readers! This week we’ve been breaking down the “film without a film” that is Shadows of the Empire
, the multimedia interconnected story that bridges the gap between Han Solo’s capture at the end of The Empire Strikes Back
and his rescue in Return of the Jedi
. To learn everything you should know about Shadows of the Empire
, check out our “Expand Your Mind
” feature that explains the story, development, impact, and coolest merchandise from the era.
Today, in our “Character Breakdown” we’ll be discussing the chief antagonist of Shadows of the Empire
: Black Sun’s Prince Xizor. The Lucasfilm story group had a difficult path for this project, as the fates of core villains Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Boba Fett, and Jabba the Hutt were already wrapped up in Return of the Jedi
and wouldn’t be as dramatically interesting. They needed a new threat for the heroes to face, and thus created the enigmatic and ruthless character of Xizor.
Xizor comes from the planet Falleen, where his royal stature within House Sizhran allowed him to rise within the ranks of the criminal syndicate Black Sun, and was loosely inspired by the Yakuza crime syndicate that originated in feudal Japan. A merciless strategist known for his cunning and deceptive tactics, Xizor became a feared name throughout the galaxy and earned the respect of the criminal underworld. One of the coolest scenes in Shadows of the Empire
is when Xizor meets with Jabba the Hutt and demands that he speak Basic (the Star Wars
equivalent of English). Jabba just uses a translator droid to show his dominance in front of others, but Xizor has the clout to even terrorize Jabba into meeting his demands.
However, Xizor is also a charismatic villain whose monarchy brings him immense riches and elaborate palaces, furnishings, and technology. The political elevations made Xizor a class above the other crime organizations like the Hutts, and allowed him to enter directly into Couruscant high society and gain the audience of Emperor Palpatine. The story of Shadows of the Empire kicks off when Xizor attempts to gain Palpatine’s favor by tracking down Luke.
Xizor has another motivation for wanting Skywalker blood, as he harbors an intense rivalry with Darth Vader. Vader’s use of an experimental biological weapon decimated Xizor’s homeworld and killed his entire family, and as a result Xizor aims to humiliate and destroy Vader, replacing him as Palpatine’s second-in-command. Xizor, attentive of details, suspects that Luke is Vader’s son, and wants the Dark Lord to face the same family tragedy that he experienced.
Compared to Grand Admiral Thrawn, the other popular Star Wars villain introduced in the Expanded Universe prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, Xizor is a romantic and seductive character. The Falleen are described as being sensual aliens, and Xizor utilizes his species’ enhanced perceptive abilities to read minds and engage in romantic flings. That trick doesn’t work on Leia, whose rejection of his seductive advances causes Xizor to put two Skywalker children on his list of enemies.
The inclusion of Thrawn within the new canon sets the precedent for Xizor to re-enter as well. Although he’s technically canon thanks to a few reference books that mention his name, he’s yet to make an appearance in the Disney timeline. However, the Falleen and Black Sun have become an integral part of the new canon’s prominent storylines. Dave Filoni is clearly a fan, as he personally decided to include Black Sun as one of Darth Maul’s new allies within The Clone Wars, so perhaps given his expanded role in Lucasfilm we could see Xizor show up in future stories.
Xizor may have perished during the conclusion of Shadows of the Empire thanks to his flagship’s destruction at the hands of Darth Vader, but the new canon could either resurrect him (as Shadows of the Empire itself is not canon) or explore his exploits prior. Even if we never hear from him again, Xizor’s impact on Star Wars is forever ingrained within an iconic moment in the comedy Free Enterprise. How many Star Wars Expanded Universe bad guys are that popular?
The most important question, however, is what YOU think of Xizor. Is he one of your favorite Legends villains? Is there an upcoming book, comic, game, or series you’d like to see him appear in? Do you want to see more Black Sun in the future? Let us know in the forums, and as always, may the Force be with you!