'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace' at 25: Who are the angels on the moons of Iego?

a woman talks to a little boy sitting on a counter
Natalie Portman and Jake Lloyd in "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Yippee! "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" blows out the candles on its 25th anniversary birthday cake today. 

After taking in a screening during its short return to theaters for Star Wars Day week, we can honestly say that this polarizing film still has its problems but honestly elicits enough thrills to warrant a repeat viewing, if only to hear John Williams sweeping musical score and see Ray Park's acrobatic Darth Maul twirl his double-bladed lightsaber while seething with palpable hatred toward the gallant Jedi Knights. 

"Episode 1" landed on May 19, 1999 in a stratospheric swell of expectations that no modern movie could possibly meet. Director George Lucas' "The Phantom Menace" premiered in nearly 3,000 theaters in North America complete with block-long lines and "Star Wars" faithful decked out in creative cosplay. After a 16-year absence from the silver screen and an entire generation who'd been weened on the original "Star Wars" trilogy now well into adulthood, an electrifying air of hopeful nostalgia would permeate the debut and subsequent release around the world.

Official 25th anniversary poster for "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Despite raking in an estimated $924 million during its initial global run, "The Phantom Menace" was not without its detractors, with some younger kids totally confused by Trade Federation politics and older folks annoyed with the clinical midichlorian definition, unintentional racial stereotypes, and non-stop flood of juvenile CGI characters such as a certain goofy Gungan.  

However, for this uplifting anniversary salute we're going to steer our optimistic spaceship of reflection lightyears away from all the negativity and instead focus on a glossed-over reference spoken by Jake Lloyd's Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine regarding some mysterious angelic beings on the Moons of Iego. 

Here's the exchange between Natalie Portman's Amidala and Lloyd's Young Anakin:

Anakin: Are you an angel?

Queen Amidala: What?

Anakin: An angel. I've heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They live on the moons of Iego, I think. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe.

Queen Amidala: You're a funny little boy. How do you know so much?

Anakin: I listen to all the traders and star pilots who come through here. I'm a pilot, you know, and someday I'm going to fly away from this place.

a white-skinned winged being in a hooded garment

A Diathim from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Okay, it's not exactly Shakespeare! But exactly who are these ghostly spiritual entities he's talking about and what are their origins? Come take a deeper dive into their existence in the "Star Wars" universe to try and derive their form and function as one of the most obscure and little-used denizens of Lucas's space opera saga.

The angels that little Anakin was referring to were known as the Diathim, a rare species of six-winged feminine creatures who possessed extraordinary beauty. These moons of Iego he spoke of while trying to compliment Queen Amidala were a collection of a thousand moons that enveloped the planet Iego. The biggest satellite was Millius Prime, homeworld to these enigmatic Diathim. Other major moons were Clepresdan, Flitrude, Winlion, Rawnde, Cobarb, and Uncovalor.

According to the Diathim Wookieepedia page, the luminous pale-skinned beings "seemed to be made of blazing white light tinged with a yellow aura, which suggested they were beings of pure energy. Most accounts depicted them as slender, 2--3-meter tall feminine anthropoids with six blade-shaped wings protruding from their backs."

Despite only being casually mentioned in a few" Star Wars" short stories, tie-in novels, and the "Star Wars Jedi: Survivor" video game since the days of "The Phantom Menace," their first actual appearance came in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" season 1 in the episode titled "Mystery of a Thousand Moons," airing on Feb. 13, 2009 where they were visited by Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

an overhead shot of a bearded man and a winged angelic woman

A scene from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

So, from Anakin's corny adolescent pickup line in "The Phantom Menace," we get the angels on the Moons of Iego, a campfire yarn centered around a radiant Outer Rim species whose notoriety was spread throughout the Core Worlds by deep space freighter pilots and smugglers that mistook them for supernatural fairies.

With the proliferation of "Star Wars" films, TV series, comics, novels, and video games rolling out over the last quarter century it seems like the Diathim would manifest themselves in many corners of the galaxy far, far away, or they might remain a minor footnote in "Star Wars" history, never to be heard from again. But for one shining moment in "The Phantom Menace," their ongoing legend was born!

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.