The Book of Boba Fett Sucks? I know why you don’t like it.
George Lucas created two Boba Fetts. Now they’re both on Disney+.
There are two Boba Fetts. Chances are, you like one of them better than the other. What do I mean? I’ll explain…
And to be clear, I don’t think The Book of Boba Fett sucks, but I do prefer The Mandalorian — by a good margin. So why do some people think The Book of Boba Fett sucks? And why do people (like me) prefer The Mandalorian?
It all revolves around the fact that George Lucas created two Boba Fetts.
As The Book of Boba Fett nears its season finale, Star Wars fans continue to wonder whether or not it’s a good addition to the Star Wars franchise. While The Mandalorian brought a divided fanbase together (very few people speak negatively about Din Djarin’s show), The Book of Boba Fett has brought up some of the old divisions. But why?
Why were fans unified about The Mandalorian, but divided when it comes to The Book of Boba Fett?
The FIRST Boba Fett.
Let’s travel back to the 1980s. The Original Trilogy Era. Boba Fett first appeared in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978. If we take the Boba Fett from that show, and also the Boba Fett we see in the Original Trilogy… what do we learn about Boba Fett as a character?
1. Boba Fett is a Loner.
A core component of Boba Fett’s character is that he’s a loner. In the Star Wars Holiday Special cartoon, he blatantly despises the creature he’s riding. He doesn’t have a droid. And while he works for people, we don’t see him engaging with other people. Multiple sources have discussed the influence of Spaghetti westerns on Fett’s character, comparing the bounty huner to Sergio Leon’s “Man with No Name.”
2. Boba Fett is a Badass.
Vader called Boba Fett “the best bounty hunter in the galaxy,” and Vader is not easily impressed (just think of how many officers he choked for failing him). And Vader admires Fett despite the fact that Fett talks back to Vader! On Cloud City, Lando Calrissian seems deathly afraid of Vader, but Boba Fett doesn’t show any hint of intimidation. And then, in Return of the Jedi, Fett doesn’t hesitate in taking on Luke Skywalker, a Jedi Knight.
Couple that with Boba Fett’s armor, his jet pack, his ship, and the plethora of weapons he carries, we can easily say… Boba Fett is a badass. And while he works with both the Empire and Jabba the Hutt, he’s clearly not under their control. He does what he wants.
3. Boba Fett is Mysterious.
In the Original Trilogy, Boba Fett doesn’t have a backstory. He shows up, he captures one of our favorite characters — Han Solo — and then takes Han to Jabba the Hutt. All we know about Boba Fett is that he’s a loner, he works for some of the scariest people in the galaxy, and he’s not beholden to anyone.
He rarely even speaks. He’s mysterious in a way that’s compelling. Who the hell is this guy?
Boba Fett’s Demise… Almost…
Those who don’t like Boba Fett usually dislike the fact that he’s a secondary or even tertiary character in the Original Trilogy who doesn’t do a whole lot. In fact, the way he “dies” is fairly uneventful and sort of played as a joke. A blind Han Solo mistakingly engages the bounty hunter’s jet pack and he stupidly crashes into the side of Jabba’s pleasure barge, falls to the sand, and then rolls into the sarlacc pit.
For people who grew up with the Original Trilogy as their main source of Boba Fett content, everything about him was dope except for his death.
But then… George Lucas brought him back. (Sort of.)
The SECOND Boba Fett.
Fast forward (or… rewind?) to the Prequel Trilogy. Fans are often divided on the Prequel Trilogy, in part because it took unknown parts of Star Wars and revealed far more information about them. Backstory is a double-edged sword in storytelling. Without a backstory, audiences fill in the blanks themselves. But when a storyteller divulges backstory, the audience is forced to determine whether or not their own assumptions were superior to the storyteller’s.
The human brain is wired to fill in backstory in an attempt to relate to stories. It turns out that our brains want to understand and interpret stories in order to better deal with the real world (for more, read Lisa Cron’s excellent work, Wired for Story). Which means that our brains consistently seek answers to “why” things happen. When those “whys” are not answered in a story, our brains naturally attempt to fill the gaps.
George Lucas’ brain then filled those gaps for us. And as the brain behind the story of Star Wars, his “whys” supersede ours.
So, when Boba Fett showed up in Attack of the Clones, we were forced to accept the backstory George Lucas gave us…
How the Prequel Trilogy Changes Boba Fett
Before I dive into how that backstory changes the nature of the character of Boba Fett, let’s first acknowledge something else. As someone who had already watched the Original Trilogy (dozens of times), the Prequel Trilogy was backstory. But guess what… for younger audiences, the Prequel Trilogy isn’t always backstory. While many watched the Original Trilogy first, newer Star Wars fans didn’t always follow that same order. Many watched the Prequel Trilogy first. Which means… the Prequel Trilogy, for some younger viewers, wasn’t backstory. Their first exposure to Boba Fett was Boba Fett from Attack of the Clones.
