Understanding the cult of Boba Fett.
After briefly being introduced in The Star Wars Holiday Special, bounty hunter Boba Fett made a more impressive entrance to the Star Wars mythos in The Empire Strikes Back, in which he instantly captivated the imaginations of fans everywhere. The character’s enduring popularity led to him being added into the original Star Wars in the 1997 Special Edition release and becoming a vital part of the prequels years later. So why has Boba Fett become such a fan favorite as opposed to some of his brooding brethren, such as IG-88 and Bossk? We turned to our Star Wars experts to get their thoughts on Fett’s enduring Mandalorian appeal.
Steve Melching: Boba Fett was built on mystique. He was the first major new character introduced to the Star Wars universe in the 1978 Holiday Special. Then Kenner released the mail-away action figure, so he was someone we “first-generation” fans speculated about and endlessly obsessed over in the years leading up to the release of Empire. When we finally saw him in action; he was this laconic, badass bounty hunter who was smart enough to track down Han Solo where the entire Imperial fleet failed and tough enough to stand up to Darth Vader. Plus he had an awesome costume, was outfitted head-to-toe with all kinds of weapons, and wore Wookiee scalps as trophies. The guy killed Wookiees!
Chris Gossett: What’s not to love about Boba Fett? He’s the guy, the only guy, who thinks like Han Solo. He’s Solo without a soul. He’s the Lee Van Cleef of the Star Wars galaxy.
Melching: I think a big reason why Fett became so popular was because we really didn’t know a whole lot about him. He was described as a “Mandalorian Shock Trooper.” Who the hell were they? Did they fight in the Clone Wars? Could he be this “Other” that Yoda spoke of? All this anticipation made his ignominious demise in Return of the Jedi all the more crushing.
Gossett: The prequels screwed that all up because they basically made him some kind of clone spawn, which is one of my main problems with the prequels. Star Wars is such a great ensemble piece, and just as Luke’s dark side is personified in Vader, so is Boba Fett the path that Han could have chosen at any point in his youthful days as a smuggler. Showing that contrast was one of the functions Boba Fett served, and he served it damn well. The fact that Lucas just dropped him into the Sarlacc Pit was a sign of poor choices to come.
Melching: In those years before Empire, and really until the release of Episode II, we fans fleshed him out in our own imaginations and poured all our fantasies into him, fueled by the Expanded Universe. Only much later did we learn that Fett was supposed to be the main antagonist in Episode VI, with the bulk of the Luke/Vader/Emperor storyline intended to be the spine of episodes VII to IX. But it’s a testament to Fett’s enduring popularity that many fans still refuse to accept that he died in the Sarlacc Pit — that he somehow escaped and is still out there. He became a major player in the Clone Wars series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns up in Episode VII or as a central character in one of the rumored “spin-off” movies.