Disney has been hiding their very own “Most Interesting Man in the World” right under guest noses…
The Disney pantheon is full of extraordinary characters—men and women who have accomplished feats far beyond the measure of the typical tale: people like Elsa the conflicted queen, the warrior Mulan, the enigmatic Captain Jack Sparrow, the thief-turned-hero Flynn Rider, and even the steamboat captain who started it all, Mickey Mouse.
The character I’m referring to has largely flown under the radar compared to these better-known counterparts. Over the course of his many adventures, he proved a prince amongst paupers, a dedicated student of wit, honor, and flexible moral fiber. He bested legends, tamed beasts, liberated worlds, loved dangerously, stood toe to toe with the deadliest of villains, and turned the tides of wars.
Despite these accolades, you’ve probably never heard of Hondo Ohnaka—the shadiest pirate in the Star Wars saga.
We touched on Hondo’s colorful history before in our cheat sheet to Star Wars lore surrounding Galaxy’s Edge. He first appeared as a frequent foil to Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Clone Wars cartoon series, and every time you thought the galaxy was done with him, Hondo kept floating back up from the muddy depths to entangle himself in galactic affairs, each time with more preposterous effect. Not only has Hondo somehow proved essentially unkillable by the top Sith, Jedi, and bounty hunters in Star Wars history, but for a character who should have been written off as a passing comic relief, he’s developed into a sort of Bill Brasky of the Star Wars Universe surrounded by stories so outlandish, you can’t help but take notice.
Why should a Disney parks fan care?
With the landing of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Hondo Ohnaka miraculously claimed a starring role in the hit attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Indeed, you can thank Hondo for somehow swindling Chewbacca into letting your touristy-butter-fingers handle the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, and Disney even made him the subject of one of their most advanced audio-animatronics to date for the ride’s pre-show.
Is Hondo Ohnaka Disney’s own Most-Interesting-Man-in-the-Universe? Perhaps. Here’s why…
1. He bested Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, and Anakin Skywalker—three times in the same day
Hondo first came onto the scene of galactic events as the leader of the Ohnaka Gang, a notorious band of Weequay pirates. The Sith Lord Count Dooku once crashed his ship smack in the middle of the gang’s territory while fleeing pursuit from Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Hondo found Dooku and initially offered to provide him passage to a planet of his choosing. Within mere hours, Hondo had the Sith cleverly disarmed through a theft perpetrated by his pet Kowakian Monkey Lizard and claimed him as a prisoner. Hondo spared no time contacting the Republic to demand a ransom of one million credits in spice.
This move was only the first in a very long series of complex maneuvers and double-crosses that sealed why Ohnaka was one of the galaxy’s most infamous pirate lords. The Jedi sent Obi-Wan and Anakin to Hondo’s stronghold on Florrum to verify Dooku’s identity. Hondo drugged both of the Jedi and captured them as well, tripling his hostage count. Kenobi, Skywalker, and Dooku attempted escape three different times but ended up repeatedly foiled by Hondo and his gang. Hondo’s ransom gambit actually would have succeeded had one of his pirates not attempted to steal the spice for himself, leading to a confrontation between the Republic forces and the Ohnaka Gang.
Ultimately, a fluke accident on the part of Jar Jar Binks— the Star Wars equivalent of Deus Ex Machina-- knocked out the power in Hondo’s base allowing the Jedi and Count Dooku to escape. When the Jedi finally captured Hondo, Obi-Wan ultimately decided to spare him, beginning a long and complicated relationship that would play out for years to come. Indeed, even through myriad shenanigans and attempted betrayals, Hondo would long refer to Obi-Wan as his good friend, “KENOBI!”.