(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)
The Star Wars prequels truly offer an impressive avalanche of ideas and top-notch design work – they just don’t have the time to do a satisfactory dive into hardly any of it. Instead we’re teased with the existence of Kamino or Aura Sing or that cool glowing orb they hoist at the end of The Phantom Menace. It’s up to comics, video games, books and other Star Wars extensions to really explore it all.
And that’s fine. Star Wars has always been this way. Sometimes, however, an interesting thing happens where the offscreen evolution of a character grows too complex to match the version in George Lucas’ mind, and going back to rewatch the original iteration feels a bit jarring. Typically, the evolution results in a net positive all-around. Darth Maul is super cool in The Phantom Menace and only gets better the more you learn about his Clone Wars and Rebels adventures.
This is not, however, the case with Kit Fisto.
Which Character is This Again
There are just so many Jedi in the prequels. And it would be boring if they were all boring humans. So George Lucas and his people threw a bunch of alien designs against the wall and gave us a galaxy-worth of badasses we can become visually familiar with and eventually see murdered at the hands of Clone Troopers. Or Darth Sidious, in the case of Kit Fisto.
You know Kit Fisto. He’s the fishy-looking Jedi with black eyes and skin tentacles coming out of his head. His signature move is basically just smiling. We see him participate in the Battle of Geonosis, where he kills droids and grins about it. We see him again in Revenge of the Sith when Mace Windu brings him along to arrest Chancellor Palpatine, a situation in which Fisto definitely does not smile.
That’s about it for Fisto in the films, but he strikes a memorable figure. He, along with figures like Plo Koon for example, might not even get names or lines in the film but paint a compelling figure of a galaxy filled with interesting warriors.
Viewers tend to remember Kit Fisto, but do they like him? Something about Kit Fisto in the prequel films never quite looks right. The design almost feels like too big a swing for the practical effects to pull off. The lack of human eyes is one problem. His hands, which look oversized like rubber gloves, are another. Furthermore, the smile thing is just not very cool.
Enter Dave Filoni.
Pretty much every element of the prequel trilogy gains a sharp improvement in The Clone Wars, and Kit Fisto is no exception. The Clone Wars version of the character is more swashbuckling, yet more mature. Even among Jedi Masters, Fisto’s swordsmanship is apparently on the upper level, enough that he almost single-handedly defeats General Grevious at one point.
For all this, he remains a true Jedi. Eventually Kit Fisto trains a padawan, Nahdar Vebb, to full Jedi status. But in the heat of a dangerous situation, the young Vebb runs headfirst into danger and loses his life. Kit Fisto, wisened by age, knows patience and lives through the ordeal, despite losing a great ally. Yes, he looks handsome with his shirt off. Yes, he loves that wise-ass smirk of his. Nevertheless, when the chips are down, Kit Fisto follows the Jedi path and thinks things through before committing to violence or adventure. As such, he earns his way onto the Jedi Council before the end of the Clone Wars.
And then you cut to the movie version, where he’s little more than body count baggage for Mace Windu’s showdown with Palpatine. It doesn’t matter quite as much when you’re just watching the movies, but it can be a bummer when you know the animated series as well.
Does This Character Warrant a Toy?
It depends on which version of Kit Fisto you’re modeling the toy after. The character’s overall design is not bad, but the live-action version has an awkwardness to him. He benefits greatly from the stylization of the animated shows.
Which is why a Clone Wars iteration of the character makes for a great toy. The Clone Wars version of Kit Fisto doesn’t just benefit from the animated style. His character seems aged up as well, in a way that heightens his dignity and makes him seem cool in a way he never achieved in the films (sorry, all you live-action Kit Fisto fans out there).
How Important is This Character?
Some folks may argue that getting owned (despite his supposedly superior lightsaber skills) by Darth Sidious automatically makes Kit Fisto important. I disagree. That could have been any empty tunic Sidious cut through. It’s nice he went down fighting instead of taking a shot to the back from a turned Clone Trooper, but still. Kit Fisto did not have a huge impact on the prequel trilogy. And while he had some great Clone Wars adventures, he’s also too peripheral to that show to call him an important character.
Is This a Secretly Great Character?
It’s close. In the movies? No way. On Clone Wars? He’s pretty darn good. Not quite great, though.
Look at it this way: his name is Kit Fisto. A child naming toys might come up with something like that. It is at once painfully silly and kind of inspired. From one moment to the next, it is hard to tell whether the name is good or bad. It’s the same way with the character. Ultimately, I am glad he’s around, but he’s also far from a slam dunk Star Wars figure.
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