Boba Fett’s Character Arc Actually Makes Sense ( A Review of The Book of Boba Fett)

Article ID: JAR2202LC | By: Lisa Cooper

The Book of Boba Fett

Created by Jon Favreau

Executive Producers: Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Robert Rodriguez, Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson

(Rated TV-14, 2022–)

Disney+

***Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers for Season One***


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​Boba Fett is a Star Wars icon. A brutal bounty hunter first seen in the original Star Wars films with limited lines and on-screen presence, Boba Fett has been the center of fan adoration and speculation since the very beginning of the franchise. But how did we get from the rough-and-tumble bounty hunter to whom Darth Vader instructs, “No disintegrations,” to the Boba Fett who intends to “rule with respect” as he reigns on the late Jabba’s throne as a crime lord on Tatooine? Has Boba Fett gone soft? Has the fan-imagined lore surrounding his character distracted us from a story that could be even more compelling?

With the rise in popularity of The Mandalorian (2019–), featuring Din Djarin, Mandalorians have been on our minds.1 And while Boba Fett is certainly no traditional Mandalorian, as the son of a foundling and an unaltered clone of his father, there have been high expectations set for him since The Book of Boba Fett was announced.

Comparisons to Din Djarin are therefore inevitable. Paul Tassi writes, “The Mandalorian himself is who we wanted Boba Fett to be. He is our new Boba Fett, and now this new guy with his own show is…not the Boba Fett we envisioned.”2 He calls into question Boba Fett’s decision-making process, calling it “unwise and out of character” for him to spare enemies. Though there are glimpses of Boba’s merciless bounty hunter self in The Book of Boba Fett, there seems — at least to many fans — to be a disconnect with earlier Boba Fett content.

An earlier series directed by Dave Filoni, The Clone Wars (2008–2020), offers important insight into who Boba Fett is and what we can expect from his character. The seeds planted years ago in this animated series are now coming to fruition in The Book of Boba Fett, bringing to light a striking story of justice, redemption, death and resurrection, and adoption, culminating in the newly established Boba Fett “clan.”

Searching for Justice. After the murder of his father in Attack of the Clones (2002), Boba Fett finds himself alone in the universe. In contrast to his father, Boba Fett is found by no one and must make his own way in the galaxy. He has no community to return to, no people to call his own — that is, except the bounty hunters.

Together with bounty hunters Aurra Sing, Bossk, and Castas, young Boba Fett hatches a plot to take revenge on Mace Windu.3 He boards Mace Windu’s cruiser alongside similar-aged clone cadets, breaks from the group at an opportune time and plants a bomb at the opening of Mace Windu’s door, resulting in the death of a clone trooper and a near miss of Windu. Throughout this three-episode arc, Boba reiterates that he simply wants justice. He does not want to kill anyone other than Mace Windu. He refuses to harm hostages, and he is visibly unsettled when Aurra kills one hostage in front of him.

Boba is not innately a killer — he is a child caught up in the bounty hunter life by default. “I’m not a murderer….I want justice,” he stresses to Aurra.4 Later, Aurra leaves him for dead as she evades capture by the Jedi. In stunned disbelief, Boba exhales, “She left me.”5 This moment is a rude awakening for Boba Fett; his bounty hunter associates could never truly be the family he longed for.

Boba Fett’s life is marked by loss. His father is killed. He is abandoned by Aurra Sing. He loses his freedom following the assassination attempt and is put in prison by the Jedi.6 Once he is finally released and starts running his own missions with other bounty hunters, he is again double-crossed by a female associate, Asajj Ventress.7 Teen Boba Fett is left, bound and gagged in a trunk, while Asajj sets the “target” of the mission (a young girl who was being handed over as a child bride) free in his place.8

This strong desire of Boba Fett to see the man who murdered his father in front of him brought to justice — though disordered — reveals an innate human desire for true justice. The law of God is written on our hearts (Rom. 2:15), and we can identify when things are unjust even without a Christian background.

The Christian response to this desire is to acknowledge that justice flows from God’s character: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Ps. 89:14 ESV). Though Boba Fett does not enact the justice that he deems necessary, it brings into view questions we may ask as Christians: Is it right to take matters of justice into our own hands? Where is the line between justice and revenge? Boba Fett stands in the gap, seeing the iniquity of his own attempted murder plot bear full punishment while the man who killed his father walks free as a renowned Jedi master. He experienced the painful justice for his own law-breaking, but never saw justice for his father’s death.

