If the Borderlands series has one truly iconic character, it’s probably the villain known as Handsome Jack. He’s appeared in several of the games in the franchise so far, and he’s one of the most recognisable (and fun) characters in the series, so it’s natural to assume he will return in Borderlands 3. But can we expect a Borderlands 3 Handsome Jack appearance, or not?
He was teased in the first Borderlands 3 teaser trailer, so it’s natural to assume Handsome Jack will be back in the new game. Will that happen though? Will Handsome Jack make an appearance, brief or not, in Borderlands 3? If not as a character, will there be any hint of him? Has developer Gearbox provided any answers? If so, they’re all below. Let’s have a look.
Will Handsome Jack return in Borderlands 3?
Handsome Jack is in a bit of a bad way in the Borderlands series right now—in fact he’s dead. Of course, like any great videogame/comic book/movie villain, no one truly expects Jack to stay dead. He’s already returned from the grave once before in Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands, not to mention having a big appearance in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Having been in almost all the games in the series so far, it would be weird for Jack not to turn up in Borderlands 3.
Apparently Gearbox is fine with being weird, as it’s been confirmed that Handsome Jack will not be appearing in Borderlands 3. He will be referenced, but Jack himself is very dead and will continue not coming back in the latest game in the Borderlands franchise. This is despite turning up in the original teaser trailer for the game.
How do we know for sure he won’t be back?
We know for sure that Handsome Jack won’t be back in Borderlands 3 because we’ve been told that he will not be making an appearance. GameSpot spoke with the studio’s narrative managing producer, Randy Varnell, who confirmed that “Handsome Jack is dead” and that “you’re not ever going to see Handsome Jack come back as a character.” What a shame.
This decision was mostly to allow the new villains, Calypso twins Tray and Tyreen (who are essentially evil space livestreamers), to be noticed. If he was around, Handsome Jack would clearly outshine them. Varnell adds, “it was a hard decision, because he’s such a great villain. But when we were looking at coming up with new villains for Borderlands 3, we wanted to be sure that the Calypso twins, the new villains, can stand on their own.”
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Handsome Jack was mentioned in connection with Borderlands 3. At the reveal event for the game, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford pointed out the appearance of Jack’s mask in the teaser trailer. He did say during the event that despite that tease, Jack would not be back in Borderlands 3, because he’s dead. Unfortunately everyone was too distracted by all the magic tricks and the trailers failing to load to notice he’d said that.
Will there be any sort of Borderlands 3 Handsome Jack appearance?
Despite Jack seemingly not appearing in Borderlands 3 (Gearbox could be lying, remember), Randy Varnell confirmed that there still would be “a lot of Jack” in the game. “If you like Handsome Jack, you’re in luck because there’s a lot of existing content where you can play and enjoy him. He’s too important to the universe to never mention him again.”
It seems that Handsome Jack absolutely will make some sort of appearance in the game, but just not physically. “There’s always going to be some stuff,” Varnell continues. “There may be a side mission or something and then we mention him a few times. It’s so hard to get away from that impact.” Of course, Gearbox is also not ruling out anything in the game’s planned expansions, so it’s entirely possibly that Jack will return in one of those instead. In the main game, however, he’s reduced to just a few references and Easter eggs. Allegedly, anyway.
Who is Handsome Jack?
Handsome Jack made his impact on the series as the main villain of Borderlands 2, and would go on to have major appearances in both Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands and the 2K Australia-developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Jack is the President of the Hyperion Corporation, which seizes control of Pandora in Borderlands 2. He claims he killed the Destroyer, the monster at the end of the first game that may play a part in Borderlands 3. He sees himself as the hero of the planet, despite being the dictator that all the characters in the game are trying to kill.
When was Handsome Jack last seen?
At the end of Borderlands 2 (beware of spoilers to follow), Handsome Jack summoned and controlled the Warrior at the Vault, which was the game’s final boss. After this, Jack was executed by either the player character or Lilith, the Siren character from the first game who is a major character now in Borderlands 3. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel told the story of Jack’s rise to power, and how he took control of Hyperion and Pandora.
Tales From The Borderlands, however, is set after his death, and Jack appears in hologram form as a major character in the game. He shares a mind with main character Rhys, who is the only one who can see him. There are multiple different scenarios that can play out, but at the end hologram Jack is either destroyed or survives in Rhys’ cybernetic eye. As Rhys is a big character in Borderlands 3, this may be the way Jack could feature in the game. We’ll see, though.