Nerdos iuvat fortuna

Thoughts from the life of a big nerd

The Many New Faces of The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars is known for its vast array of colorful denizens. Beyond the main characters, the galaxy is full of various robots, aliens, humans, and everything in between. In A New Hope we were introduced to the main characters and the beginning of their story arcs, but The Empire Strikes Back actually introduces to the galaxy some of the most memorable characters of the entire saga. I’m guessing that if you had to pick a favorite character besides Luke, Leia, Han, or Darth Vader, you would pick a character from Empire. Therefore, it is only fitting to take a look at the best new characters to show their faces (or their helmets) in the Star Wars saga.

Lobot has about two lines in the entire film, but you can’t help but be intrigued by him. I mean, don’t you ask yourself where he got those sweet doodads on the side of his head and if he dreams of electric sheep (kudos if you get that reference). Sure, we know that Lobot is Lando’s chief dude at Cloud City and he’s pretty handy with a blaster, but there is so much mystery about the rest of his character. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any more of a role in the films so we don’t know his backstory or future, but he does have an action figure so that alone makes him intriguing. Maybe there’s a novel out there that tells Lobot’s story, but I don’t want to read it because they mystery makes Lobot interesting (at least a little bit).

Where can I get me some of those poofy sleeves?

On a slightly more serious note, Emperor Palapatine makes his first quasi-appearance in Empire. We never actually see Palpatine in the flesh, but he does appear in the form of an ominous, looming hologram that makes even Darth Vader look insignificant. If you weren’t scared out of your pants when you heard that Darth Vader has a boss, then Palpatine’s ugly mug in 3D holographic hugeness should have done the job nicely. The short scene with a holgogram was an appropriate introduction to the Galactic Empire’s biggest baddy, which easily merits his placement on the best new characters of Empire list even without a physical appearance.

You don't want to mess with him

The last three new characters are difficult to rank or differentiate based on the coolness factor, but they each stand out for their iconic appearances and personalities. Lando Calrissian, friend and gambling buddy of Han Solo and administrator of Cloud City, provides Star Wars with the smoothest cat in the galaxy. Of course, Billy Dee Williams was the only actor worthy of the role, and he brought a suavity and charm that even trumped his treacherous behavior. In addition, who wouldn’t want to wear a cape like Lando’s? Easily a fan favorite, Lando endeared himself to fans everywhere when he showed his true colors by joining Luke and Leia in the attempt to rescue Han.  As for his deserving to be on this list, well, he’s Lando Calrissian.  Need I really say more?

Don't tell me you wouldn't pose like that if you had a cape!

A list of Empire characters without Yoda, a tragedy would be. The Star Wars saga and Yoda must always be unseparable. He provides the wisdom and the undercurrent for so many of the themes throughout the entire series, and he provides a screen presence that is serious and humorous at the same time. When we first meet Yoda in Empire we don’t even know that he is the Yoda that Luke is looking for, and the audience is as surprised as Luke when he discovers the truth about the little green alien. Yoda-speak has become a regular concept in popular culture, and you can’t find anyone, even if they haven’t seen any part of a Star Wars movie, who doesn’t at least recognize Yoda’s distinct look or speech. Out of all the new characters in Empire, Yoda easily takes the cake as the most significant and most recognized.

How can you not want one of these? Isn't it the cutest thing?

Finally, the honor of cult favorite and most mysterious new character goes to the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Okay, technically Fett was introduced in the infamous Star Wars TV holiday special, but for most people that is merely a bad dream. Empire is the first place where Boba Fett really shines. What makes Boba Fett stand out among all of the other bounty hunters standing on the deck of the Star Destroyer? Fett gets his bounty (Han Solo), he has the coolest armor, he has a rocket pack, he has the swagger, his ship is oddly awesome, he is totally mysterious…I could go on and on. Boba Fett is independent and confident, and he doesn’t have to say much to convey this, which makes him easily the coolest new character in Empire.

If anyone wants to buy me this, I will not refuse.

Some honorable mentions:  Any of the other bounty hunters (Bossk, Dengar, IG-88, etc.), the space slug, tauntauns, wampas, General Veers, Darth Vader’s unhelmeted head, Ugnaughts.

Did I miss any of your favorite characters from The Empire Strikes Back?


May 5, 2010 - Posted by | Movies, Star Wars

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