It’s not easy being Darth Vader, and that’s not just because he basically murdered his wife and his boss is an angry prune who shoots lighting. For much of the Star Wars saga, Anakin Skywalker exists as “more machine than man,” to quote his old buddy Obi-Wan Kenobi — and that’s not a good thing.
But what if being part-machine isn’t so bad after all? Through The Book of Boba Fett, Star Wars is changing the script on what it means to be a cyborg, and in Episode 4, the franchise takes another huge step to correcting this 45-year-old oversight. (Spoilers ahead for Boba Fett Episode 4.)
Star Wars’ cyborg problem
Throughout Star Wars canon (and even the non-canon stuff), cyborgs have always been considered less-than within the franchise. No one in the movies gets a cyborg hand by choice; it’s something you do after a lightsaber chops off your human hand.
This arguably stems from the treatment of droids in general throughout Star Wars. When George Lucas created R2-D2 and C-3PO, he based them on the main characters of Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, which follows two peasants in feudal Japan. Ever since then, droids have occupied a sort of serf class in Star Wars despite possessing intelligence and personalities. So by extension, installing droid parts on your own body is viewed as a bad thing.
In Solo, the franchise played with the idea of droid rights, but despite the best efforts of L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), droids are still enslaved in the time of The Book of Boba Fett. However, it seems the status of cyborgs in Star Wars has advanced ever so slightly.
Boba Fett makes cyborgs cool
In Episode 3, Boba Fett met a group of young Tatooine residents who chose to modify their bodies with technology. While he seemed surprised at first, it quickly became clear that these cyborg youths were not only proud of their modifications but could be useful to him thanks to their special skills.
Episode 4 took this a step further. After rescuing Fennec Shand, Boba takes her to a building on the outskirts of town where people choose to have robot parts installed on their bodies. Everything from the music to the clothing in this scene makes it clear this is supposed to be a cool place filled with cool people. And casting the popular musician Thundercat as the biohacker-in-chief only solidifies this idea.
Star Wars is cyberpunk now, and cyborgs are cool.
In the world of Star Wars, this is an impressive step forward, and perhaps it will eventually lead to equality for droids too. Maybe by the end of his adventure, Boba Fett will even choose to free the droid he inherited from Jabba the Hutt as a result.
In our own world, it’s just the beginning. Star Wars should consider casting actual “cyborg” actors to play some of these roles in the future. But for now, this is a pretty decent start.
The Book of Boba Fett is streaming now on Disney+.