In the original theatrical releases of the original Star Wars trilogy, Jabba the Hutt first appeared in Return of the Jedi (1983), though he is mentioned in bothStar Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and a previously deleted scene involving Jabba the Hutt was added to the 1997 theatrical re-release and subsequent home media releases of Star Wars. Jabba's role inStar Wars is primarily antagonistic; he is introduced as the crime boss who has a bounty on Han Solo's head. He is about 600 years old, a Hutt crime lordand gangster who employs a retinue of criminals, bounty hunters, smugglers,assassins and bodyguards to operate his criminal empire. In his palace on the desert planet Tatooine, he keeps a host of entertainers at his disposal: slaves,droids and alien creatures. Jabba has a grim sense of humour, an insatiable appetite, and affinities for gambling, slave girls, and torture.
The character was incorporated into the Star Wars merchandising campaign that corresponded with the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi. Besides the films, Jabba the Hutt is featured in Star Wars literature and is sometimes referenced by his full name, Jabba Desilijic Tiure. Jabba the Hutt's image has since played an influential role in popular culture, particularly in the United States. The name is used as a satirical literary device and a political caricature to underscore negative qualities such as morbid obesity and corruption.
Jabba the Hutt appears in three of the six live-action Star Wars films and The Clone Wars. He has a recurring role in Expanded Universe literature and is theprotagonist of the comic book anthology Jabba the Hutt: The Art of the Deal(1998), a collection of comics originally published in 1995 and 1996.
Star Wars filmsEdit
Jabba is first mentioned in Star Wars (1977), but is introduced on screen in 1983 with the third installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Directed by Richard Marquand and written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas, the first act of Return of the Jedi features the attempts ofPrincess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), the Wookiee Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to rescue their friend,Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who had been imprisoned in carbonite in the events of the previous film, The Empire Strikes Back.
The captured Han is delivered to Jabba by the bounty hunter Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) and placed on display in the crime lord's throne room. Friends of Han, namely, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), Leia, and Chewbacca infiltrate Jabba's palace as part of a plot to save Han. Leia herself is soon captured and enslaved by the Hutt. Luke arrives to "bargain for Solo's life". Luke, however, is dropped into the pit of the monstrousrancor, just below Jabba's throne room. After Luke slays the beast, Jabba condemns Luke, Han, and Chewbacca to a slow death in the belly of the Sarlacc, a large alien creature in Tatooine's Dune Sea. The execution turns into a skirmish at theGreat Pit of Carkoon where Luke escapes execution with the help of R2-D2 and defeats Jabba's guards. During the subsequent confusion, Leia strangles Jabba to death with her slave chains. Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 escape just before Jabba's sail barge explodes, killing all inside.
The second film appearance of Jabba the Hutt is in the Special Edition of A New Hope which was released in 1997 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original Star Wars. Han Solo has a confrontation in a Mos Eisley cantina with the alien bounty hunter Greedo (Paul Blake and Maria De Aragon) that ends with the latter's death. According to Greedo, Jabba "has no use for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser." Jabba had hired Han to smuggle the illicit drug spice from the asteroid Kessel. Han, however, was forced to dump his cargo when an Imperial search team boarded the Millennium Falcon, Han's ship. Greedo tells Han, "Jabba's put a price on your head so large, every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you." In a scene that had been cut from the 1977 original, Jabba and an entourage of bounty hunters are seen in a hangar bay outside the Millennium Falcon, trying to find the smuggler. Jabba confirms Greedo's last words and demands that Han pay the value of the shipment. Han promises to compensate Jabba as soon as he receives payment for delivering "goods"—Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, and C-3PO—toAlderaan. Jabba warns Han that if he is not paid back soon, he will post a bounty "so big, you won't be able to go near a civilized system." However, Han never completes his deal with the Hutt. This was actually taken from an unfinished scene for the original 1977 version of the film, in which Jabba was played by Declan Mulholland. In the 1997 Special Edition version of the film, a CGI rendering of Jabba replaces Mulholland, and his voice is redubbed in Huttese.
Jabba the Hutt makes his third film appearance in the 1999 prequel, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The character's scene is minor and has little to do with the plot of the film. During the Boonta Eve Classic podrace at Mos Espaon Tatooine, in which nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) wins his freedom, Jabba the Hutt is featured in his grandstand accompanied by Gardulla the Hutt (a feminine Hutt) and his Twi'lek majordomo Bib Fortuna (Matthew Wood). Although he is the host of the race, Jabba is totally uninterested and even dozes off, missing the race's conclusion.
