Now, before you say it, in a day and age where it seems every peripheral character in every major piece of intellectual property gets their own movie and/or series, it’s easy to say, well, of course Boba Fett, this very popular character, has his own series. (In fact, it’s so easy to say, I just said it.) The difference here is, for longtime Star Wars fans (let’s say, “members of Generation X”), we’ve been down this road before with Mr. Fett many, many times before with nothing much to show for it. It seemed there was always something cooking with Boba Fett, some rumor that always wound up falling through. Even right before the Prequels, there were rumors Jet Li would be playing Boba Fett. To the point I remember seeing Lethal Weapon 4 in theaters and studying every move Jet Li made in that movie thinking, oh wow, he’s going to be Boba Fett! Spoiler: Let Li never played Boba Fett. (My favorite rumor was, around the time The Phantom Menace came out, the Anakin’s buddy Kitster would grow up to become Boba Fett. Spoiler: Kitster is not Boba Fett.)
There seem to be three camps when it comes to Boba Fett. There’s the “Boba Fett is stupid, he never did anything in the movies and it’s dumb people like him,” people. Well, sure, he didn’t do a lot in the two movies from the Original Trilogy he was in except look cool (I am not counting his retconned appearance in the original Star Wars), but he did seem to sass Darth Vader a bit in The Empire Strikes Back and that’s a pretty brave thing to do. I’ve written about this aspect before, but a lot of the love for Boba Fett came from his appearance in an animated segment from 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special (personally I never saw this until many, many years later) and from a mail-away action figure that was released a year before The Empire Strikes Back even came out. (Today, Lucasfilm is so secretive about new characters the action figures usually don’t come out until a year after the character’s debut.)
The description of Fett on the mail-away offer offered just enough information to let a kid’s imagination run wild:
Especially the whole, “A threat to the Rebel Alliance, especially Han Solo!,” is a pretty genius line – making a vague reference to an entire organization, then one very specific threat to an extremely popular character. “Oh no, what does that mean? What will Boba Fett do to Han?!” And what’s pretty great is that wound up not being an idle threat. We were promised Boba Fett is bad news for Han Solo and that wound up being accurate. (By the way, the only reason this description exists was as a sticker to cover up a picture of the Boba Fett action figure firing a missile from his jetpack. Something, for safety reasons, the Boba Fett figure did not do.)
Another camp are the people who kind of take that first part too far in the other direction. The whole, “Look, Boba Fett was better off clouded in mystery.” Yeah, okay, sure, that was fun. But we’ve had almost 42 years of “mystery.” I think that’s enough. If we want to get technical and take it back to the Holiday Special, that’s over 43 years of “mystery.” Personally, I think at this point it’s fine to learn a little more about what makes one of the most recognizable and popular characters in Star Wars tick.
And then there’s the third camp, the one I’m in, the one who is enjoying every second of The Book of Boba Fett and still can’t quite believe a Boba Fett-led, live-action entity exists at all.
The closest we got before was the Boba Fett movie that Josh Trank was going to direct. At this point I kind of wish he’d blow up his NDA and pull a Colin Trevorrow and just release his outline for what the movie was going to be. (For what it’s worth, Trevorrow’s vision for Episode IX still sounds pretty rad.) But everything I heard through the grapevine about Trank’s Boba Fett movie was the script was tricky because Attack of the Clones exists and that established that Boba Fett had to look exactly like Temuera Morrison’s Jango Fett from Attack of the Clones. And spending a fortune to make a Star Wars movie starring an actor people didn’t know that well at the time (this is now changing), or just having a character who never took his helmet off for the whole movie, didn’t seem very realistic. But then if you cast someone people know better, how do you explain why Boba Fett doesn’t look like Jango Fett?
Look, I have no idea what’s in that Boba Fett movie script (release the script, Josh!), but I do wonder how much was co-opted a bit for both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. There were rumors about someone else finding the armor and taking on the mantle of Boba Fett, which would then let them cast anyone they wanted. And we saw this with Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth. (And way back in the 1990s with the whole Jaster Mereel saga, which is long and complicated.) And with The Mandalorian in general, I always have wondered if that’s what they came up with when they couldn’t crack a Boba Fett movie. “Well, okay, what if we just do a series with a guy who looks just like Boba Fett, but he’s not Boba Fett.” Then, a year later, “Hey maybe we should just do Boba Fett now?”
It feels like Boba Fett can only exist now with Disney+. It’s a place someone like Temuera Morrison can actually star in the series and no one has to hear studio feedback like, “How do we sell a movie to the masses when the star of the movie isn’t a famous person in the United States?” And that is probably why, more than any reason, we are finally, after all these years, getting a Boba Fett-led story. The medium for this to succeed didn’t exist until recently.
And you know what, I am enjoying every second of this show because, after all these years, I can’t believe it exists. I love that he’s being humanized. I love that he’s not just some murdering mercenary. I’ve always thought of Fett as a businessman. “Look, nothing personal, but I have a contract to fulfill.” Now, I was not expecting The Book of Boba Fett to have elements of Dances with Wolves to be a major storyline, but, see, that’s interesting. I have zero idea where this is going. But, for the next few weeks, I basically get a mini Boba Fett movie every Wednesday morning and, honestly, I truly can’t believe this is finally a thing.
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