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Wikus van de Merwe
Played by: Sharlto Copley
A completely ordinary MNU agent who finds himself in an extraordinary situation. When tasked with evicting the aliens from the titular district, Wikus is sprayed by a mysterious alien liquid. He begins to undergo an unusual transformation into something inhuman, forcing him to go on the run.
- Adorkable: He has his moments. One of the last scenes in the film is archive footage of him working with the documenters, and he pulls out the little wedding photo of his wife and gushes over her a little bit."Let me show you my wife...My special angel! She even looks like an angel, with a halo. You want to see that, you see—with the white...the white veil over the...over the head...She even looks like an angel. Everybody insists that his wife is an angel but this is a real angel that you are seeing there...on the cameras...they won't put that in the video, I know."
- Amoral Afrikaner: Subverted. He starts out doing pretty reprehensible things, but he is not a monster. Over the course of the movie, her begins to show more of a conscience, as more of MNU's atrocities come to light and as he starts transforming.
- Anti-Hero: Starts off as a Classical Anti-Hero, then evolves into an Unscrupulous Hero over the course of the film.
- Dirty Coward: Even while armed to the teeth in a Mini-Mecha, his first instinct is still to run and even almost leaves Christopher at the end out of pure cowardice. Even Koobus lampshades that.Koobus: And keep on running, you fucking coward. Run! Run!
- Duality Motif: The iris of his left eye turns gold (and huge) at around the seventy-second hour of his transformation into a Prawn, while the other retains its original color, even after he has transformed completely.
- Good Is Not Nice: He would've been a fully-fledged villain if he is completely obsessed with keeping law and order.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Christopher, by the end.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Until it becomes a total conversion.
- Hidden Depths: He has quite the artistic side. As noted below, his bumbling persona is at least partly an act; however, he is so far in over his head and freaked out throughout the movie that it's hard to gauge how intelligent he really is.
- Idiot Hero: At times, and intentional.
- Karmic Transformation: Remember the scene where he kills a bunch of baby prawns? Suddenly, seeing him turn into a prawn is a lot more poetic. It's also interesting in that it's probably what saves him in the end. If he hadn't turned entirely into a prawn and blended in with the others in District 9, he would've likely been found, captured and sliced up in an MNU laboratory.
- Lawful Neutral (Invoked by Word of God): Interviews with the creators of the film have said that Wikus is this. He's basically an Obstructive Bureaucrat who is obsessed with rules.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: A rare protagonist example.
- Punch Clock Villain: Prior to his Character Development he seems to bear no ill will towards the Prawns and is really just carrying out orders, but due to his condition and the realization of what the government is doing with them he seems to better empathize with them than he did previously.
- Took a Level in Badass: Though it takes him a long time — nearly the entire film — to get there, it's spectacular when it happens.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He gains one after his contact with the alien fluid.
- Unskilled, but Strong: He's able to control a Mini-Mecha, though he unfortunately has no idea how to use it.
Played By Jason CopeAn alien in District 9 with a young son, secretly building a ship so he can leave Earth.
- Action Dad: He'll do anything to protect his son.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He wants peace between his people and the humans, but he'll fight when he needs to.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Wikus, by the end.
- Meaningful Name: See Messianic Archetype.
- Messianic Archetype: Just switch the initals of Christopher's name.
- Papa Wolf: To Little CJ.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: He's not nearly as okay with killing as Wikus is.
Played By N/AChristopher Johnson's young son.
- Badass Adorable/Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: He brutally kills several gangsters to save Wikus. Not a big deal on its own, but he reacts with youthful enthusiasm, even though the deaths are pretty intense..
- Child Prodigy: Helps his father in his research. Plus, he's the one who activates the mothership.
- Kid Sidekick: Functions as one to his father.
Tania Smit van de Merwe
Played By Vanessa HaywoodWikus' loyal and loving wife. She is also the daughter of Piet Smit.
- Daddy's Girl: Her father is Piet Smit, head of the SMU.
- Happily Married: To Wikus, which makes his destiny (and hers) even more heartbreaking.
Played By Louis MinaarThe head of the South African MNU. He also happens to be Wikus' father-in-law.
- Amoral Afrikaner/Corrupt Corporate Executive: He tries to vivisect Wikus for the sake of profit. He also turns Tania against her husband for a while (by falsely claiming that Wikus has had sex with a prawn).
- Bald of Evil: He's bald and one of the film's major villains.
- Big Bad: He's the most powerful of the human villains.
- Karma Houdini: It's implied that his company gets investigated for his unethical acts, so it may be a subversion.
- Lack of Empathy: He's willing to vivisect his own son-in-law, who's begging for his life.
- Overprotective Dad: To his daughter Tania, although his idea of protecting her is pretty extreme.
- Private Military Contractors: He runs the company that employs them.
- Smart People Speak The Queen's English: He is an Afrikaner, like most of the cast, but consciously speaks with a British English accent. According to the DVD Commentary, they wanted to show the class difference between Piet and Wikus.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Though the positive PR may have been torn down by the end of the film.
Colonel Koobus Venter
Played By David JamesThe commander of a mercenary unit, employed by Piet Smit.
- Amoral Afrikaner: Practically the poster boy for this trope. South African? Yep. Racist (well, Fantastic Racist in this case)? Very. Sociopathic Soldier in charge of a mercenary unit? Check and check.
- Asshole Victim: He suffers one of the most brutal deaths in the movie—and he deserves it, too.
- Bald of Evil: An even clearer example than his boss.
- Blood Knight: His job is killing prawns, and he loves his job.
- The Dragon: He is this to Piet.
- Death by Racism/Karmic Death: He is surrounded by the aliens he spent most of the film abusing, and torn limb from limb.
- For the Evulz: This is pretty much his only reason for joining MNU, on top of being xenophobic towards the Prawns. He kills Christopher's friend in cold blood just to get a kick out of it.
- The Heavy: Although Piet Smit is technically the main antagonist of the movie, Koobus is the one who commands all the mercenary soldiers and takes part of the action.
- Kick the Dog: All the time. A good example would be this line when he has Christopher Johnson at gun point after beating him within an inch of his life.Koobus: I can't believe I get paid to do this! I love watching you prawns die.
- Large Ham: He has his moments, like when we first see him.LISTEN TO ME YOU FUCK! GET THAT FUCKING CAMERA OUT OF MY FACE!
- Private Military Contractors: His job, which he enjoys way too much.
- Psycho for Hire: He's only in it for the lulz of killing things.
- Sadist: He takes pleasure in killing prawns. He even outright states "I love watching you prawns die."
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: His Large Ham quote is only a sample.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Of the Psychopathic and Jingoistic varieties to a T.
Played By Eugene KhumbanyiwaA paralyzed Nigerian gang leader who wants to gain the 'power' of the aliens by consuming them.
- Evil Cripple/Handicapped Badass: He hasn't let being confined to a wheelchair stop him from running a gang of brutal arms dealers.
- Oh Crap!: When Wikus uses the Prawn weapons.Ah, holy shit!
- Nerves of Steel: Even when Wikus has an alien gun to his face, Obesandjo doesn't flinch at all.