For many viewers, “Star Wars” is synonymous with such characters as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the embodiment of the heroism and villain whose actions guided the trajectory of this long-running fantasy series.
Then there are Star Wars fans whose admiration deepens a little, to the ranks of the supporting characters whose intentions are not easily categorized, and whose screen time can be measured in mere minutes.
Take the case of Boba Fett, an armored mercenary introduced to most moviegoers in the 1980’s “Star Wars” sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. In that film, he appears in only a few scenes, as a supplement to Vader’s plot to lure Skywalker into a fateful showdown. Fayt reappeared in Return of the Jedi (1983), in which he faces a swift and deadly death. (Or so it seemed).
Nonetheless, Veet has a unique place in the collective psyche of “Star Wars” fans, who have spent years imagining his further feats and building an iconography around her stern, compelling demeanor.
Now, after decades of books, toys, games, and other merchandise that helped keep the Boba Fett cult alive, the character will be the protagonist of his own “Star Wars” story. “The Book of Boba Fett,” a seven-episode series that debuted December 29 on Disney+, charts a new path for it after the events of Return of the Jedi.
For the people who make Star Wars and the people who consume it, the crowning of Vet’s cultural journey from fringe player to important character in the franchise is a little bewildering.
For many, Fayt’s rise illustrates how “Star Wars” has evolved throughout its history, telling more types of stories and giving more characters their moments in the spotlight – even if Wit’s own attraction is shrouded in mystery and his identity is determined primarily through reservation and actions tacitly. But it never appeared.
“It’s not the things that Boba Fett does in the movies – it’s the things that Boba Fett does he have Charles Sully, author of the current “Star Wars” comic book series, said:
“Everyone who comes across Boba Fett either scares it, cares about it, or wants to use it for the toughest job possible,” Sully explained. “He has this incredibly vibrant place in the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy outside of his on-screen appearances.”
Boba Fett owes its origins to a certain amount of accident and chance. After the resounding success of Star Wars in 1977, its writer and director, George Lucas, began preparing for a sequel. Among the characters he depicted was a new and improved class of Stormtroopers employed by the infamous Empire.
Joe Johnston, the future director who was art director on “The Empire Strikes Back,” worked with conceptual artist Ralph McCurry to design the costumes for these super-soldiers, creating a suit of armor and a helmet with a narrow eye mask.
Johnston, who later directed films like “Jumanji” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” said Lucas had scaled back his plans due to budget concerns. “George said we couldn’t afford an army of super soldiers, but we got this new suit,” Johnston recalls. He said: Let’s make him a bounty hunter. Well, it looks great.”
Under the guidance of Lucas, Johnston refines the new character based on the little-known alien played by Clint Eastwood in Spaghetti Western in Sergio Leone. The bounty hunter’s armor has been given colors and airy scratches that indicate his past struggles. (He was also briefly given a mirage until it was determined that he was standing in the way of his weapons.) Boba Fett was born.
He was neither a hero nor a villain, said Johnston. “You can hire Boba Fett to do whatever work you want him to do.”
According to Pete Fillmore, Lucasfilm’s head of fan relations, Boba Fett debuted in September 1978 at a county parade in San Anselmo, California, where he was overshadowed by Darth Vader.
Fayt also appeared as an animated character later on that infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special,” a poorly received TV show that was never rebroadcast. A promotion allowed Star Wars collectors to submit a Boba Fett character before he appeared in films. Nothing was revealed about the character’s life or history.
“The Mandalorian,” said Jon Favreau, author of “The Book of Boba Fett” and its spin-off Disney+ series.
“You can buy magazines that have pictures circulating,” he said. “You can buy games and play with them. By the time Boba Fett appeared on screen, we felt like we already knew him.”
Feet is seen, frugally, in The Empire Strikes Back, including a scene in which he stands among a group of bounty hunters assembled by Vader to hunt down evil Han Solo. Singles out Vader Fit for a brief instruction: “Don’t break up.” (“As you wish,” Witt mumbles in response.)
This interaction alone was enough to spark the imaginations of many “Star Wars” viewers. “You’re like, OK, why is this Darth Vader handpicked, crème de la crème a strongman? What makes him so special?” Saul said.
In Return of the Jedi, Solo accidentally causes a temporary blindness to launch Fett’s jetpack, causing the bounty hunter to crash into the side of a barge and then into the mouth of Sarlacc’s waiting monster. But even the apparent death of the character couldn’t dampen his fans’ enthusiasm for him.