Jabba makes his fourth and final appearance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In this 2008 film, Jabba the Hutt's son, Rotta, is captured by Separatists in an attempt to frame the Jedi and the Republic. Anakin Skywalker and his padawan Ahsoka Tanosave Rotta and return him to Jabba, securing permission for the safe passage of Republic ships through his territory. Other than the movie, Jabba has also appeared in three episodes of the third season of the Clone Wars TV series. He appeared in the episode "Sphere of Influence" where his son Rotta also makes an appearance. Jabba is faced by Chairman Papanoida, whose daughters were kidnapped by one of his bounty hunters, Greedo. Jabba allows a sample of Greedo's blood to be taken in order to prove that he is the kidnapper, but Greedo's cowardliness speaks first. In the episode "Evil Plans" Jabba hires the bounty hunter Cad Bane to bring him plans for the Senate building. When Bane returns successful, Jabba not only pays him, but also hires him for another task. He and the Hutt Council send Bane to free his uncle Ziro the Hutt from prison (rather unexpected since Ziro helped kidnap his son.) Jabba makes one short appearance in the episode "Hunt for Ziro" in which he is seen laughing with amusement hearing of Ziro's death at the hand of Sy Snootles, and pays her for delivering Ziro's holo-diary. Jabba makes his final appearance in the show in the fifth season's episode "Eminence". He and the Hutt Council are approached by Darth Maul, Savage Opress, and Pre Vizsla, the leaders of the Shadow Collective. Jabba is in hologram form on Nal Hutta when Maul attempts to negotiate, stating they had no credits to pay the Hutts, and threatened their lives if they didn't join. Jabba of course sends bounty hunters Embo, Sugi, Latts Razzi and Dengar after the Sith and Mandalorian. This results in a battle in the palace, where the Hutt lords except one evacuate, but that Hutt is executed by Savage for being unable to give any useful information. The Shadow Collective later confronts Jabba at his palace on Tatooine, and Jabba is amused by Maul's persistence and agrees to an alliance.
Star Wars literatureEdit
Jabba as he appears in Marvel Comic's adaptation of the first Star Wars film A New Hope
The first appearances of Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars Expanded Universe literature was inMarvel Comics' adaptations of A New Hope. In Six Against the Galaxy (1977) by Roy Thomas, What Ever Happened to Jabba the Hut? (1979) and In Mortal Combat (1980), both by Archie Goodwin, Jabba the Hutt (originally spelled Hut) appeared as a tall humanoid with a walrus-like face, a topknot, and a bright uniform. The official "Jabba" was not yet established as he had yet to be seen.
While awaiting the sequel to Star Wars, Marvel kept the monthly comic going with their own stories, one of which includes Jabba tracking Han Solo and Chewbacca down to an old hideaway they use for smuggling. However, circumstances force Jabba to lift the bounty on Solo and Chewbacca, thus enabling them to return to Tatooine for an adventure with Luke Skywalker—who has returned to the planet in order to recruit more pilots for the Rebel Alliance. In the course of another adventure, Solo kills the space pirate Crimson Jack and busts up his operation, which Jabba bankrolled. Jabba thus renews the reward for Solo's head and Solo later kills a bounty hunter who tells him why he is hunted once more. He and Chewbacca return to the rebels. (Solo mentions an incident with a "bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell" in the opening scenes of The Empire Strikes Back.)
The Marvel artists based Jabba on a character later named Mosep Binneed, an alien visible only briefly in the Mos Eisley cantina scene of A New Hope. The 1977 mass market paperback novelization of Lucas's Star Wars script describes Jabba as a "great mobile tub of muscle and suet topped by a shaggy scarred skull", but gives no further detail as to the character's physical appearance or species.
Later Expanded Universe novels and comics adopt the character's image as seen in the film. They also elaborate on his background prior to the events of the Star Wars films. For example, Zorba the Hutt's Revenge (1992), a young adult novelby Paul and Hollace Davids, reveals that Jabba's father is a powerful crime lord named Zorba the Hutt and that Jabba was born 596 years before the events of A New Hope, making him around 600 years old at the time of his death in Return of the Jedi. Ann C. Crispin's novel The Hutt Gambit (1997) explains how Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo become business associates and portrays the events that lead to a bounty being placed on Han's head. Other Expanded Universe stories—especially the anthology of Dark Horse comics by Jim Woodring titled Jabba the Hutt: The Art of the Deal (1998)—likewise detail Jabba the Hutt's rise to the head of the Desilijic clan, his role in the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe, and the establishment of his crime syndicate on Tatooine in the Star Wars galaxy's Outer Rim Territories.
