Yes, yes, yes. He arguably had the coolest armor in the galaxy far, far away. Certainly, he was an inspired creation as it was great for audiences to get an albeit minor face-to-face introduction into the seedier side of that universe. (Younglings might argue that Jabba made an appearance in the first film, but that was an addition made when George Lucas tinkered with his Special Editions; the crime lord was only originally mentioned in name only. Greedo had a single scene, died pretty quickly, and Han shot first. There. I said it.) But from a narrative standpoint I was always thought Fett’s insertion really said more about Darth Vader than it did anything else: here was a guy second-in-command of the Galactic Empire, and he knew all too well that sometimes success requires thinking outside the box – to conscripting cold-blooded villains to achieve what a million soldiers swearing allegiance couldn’t do.
What those of us who followed Star Wars at that time knew about Boba Fett was largely manipulated by statements in the press that would’ve come from Lucasfilm. We were told that he was the deadliest gun in the galaxy, one who would stop at nothing to get a job done right. Sure, he was visualized (in animated fashion) in one segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special – shudder and gasp – but this was all advertising of a type: Lucas knew enough to hype up a character who would essentially have so little screen time that he might otherwise be forgettable. The buzz worked for most, but I wasn’t convinced: after all, Fett was given a pretty clean shot at Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back (the two meet briefly on Bespin) … and misses. That put him in basic Stormtrooper reputation so far as I was concerned.
Not buying it? Let me go one further.
After The Empire Strikes Back faded from silver screens, we waited three years for our heroes to return to prominence with Return Of The Jedi, and the dreaded Boba Fett came back with the opportunity to redeem himself and his much-ballyhooed reputation. Alas, the script gave the bounty hunter not so much as a single line of dialogue; and he ended up being dispatched on Tatooine so easily that it ends up not only getting a laugh (at Han Solo’s antics) but also goes out with a burp … from the Sarlacc. This was the best we could get from the most feared mercenary in the galaxy? Needless to say, I was not impressed, so I never quite ‘got’ fandom’s collective fascination.
First episodes can be tricky, and they can be even trickier when trying to re-introduce an established property, which the bounty hunter certainly is. Favreau’s script straddles that line admirably: rather than go ‘all kick ass’ much in the way Fett’s insertion into The Mandalorian appeared in glorious, gratuitous fashion, audiences are given a bound and broken man. Here is the best in the galaxy fighting his way out of the Sarlacc pit only to find himself bested by Tatooine’s worst: unable to take a stand against even the mighty (snicker) Jawas, you just know the Tusken Raiders are gonna run circles around the cloned man. They do, and Fett is shackled and enslaved by the Sandpeople. By the episode’s end, he will have earned a small measure of their respect … but I won’t spoil what I thought to be the episode’s biggest moment in case you’re holding out to watch later.
Though I’ve read some online compare the new adventure to The Mandalorian right out of the gate, I’m befuddled with that assessment. Din Djarin pretty much took no prisoners – well, except those with a price on their heads – in his early moments; and – as I said – Fett isn’t anywhere near prime shape in his outing. Sure, his big moment (mentioned above) might capture some of the same sentiment, but didn’t we all know and expect for the legendary bounty hunter to eventually come to life after being eaten, beaten, and chained? Who wants to watch a show set in the Star Wars universe wherein our main characters are perpetually downtrodden? That wouldn’t interest me, and think what you will about Kathleen Kennedy but I can’t see her greenlighting that.
My single greatest complaint with The Book Of Boba Fett’s premiere episode is a bit of a surprise to me: the effects work was more than a little underwhelming.
So much of these worlds’ presentation relies on CGI being state-of-the-art: it’s how they can be accomplished both on the small screen and within budget, but the renderings of Fett’s time in the Tatooine desert were wildly undercooked. Light balances were off in a few places, meaning that it was obvious that the actors were not anywhere near the same level as the terrain they were walking across; and I got the feeling that maybe the work was rushed to make a deadline. That’s something I never expected to say about a Star Wars show (of all things), and I’m hoping this doesn’t become the norm going forward. It was a stark surprise, especially after the stellar work on The Mandalorian, but we’ll see what develops in the episodes ahead.
Fett carries the weight of the criminal underworld on his shoulders. Let’s make sure he looks like he’s capable of doing just that, Favreau.