With no more Star Wars movies on the horizon, Fate fans have continued to speculate who the never-before-seen man under this fearsome armor might be.
“With Boba Fett, less is more,” Fillmore said. “Things are hidden and unknown. We fill in the shadows with our own ideas of who might be and what is capable.”
Jonathan Kasdan, son of “Empire Strikes Back” screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, said Boba Fett has enduring charm by combining familiar visual and narrative elements into one character.
“It fuses all of these genres—crime thriller, western movie, samurai, medieval legend—into one iconic image,” said Kasdan, who wrote the subtitle “Solo: A Star Wars Story” with his father.
“I can think about it endlessly,” Kasdan said. “But the flip side of it is that she made for a great action figure.”
Cartoons, comics, short stories, and novels authorized by Lucasfilm over the years have continued to fill Fet’s earlier adventures; Others provided tales in which the character escaped from the Sarlacc monster and continued his work as a mercenary.
And as Star Wars movie production resumed, Fate continued to work his way up to it. The character was given another brief appearance added in the 1997 re-release of the original movie, now titled “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.”
An earlier 2002 movie, “Star Wars: Episode Two – Attack of the Clones” established that Boba Young (performed by Daniel Logan) was the son and clone of another fearsome soldier, Jango Fett (Temoira Morrison).
The animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, which debuted in 2008, provided more details about the childhood of little Bubba.
“We wanted to delve into what made him the character we later saw in ‘Empire,’” said Dave Filoni, writer, managing director and executive producer for “Clone Wars.” Once his father was killed by my grandfather, it changed that dramatically. I realized that he wanted to emulate his father – to become his father and take his shield.”
Sulley, the comic book author, said that compared to other “Star Wars” characters whose life stories have been filled almost entirely by movies, Boba Fett still has many unexplored areas in his personal history.
“There are characters we’ve seen a lot,” he said, “and it’s hard to find places where there’s still a lot of capital.” Then there are characters whose bank accounts aren’t often withdrawn. There is a lot of capital left in the Boba Fett account.”
But Boba Fett’s popularity among the creators of “Star Wars” means that not everyone who wants it can get a piece of it. Kasdan said that while he might have loved to have appeared in “Solo,” Lucasfilm told him that “Bubba was always off limits because he was in development elsewhere.”
The studio’s initial efforts to create a Boba Fett movie did not come to fruition. But when Favreau and his collaborators begin creating “The Mandalorian,” which premiered in 2019, they find themselves irresistibly drawn to the bounty hunter’s protagonist who lives by personal rules and wears armor similar to that of Boba Fett.
As Favreau explained: “We tried to reconnect with the roots of what inspired George. The Mandalorian character gives way to simple storytelling, in the spirit of Westerners that was so popular on television in my father’s generation.”
After another mysterious cameo — little more than a robe and pair of shoes — in the first season of “The Mandalorian,” Boba Fett (now played by Morrison) returned in the series the following year.
The show’s second season finale set the “Boba Fett Book” storyline, with Favreau and Filoni as writers, directors, and executive producers. (In response to a question if the new series would explain how Boba Fett survived his encounter with Sarlacc, Filoni replied, “It’s more exciting to watch how it all plays out than it is to explain it to me.”)
Favreau, who directed Marvel’s first two “Iron Man” films, said the interconnectedness of that studio’s cinematic world has made viewers accustomed to seeing “characters within the same franchise appear across many different characteristics.”
He added, “Star Wars is something in which the audience is an element as much as you put you there as a director.”
The narrative push to provide Boba Fett with a solid identity and a backstory explaining his motives did not please all “Star Wars” fans.
“I would never have shown his face,” Johnston said. “I’ve never had an actor under him where he takes off the helmet and you see who he is. I think that clears a lot of mystery. Before you take that helmet off, it could be anyone.”
But Filoni said broadcast television has taught viewers to expect all branches of the narrative to be available to them the moment they sit down to watch any part of it.
Compared to what they first saw Star Wars in a movie theater, Filoni said, “They can see ‘A New Hope’ and hear Obi-Wan talk about Clone Wars, and they’re only one step away from watching it. I walk out of the theater and go Dad, How did you get me to the fourth? Why do we miss the top three?”