Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (also known as The Empire Strikes Back) is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner, produced by Gary Kurtz, and written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, with George Lucas writing the film’s story and serving as executive producer. The film is set three years after Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980.
Wampa ice creatures were carnivorous predatory reptomammals indigenous to the remote Outer Rim Territories ice planet Hoth. The bipedal beasts stood over two meters in height with shaggy white fur constantly stained by the blood and guts of slaughtered prey. Wampas were armed with jagged yellow teeth and deadly claws. Primarily solitary hunters, wampas occasionally hunted in packs, preferring to ambush their prey from the camouflage of Hoth’s snow banks and blizzards. Stunned victims were carried back to the creatures’ lairs, typically large ice caves, where the wampas ate at their leisure. The planet’s omnivorous tauntauns formed the bulk of the wampas’ prey, although they would attack anything they encountered. The Alliance to Restore the Republic’s Echo Base on Hoth came under constant wampa assaults in 3 ABY.
While rarely seen away from their remote homeworld, wampas were known to have participated in illegal gladiatorial combat venues. They were highly valued among big-game hunters for the challenge that came with hunting the creatures, as well as for their pelts, stuffed heads, and other miscellaneous souvenirs that commanded high prices on the black market. Wampas were later protected under legislation to prevent endangered species from falling into extinction by the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.
In The Empire Strikes Back, one wampa attacks Luke and eats his tauntaun. Several other Wampa sequences were planned for Empire, but they were ultimately cut. For Star Wars creator and producer George Lucas, the hardest effect to pull off was a physical one – that of the wampa monster suit. Because they couldn’t get it to look right in the Original Theatrical release, the filmmakers did not shoot the wampa with a full reveal. It was only until the Special Editions when the wampa would get his deserved big screen showcase with the help of the CGI effects made by ILM.