When I was a kid, one of my favorite scenes in The Empire Strikes Back was when Darth Vader assembled a crew of bounty hunters to pursue Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. Those dudes were badasses. I loved playing with their action figures, reading their comics, and concocting my own wild stories about them. They were some of the coolest characters in the coolest universe — except for Dengar. Dengar's role was limited to cannon fodder in my own personal games.
Among the six bounty hunters that Vader assembled, Dengar was the bland one, the one who you always struggled to remember when you were trying to list off the whole group. He was a boring, old human, clothed in bland armor and lacking any sort of standout characteristics. He was far and away the least interesting of the crew. And yet, somehow Dengar has become the most prominent bounty hunter of the group (the wildly popular Boba Fett excluded of course).
It's fairly baffling that the folks at Disney and LucasFilm have decided to dedicate so much storytelling to Dengar, while leaving IG-99, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM almost entirely on the shelf, but that's the way it is. Let's take a look at Dengar's rise through recent Star Wars history to see if there might be an explanation for his expanded presence over the other classic bounty hunters and whether or not these stories have elevated his status in Star Wars lore.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Chronologically, Dengar's first canonical appearance in Star Wars comes in the form of the animated television show The Clone Wars. While Dengar only appears in two episodes of the show (4.20 "Bounty" and 5.14 "Eminence") we might already have a better understanding of why he has been given a larger role in the universe.
Voicing the bounty hunter in The Clone Wars was none other than A-lister, and future Unkar Plutt actor, Simon Pegg. Despite Pegg's obvious distaste for the prequels, he was willing to insert himself into that portion of the timeline in order to get a shot at voicing a character that Pegg described as "a mysterious, hard man" and "one of the elite." Utilizing a massively popular actor who is known for his avid fandom of Star Wars is the perfect way to bring some life to a character who was once forgotten. While Dengar only appeared in a pair of episodes in The Clone Wars, Pegg did get to reprise his role as Dengar several years later.
Star Wars Battlefront
When EA first announced that their season pass for Star Wars Battlefront would include a new collection of heroes and villains to play as, it was easy to project who the game would be adding to the rebellions side. Characters such as Chewbacca and Lando were obvious choices who had been left out of the initial lineup, but figuring out who EA would add as playable characters for the empire was another story. The first DLC pack gave the Empire the assistance of the bounty hunter Greedo, and with the second pack, EA surprised many by announcing Dengar as the next villain to be added to Imperial squads.
Pegg only provides a couple of lines for Dengar, but couple his presence with Dengar's dominant capabilities, and you've crafted yourself a character that many players will be ecstatic to use. Dengar is a force to be reckoned with in-game, and showing off the skills and abilities of such a bland character is a sure-fire way to add to the character's fanbase.
Star Wars Comics
Beyond his inclusion in The Clone Wars and Battlefront, Dengar has also found his way into a significant arc in the comic books. He has appeared in five separate issues up to this point, but his most prominent appearance came in the main Star Wars series where he starred in issues 10–12 as an antagonist to Chewie and Han. In that sequence, Dengar shocks Chewbacca and manages to subdue him after a struggle, before Han comes in to save the day. Dengar's credibility with Star Wars fans could certainly have gained a boost from seeing the bounty hunter come out victorious in a fight with the massive Chewbacca (as well as for zapping the ever-irritating C-3PO), but the fact that he had to weaken Chewie with electrical shocks beforehand may have taken away some of the respect that he could've earned.
Though his appearance in Aftermath is small, Dengar has crossed the bridge into making appearances in novels as well. In Aftermath, Dengar pops up in a friendly fight with a younger bounty hunter, making a cameo that provides the book with a connection to the larger universe. Even though his appearance is minor, the fact that Dengar has transitioned over from movie, to animated show, to video game, to comic book, and into a novel is pretty impressive.
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures
And finally, even if The Freemaker Adventures isn't actually canon, that doesn't mean that it can't have an impact on a character's legacy. Dengar is one of the primary adversaries of the Freemaker family in the show's first season, and his presence is a common one throughout the show so far. He's squared up against the Freemaker family repeatedly, appearing in nine episodes so far and earning himself his own LEGO set thanks to his work in the series.
The reason that Disney decided on Dengar as their favorite non-Boba bounty hunter remains baffling to me, but it seems that they have at least been fairly successful in pushing him as a character in the Star Wars universe. They've increased his reputation with a wider audience by bringing on Simon Pegg to voice him in The Clone Wars and Battlefront, they've cemented him as a worthwhile villain for dedicated Star Wars junkies with his appearances in various comics and the Aftermath novel, and they've even pushed him onto a younger audience with his role in The Freemaker Adventures. It's still tough for me to watch that scene in The Empire Strikes Back and not view Dengar as the weakest of the bunch, but Disney has certainly helped his cause. At the least, he may have leapfrogged over Zuckuss.
For more Star Wars facts that'll expand your knowledge, check out this awesome narrative timeline of the Star Wars movies in the video below:
Do you guys agree that Dengar is at the bottom of the bounty hunter power rankings? Have all of his recent appearances done anything to change your opinion on the character? Let us know your thoughts about Dengar down in the comments!