When I saw The Clone Wars movie for the first time, I was profoundly struck by the fact that Jabba the Hutt had a child – Rotta the Huttlet. This unexpected fact immediately added a whole new dimension to the notorious crime lord. No longer was he just the King of the Star Wars underworld, driven only by the desire for profit, power, and prestige. Instead, he was also tender and caring, a parent who loved his Huttlet and would stop at nothing to protect his “pedunkee mufkin” (punky muffin).
When Rotta is kidnapped at the film’s outset, Jabba sends bounty hunters to track down his child and the culprits. When the heads of the bounty hunters are returned without their bodies, a desperate Jabba turns to the Republic/Jedi and Separatists/Count Dooku for help. For Jabba, the return of his son is far more important than the perception of weakness asking for help might create. In turn, one of the most truly genuine expressions of affection in all of Star Wars – at least in my opinion – comes when Rotta is returned to his father. I am always moved by the scene, overcome by Jabba’s voice, his expression, his sheer joy and obvious relief when he sees that his “mufkin” is safe. You can FOLLOW THIS LINK to watch the scene for yourself, and while you might not have the same experience I have, I think you will at least see understand what I am saying about Jabba’s joy and relief. Plus, Rotta is also clearly relieved when he is back in his father’s arms, a happy child with his equally happy father.
So what has become of the adorable Huttlet from the The Clone Wars movie? Well, I have no idea. Since his introduction in the film, Rotta has been an otherwise invisible character in Star Wars. After I saw the movie, I was certain that Rotta would be making a number of appearances throughout the Star Wars canon, that his character would be expanded. Instead, Rotta appears in just one episode of The Clone Wars (“Sphere of Influence”), he received an indirect mention in the episode “Hunt for Ziro,” and has a couple of mentions in a handful of Star Wars reference books. And that is it. I keep expecting him to show up somewhere else in the canon, but as time goes on, my optimism that he will reappear has started to wane.
And this really REALLY bothers me. Rotta is the heir to Jabba’s criminal empire for crying out loud!!! HOW IS THAT NOT A BIGGER DEAL!?!?! Unless Rotta died before the events of Return of the Jedi, the young Hutt HAS to factor into the Star Wars universe again. Period. End of story.
As it stands right now in the post-Return of the Jedi universe, the death of Jabba not only created a power vacuum in the criminal underworld, but it threw the Hutts into chaos. In the novel Aftermath, for example, we learn that although Jabba has been dead for months, the Hutt Council had not yet determined his successor. Given this small fact, it would hardly be surprising if the reason Jabba’s replacement had not been determined was because the most dominant and influential Hutts were fighting among themselves, concerned only for their individual self-interests. The thing is, Jabba already has a successor who can take his place on the Council, which leads me to wonder if the Hutts had not yet “chosen” a successor because they didn’t want to give Rotta the seat. With Jabba dead, it is likely that other Hutts wanted to deny Rotta the power his father had, and keeping him from the Council is one way to do this. Moreover, with the godfather dead, and his son still young, many Hutts would assuredly try to move quickly to assimilate Jabba’s holdings into their own. Again, a way of denying Rotta his rightful power/wealth while bolstering their own.
Of course, I cannot say with certainty how the Hutts have acted after Jabba’s death because there is such little in the canon to work from. Regardless, my point is ultimately that in the wake of Jabba’s demise, no matter what the situation really looks like, Rotta should be the one to step up and take over his father’s legacy. Honestly, think about the potential Rotta offers the post-Return of the Jedi canon. His father dead and the Hutt Clan in chaos, the young Hutt – just a teen in Hutt years – could begin his own rise to power in the underworld, ruthlessly reorganizing the entire Clan. You heard me: ruthless. This wouldn’t be the cute and adorable Huttlet we meet in The Clone Wars movie. Oh no, this would be a Hutt who had started learning the tricks of his father’s trade, who was being groomed to eventually take over the family business – and the family business is deadly. That said, I am picturing a scenario where Rotta orders the execution of the remaining members of the Hutt Council, a way of showing all other Hutts that he is in charge and that you do not cross him. How intensely cool would that be!?!?!
But rebuilding his father’s empire and becoming the top Hutt isn’t the ONLY story worth telling about Rotta. No, there is another layer to this story, a deeper one that could help drive Rotta’s ruthless nature – a desire for revenge, a desire to kill the one called “Huttslayer.” I am referring, of course, to Leia, the term “Huttslayer” being given to her by members of the Nikto species in the novel Bloodline. Since we learn in the novel that a recording of Leia killing Jabba exists, and that the Hutts are in possession of all but one copy, there is every reason to believe that Rotta would have eventually watched the video. In turn, it is hardly far-fetched to imagine a scenario where Rotta seeks to bring Leia to justice – “Hutt justice” – and make her suffer for killing his father. In fact, while I know a lot of people will undoubtedly disagree with this, I am even open to Rotta getting what he wants – the death of the “Huttslayer.” Will that story actually happen? No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean I am closing the door on the idea. Good storytelling needs unpredictable and difficult moments, situations so gut-wrenching that you are not only repulsed but you can’t stop yourself from wanting to know what happens next. To me, that is what Rotta killing Leia would do, it would punch us in the gut, totally changing the trajectory of the Star Wars universe, but we wouldn’t be able to turn away because we would HAVE to know what happens afterwards.
In fairness, I am not saying a story involving Rotta going after Leia would HAVE to end this way. Hell, maybe following the events that will transpire in Episode IX, Rotta seeks justice in a Republic court, bringing Leia to trial for killing his father. The possible outcomes are limitless! Still, my point is ultimately that a story involving Rotta and Leia SHOULD happen, if only as a way to get Rotta back into the Star Wars canon. Then again, Rotta should already be a bigger factor in the canon. Frankly, Rotta’s absence isn’t just confusing, to me it is outright pathetic, a clear sign that after he was invented as a plot device in The Clone Wars movie, no one really knew what to do with him. Well, I know what to do with him. Disney/Lucasfilm can just give me a call and I will get Jabba’s “pedunkee mufkin” back into the fold, following in his father’s footsteps as the King of the Star Wars underworld.
Check out these other Hutt Week posts:
The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week
Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)
Why Ziro’s My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)
A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)