The now non-canon extended universe imagined them as a race of vaguely feline aliens, and there’s a long-running joke that Mothma was actually referring to an individual named ‘Manny Bothans.’ One thing that’s generally assumed though is that they’re some unseen alien race. But that might not be the case if this comment by Matt Martin, Lucasfilm executive and member of the Story Group, is anything to go by.
The story begins in the recently released Star Wars: Alien Archive book, billed as the ultimate species guide for those wanting to find out about everything from ‘Wookiees, wampas and Weequays; Biths, banthas and bogwings; porgs, puffer pigs and Pau’ans”. But, notable by their absence, were Bothans.
A fan put it to the Martin, and he responded with this cryptic Tweet:
Bothans have yet to show up in canon. Maybe Bothans aren’t even a species?!?
— Matt Martin (@missingwords) October 26, 2018
So, Bothans could be humans then – perhaps citizens of a planet called Botha? While I doubt that the identity of Bothans is going to be key to any upcoming piece of Star Wars media, it does indicate how much effort Lucasfilm are taking to ensure their new continuity is consistent. Doubtless, there’ve been tense and argumentative meetings about what a Bothan really is and when they’re going to be introduced in the movies. Who knows, perhaps the defeat of the First Order in Episode IX will hinge on the heroic actions of one Manny Bothans?
Given that they haven’t popped up in any of the comics, games, movies or TV shows since Disney bought the franchise, perhaps they do genuinely have big plans for whatever Bothans turn out to be. Either way, don’t worry, as the moment they reveal what they actually are, we’ll have the story.