Bounty hunters and other such miscreants have long ranked among my favorite Star Wars characters. Just for fun, and as a follow-up to my last post, I’m going to list my top five favorite Star Wars bounty hunters.
1. Cad Bane
He’s intelligent, cool, calm, and collected. He’s ruthless and effective. He plans jobs that actually work, and when things do sometimes fall through, he can make an escape. And he can stand up to Jedi in a fight. Not to mention he just has an awesome outfit that evokes Old West-style bounty hunters. Everything about Cad Bane is cool. Cad, Ahsoka, and Hondo Ohnaka are my favorite characters to be introduced by The Clone Wars TV show.
Dengar looks so pathetic in his first appearance. An ugly, scarred, weary, and washed-up human held together by bandages and spray-painted stormtrooper armor. He looks like tragedy personified. Dengar has always seemed like a character deserving an origin in film noir style.
Dengar did have a dark origin story in the Legends continuity. A former swoop racer who was severely injured in a race with Han Solo, Dengar reformed himself as a lethal assassin and bounty hunter with a burning desire for vengeance against the smuggler. Dead-eyed and dangerous, Dengar nonetheless was allowed a character arc that granted him love, empathy, and redemption. Dengar could be scary, but he was allowed growth in a way that most of the more archetypal bounty hunters never had.
In the new canon, Dengar seems a lot warmer character with a comic relief sense of humor and a great sense of loyalty to his team–or at least, to whichever team he’s currently contracted to. His flirty, playboy nature means he’s still a winner in my books.
Sugi is an interesting sort of bounty hunter. She’s more a mercenary for hire than a flat-out bounty hunter in most of her depictions. She also has more heart than most of the bounty hunters in the Star Wars universe. Yes, she’s in it for the money, but she’s shown herself to be loyal to her squad, a good leader, and inclined to work for good causes (like protecting an innocent farming community or helping Wookiees to rescue Trandoshan prisoners).
While Sugi doesn’t have much screen time, I like the idea of a transparently noble bounty hunter. After all, collecting fugitives and criminals does not require one to be evil, cruel, or prone to excessive violence! It would be interesting to see more stories with Sugi–maybe even some ones where she actually does the bounty hunting her job description would suggest!
4. Boba Fett
Of course Boba Fett makes the list somewhere, right? He’s the bounty hunter who tracks down Han-freaking-Solo, after all. He’s disciplined, professional, and to the point. He gets the job done right and doesn’t waste time on words. He’s so dangerous that Darth Vader has to specifically warn him against disintegrations. And his inclusion in the Special Edition of A New Hope makes it seem like he’s long been someone Jabba has relied on.
But there are many reasons why Boba Fett ranks relatively low for me for a bounty hunter of such widespread fan renown. Principally, it was hard to take Boba Fett seriously when he died in such an embarrassingly stupid way in Return of the Jedi (even if he did later tear himself out of the Sarlacc in the Legends continuity).
Furthermore, his backstory as developed in Attack of the Clones was certainly underwhelming, and making him a clone of one of the greatest bounty hunters of all time–and a genetic match with basically all clone troopers–makes him far less special or significant. All of his accomplishments, at this point, must be compared to those of his father. But even before this backstory development, Boba Fett’s backstory has always been confusing, and his behavior and motivations have shifted from writer to writer. Sometimes he seems more noble, sometimes he seems like a psychopath. So many people have taken a turn at Boba Fett that his character had become quite muddled well before the continuity reboot. On top of that, he appeared in too many of the Star Wars video games–typically in some confrontation requiring you to defeat the allegedly mighty hunter. And as he is an heir to Mandalorian culture, he was rather burdened with the constantly changing, overly involved lore tied into that group. There was a time when it seemed that Mandalorians were everywhere, and they were fast becoming a superheroic band of always honorable, super-badass, nigh-unstable warriors. Amid that backdrop, I had both Mandalorian fatigue and Boba Fett fatigue.
Still, Boba Fett has been reformed into a formidable figure once more. With the new canon, all the backstory associated with Boba and the Mandalorians has been stripped away, leaving only Episode II. And The Clone Wars TV show actually used Young Boba to good effect, showing just what sort of violent and sociopathic figure would be formed if trained to be a bounty hunter by the top guy in the business basically since birth. The ongoing Marvel Star Wars comic series has also put Boba Fett to good use. He’s ruthless, casually violent, and quite effective.
As long as he’s used minimally in the new canon, and as long as they keep displaying him in a consistent manner, as a cold, competent badass, I’m on board with the new Boba Fett.
5. Calo Nord
Calo is a fairly simple archetypal bounty hunter in Knights of the Old Republic, but he’s used very effectively. You first encounter him in a cantina, where he’s harrassed by some idiotic Rodian thugs. Calo gives them to the count of three before he calmly eradicates them. If you initiate contact with him, he gives you the same three-second count, and it’s clear enough what will happen if you push it. This moment alone establishes him as the force behind a looming confrontation to be feared. Calo is the top enforcer to crime boss Davik Kang, and when you visit Davik’s estate, you can find further testament to Calo’s abilities, including a trophy room complete with a rancor head–and a journal detailing how Calo nabbed the beast. He is seemingly killed in his first encounter with you, as part of a hangar ceiling collapses on top of him, but he proves to be a pernicious foe and a good initial rival. When he catches up with your character later on, it’s genuinely intimidating.
He’s a perfect Boba Fett analogue to challenge the protagonist. But because he is basically an echo of Fett, he’ll always be lesser.
IG-88 intrigues a lot of people, but at the end of the day it’s an assassin droid. There are plenty of those. They are programmed to kill. There is not much mystery built into a droid that simply fulfills its programming. And it’s not as quirky a concept as a renegade protocol droid, like 4-LOM (or C-3PX, or Triple-Zero). Plus, IG-88 was everywhere in the late nineties and early aughts–consequently, he was also destroyed a lot, for instance in comics and in the Shadows of the Empire video game. IG-88 gets a mention here because of just how wild his Legends backstory got in “Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88,” by Kevin J. Anderson. In this backstory, IG-88 was actually a line of experimental assassin droids; one of the droids gained consciousness, killed the lab staff, and inserted his personality into a few duplicates. The IG-88 gang then attempted to foment a droid rebellion. The multiple apparent deaths of IG-88 actually all fit together after all, as each destroyed droid was a separate IG-88. In what is to me one of the goofiest moments in all of Star Wars, the primary (and last surviving) IG-88 infiltrated the second Death Star and uploaded his personality into the battle station, only to be destroyed before he could act further on his plans. It’s so weird, I just love it! Since nothing in the new canon explicitly contradicts most of “Therefore I Am,” I honestly still keep it as super-delightful headcanon.