The implication here is simple: if you saw Kid Boba first, you likely had a different perception of Boba Fett’s appearance in the Original Trilogy. And even if you watched the Original Trilogy before watching the Prequel Trilogy, if you watched them without decades of time passing in between, you likely accepted Boba Fett’s history without a second thought. In other words, your brain didn’t have decades to fill in Fett’s backstory, so Lucas’ version ended up feeling natural.
Now, before you protest those assumptions, I realize that’s not true for everyone. I’m speaking in broad terms here. But I still think those things are true for many Star Wars fans.
Regardless, let’s look at how the Prequel Trilogy changes Boba Fett.
Boba Fett is NOT Unique.
While Boba Fett felt like a standout character in the Original Trilogy films (for all the reasons I listed above), the Prequel Trilogy revealed that he wasn’t unique, not really. And he’s not unique for two reasons:
- He’s one of many clones of Jengo Fett (yes, he is an unaltered clone, but a clone nonetheless).
- He is a derivative (and sort of a son) of Jango Fett.
And, yes, those are two different things. Here’s why:
Boba Fett is One of Many.
Is it possible for a clone to be a loner? Probably. In fact, one could make an argument that unlike all the other clones, he’s not automatically part of the clone “tribe,” which makes him a natural outsider.
However, cognitively, we now know that the guy underneath the helmet (whose face was never revealed until we saw him as a kid) has the same face as millions of other clones. Not only that, but based on how cool most of the clones are, it feels like they would be more likely to accept Boba as one of their own as opposed to rejecting him.
Now, the character many of us saw as a loner suddenly has millions of “brothers.”
Boba Fett is NOT Original
Boba Fett literally becomes a version of his father, Jango Fett. Many of us had seen Boba Fett as being an original, interesting, badass character. But by giving us Jango Fett, George Lucas took that away.
Boba is no longer the only badass non-Force user to take on a Jedi. In fact, Jango Fett took on a far better trained opponent in Obi-Wan Kenobi. And that armor that Boba wears? Well, Jango had it first.
Boba Fett is no longer an original character who feels like a loner. And he’s no longer unique. The mystique of Boba Fett breaks down in the backstory.
George Lucas Created Two Boba Fetts… and Jon Favreau (with Dave Filoni) Gave Us Two Boba Fett Shows
Fast forward to today. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni bridge the gap. (Which, by the way, is a genius move…)
Din Djarin Enters the Star Wars Universe
Did you prefer the Original Trilogy Boba Fett (like me)? John Favreau has some good news: you get Din Djarin, literally the character we thought Boba Fett in the Original Trilogy was.
- Loner? Check. (He’s not even a Mandalorian! He’s an orphan foundling!)
- Badass? Check.
- Mysterious? Check.
Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni thought, “You know, George really changed who we thought Boba Fett in the Original Trilogy was… but people loved that guy. We should make a series about him.” Pure genius.
And guess what, people do love that guy! The Mandalorian was (for the most part) universally liked!
But Jon and Dave didn’t stop there. Because, of course, Boba Fett still exists, right? He sure does.
Boba Fett Lives Into His Prequel Trilogy Persona
Does Boba Fett from the Book of Boba Fett feel at all like the Original Trilogy Boba Fett? Not at all. First, he’s not a loner. In fact, he makes a concerted effort to join the ranks of Sand People. Then, he attempts to set up shop as a leader. Original Trilogy Boba Fett would never do that!
But guess who would… Prequel Trilogy Boba Fett.
There’s a Boba Fett for Everyone… Almost
What’s my point? Thanks to Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, just about everyone gets their verrsion of Boba Fett.
If you enjoy The Book of Boba Fett, good for you, because that Boba Fett is the natural product of the backstory George gave us in the Prequel Trilogy.
Prefer The Mandalorian? Good for you, because Din Djarin is the living embodiment of the Original Trilogy Boba Fett.
But before I close out this article, there is one missing Boba Fett (although maybe I’m missing a character here), because Din Djarin, while he is a loner, a badass, and mysterious, isn’t an uncaring outlaw of a bounty hunter. He does have a heart thanks to Grogu.
If you really wanted to see a foil for Han Solo, Din Djarin is not that, and the Original Trilogy Boba Fett most definitely was that. He was sort of like evil Han Solo, really. But, hey, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are giving the people what they want, so if you’re still missing your version of Boba Fett, just wait… maybe he’ll show up in the Kenobi series!
In the meantime, I’m super grateful to have The Mandalorian, my favorite Star Wars character of all time, because Boba Fett used to fill those shoes, but he transformed into something entirely different.
About How Stories Work with Jay Sherer
Jay Sherer is the co-writer of the full cast audiobook and novel, Death of a Bounty Hunter, and the time travel serial story, Timeslingers. He also runs the How Stories Work with Jay Sherer YouTube channel, podcast, and blogwhere his goal is to tell better stories, help audiences understand popular stories, and help other storytellers improve their craft. If you enjoyed this article and would like others like them, please support Jay on Patreon.
All of Jay’s channels are produced by the Reclamation Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.