乙oba Fett was definitely dead. We all saw it: a partially blinded Han Solo unknowingly whacked him with a stick in Return of the Jedi, his jetpack malfunctioned, and then he fell into the mouth of a massive sand monster. You could tell by the way it swallowed and belched.
Yet in The Book of Boba Fett, The Mandalorian spin-off series currently streaming on Disney+, we’re expected to believe that the iconic bounty hunter (now played by Temuera Morrison) actually survived in the acid-filled belly of the sarlacc, having siphoned oxygen from a stormtrooper’s helmet, before burning his way out with the flamethrower on his wrist, then blindly clawing through several metres of sand. Improbable, 你可能认为, but then no one ever really dies in 星球大战. There are action figures and sequels to sell.
There’s a precedent for Boba’s unlikely resurrection: plenty of non-canonical novels, comics and short stories have already depicted his escape from the sarlacc. But little did we know that this show was bringing him back only to kill him all over again. And by kill him I mean systematically take apart everything that ever made him the coolest and most mysterious character in a galaxy far, far away.
In The Book of Boba Fett, the once-menacing freelancer has become a softie with a heart of gold. He has relinquished his title as a bounty hunter, become so curiously forgiving that he actually set free a Wookiee assassin just moments after it tried to murder him in his sleep, stroked a rancor behind its ear as if it were his oversized house cat and called a Tusken raider “mate”.
It all started during an episode of The Mandalorian, in which Boba was properly reintroduced to audiences, where he spoke of his fear and disapproval of the Empire – one of his former and frequent clients. Within minutes, he was fighting for the light side for the very first time, having inexplicably been repositioned as a “good guy”. Or a guy with a moral compass, 至少. Whatever he is now, he’s unrecognisable from the character that once fascinated Star Wars fans.
This is the same Boba who previously had no problem working for notorious choker Darth Vader and notorious chokee Jabba the Hutt. When we were introduced to the live-action version of the character in The Empire Strikes Back (he actually made his first appearance in the animated segment of the infamous 星球大战 Holiday Special in 1978), he was quite obviously a cold-blooded gun-for-hire with the sole aim of collecting his next bounty. It may have just been business, but he certainly wasn’t petting monsters and making friends. So why the sudden transformation?
What originally made Boba the most interesting and mysterious character in the franchise was the fact that we knew absolutely nothing about him. 当年, he was just this cool, armoured bloke who stood on the side looking hard. He never took off his helmet and he barely spoke – he had a grand total of four lines in The Empire Strikes Back, and none at all in Return of the Jedi. And yet he still went on to become one of the most popular and talked about characters of the original trilogy. So much so that creator George Lucas even briefly considered making him the main villain in Jedi, with the ambitious intention of stretching out Luke Skywalker’s story over a number of subsequent trilogies.
Making Boba Fett the main bad guy, or even a central character, would have diminished his all-important mystique, something that ultimately ended up happening anyway when he was dreadfully reintroduced as a child clone in Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
And now it’s happening all over again. As this Disney+ series continues to examine his softer side in excruciatingly uninteresting detail, it feels as though the circle of bastardisation is almost complete. All we need now is a subplot in which he adopts a baby version of Yoda and spends at least two episodes wiping sick off its chin.
Thanks to its treatment of the once badass, nihilistic bounty hunter, The Book of Boba Fett has turned out to be just another piece of bitterly disappointing, franchise-tarnishing tosh. Proof, if you ever needed it, that some parts of the galaxy are best left unexplored.