Death and Resurrection. Through flashback in The Book of Boba Fett, the details are filled in about what happens following Boba Fett’s descent into the sarlacc’s mouth in Return of the Jedi (1983). Thanks to his inherited Mandalorian armor made from the famed (mostly) indestructible Beskar, he is spared the stomach acid of the sarlacc, is able to grab a fallen stormtrooper’s oxygen tank, and makes his way out of the monster’s stomach via flamethrower.9

Death and resurrection are the foundation of the Christian faith, yet these themes are not restricted to the Christian faith. And sure, Boba Fett is no Jesus, and he does not literally die, but there is something to be said about the image of the tattered bounty hunter emerging victorious from the depths of Tatooine sands.

Likewise, many pagan myths feature this storyline, and we can even empirically see death and resurrection around us in creation. C. S. Lewis connects this idea with the annual death and resurrection of corn, pointing out that several “corn-king” deities die and rise again each year. He explains, “For the Corn-King is derived (through human imagination) from the facts of Nature, and the facts of Nature from her Creator; the Death and Rebirth pattern is in her because it was first in Him.”10 This is all to say, God reveals Himself in and through creation, preparing people to receive the true death and resurrection story of Christ Himself. It stands to reason that this important theme, revealed in both natural and special revelation, would show up in popular media like The Book of Boba Fett.

Redemption. Boba Fett’s death and resurrection plot, however, is not the only one in the series. When speaking to Din, Boba Fett sums up his experience on Tatooine, “[Fennec Shand] was left for dead on the sands of Tatooine, as was I.”11 Shot in the gut by Toro Calican, an overzealous rookie bounty hunter, Fennec is barely breathing when Boba Fett shows up. He takes her to the outskirts of Mos Eisley where he pays a Mod Artist to fix her with cybernetics.

This story not only brings to mind death and resurrection, but it also calls to remembrance the story of the good Samaritan that Jesus tells in Luke 10. An unlikely man picks her up, treats her wounds, and pays all of her debts for her life to be saved. Once she is awake and aware of what had taken place, Boba makes it clear that he expects no payment from her and lets her choose where she wants to go. With new life and new freedom, she chooses to follow him.12 Redeeming the storyline of all the female bounty hunters that have double-crossed Boba Fett, Fennec agrees to “go along for the ride.”13

Adoption. As Boba Fett emerges from the sand alive, he is robbed by Jawas and then taken into captivity by Tusken Raiders, being dragged behind a bantha to their camp. Though not the ideal rescue, after not too long he saves a Tusken child from a six-limbed reptile and carries the head of the beast back to the camp, earning the respect of the Tuskens. He trains with them, learns how to wield their weapons, speaks with them via sign language, and by the end of Chapter 2, he is formally accepted into the tribe, having been given the Tusken Raider’s characteristic cloak and his own weapon. What was broken in Boba Fett’s childhood, what had been the striving of Boba since his father’s death — a family to call his own — has been fixed with his unlikely bond with the Tuskens.

Miles Surrey points out, “It’s telling that bounty hunters like Mando and Boba can form a kinship with the Tuskens: Despite very different backgrounds, they adhere to a similar philosophy.”14 This is key. It’s not just that Boba Fett became “soft” due to some vague impression the Tuskens left on him. The striving we see with young Boba Fett in The Clone Wars is ultimately satiated by the Tuskens. They operate based on honor just as he does, and they become his very own adoptive family.

Strikingly, The Book of Boba Fett, and The Mandalorian before it, reveal a very different picture of the Tusken Raiders than what has previously been shown in the Star Wars universe. “Those Tuskens walk like men, but they’re vicious mindless monsters,” Cliegg Lars warns Anakin in The Attack of the Clones. Upon hearing his mother had been taken, Anakin seeks out the clan, murders them all, and then reports back to Padmé saying, “I killed even the women and children….They’re animals, so I slaughtered them like animals.”15 Bafflingly, Padmé doesn’t react to this confession of genocide.

