Meet Dengar, The Other Hip ‘Star Wars’ Bounty Hunter

A while back I had an insightful conversation with Eric Geller of TheForce.Net about the improbable popularity of Boba Fett; this became the subject of my very first Comlink column.

Recently Eric and I discussed the ascent of another “Star Wars” character: the Corellian known as Dengar. Like Boba Fett, Dengar embarked on a search for Han Solo in “The Empire Strikes Back,” but unlike Fett, the voice of Dengar is not heard at all. In fact, he’s sort of a blink-and-you-miss-him kind of guy.

But despite his lack of screen time (and his loss of the Solo bounty to Fett), Dengar has become quite the cult figure in the Expanded Universe. His fans include actors Patton Oswalt and Simon Pegg, who just voiced the animated bounty hunter on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

To me, Dengar’s popularity is something of a head-scratcher (no pun intended). To Geller, it makes sense. “Part of it is that he’s an original trilogy bounty hunter and people are always hungry for connections to the original trilogy,” Geller explained. “And part of it is that he was always one of the more bizarre-looking bounty hunters.”

Geller was referring, of course, to Dengar’s conspicuous headgear. “There’s this guy with a towel on his head,” he said. “He just looks like he has a giant band-aid on there.”

So rather than just being some unassuming bloke in the background of one Darth Vader-centered scene in Episode V, Dengar was propelled to cult superstardom because of an unusual fashion accessory. Like other little-seen but much-loved “Star Wars” characters, Dengar soon had an entirely engrossing back-story (and front-story). For the uninitiated, here are five fun facts about our bandage-headed hero:

1. Dengar suffered severe head trauma during a swoop race against a young Han Solo, which inspired his nickname…

2. “Payback.”

3. Before becoming a freelance bounty hunter, Dengar was rebuilt by the Empire to be an unfeeling assassin. In the process, they removed his hypothalamus (fortunately for us he has the good sense to cover up the mess with a towel).

4. After fellow bounty boy Boba Fett extracted himself from the belly of the Sarlacc, Dengar nursed him back to health.

5. Returning the favor, Fett was best man at Dengar’s wedding.

We’ve witnessed Boba Fett’s meteoric rise from cult figure to mainstream star, but will his buddy match that level of fame? “I don’t see that happening for Dengar,” Geller says. But he wouldn’t necessarily be shocked if Dengar did manage to pull it off. “I’ll hedge my bets and say that anything is possible for ’Star Wars’ fans.”

In The Comlink, “Star Wars” fan and MTV News producer Tami Katzoff explores the glory days of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Whether you’re Team Jedi or Team Sith, friend of Wookiees or wanted by bounty hunters, any and all “Star Wars” fans are welcome along for the ride.