Tales From Jabba's Palace (1996), a collection of short stories edited by science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson, pieces together the lives of Jabba the Hutt's various minions in his palace and their relationship to him during the last days of his life. The stories reveal that few of the Hutt's servants are loyal to him and most are in fact plotting to have him assassinated. When Jabba the Hutt is killed in Return of the Jedi, his surviving former courtiers join forces with his rivals on Tatooine and his family on the Hutt homeworld Nal Hutta make claims to his palace, fortune, and criminal empire. Timothy Zahn's novelHeir to the Empire (1991) reveals that a smuggler named Talon Karrde eventually replaces Jabba as the "big fish in the pond", and moves the headquarters of the Hutt's criminal empire off Tatooine.
Jabba the Hutt exemplifies lust, greed, and gluttony. The character is known throughout the Star Wars universe as a "vile gangster" who amuses himself by torturing and humiliating his subjects and enemies. He surrounds himself with scantily-clad slave girls of all species, chaining many of them to his dais. The Star Wars Databank—an official online database ofStar Wars information—remarks that residents of his palace are not safe from his desire to dominate and torture. Jabba would send even his most loyal servants and prized possessions to their deaths. For example, in Return of the Jedi, the Twi'lek slave dancer Oola is fed to the rancor monster because she refuses to pander to his whims.
"Look Jabba, next time you wanna talk to me, come see me yourself. Don't send one of these twerps." – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (remastered, 2004)
Jabba the Hutt's physical appearance is as grotesque as his character and reinforces his personality as a criminal deviant. As Han Solo puts it in Return of the Jedi, Jabba is a "slimy piece of worm-ridden filth." Film critic Roger Ebertdescribes him as "a cross between a toad and the Cheshire Cat", andastrophysicist and science fiction writer Jeanne Cavelos gives Jabba the "award for most disgusting alien." Science fiction authors Tom and Martha Veitchwrite that Jabba's body is a "miasmic mass" of flesh that shakes as he laughs. He emits an unmistakable smell: "The Hutt's lardaceous body seemed to periodically release a greasy discharge, sending fresh waves of rotten stench" into the air. His swollen tongue drips with saliva as he feeds on creatures that resemble frogs and maggots. Jabba's appetite is insatiable and he is not discriminatory about his diet. For example, hisjester, the Kowakian monkey-lizard Salacious B. Crumb, must make the Hutt crime lord laugh once a day, every day, or Jabba will eat him.
However, Jabba the Hutt does show rare moments of charity. For instance, in one Expanded Universe story, he prevents a Chevin named Ephant Mon from freezing to death on an ice planet by covering him with his bloated layers of fat; the two are eventually rescued, and Ephant Mon becomes totally loyal to the crime lord, making him the only resident of Jabba's palace that the crime lord trusts. Also, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Jabba seems to have genuine affection for his son Rotta, and is worried by his kidnapping and angered by his supposed death.
Lucas has noted that there was a potential role for Jabba in future episodes, as he may have faked his death via Leia and one angle shows an escape hatch emerging from his barge as it explodes.
Concept and creationEdit
Jabba the Hutt's appearance underwent several changes between different versions of the films. The shift in the concept of Jabba the Hutt from a furry creature to a slug and from a puppet to CGI represent two of the more glaring changes to the character in the concept and creation process.
Episode IV: A New HopeEdit
The original script to A New Hope describes Jabba as a "fat, slug-like creature with eyes on extended feelers and a huge ugly mouth", but Lucas stated in an interview that the initial character he had in mind was much furrier and resembled a Wookiee. When filming the scene between Han Solo and Jabba in 1976, Lucas employed Northern Irish actor Declan Mulholland to play the stand-in and read Jabba the Hutt's lines wearing a shaggy brown suit. Lucas planned to replace Mulholland in post-production with a stop-motion creature. The scene was meant to connect A New Hope to Return of the Jedi and explain why Han Solo was imprisoned at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Nevertheless, Lucas decided to leave the scene out of the final film on account of budget and time constraints and because he felt that it did not enhance the film's plot. The scene remained in the novelization, comic book, and radio adaptations of the film.
Harrison Ford (left) and Declan Mulholland, Jabba the Hutt's stand-in, in an uncompleted scene from A New Hope in 1976
Lucas revisited the scene in the 1997 Special Edition release of A New Hope, restoring the sequence and replacing Mulholland with a CGI version of Jabba the Hutt and the English dialogue with Huttese, a fictional language created by sound designer Ben Burtt. Joseph Letteri, the visual effects supervisor for the Special Edition, explained that the ultimate goal of the revised scene was to make it look as if Jabba the Hutt was actually on the set talking to and acting with Harrison Ford and that the crew had merely photographed it. Letteri stated that the new scene consisted of five shots that took over a year to complete. The scene was polished further for the 2004 release on DVD, improving Jabba's appearance with advancements in CGI techniques, although neither release looks exactly like the original Jabba the Hutt puppet.
