We have a snow day in NYC today, which means there’s about 837,918,273 references to Hoth on social media today. So it only makes sense that today's Chosen One is none other than Han's tauntaun from The Empire Strikes Back.
Tauntauns kind of look like camels crossed with a kangaroo crossed with a ram, with Griffin-like talons. Apparently they were basically snow lizards, and thanks to a little reading on Wookieepedia, I learned there were 15 subspecies of them, which only makes me have so many questions. Who thought up all these subspecies? What do they all look like? Do all of these species live on Hoth? Okay, so I had three questions.
Anyway, Han famously goes looking for Luke when he never returns to Echo Base because some jerk Wampa slashed his face and ate his tauntaun for lunch. For some reason we’ll never know, Han felt it necessary to tell some poor deck officer that he'll see him in hell when the poor guy was just providing the foreshadowing that his tauntaun wouldn't survive the severe cold at night. Dude was only delivering the line George wrote, HAN, so your beef was clearly with the wrong guy.
Han finds Luke but his tauntaun drops dead, JUST LIKE THE DECK OFFICER SAID IT WOULD. But even in death, the poor thing was a hero, because it became the galaxy's first tauntaun sleeping bag (which I'm sure was officially licensed Star Wars merchandise, because what wasn’t?).
I have a couple of issues with this, one of them being Han's blatant animal abuse in forcing the poor tauntaun out in the cold for that long, (I guess there’s no ASPCA out in that part of the galaxy). My other issue is this: If tauntauns are native to Hoth, then how the hell do they survive every single other night of extreme cold weather? They're not ALL domesticated and living inside the nearest Rebel base they can find. Wouldn't they have become extinct? You can't just make up some cute, weird, camel-snow-lizard-kangaroo-goat and give them the life expectancy of a gnat, GEORGE.
Tauntauns are the most underrated creatures in Star Wars. They should have been the Ewoks of The Empire Strikes Back, complete with dozens of them coming out of the snowy hills to help the Rebels fight the Empire. I bet Battle Tauntauns would have looked epic. I can picture one of them now, with bullets strapped across its chest and a Rambo headband. Someone needs to draw me this pic, stat.
Until then, here's Bill Hader doing the greatest tauntaun impression on the planet.