Squeaky Mouse Droid: Boba Fett (May the 4th Be With You)
Boba Fett! Boba Fett!
Somehow, Boba Fett has become one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise, despite the fact that, in the original films, he has less than three or four minutes of screen-time and maybe five lines. How has a character with so little on screen time become so popular? Boba Fett was considered cool when he first debuted in the original trilogy (you all know he appeared in that dreaded Holiday Special in 1978, but his first real debut was in Empire Strikes Back) and even after he was injected into the story of Attack of the Clones, nothing has been able to diminish the intriguing nature of the character as he was portrayed in that original trilogy, despite the fact that he was “killed” fairly easily.
What is it about this character that has really spoken to fans and given him such prominence in pop-culture. Though the idea that he was a clone of his father, bounty hunter Jango Fett, and, unlike the other clone troopers made from Jango’s DNA, was allowed to age naturally, even as he saw his father killed by Mace Windu (all in Attack of the Clones) wasn’t a bad story per-say (Lucas noted that this subplot was added to the film to give the villain Jango Fett a bit of “heart”) it doesn’t quite explain or do justice as to why this character has been so impactful and so liked.
The true fans of Boba Fett in the Star Wars Expanded Universe can explain it. These fans know all about the Mandalorians, and about Boba Fett’s history in particular, and he first donned that awesome Mandalorian Armor. They know some of the things he has done in books, novels, comic books and video games that given him his reputation as the most formidable bounty hunter in the galaxy, and can probably cite particular events that Vader might have been referring to when he warned Fett “No disintegrations.”
That’s all nice and good, but it also doesn’t quite explain his popularity. Firstly, the former expanded universe is, as you all probably know, is no longer “canon” as far as Star Wars history goes. Even if those stories were canon, so many fan of the franchise aren’t familiar with those tales, yet Boba Fett is still popular. Casual fans are convinced that he didn’t die in the Sarlacc Pit, but they probably haven’t read or seen the material in either the new or old canon that confirmed this: like they just feel it to be true.
So, why is he popular? Why has he become so iconic? The reason: he is Star Wars.
Let me clarify. I mean, he’s not Darth Vader, the most iconic villain in all of film. He’s not Luke or Han, and therefore he’s not the hero of the franchise.
The truth is, Star Wars is more than just those characters. It’s a galactic setting that is both foreign and familiar, huge and dangerous. Boba Fett served as the reminder of just that. We see him on screen and we think firstly that he is a bounty hunter, or mercenary. We know there’s people uninvested in the Rebellion/ Empire conflict and are more interested in themselves. We see that mysterious armor and wonder what culture it might come from. Sure, a lo0t of people know it’s Mandalorian, but those that have only seen the films are just intrigued by the armor itself and why it’s different from Stromtrooper armor. They are intrigued by how old and beat up the armor is, and wonder what his history might be, and this is a microcosm of sorts as to why viewers are drawn into the Star Wars galaxy why they are watching the films: it’s an old galaxy with many cultures, beat up, dirty technology, and a lot of people working in the shadows of a galaxy that is already portrayed as less-than-friendly on the whole. When Boba Fett appears on the screen, viewers are really drawn in because he epitomizes the intriguing, darker aspects of this galaxy. The fact that he is considered, even by Vader, to be very dangerous, yet the fact that he doesn’t use the Force adds to this picture. The fact is, the character of Boba Fett makes us more interested in this galaxy, a small detail (like the smile on the Mona Lisa) that draw us into the the entire canvass that George Lucas and his team have created. Kids can “be” Boba Fett in their imaginations (and adults can be him in video games) and it basically means that they are bad-asses that are not to be trifled with, whose convictions can be bought and paid for.
In essence, Boba Fett reminds us that Star Wars is the roughest “Western” environment in the history of film, and he’s the “Man with No Name” for the current generation. We are interested in the character, mainly for what we don’t know about him, and that makes us more interesting in the setting that would shape such a mysterious character.
And with that, The Squeaky Mouse Droid will say: May the 4th Be with you!