Recent months have taken a toll on Disney’s token pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). First introduced in Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Sparrow — and, by default, Depp himself — became synonymous with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
So entrenched in POTC lore did the iconic role of Sparrow become, in fact, that audio-animatronic versions of him were added to Disney Parks’ Pirates of the Caribbean rides around the world.
Actor Johnny Depp’s personal issues, however, have thrown a major wrench into plans for Captain Jack Sparrow’s return in the reported Pirates of the Caribbean 6. Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard (Aquaman, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom) have been embroiled in a bitter libel lawsuit stemming from domestic abuse allegations Heard previously made in U.K. News Group Newspaper publication, The Sun.
Last fall, with Judge Andrew Nicol presiding in the U.K. High Court, Depp lost his libel case — subsequently, the actor lost both of his major roles at the moment. He will no longer portray Sparrow in The Walt Disney Company’s Pirates of the Caribbean universe or Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros. Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts films.
This has majorly upset Depp’s supporters. The Alice in Wonderland actor and his team — including Depp’s lawyer and exes Vanessa Paradis and Winona Rider — have denied the domestic violence accusations from the start. There are also hundreds of thousands of fans who want Depp to return as Jack Sparrow in future movies.
At this time, however, this certainly seems unlikely to happen. Will Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Kiera Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann already gone from the franchise, without Depp, the series will undoubtedly look dramatically different in the future, even if Geoffery Rush returns as Captain Hector Barbossa in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
How can the Star Wars franchise solve the Jack Sparrow problem?
Enter Hondo Ohnaka (Jim Cummings). “But, wait,” you might be thinking, “isn’t he a Star Wars character?” He is — and he could effectively replace Captain Jack Sparrow for Disney.
Ohnaka, of course, wouldn’t literally replace Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but the space pirate could absolutely fill the gap left by Sparrow’s exit for the POTC fandom — just tell me you aren’t getting major Davy Jones and Flying Dutchman vibes from the image above.
For those unfamiliar with the character who gains part ownership of the Millennium Falcon following Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) death in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015), the official Star Wars Databank describes the character as:
A tough, pragmatic Weequay, Hondo Ohnaka led a notorious Outer Rim pirate gang from his headquarters on Florrum. A former colleague of Jango Fett and a former lover of Aurra Sing, Ohnaka won fame during the Clone Wars when he kidnapped Count Dooku, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker and tried to ransom all three for a big payout. Since that incident, Ohnaka continues to serve himself, not being above robbing, blinding, or betraying his friends and foes. Decades later, he started Ohnaka Transport Solutions on Black Spire Outpost to run contraband throughout the galaxy. Chewbacca has reluctantly partnered with the charming pirate to fund refurbishment of the Millennium Falcon.
Ohnaka has appeared in two of Dave Filoni’s animated series — Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels — and can also be found as an audio-animatronic in the Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run preshow at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.
The fan-favorite character, however, has never appeared in live-action. A Hondo Ohnaka live-action series would both solve Disney’s Jack Sparrow problem and provide a host of other benefits.
First, bringing Ohnaka into the live-action Star Wars canon would allow Lucasfilm to continue to expand the Star Wars universe beyond what anyone ever dreamed of. With nearly a dozen Disney+ Star Wars streaming series — plus several feature films — set for the next several years, we are clearly going to learn more about a galaxy far, far away than ever before.
Ohnaka, with his decades of adventures and mercenary missions, is a born storyteller. He’s constantly regaling other characters, including Solo and Chewie, with tales from his wild past (sound like another pirate you’ve met before, perhaps one who has been to Tortuga?)
For example, he knew a teenaged Jango Fett on Kamino and was the lover of bounty hunter Aurra Sing, who ultimately introduces him to Jango’s son, the always-iconic Boba Fett. Sing also worked with bounty hunter Cad Bane, who has recently been reintroduced to the Star Wars universe, further setting up a potential return for additional animated characters.
In the 2019 Lou Anders novel, Flight of the Falcon: The Pirate’s Price, Ohnaka even inadvertently explains the existence of female clone, Omega, in The Bad Batch when he tells a tale about two other female clones — Mahjo Reelo and “Evil Mahjo” — who were created by rogue Kaminoan scientists.
Furthermore, giving Ohnaka a live-action series would allow newer Star Wars fans (you know, those who didn’t watch until Grogu and The Mandalorian came on the scene) who haven’t necessarily seen animated shows the ability to learn more about this fascinating character — and it might make them more likely to visit Galaxy’s Edge at Disney Parks.
Plus, Pirates of the Caribbean fans who aren’t thrilled with Captain Jack Sparrow’s exit would almost certainly find a kindred character in Ohnaka, thus further expanding the Star Wars fan community.
A live-action Hondo Ohnaka series is a win-win for Lucasfilm, for the floundering Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and for The Walt Disney Company as a whole.
Plus, as an article on Ohnaka once pointed out:
Hondo’s past is a veritable gold mine of potential. What was his childhood like? When did he become a pirate? How does one move up the ranks to become the leader of a pirate planet? Did Hondo scrape his way up or was he born into some kind of pirate royalty? Why does he speak Ugnaught and have a soft spot for the species? What made him the way he is today?
And finally, there’s all the gaps in Hondo’s adulthood. He pops in and out of the cartoons as the narrative needs, but decades of not only surviving but thriving in a galaxy tearing itself apart must have some interesting stories. While Hondo was in the possession of Slave I, where did he go? What was the final nail in the coffin for Hondo’s pirate planet. Did the gang simply disperse or mutiny?
These questions — and many more — deserve to be answered, and Jack Sparrow’s exit is the perfect opportunity.
What do you think about a live-action Hondo Ohnaka Star Wars show?