At one point of the original scene, Ford walks behind Mulholland. This became a problem when adding the CGI Jabba, since he had a tail that happened to be in the way. Eventually, this problem was solved by having Han stepping on Jabba's tail, causing the Hutt to react with a yelp of pain.
Lucas confesses that people were disappointingly upset about the CGI Jabba's appearance, complaining that the character "looked fake". Lucas dismisses this, stating that whether a character is portrayed as a puppet or as CGI, it will always be "fake" since the character is not real. He says he sees no difference between a puppet made of latex and one generated by a computer.
Episode VI: Return of the JediEdit
Concept artwork of Jabba the Hutt for Return of the Jedi designed by Industrial Light & Magic
Lucas based the CGI on the character as he originally appeared in Return of the Jedi. In this film, Jabba the Hutt is an immense, sedentary, slug-like creature designed by Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic Creature Shop. Design consultantRalph McQuarrie claimed, "In my sketches Jabba was huge, agile, sort of an apelike figure. But then the design went into another direction, and Jabba became more like a worm kind of creature." According to the 1985 documentary From Star Wars to Jedi, Lucas rejected initial designs of the character. One made Jabba appear too human—almost like a Fu Manchu character—while a second made him look too snail-like. Lucas finally settled on a design that was a hybrid of the two, drawing for further inspiration on an O'Galop (Marius Rossillon) cartoon figure flanking an early depiction of Bibendum, the "Michelin Man." Return of the Jedi costume designer Nilo Rodis-Jamero commented,
Production and designEdit
Designed by visual effects artist Phil Tippett, Jabba the Hutt was inspired by the anatomy of several animal species. His body structure and reproductive processes were based on annelid worms, hairless animals that have no skeleton and arehermaphroditic. Jabba's head was modeled after that of a snake, complete with bulbous, slit-pupilled eyes and a mouth that opens wide enough to swallow large prey. His skin was given moist, amphibian qualities. Jabba's design would come to represent almost all members of the Hutt species in subsequent Star Wars fiction.
In Return of the Jedi, Jabba is portrayed by a one-ton puppet that took three months and half a million dollars to construct. While filming the movie, the puppet had its own makeup artist. The puppet required three puppeteers to operate, making it one of the largest ever used in a motion picture. Stuart Freeborn designed the puppet, while John Coppinger sculpted its latex, clay, and foam pieces. Puppeteers included David Alan Barclay, Toby Philpott, and Mike Edmonds, who were members of Jim Henson's Muppet group. Barclay operated the right arm and mouth and read the character's English dialogue, while Philpott controlled the left arm, head, and tongue. Edmonds, the shortest of the three men (he also played the Ewok Lograyin later scenes) was responsible for the movement of Jabba's tail. Tony Cox, who also played an Ewok, would assist as well. The eyes and facial expressions were operated by radio control.
Design of the Jabba the Hutt puppet for Return of the Jedi
Lucas voiced displeasure in the puppet's appearance and immobility, complaining that the puppet had to be moved around the set to film different scenes. In the DVD commentary to the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, Lucas notes that if the technology had been available in 1983, Jabba the Hutt would have been a CGI character similar to the one that appears in the Special Edition scene of A New Hope.
Jabba the Hutt only speaks Huttese on film, but his lines are subtitled in English. His voice and Huttese-language dialogue were performed by voice actor Larry Ward, whose work is not listed in the end credits. A heavy, booming quality was given to Ward's voice by pitching it an octave lower than normal and processing it through a subharmonic generator. A soundtrack of wet, slimy sound effects was recorded to accompany the movement of the puppet's limbs and mouth.
Jabba the Hutt's musical theme throughout the film, composed by John Williams, is played on a tuba. One reviewer of Return of the Jedi's soundtrack comments, "Among the new thematic ideas [of the score is] Jabba the Hutt's cute tuba piece (playing along the politically incorrect lines of tubas representing fatness) ...." The theme is very similar to one Williams wrote for a heavyset character in Fitzwilly (1967), though the theme does not appear on that film's soundtrack album. Williams later turned the theme into a symphonic piece performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra featuring a tuba solo by Chester Schmitz. The role of the piece in film and popular culture has become a focus of study by musicologists such as Gerald Sloan, who says Williams' piece "blends the monstrous and the lyrical".
According to film historian Laurent Bouzereau, Jabba the Hutt's death in Return of the Jedi was suggested by script writer Lawrence Kasdan. Lucas decided Leia should strangle him with her slave chain. He was inspired by a scene from The Godfather (1972) where an obese character named Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) is garroted by an assassin.
