Warning: The below contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett
“Boba Fett is a cold-blooded killer who worked with the Empire.”
Is this the general consensus on Boba Fett for the past forty-odd years or the safe, stock reply that is peddled out by a section of fans who dislike the character’s turn in The Book of Boba Fett? Whatever the case, Cad Bane’s assessment of the bounty hunter-turned-crime lord may be put to the test in the upcoming season one finale of The Book of Boba Fett.
For a character that debuted in the infamous Holiday Special back in 1978 and who boasts just over six minutes of screen time across three live-action movies, Boba Fett has become one of the most revered characters in the entire franchise. The assassin in the battered armour rose up above the majority of his peers and for decades carried an air of mystery that stemmed from his near-silent appearances in the Original Trilogy – but what is it about Fett that resonated? The character may only have four lines of dialogue in the OT, but he has spawned some of the most impressive cosplay costumes and a hugely dedicated online fan club.
My personal opinion on Fett the Younger was fairly muted for the longest time. Sure, he looked cool and that helmet looks boss, but, in reality, he didn’t really do an awful lot in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to garner similar levels of adoration from myself.
“He knew the Millennium Falcon would be hiding in the debris field!”
OK, so he’s smart.
“He spoke back to VADER!”
OK, so he has guts.
“He disintegrates people!”
OK, so he has a calling card.
His appearance and widely-derided ‘death’ in Return of the Jedi did little to add to his fearsome reputation. However, his appearances in The Mandalorian turned the tide for me. From his menacing reveal at the end of Chapter Nine to his episode-stealing return in Chapter Fourteen, we were finally seeing the Boba Fett that legend would have you believe was always present.
It is, in fact, within the Legends continuity (see: the old Expanded Universe) that the legend of Boba Fett really came into its own. Through battles with the Rebellion, a wide range of enemies, and also fellow bounty hunters, Boba became more than just a cool-looking character on the big screen or sought-after action figure, he BECAME a legend.
K.W. Jeter’s Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy offered a fascinating insight into Boba after he escaped from the sarlacc pit – and it’s a collection of stories that makes great use of flashbacks…
Star Wars: Blood Ties was a decent selection of comics published by Dark Horse that allowed us to see Boba and his father Jango together – something that is great in itself – but also Boba’s key relationships with other characters in the galaxy. It’s also another story that makes use of flashbacks…
Throughout varying stories and comic runs, Boba Fett’s star ascended and it’s not just the Legends continuity that built him up. The official canon has plenty of stories including Fett in full beast mode but fans have been clamouring for the return of Boba in live-action and his all-action return in The Mandalorian paved the way for his own series to hit Disney+ in late-2021.
However, The Book of Boba Fett has been met with disapproval by many fans and critics for removing the mystery from the famed bounty hunter. By having him helmet-less for much of the show and, apparently, delivering too many lines of dialogue, detractors feel as if Boba is less of a legend now and more just…a guy? It’s not as if there were countless stories within Legends to remove any mystery but surely George Lucas wouldn’t think to strip the air of unknown from a character that he helped to create alongside Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston?
Well, Attack of the Clones begs to differ. Baby Boba wasn’t quite what people had anticipated…a version of Boba Fett sans armour, helmet, and…fear factor.
What The Book of Boba Fett is doing is creating and adding additional layers to enhance the legend of Boba Fett. Finally, we now know officially that he survived his encounter with the deadly sarlacc at the Great Pit of Carkoon – which in itself is badass personified. His years spent with the Tuskens allowed him to adopt further combat techniques as well as the realisation that a tribe is exactly what he needed. Boba Fett is a clone but was never one of the ‘brothers’, he wears Mandalorian armour but isn’t a Mandalorian, and he was taken in by the Tuskens and accepted as one of their own. Having lost his father at a young age and surviving in the lonely industry of bounty hunting, he finally had a sense of belonging.
Now, he also wants to be taken seriously as a crime lord and as the Daimyo of Mos Espa. For what reasons we are yet to truly find out, but it must be said this decision is far more appealing than simply returning to bounty hunting and taking out generic goons week-on-week. Boba Fett is becoming an actual character because of these decisions and less of a one-dimensional loner. There is no “Disneyfication” here, just solid storytelling to develop a one-time uninteresting character.
UNINTERESTING I hear you cry. Yes, uninteresting based on his live-action appearances pre-The Mandalorian. It took additional material to flesh out the character, including The Clone Wars series where we saw his early days as a hunter and, realistically, the difference in how many people know Boba from the movies compared to those that followed his story throughout comics, animated series, video games and more will be substantial. The Book of Boba Fett has faced criticism for utilising flashbacks for a large portion of its story, but the most interesting elements of Boba’s story in the additional canon/Legends always came from learning about who he is and where he came from.
Is it wrong to demystify Boba Fett? The true answer is that it’s been happening for years across various forms of Star Wars media. This is not something that The Book of Boba Fett can take credit for but it can take credit for trying something new. Several authors have added their own voices to Boba’s story (whether or not they are classed as canon has no bearing on the fact that these stories have resonated with so many people) and George Lucas himself decided to look behind the helmet in Attack of the Clones and announce that Boba Fett was actually a clone with a dodgy barnet. The mystique, ambiguity, and enigma of Boba Fett have been eroded over many years.
Despite that, the sheer love and commitment to the character of Boba Fett from the community have always been a joy to behold. From the fans who were around to remember the never-released, rocket-firing Boba Fett Kenner action figure in 1978, to the magnificent cosplayers, the artists, fan-fiction writers, and the new fans that have climbed aboard the Firespray thanks to The Book of Boba Fett, it’s a testament to the fandom that a supporting character with few lines and even less development can become one of the great icons within pop culture.
Heading into the season finale, we’ll soon have more answers on Boba Fett’s future as a crime lord as he looks to follow through on his claim that he will rule by respect rather than fear. His legend will only continue to evolve. There’s an advantage to people thinking you’re dead, you get another chance to ascend.
What’s your favourite Boba Fett moment or memory? Let us know via the Contact page or social media.