How a Cult Classic 'Empire Strikes Back' Background Prop Connects to 'The Mandalorian'
If you’re a casual Star Wars fan like me, you may have never heard of a seemingly insignificant background character in The Empire Strikes Back named Willrow Hood, who only appears in the movie for a brief second. But the character has quite the following among hardcore fans of the franchise thanks to a distinctive prop that he carries with him, and now a connection has been drawn between that prop and the upcoming Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Get the details below.
Warning: we’re about to get into some seriously nerdy territory, so strap in. So everyone is on the same page, here’s some background about who Willrow Hood is:
To many, Willrow represents the best of what Star Wars fandom can be: a guy who appears in just a second of the background of the film, who was given a huge backstory because hardcore fans genuinely loved him. (The passion for this character was so vocal that he actually won a fan vote for a Hasbro action figure that they didn’t even want to make.)
OK, so now that we all know who this dude is, what is he carrying? The long-lasting joke within the fandom is that he was running through Cloud City with an ice cream maker, but io9 has a source that reveals that it’s actually something called a camtono:
The word briefly made it out into the world at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year when, in an extended clip from The Mandalorian that never made it online, Werner Herzog’s character shows the titular bounty hunter a piece of beskar—an ancient, valuable, Mandalorian alloy—and tells him he’ll give him a camtono of it when he completes the mission.
We don’t know what the mission is yet and we don’t know the name of Herzog’s character. What we do know, thanks to a source close to the production, is that a camtono is like a safe or a lock box, Herzog’s character has one full of beskar, and it’s the same item Willrow Hood is running around with in The Empire Strikes Back.
That last part is especially fascinating: it’s not just that any old camtono appears in The Mandalorian, it’s the same specific one that Hood clutched under his arm as he dashed through Cloud City. According to the non-canonical Star Wars Legends, Willrow Hood’s camtono contained a list of Rebel contacts with whom he was supplying discounted gas for their weaponry. The story goes that he took the memory core from his computer, put it in the camtono, and then destroyed it. But since the Legends stories fell by the wayside when Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney, there’s a chance that story could be altered.
Last October, Jon Favreau shared a photo of the camtono from the set of The Mandalorian, which, remember, is set five years after Return of the Jedi:
If this is indeed the same exact camtono Willrow Hood used, could this mean that the Rebel contact list is still inside? That seems like information some skuzzy bounty hunters would love to have; they could sell it to the Empire, who may be looking to wipe out what remains of the Rebellion, or maybe even sell it to the people on the list itself so they can ensure it won’t make it into enemy hands.
We’ll find out how all of these pieces fall into place when The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.
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