Celebrating 40 years of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back means we're also celebrating 40 years of one of the greatest heroes that the galaxy far, far away has ever known. We're not talking about Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, or Han Solo — they're fine, but when the chocolate chips are down and everything's going wrong, who is really going to step up and save your ice cream?
A man named Willrow Hood, that's who. Thanks to The Mandalorian, we now look at this man in a whole new way.
The name may not be familiar to you because it is never said in the movie. After Lando Calrissian gets on the intercom and tells the entire population of Cloud City to evacuate, everyone goes running, carrying random possessions. In one shot there's a man in an orange jumpsuit running behind everyone else, and he's carrying what looks a lot like an ice cream machine.
How did we come to learn his name? He got an action figure, of course, and the figure came with this would-be ice cream maker as his only accessory. Fans cosplayed as the character constantly, to the point where conventions and celebrations were packed with orange-clad Willrow Hoods, all carrying his signature prop. Things went so far that an event known as "the running of the Willrow Hoods" became a regular thing every year at Star Wars Celebration.
That was the deal with Willrow Hood, savior of ice cream ... or so we thought. Season 1 of The Mandalorian came along, and naturally, Jon Favreau and company added to the man's already illustrious legend.
In Episode 3 of the series, The Client (Werner "bounty hunting is a complicated profession" Herzog) pays off our main Mando for a job well done. He gives him a load of beskar, a material that is sacred to the Mandalorians, but he doesn't just hand it over in a sack that has a dollar sign printed on the side of it. The Client has the beskar stowed away in ... the same kind of ice cream machine that Willrow Hood runs with. It's not an ice cream machine at all, it turns out. It's a "camtono." It is a device used to transport precious valuables, and it has nothing to do with making ice cream — unless ice cream is something that is highly valuable to you, of course.
Thus, as is so often the case with recent additions to Star Wars canon, something from a decades-old film has been retconned slightly. Willrow Hood isn't a guy who has decided that making ice cream is what is most important to him and is determined to save the method with which he makes it, Empire be damned. He never was that — he just carried a random round white thing that looked like an ice cream machine, and fans literally ran with it. But now he's a guy who is carrying a camtono, which could contain any number of valuable things. It could contain his life savings, or it could have a stock of his lost daughter's DNA and he's been trying to clone her for years. For all we know, it's full of beskar and he's a Mandalorian in hiding.
Such is the way of all things Star Wars. Though The Empire Strikes Back has been out for 40 years, little details keep changing as the galaxy far, far away continues to expand. If you're a fan who is really attached to the tale of Willrow Hood: Ice Cream Hero, however, you are of course free to think that his camtono is loaded with Rocky Road. He just loves it that much.
Happy 40th anniversary, Empire Strikes Back, and happy 40th anniversary to the good Mr. Hood! Long may you run the halls of Cloud City.