Drawing from his own Māori heritage, Temuera Morrison helped The Book of Boba Fett team flesh out the people group’s rites and rituals.16 The Tuskens, now being revealed as a people group with valuable history, we see the important Christian theme of being made imago Dei, or “in the image of God.” Christians have a robust theology surrounding the value of all people, and the humanizing of a previously misunderstood people group does well to highlight this idea. Strikingly, the Tuskens who were seen as being “like animals” end up teaching the most honorable and moral approach to the world, aiding in the transformation of Boba Fett’s character and shifting his gaze from money and survival to commitment and respect.

The New Family. In step with the fatherhood themes found in The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett explores what it means for an orphan to create his own family. After his clan is wiped out in the flashback in Chapter 3, having tasted family life, Boba Fett sets out to cobble together his own “clan.”

In a continual search for belonging and meaning outside of himself, he gathers many other misfits and establishes himself as a respectable leader. He steps in and pays the debts of the wayward biker gang teens and brings them into his household. Here we have another redemption story: they become part of his household through payment of their debts, and they respond with a free choice to follow him. Beyond this, Boba Fett seems to be establishing a group that is willing to die for one another.

Christians would do well to dwell on the responsibility of community and what it means to be a family, and by extension, a church. Our culture is so fragmented, with honor and respect falling by the wayside in exchange for self-glorification and the assertion of the individual self. It is true that many of us have challenging family stories like Boba Fett, but as Christians, we see the value in building community based on shared ideology with Jesus at the center.

The Book of Boba Fett presents a much richer story than fan-imagined futures of Boba Fett. We see a story of lives changed: resurrection narratives, a life trajectory shifted through adoption, resulting in a recapturing of his morality and convictions. Christian themes are woven throughout this story, and I, for one, am excited to see how Boba Fett turns out. —Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper has a BA in literature, and an MA in religion. She is a copywriter and editor at RevelationMedia, a freelance writer, and a poet. Her writing has been featured in Fathom Magazine, Ekstasis Magazine, Curator Magazine, and in the Christian Research Journal, among others.

NOTES

  1. Philip Tallon, “This Is the Way…Or Is It?: Thinking about Religion in The Mandalorian,” Christian Research Journal, January 11, 2021, https://www.equip.org/article/this-is-the-way-or-is-it-thinking-about-religion-in-the-mandalorian/.
  2. Paul Tassi, “Yes, It’s Clear The Book of Boba Fett’s Biggest Problem Is Boba Fett,” Forbes, January 28, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2022/01/28/yes-its-clear-the-book-of-boba-fetts-biggest-problem-is-boba-fett/.
  3.  Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 2, episodes 20–22.
  4. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 2, Episode 22, “Lethal Trackdown,” directed by Dave Filoni, written by Dave Filoni and Drew Z. Greenberg, aired April 30, 2010 on Disney+.
  5. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 2, Episode 22, “Lethal Trackdown.”
  6. A few years later, we see him still in prison in an unrelated story arc. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 4, Episode 15.
  7.  Yes, that Asajj Ventress — the one who is most commonly known as being a Sith trainee and assassin was a bounty hunter for a brief time in The Clone Wars.
  8. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 4, Episode 20, “Bounty.”
  9. The Book of Boba Fett, Season 1, Episode 1, “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land.”
  10. C. S. Lewis, Miracles (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 186.
  11. The Mandalorian, Season 2, Episode 6, “Chapter 14: The Tragedy,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, written by Jon Favreau, aired December 4, 2020 on Disney+.
  12. The Book of Boba Fett, Season 1, Episode 4, “Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm.”
  13.  Meg Dowell speculates that Fennec hints at her impending double-crossing in Chapter 4. See her article, “The Book of Boba Fett Keeps Hinting Fennec Shand Is Actually a Villain,” Dork Side of the Force, Fansided, January 27, 2022, https://dorksideoftheforce.com/2022/01/21/the-book-of-boba-fett-is-fennec-shand-a-villain.
  14. Miles Surrey, “The Book of Boba Fett Is a Long-Overdue PR Campaign for Tatooine,” The Ringer, January 25, 2022, https://www.theringer.com/star-wars/2022/1/25/22899639/book-of-boba-fett-tatooine-pr-campaign-tusken-raiders.
  15.  Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, directed by George Lucas, written by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales (Los Angeles: Twentieth Century Fox, 2002).
  16.  See James Hibberd’s article, “Book of Boba Fett Stars React to Biker Gang Controversy: ‘These Things Are Out of Our Control,’” The Hollywood Reporter, January 14, 2022, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/book-of-boba-fett-controversy-biker-gang-1235075410/.
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