One of many of the arguments I hate in the Star Wars fandom is the whole “the new creatives are betraying the legacy characters” nonsense. A classic character is featured in a new story, either too little or too much depending on who you ask, and it doesn’t exactly mesh with what some fans have been fantasising about in their minds for years. Most notably this happened with Luke in The Last Jedi, whose failure, retreat from the galactic stage, and then heroic pacifistic return I’d argue is very Luke Skywalker and true to the legacy of the Jedi, but others strongly disagree. Yet many love his appearance in The Mandalorian, when he says little and is a plot device in someone else’s story, because he acts like a lightsaber-swinging badass. I actually think both versions work, although I prefer the former, because of the stories, when in the timeline they occur, and his role in them, but the point stands. This is all preamble to explain that I feel I’m becoming a bit of a hypocrite because Boba Fett in the trailer for The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t really feel like Boba Fett to me, yet nobody seems to be complaining because he’s now the badass everyone always wanted him to be.
Boba Fett is acting a little different than I expected. So, what are my expectations of the character? The original trilogy presented him as nothing more than an enigma. A mysterious bounty hunter who looks cool but does nothing but ‘die’ lamely. He’s a young kid in Attack of the Clones, albeit one with a bloodlust and a weird home life, and we see him shepherded into the criminal life in The Clone Wars. Most stories with adult Boba Fett are contained to the books and comics and that’s the guy I was expecting in the show. In these canon stories he’s a brutal killer. A man of great treachery. Very much a bad guy. In The Mandalorian and what little we’ve seen of The Book of Boba Fett, Boba seems to have gained a sense of honour, helping Din track down Grogu and intending to “rule with respect”. What happened?
From what little information we have, it seems like finding himself in the digestive tract of a Sarlaac was Boba’s ‘born-again’ moment. It changed him. Fate stepped in to save the wretched, as Boba himself put it in The Mandalorian, recognising his old self as deplorable. Whether he’s been wandering the desert, living with Tusken Raiders, or doing something else for 5 years, Boba Fett is trying to be better than he once was and better than his previous employers. Yet he still clearly has a desire for power. Greed, even. I’m questioning whether this character change is believable and I think it all hinges on the specifics of his revelatory introspection during the time we’ve yet to see. In order to buy it, the flashbacks we’re all but confirmed to be getting need to be really good and insightful.
“I am not a bounty hunter”. Boba’s first words in the trailer are supposed to make us question what we know of the character, so in that sense it’s a blazing success. The character should evolve and develop, especially when he’s the lead of a show, but I’m wary if this is the right direction for the character. We now know he identifies as a Mandalorian and he acts more like one too, with the newfound honour he surprisingly had when he met Din and gave him his word. But if Boba isn’t a bad guy like he once was, then are he and Din too similar? Both are just two Mandalorian bounty hunters (or at least were) with newly developed moral compasses. The shows already look and feel similar and now the characters do too, especially if Din is on a path to leadership with the Darksaber in season 3. I hope the two shows, despite being strongly connected, do differentiate themselves.
That’s why Boba needs to be an antihero if he can’t be the villain. There’s still rage in him that he lets out during battle, a wide-eyed stare that Temuera Morrison nails. As long as there’s inner conflict explored between his barely-contained rage and his new outlook of honour and respect then I think I’ll be happy. I hope me having an identity crisis about this character is only an intentional precursor to him having one in the show surrounding who he is and what he now stands for, maybe even dealing with his clone origins and being his father’s son, or literally just another incarnation of his father. A criminal underworld story is fun idea but I’m unsure if Boba or Fennec are the right lead characters for it at this stage, and is Boba’s turn towards being someone you can root for mere fan service for those who love the character and have wrongly treated him like a hero for years?
I clearly have so many questions about Boba Fett and his upcoming series and I’m starting to have questions about those questions. Speculation is a fun part of the Star Wars experience but I’m liable to wrap myself in a knot of my own making if I go on. Ultimately, I see Boba Fett’s drastic shift in character as absolutely intentional but so far underexplained. I’m sure we’ll get more when The Book of Boba Fett arrives and, depending on the answers and their execution, I’ll see if it works for me but at the moment the character is heading in a direction that I’m unsure of.
Am I wrong for judging Boba Fett so harshly so soon? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.