Monday, May 10, 2010

30 Years of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - part 10

The Empire Strikes Back did not have it's own equivalent to the cantina sequence from Star Wars. As a matter of fact, with very few exceptions, the non-human population was pretty minimal in this movie. The closest it came to an exotic alien "wow" moment was with the introduction of the bounty hunters.

On board the super star destroyer Executor, Darth Vader strides past all six of them; Dengar, IG-88, Boba Fett, Bossk, 4-LOM, and Zuckuss. Hired to locate the Millennium Falcon this group of heavily armored mercenaries had only a few seconds of screen time. Dengar is not even shown in close-up, but because of publicity stills, and the appeal of star bounty hunter, Boba Fett, they would, for good, or ill, change the landscape of the Star Wars universe, not only in the remaining movies, but in the expanded universe as well. 

Up until Han Solo explained that he needed to leave the Rebel base on Hoth because of a bounty hunter he ran into on Ord Mantell, the profession had not been one associated with Star Wars. This particular incident in Han Solo's life was told in detail in the Star Wars newspaper strip which ran from 1979-1984. 
"The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell"  by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson ran in February 1981, and introduced us to the bounty hunter, Skorr, who was trying to capture Han Solo in order to collect the bounty offered by Jabba the Hutt. 

Why Jabba didn't hold Chewbacca responsible for dumping his shipment of spice as well is something I've always wondered, as the two were obviously partners and not boss and employee. 

When Star Wars made its comeback in the late 1990s as a long running series of novels, comic books, games, which led to the special editions of the movie trilogy, and then finally the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars animated series, it got so that you couldn't swing a lightsaber without hitting a bounty hunter. Every obscure on screen character was given a full back story, and plenty of new characters were added to the canon. Not only was Greedo, the poor alien fried by Han Solo in the cantina, made bounty hunter, when I always thought he was just a thug on Jabba's payroll, but practically every single patron of that cantina became a bounty hunter as well, making it unlikely Han would ever have set foot in there.  

The whole thing just got silly, with Boba Fett turning out to be a cloned version of his bounty hunter dad, Jango Fett in Star Wars - Episode II - Attack of the Clones, but with the entire clone army of the republic being cloned from Jango Fett as well. I suspect this had less to do with George Lucas' long gestating plans for the prequel films and more to do with pleasing Boba Fett's legion of fans. 

Thankfully, when bounty hunters began appearing on The Clone Wars, they were done right, beginning with Cad Bane, and fan favorite Aurra Sing (who had a blink and you'll miss her appearance in Star Wars - Episode I - The Phantom Menace as a spectator at the pod race) they were wiley, mean, dangerous, and could kick the crap out even golden boy Boba Fett. They also brought back a lot of the mystique that those strange, barely glimpsed, characters in The Empire Strikes Back had. 

All this week I'll be taking a look at the bounty hunters of The Empire Strikes Back. In the meantime, here's the bounty hunters interpreted as steam punk characters rendered into action figures. 

You can see other characters by visiting here.

For some bounty hunter fun check out this short film.


1 comment:

Robert Pope said...

To me, Vader's "interview" scene with all the bounty hunters really adds to the "Lee/Kirby Marvel Comics" feel of the movie. It's such a badass kind of action (Vader's "employees" have failed him so often he goes and hires freelancers, and then flaunts them right in front of his grunts!)