character is a bit maligned by a lot of people, but I thought he was great. Here’s why.

Josh Wilding | 12/26/2017 Filed Under: “Star Wars”

The DJ Stutter

The thing about DJ’s stutter is that it is different from pretty much any stutter I’ve seen. There is something about it that catches you off guard, and that’s perhaps because the letter/syllable¬† that he stutters is different from the first letter of the word he’s about to say. For example, “D-, D-, D- Need a lift?” or “No something, D-, D-, D- no deal”. There’s something weird about it, but it works for me. The stutter also serves to emphasize certain points when he doesn’t use it. For example, when he says

Let me learn you something big. It’s all a machine, man. Don’t join.

No stutter, so it really sinks in. This of course brings me to my next point.

Josh Wilding | 12/26/2017 Filed Under: “Star Wars”

The DJ Worldview

Although his name is never spoken in the movie, it is essentially based on the phrase “Don’t join”, and that is also the phrase on his hat.

DJ is an outsider, but at the same time, he is an incredibly talented slicer and knows his way around everywhere. I like the fact that DJ side-steps everything, and works for himself. He sees the hypocrisy of the system, and just uses it for his own benefit rather than join a side. He doesn’t care what either side thinks of him, just how he can gain. This isn’t very admirable in some ways; he’s not a hero you’d admire for their ethics, but he still comes out on top. This kind of cynical worldview is different from anything we’ve seen, and for that reason he is a unique character in the Star Wars universe. That said, he has some similarities to Boba Fett, but with different methods. Boba Fett might also say “don’t join”, but seems more at home with a blaster than a computer terminal. There are also some comparisons to Lando, but perhaps a mirror of Lando. While Lando made a deal before he met the heroes in Empire, and did so with no choice, DJ makes a deal with the First Order after he meets the heroes, and does so with complete choice.

A Common Complaint

There are a few common complaints about DJ, but one that bugs me is the one that says “what is he doing in the jail”? However, if you put two and two together it’s obvious. Namely, he is sleeping in a jail, and he can leave whenever he wants. Well, if you consider those together there is only one conclusion. He enters the jail to sleep. Why would someone do that? Well, it’s appears it is normally a quiet place to sleep, and it’s secure. No one can get to him there. After the movie and we realize what kind of guy he is, we can speculate that there are a lot of people that he has cheated. The jail provides a protection from the people he has swindled in the past.

A Future for the Character?

A big question is whether or not we will see DJ in the next episode, or another installment of Star Wars. I think there is an opportunity for him to be redeemed and to help Finn and Rose out in IX, but somehow I doubt that ends up being an angle that they take. It’s an opportunity for him, like Lando in Return of the Jedi, to help our heroes out of a jam and save face. I think there are also opportunities to explore these “slicers” or hackers in the Star Wars universe, and for example see what connections they have to the underworld, or to to his past with the First Order. I’ve speculated in the past that he is a former First Order or Imperial officer, and his line in the movie also suggests this:

Me and the First Order codage go way back.

So we could see something about his past in some future content. Time will tell, and speculation is half the fun.

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