Jabba the Hutt was played by Declan Mulholland in scenes cut from the 1977 release of Star Wars. In Mulholland's scenes as Jabba, Jabba is represented as a rotund Human dressed in a shaggy fur coat. George Lucas has stated his intention was to use an alien creature for Jabba, but the special effects technology of the time was not up to the task of replacing Mulholland. In 1997, the "Special Edition" re-releases restored and altered the original scene to include a computer generated portrayal of Jabba. In Return of the Jedi, he was played by puppeteers Mike Edmonds, Toby Philpott, David Alan Barclay and voiced by Larry Ward. Jabba is played by an uncredited voice-actor in The Phantom Menace and in the ending credits, Jabba is credited as playing himself. His puppeteers have appeared in the documentaries From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga and Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi. David Alan Barclay, who was one of the puppeteers for Jabba in the film, voiced Jabba in the Super Nintendo video game version of Return of the Jedi. In the radio drama adaption of the original trilogy, Jabba is played by Ed Asner. In the film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the followingtelevision series, Jabba is portrayed by Kevin Michael Richardson. All other video game appearances of Jabba were played by Clint Bajakian. Jabba was supposed to appear in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, but was left out due to time constraints. A cutscene was produced featuring a conversation between Jabba and Juno Eclipse (voiced by Natalie Cox), which was scrapped from the game. He appears in the Ultimate Sith Edition.
With the premiere of Return of Jedi in 1983 and the accompanying merchandising campaign, Jabba the Hutt became an icon in American popular culture. The character was produced and marketed as a series of action figure play sets by Kenner/Hasbro from 1983 to 2004. In the 1990s, Jabba the Hutt became the protagonist in his own comic book series collectively titled Jabba the Hutt: The Art of the Deal.
Jabba's role in popular culture extends beyond the Star Wars universe and its fans. In Mel Brooks' Star Wars spoofSpaceballs (1987), Jabba the Hutt is parodied as the character Pizza the Hutt, a cheesy blob shaped like a slice of pizza whose name is a double pun on Jabba the Hutt and the restaurant franchise Pizza Hut. Like Jabba, Pizza the Hutt is a loan shark and mobster. The character meets his demise at the end of Spaceballs when he becomes "locked in his car and [eats] himself to death." The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., included a display on Jabba the Hutt in the temporary exhibition Star Wars: The Magic of Myth, which closed in 1999. Jabba's display was called "The Hero's Return," referencing Luke Skywalker's journey toward becoming a Jedi.
Since the release of Return of the Jedi, the name Jabba the Hutt has become synonymous in American mass media with repulsive obesity. The name is utilized as a literary device—either as a simile or metaphor—to illustrate character flaws. For example, in Under the Duvet (2001), Marian Keyes references a problem with gluttony when she writes, "wheel out the birthday cake, I feel a Jabba the Hutt moment coming on." Likewise, in the novel Steps and Exes: A Novel of Family(2000), Laura Kalpakian uses Jabba the Hutt to emphasize the weight of a character's father: "The girls used to call Janice's parents Jabba the Hutt and the Wookiee. But then Jabba (Janice's father) died, and it didn't seem right to speak of the dead on those terms." In Dan Brown's first novel Digital Fortress, an NSA technician is affectionately nicknamed Jabba the Hutt.
In his book of humor and popular culture The Dharma of Star Wars (2005), writer Matthew Bortolin attempts to show similarities between Buddhist teachings and aspects of Star Wars fiction. Bartolin insists that if a person makes decisions that Jabba the Hutt would make, then that person is not practicing the proper spiritual concept of dharma. Bortolin's book reinforces the idea that Jabba's name is synonymous with negativity:
Outside literature, the character's name has become an insulting term of disparagement. To say that someone "looks like Jabba the Hutt" is commonly understood as a slur to impugn that person's weight and/or appearance. The term is often employed by the media as an attack on prominent figures. Another reference appears in the Family Guy episode "He's Too Sexy for His Fat" when Peter mentions his husky ancestor Jabba the Griffin.
In another sense of the term, Jabba the Hutt has come to represent greed and anarchy, especially in the business world. Jabba the Hutt ranked #4 on the Forbes Fictional 15 list of wealthiest fictional characters in 2008.
Jabba the Hutt has likewise become a popular means of caricature in American politics. William G. Ouchi uses the term to describe what he sees as the inefficient bureaucracy of the public school system: "With all of these unnecessary layers of organizational fat, school districts have come to resemble Jabba the Hutt—the pirate leader in Star Wars.