Despite brief appearances in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, his shoehorned backstory in Attack of the Clones, and a half-baked arc in The Clone Wars, the fan-favorite bounty hunter has long lurked in the margins of Star Wars history: his brief introduction in an animated short during the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special; and his rocketing to popularity thanks to his iconic armour (practically designed to sell action figures). Despite this, Fett has remained a mystery, a blank slate of badassery that has never been filled in.
Boba Fett is finally taking centre stage in his own spinoff series, The Book of Boba Fett immerses, after years of rumours of a solo feature, an attempted history in the (since purged from canon) Expanded Universe novels, and an unexpected revival in the second season of The Mandalorian. It has the potential to be an intriguing look into a new part of the Star Wars world beyond the iconic intergalactic wars for galactic domination or the intrigues of the Jedi and the Sith — but there are still a lot of blank pages that the programme doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to fill in.
Once upon a time, it looked as though a Boba Fett show would nearly write itself. A bounty hunter holding to his sense of honour and distinct moral code while taking on odd tasks chasing the galaxy’s most wanted criminals and becoming entangled in the larger intrigues of both the Empire and the New Republic — it sounds like the ideal premise for a Star Wars TV series. The issue is that Lucasfilm previously developed that programme, which was named The Mandalorian and featured a different armoured Mandalorian warrior who was nothing like Boba Fett.
So, where does the original masked bounty hunter stand in his own series? As the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett immerses demonstrates, someplace ancient and somewhere fresh.
The show begins by filling in some of the historical gaps between the last time fans saw Fett (Temuera Morrison) disappearing into the mouth of the almighty sarlacc living in the Great Pit of Carkoon, discovering “a new definition of pain and suffering” as he “was slowly digested over a thousand years,” and his return in The Mandalorian (set five years after Return of the Jedi). We witness how he escaped (a almost commonplace mix of indestructible Mandalorian armour and his wrist-mounted flame thrower), how he lost his armour (Jawas), and how he was captured and adopted by the mysterious Tuskens.
It then flashes forward to after The Mandalorian’s second season post-credit sequence, when Fett and his partner, assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), assassinate Jabba’s longtime majordomo, Bib Fortuna, and seize control of the famed Hutt criminal empire.
Barring a Baby Yoda-level twist in the coming weeks, it appears that The Book of Boba Fett will spend the next six episodes telling both of these stories: filling in his missing years with the Tuskans (because if there’s one thing Star Wars despises, it’s leaving literally any piece of backstory unexplained) and his rise as a new kind of power in Tatooine’s political and criminal world, like a sci-fi version of The Wir
Fett is still a man of few words — the episode runs 10 minutes without a single line of speech — but he’s determined to handle things in Mos Espa differently than Jabba did. “Jabba governed by terror; I aim to dominate through respect,” he growls, abandoning Jabba’s practise of carrying ornate litters around the streets and attending meetings in person rather than dispatching henchmen.
Fett, on the other hand, is almost endearingly inept at being a criminal lord. He and Shand are completely baffled by a visiting vassal; he is humiliated by the mayor, whose unctuous lackey insists that Fett pay tribute instead; and he is attacked very quickly on his first visit to Mos Espa. If Boba is to fill Jabba’s metaphorical boots (I’m presuming Hutts don’t wear shoes), he’ll need to improve quickly.
However, The Book of Boba Fett has a far larger mission than creating a new criminal empire or providing some informative backstory: it must fill in Fett’s glaringly lacking character and goals. The show’s apparent hero is now a blank slate. Despite appearing in two films and more than one episode of The Mandalorian, his most memorable moment is still a decades-old warning from Darth Vader that disintegrations are not an option in his pursuit of Han Solo.
What exactly is Boba Fett doing here? Tatooine isn’t a very enjoyable place to call home. (As Luke Skywalker famously said, “If there’s a brilliant centre to the universe, you’re on the planet furthest from it.”) Why does Fett, the galaxy’s most famed bounty hunter, wish to step into Jabba’s footsteps and become a backwater desert mafia boss? Is it all about the money? Is there a better way to spend your retirement than tracking down ne’er-do-wells? Some (previously implied) sorrow for the poor moisture farmers suffering beneath Jabba’s empire’s boot?
In summary, The Book of Boba Fett must show us what Boba is interested in other than looking like a badass (which, admittedly, he does very well).
Boba Fett has always been regarded as one of Star Wars’ most handsome characters. But if The Book of Boba Fett is to be a success, it must do more than talk the talk: it is time for Fett to walk the walk of the towering reputation he allegedly has and let us discover more about the man behind the armour.