"Boba Fett!? Boba Fett? Where?" When Han Solo spoke these words, it was actually the first time we'd ever heard the name "Boba Fett" spoken aloud in a live-action Star Wars movie. Despite the fact that he'd already debuted in the Star Wars: Holiday Special in 1978 and tracked-down Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, the deadliest bounty hunter in the galaxy was only name-checked in Return of the Jedi right before he was accidentally "killed."
Well, thanks to The Mandalorian Season 2, we've known for a while now that Boba Fett didn't die. And now that he's come face-to-helmet with Din Djarin, it also seems like he's not such a bad person either. Unlike the Fett we briefly glimpsed in the classic trilogy, Attack of the Clones, and a few episodes of The Clone Wars, this version of Fett doesn't seem to be all that villainous at all. In fact, by the end of Chapter 14, "The Tragedy," he's outright helping Mando and acting like a full-on hero. So were we wrong about Boba Fett this whole time?
The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 6 is making us rethink everything we know about Boba Fett. And in the process, it's exposing a problem with the Star Wars movies that you probably never noticed. Warning! Spoilers ahead.
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The Boba Fett we used to know
There's no question the history of Boba Fett up until now has been focused on his ruthlessness and violence. When Jabba the Hutt says "Boushh" the bounty hunter is "My kind of scum," Boba Fett is briefly mollified, and even tips his helmet to Boushh, unware it's really Princess Leia in disguise. At that moment, we believe Boba Fett is cool with being painted with the brush "scum." He's a gun for hire, and he clearly has no love for Han Solo or the Jedi.
The prequels didn't do much to change our perception that Fett was a bad person. As a little child, Boba cackles as his dad Jango tries to shoot Obi-Wan Kenobi. He doesn't even hide his bloodthirst, and Jango doesn't chide him for it either. And yet, it's when he's a child in Attack of the Clones that we actually gained a tiny bit of sympathy for young Boba. When Mace Windu beheaded Jango, Boba saw it happen. Moments later, in the Geonosis arena, Boba cradled the helmet of his slain father.
If you missed his angsty teenage appearance on The Clone Wars, this is probably all you know of the canonical Boba Fett. His dad Jango was a heartless baddie who worked for Count Dooku, tried to assassinate Padmé Amidala, tried to shoot Obi-Wan Kenobi, and even murdered his own employees (Zam Wessel) when they failed a mission. Jango Fett wore the black hat. Period.
Boba Fett the hero?
But was Boba Fett as cold-hearted as his father? The Mandalorian has kind of inverted everything we thought we know about Boba Fett, and when we search canon for his most notorious deeds, we might come up empty.
In the non-canon Star Wars Legends, then Fett has a giant, unrepentant body count, but since Disney threw Legends in the trash, we're not really sure just how brutal he really is. More to the point, is either Boba or Jango any more wicked than Mando?
If you think of all the people we've watched Mando kill as we cheered, he's basically just as deadly as Boba or Jango — maybe worse. And like the Fetts, Mando knows something about protecting a child while being a bounty hunter. The greatest crime committed by the Fetts is that they happened to be hired by people who were the enemies of the "good guys." But if Mando himself had been a little younger, he probably would have been hired by Darth Vader.
(You also gotta wonder though: when did Mando start doing bounty hunting? It's not like the Empire has been gone for that long. Maybe Din Djarin did work for Vader at one point too...)
Star Wars has "good-guy" bias
In Attack of the Clones, Jango Fett tells Obi-Wan Kenobi, "I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe." In "The Tragedy," Boba Fett tells Mando pretty much the exact same thing. And yet, as Obi-Wan taught us, point of view matters. We tend to think the Star Wars films have a roving, somewhat omniscient point-of-view, but that's only partially true. The narratives of the Star Wars movies inevitably are about the "good" characters learning about the "bad" characters, and sometimes, coming to forgive them. So, when Obi-Wan hears Jango say "I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe," we hear it the way Obi-Wan hears it; and the message is, this guy is full of shit. The good-guy bias of the Skywalker saga encouraged us to ignore the lives of people who weren't on the "right" side.
This is the genius of The Mandalorian. Because Mando has been caring for Baby Yoda, we've considered him to be a "good guy." Therefore, on some level, we've disassociated him with Boba Fett, mostly because we've assumed that Boba Fett never followed an honorable creed like "The Way." Up until "The Tragedy," the point-of-view character of Mando encouraged us to be biased toward his way of thinking. But the revelation that Jango Fett was a Mandalorian — and that Mando himself is part of a radicalized sect — both accomplish the same thing: they loosen our biases for what a Star Wars hero can be.
Throughout Star Wars, characters like Ahsoka and Rey toyed with the idea that the Jedi might not be the only force for good in the universe. Even Palpatine pointed out that "good" was simply a point of view. The Mandalorian hasn't turned Palps into a sympathetic character (yet), but it's proven him correct. When it comes to Boba Fett — and other "heartless" bounty hunters — everything we thought we knew might be wrong. The funny thing is, the evidence was there the whole time, we just had shinier heroes distracting us with colorful laser swords.
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