There are many wonderful things about The Book of Boba Fett, Disney+’s new TV show about the bounty hunter who was first introduced in George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately, the title character is not one of them. Which makes it a strange viewing experience, and one that should make fans question their abiding fascination for the jetpack-sporting killer-for-hire.
We’ve had the return of Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth, a space cowboy to rival even Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin for sharp-shooting insouciance. There’s that dark, black-eyed Wookiee, who has to be the most terrifying thing seen in Star Wars since it was revealed Jar Bar Binks had been elected to the Galactic Senate. In the most recent episode we got nearly 20 minutes of Luke Skywalker teaching Baby Yoda Jedi skills, while chatting casually to the incredible Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano. Geek heads duly spun right off shoulders. Was that the new Jedi temple all those multi-limbed robots were building? Do the Sand People really have personalities? What on Tatooine does the Hutts’ home planet look like? OMG is that Cad Bane from the Clone Wars show, realised in live action? The good stuff has been pretty much never-ending.
The show’s problem is Boba himself, as essayed by Temuera Morrison. Star Wars fans had been waiting more than 40 years to find out who the enigmatic bounty hunter really is under the Mandalorian armour (that appearance as a kid in the prequels doesn’t really count) only to now rather wish he’d kept it on. Is this really the same guy we saw in The Empire Strikes Back, and briefly in Return of the Jedi? The taciturn figure who inspired a thousand dodgy fan-fic efforts and a decades-long campaign to give him his own movie or TV show?
The Book of Boba Fett makes us wonder why we got so excited about Lucas’s creation in the first place. It turns out his armour really was the most intriguing thing about him: a triumph of remarkable costume design; of style over substance. On this basis, why are we not seeing Disney+ shows about Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma, whose battle-threads were surely equally cool, or Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren?
Boba’s other interesting characteristic, his bounty hunting creed, was already explored in The Mandalorian. We’ve seen Din Djarin’s people slowly reimagined as the yin to the Jedi yang; a culture that prides itself on sticking to the rules but also values interpersonal connections and loyalty to one’s companions. Boba, on the other hand, was reintroduced with the revelation that his Mandalorian armour was most likely stolen by his clone daddy decades ago, and that he has little to do with the creed other than this. He has, effectively, been an impostor for the best part of half a century.
Maybe the final episode of Boba Fett will set everything to rights. Perhaps there is some fabulous finale waiting for us in which all parties come together for a giant hurrah of laser-fire and lightsabers. Maybe Baby Yoda learned to jump-spin like Sonic the Hedgehog just in time to save Din Djarin from certain death at the hands of the twisted-looking Bane. Perhaps those Hutt twins are going to be dumped on dark Wookiee’s head from a great height. Maybe Ahsoka Tano slices and dices Jabba’s green pig monsters like slimy sweet and sour pork. Who knows, and who cares?
The fact that we can’t really imagine Boba being anything other than a bystander at the centre of the final episode’s geeky sweet spots tells us everything we need to know about this character. He’s become Star Wars’s equivalent of Hawkeye – though at least Marvel had the nous to give us 20+ movies and half a dozen TV shows before finally getting to the eternally superfluous sharp-shooting superhero. Forty years after Boba Fett first turned our heads, most of us probably wish they’d given it at least the same again before he finally took off his helmet.