One of Star Wars’ most revered villains from its pre-Disney days of prequel-era stories is poised for a comeback. Durge, the fearsome bounty hunter best known from Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2003-2005 Star Wars: Clone Wars microseries, is set to make his Disney canon debut in the pages of Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #11. And with the upcoming arrival of Tartakovsky’s non-canon Clone Wars series on Disney+, it’s enough to make one speculate that bigger—live-action—plans might be in store for the character.
Durge was indeed immensely popular in the defunct Legends continuity of Star Wars in the early 2000s to the point that Matthew Stover’s 2005 novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith makes direct reference to the character among other notable shout-outs to the events of Tartakovsky’s series. He was one of the most visible characters during Lucasfilm’s onslaught of merchandising during the mid-prequel era, and even inspired multiple action figures made in Hasbro’s sacred 3 ¾” action figure line. Indeed, Durge was kind of a big deal, which makes him the perfect character to manifest in glorious live-action form on either The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett.
But first, check him out in all his classic splendor, thanks to a cover by artist Sara Pichelli, just below…
It may seem surreal to see Durge back in action after the post-Disney deluge of live-action and animated Star Wars offerings, but he was a crucial Expanded Universe villain during the brief era between the release of 2002 Prequel Trilogy middle act Attack of the Clones and 2005 closer Revenge of the Sith. Besides episodes showcasing the superlative abilities of the various Jedi we saw in the films, season 1 of the microseries also popularized Durge and fellow villain Asajj Ventress. However, while the latter—Count Dooku’s apprentice—became a prominent presence in the subsequent canonical The Clone Wars series, Durge got left behind.
Interestingly, Durge first entered the Expanded Universe when he—along with Ventress—graced the cover of Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars: Republic #52, which was published on April 9, 2003, seven whole months before his debut in the fourth episode of Clone Wars aired on Cartoon Network. The guns-and-gadgets-toting, jet-pack-carrying bounty hunter character may look like a humanoid when covered head-to-toe in his intimidating grey armor, but he’s actually a 2000-year-old Gen’Dai, an invertebrate alien species that resembles exposed muscular and vascular tissue. He’s notably blessed with the formidable ability to manipulate his body to do just about anything, and can regenerate from any form of physical injury (even being blown to bits), save for being vaporized, which was a fate delivered to him in now-non-canon comic Obsession by Anakin, who had to force-push him into a star to get the job done.
Durge’s motivation in the initial lore was a deep hatred—fueled over a millennium—for the Mandalorian race, attributed to (as we’d later learn) his capture during the New Sith Wars, a galactic conflict from over a thousand years ago that saw the Jedi and Mandalorians fight against the Sith. Serving as a warrior for the Sith, he was captured and tortured by the Mandalorians, an ordeal that left the Gen’Dai so ravaged it took nearly a century to reconstitute his body, leaving him permanently insane. However, with the population of the Mandalorians having been practically wiped out by the time of the Clone Wars, Durge became drawn to the idea of taking his bitterness out on the closest available thing: the Republic’s Grand Army, which, of course, consisted of clones of Mandalorian Jango Fett. Thus, he took up a contract with Separatist leader and Sith Lord Count Dooku to do just that, and, as famously seen in his Clone Wars episodes, led the Separatist forces in the Battle of Muunilinst, notably in an assault on speeder bikes, after which his odd arsenal and regenerative abilities gave Jedi general Obi-Wan Kenobi an infamously frustrating fight.
So, where would a forgotten early-2000s Legends lore relic like Durge fit in the modern era? After all, A LOT has happened since he last manifested, with the subsequent The Clone Wars series trampling over everything that happened in Tartakovsky’s series. However, with Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars poised for streaming consumption for an entirely new generation of fans on Disney+, the series—and the undeniable badassery of Durge—might not be left forgotten for much longer. Thus, the answer to the initial question is actually quite obvious: Durge can fit anywhere he chooses.
Durge’s canon debut in Doctor Aphra #11 is rife with unknown variables, including whether this version of the character even fought in the Clone Wars, but that is not to say that the crucial elements of his classic backstory won’t still manifest in some way—he still has to be a bounty hunter, he still has to be a freaky regenerative alien hermit crab, and he most definitely still has to hate Mandalorians. There lies the potential crucial link for Durge in the Disney+ live-action world, which, of course, is rife with Mandalorians. While the task of translating all the weird abilities Durge displayed on the Tartakovsky series would be intimidatingly exorbitant, it could nevertheless become intriguing fodder for a phenomenal climactic onscreen battle—be it against Din Djarin or Boba Fett.
A Durge appearance on The Mandalorian would certainly represent a radical departure from the show’s initial arc, which seemingly came to an end in season 2 when Luke Skywalker arrived to take custody of Baby Yoda. While Din will inevitably reunite with the Force-powered green tyke at some point, the teased arc for season 3 seems to center on his accidental ascension to Mandalorian leadership after wresting the sacred Darksaber from Moff Gideon. While that scenario presents potential problems, since Bo-Katan Kryze initially coveted the Darksaber (and can only legally attain it by taking it from Din in combat), one would think that Din being leader (even temporarily) of a resurgent Mandalorian people would also make him a prime target for a mind-warped, vengeance-seeking Durge.
On another note, Boba Fett’s teased new status as de facto king of the Outer Rim criminal underworld could also attract Durge’s attention, facilitating a similarly-motivated conflict with the eponymous cloned Mandalorian on The Book of Boba Fett. However, this scenario is far more speculative since we still don’t have official details on the show’s plot. Moreover, if that show ends up focusing on the galaxy’s seedier, “scum and villainy” side (which was how The Mandalorian started), then a villain as fantastical as Durge might not be the right thematic fit, at least initially.
For now, fans (who don’t want to track down the DVDs) can get their fill of Durge’s classic exploits when Star Wars: Clone Wars—along with classic series Star Wars: Ewoks and Star Wars: Droids—joins the Disney+ streaming library on April 2. Meanwhile, Doctor Aphra #11 arrives June 30.