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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.
- Apologetic Attacker: In the MNU laboratory, he's forced to fire a Prawn weapon at several dead pigs. Then when they bring in a live alien subject to shoot at he adamantly refuses until physically forced to, where he apologizes to the Prawn before blowing it to chunky giblets.
- Character Development: Over the course of the film, he eventually stops his It's All About Me mentality and gains sympathy for the prawns, even almost committing a Heroic Sacrifice at the end to allow Christopher and his child escape to the mothership.
- 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.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Christopher, by the end.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Until it becomes a total conversion.
- Happily Married: Shown several times to be quite smitten with his wife and often makes her hand-made gifts. He even goes on a tangent while being filmed to talk about how she looks like an angel.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: The MNU spread news stories about him having sexual relations with a number of prawns while in District 9 and his transformation being a result of catching an STD from them in an effort to hinder his attempts at avoiding capture.
- 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.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Of the 137 times the f word is used, almost all of them come from him.
- 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.
- Creepy Good: For all that he looks like a prawn, Christopher is arguably the wisest and most moral character in the film.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Wikus, by the end.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: He is a different color from the rest of the prawns (green) and he is clearly more intelligent and driven than the rest of them. It's implied that he's likely from a different caste than them and that the rest of them are drones, similar to an ant colony. He's also the only character who regularly wears red.
- Meaningful Name: See Messianic Archetype.
- Messianic Archetype: Just switch the initals of Christopher's name.
- Papa Wolf: To Little CJ. Wikus manages to break him out of his Heroic B.S.O.D. after finding the lab by reminding him that his son still needs him.
- 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 and is shown to be very good with it. Plus, he's the one who activates the mothership and the Mini-Mecha.
- Gadgeteer Genius: He is shown to be very good with Prawn technology and is often seen tampering with and repairing it.
- Kid Sidekick: Functions as one to his father.
- No Name Given: No one actually refers to him by name, and it seems that he hasn't been given a human name yet like his father has.
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.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Piet early on declared that he did not promote Wikus because he was his son-in-law. This is revealed to be a lie, but it's implied to be because Piet hoped that Wikus would be humiliated or killed because he was out of his element. When Piet had Wikus helplessly Strapped to an Operating Table, he coldly ordered him cut up and his body dissected and studied without any anesthetic.
- Happily Married: To Wikus, which makes his destiny (and hers) even more heartbreaking.
- Spoiled Sweet: Despite having a Corrupt Corporate Executive for a father, she's one of the nicest characters in the movie.
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).
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Runs a squalid ghetto for Prawns which includes branding them with the MNU logo, hiring private military to keep them in line, employing "population control" to prevent them from increasing their population, and even has a secret laboratory for the sole purpose of doing horrible experiments on prawns.
- 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.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: He (and MNU as a whole) have a lot of power and regularly ignore the law and basic rights of Prawns in order to profit off of 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.
- Evil Gloating: Stops several times before killing prawns to taunt them. This ends up saving Wikus, who would have died if Koobus had just shot him instead of stopping to inform him that he was going to die.
- 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.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Bursts into a violent fit of rage in his first scene when Wikus suggests he wear body armor and proceeds to yell at the cameraman for filming him.
- 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.
- Ax-Crazy: Regularly has Prawns killed and eaten in the attempt to gain their power. Even tries doing this to a still part-human Wikus.
- Creepy Monotone: Almost never raises his voice, even in tense situations.
- 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 discovers he can use the Prawn weapons and kills one of the gang members.Ah, holy shit!
- Nerves of Steel: Even when Wikus has an alien gun to his face, Obesandjo doesn't flinch at all.
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Runs a Nigerian criminal organization that exploits Prawns' addiction to nearly worthless cat food to gain their advanced technology and regularly kills them to eat them to try to gain their ability to use said technology.