Boba Fett Was Better as Star Wars’ Tragic Doofus

Boba Fett’s brief, ultra-memorable history in the original Star Wars trilogy is an absolutely wild ride and it should be celebrated at all times. The character debuted in an animated section of the Star Wars Holiday Special, that notoriously terrible production that also features a Jefferson Starship hologram performance and Chewbacca’s dad getting all horned up for Diahann Carroll. His first live-action appearance is in The Empire Strikes Back, in which Darth Vader sticks a finger in his face and says “no disintegrations,” some wildly intriguing shit to say to another human being without context, back when Star Wars didn’t feel the need to explain every little piece of itself. Then, probably most notably, Boba met his demise in Return of the Jedi, when a blind Han Solo whacks his jet pack with a stick, sending him careening off the side of Jabba’s ship like a wet tennis ball and then plummetting into the mouth of the Sarlacc. It’s one of the most ungraceful deaths in film history. My dude might as well have slipped on a banana peel and bumped into a waiter carrying a stack of pies.

And yet! Boba Fett lived on in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of fans—not to mention countless EU books and comics—as a stone-cold badass, based almost exclusively on how cool his original costume looks. Despite going out like one of the Marx brothers with a bucket stuck on his head, Boba Fett remained an icon, and I always found that weirdly endearing. It’s a testament to the imperfect nature of those three original films; George Lucas‘ work, carried on by directors Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand, isn’t some flawless, sacred text. It’s playful. It’s goofy as hell. It’s a beautiful, raw tribute to pure imagination where sometimes the guy in the wicked cool armor just turns out to be a big, tragic doofus.

Until The Mandalorian, that is.

Image via Disney+

The Mandalorian season 2, episode 6 makes it absolutely clear that Boba Fett is not only alive, but he is also, in fact, an untouchable stone-cold badass who does not, under any circumstance, look at explosions happening behind him. “The Tragedy”, written by Jon Favreau and directed by Robert Rodriguez, finds the wayward bounty hunter played by Temuera Morrison, who also portrayed the character’s father, Jango Fett, in the prequels. (Where he also died with a hilariously anti-climactic whoomph, as is family tradition.) With the recently-revived sharpshooter Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) by his side, Boba tracks the show’s main Mando (Pedro Pascal) to the planet Tython, where the sudden arrival of Imperial troops forces Boba to don his old armor and lay an unholy ass-kicking upon a squadron of flailing Stormtroopers.

And it rules! I don’t expect to be in the majority on this opinion, because watching Temuera Morrison absolutely demolish fools with a stick then blow up two space ships with a rocket launcher is, on its surface, inarguably cool. I accept my place as the Ebenezer Scrooge of this situation, ba-humbugging the objectively whip-ass site of Boba Fett planting an explosive in the center of a Stormtrooper’s chest in the year of our lord 2020. No one can deny Robert Rodriguez’s pedigree as an action director, either, and he admirably raises the stakes during the shoot-out even if he struggles to explain where the hell all these Stormtroopers came from off of two ships.

Image via Disney+

But I also can’t help but already miss the legacy of bonehead Sarlacc lunch Boba Fett. It was one of the last pure acts of cinematic hilarity left in this world. One of my biggest gripes with The Mandalorian is how hard it works to pound smooth every rough edge of Star Wars, that childlike assertion that everything is badass and nothing hurts. It’s less a television show than it is an attempt to give every Star Wars fan every single thing they’ve always wanted, the final result being a passive, arc-less main character doing favors from one “OMG” cameo to the next. It’s hard to imagine The Mandalorian having a lasting impact as strong as the Star Wars films themselves—or, heck, even the two animated series created by Dave Filoni—because it is so singularly focused on referencing and reframing those things. Again, it’s fun as hell! Ahsoka Tano! Bo-KatanThe Mandalorian is a weekly jolt of good-times. But it’s empty calories. It’s less than one notch away from fan fiction. It reminds me so much of Patton Oswalt‘s endless fantasy pitch on Parks & Recreation, a joke about how often recognizable references replace actual storytelling.

So, yes, it’s cool Boba Fett is alive, and I’d still probably enjoy watching a show 100% devoted to Temuera Morrison piledriving Stormtroopers into the dirt. But it’s just not interesting. When your main goal is to erase every possible rough edge of a franchise, you’re left with a boring round ball, kind of like those eggs Grogu can’t help but devour. Plopping them into his mouth one after the other, delicious in the moment but never actually satisfying.

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