Boba Fett is cool. This isn't really debatable. In the 1990s — arguably the heyday of moody Star Wars fandom — being into Boba Fett was kind of mandatory for fans. He was a huge part of the 1991 Dark Horse Comics series Dark Empire, not to mention the 1996 multimedia blitz, Shadows of the Empire. In the '90s, if you attended Star Wars clubs or gaming nights, Boba Fett t-shirts were everywhere. The point is: even if fans don't care about Boba Fett today, his popularity is undying and pervasive.
So now that Fett has returned for The Mandalorian Season 2, the original Star Wars badass may get what fans of yesteryear could have never imagined. Boba Fett may get a redemption story that could rival Darth Vader's. And in the process, it could finally explain a huge chunk of the bounty hunter's backstory that's still missing: his connection to the Mandalorians.
Speculative spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2 ahead.
If you're still unconvinced that Boba Fett is essential to understanding Star Wars fandom, consider this: The initial reason why The Mandalorian was exciting in the first place is that the main character dresses like Boba Fett. What if the show had been called The Bounty Hunter, and the lead character dressed like Boushh (that helmeted person Leia impersonated in Return of the Jedi)? Yeah, nobody would care. The reason people got jazzed about The Mandalorian was that the visage of Boba Fett was baked-into the aesthetic of menacing Star Wars things we all love. In fairness, this also kind of proves that Boba Fett himself wasn't the thing that people love, but rather, the Mandalorian armor itself.
Could The Mandalorian Season 2 change that, though? Could the return of Fett in this new set of episodes actually make his character, well, to put it bluntly, interesting?
In the original trilogy, the reason why Boba Fett was compelling was partly that so little was known about him. Arguably, this why he became popular in the '90s. (Unlike Vader or the Emperor, there was a lot to play with because we just didn't know a lot.) Plus, because Fett was connected to the non-political side of Star Wars, his exploits played out like amoral versions of what Han and Lando might have done before joining the Rebellion.
In the comic book storyline Twin Engines of Destruction, Boba Fett goes after a bounty hunter named Jodo Kast who's impersonating him in order to make more money. The miniseries is most just about Fett hating that, and then, killing Jodo Kast. This storyline typifies why people thought Boba Fett was interesting: he presented a side to Star Wars that was neither good nor evil, which is pretty weird when you think about how heavy-handed Star Wars is otherwise.
The prequels changed everything. George Lucas retroactively elevated Boba Fett's importance by not only revealing his father, Jango Fett, but also by revealing that Fett was the clone template for Palpatine's entire clone army. There's mixed evidence to suggest George Lucas always intended Fett to have this status, but when you look at the way Fett was developed in the eighties, it seems pretty clear that was never the plan.
Lucas made the Fetts an integral part of larger machinations of the saga, which was kind of his way of throwing the fans who hated The Phantom Menace a bone. It's easy to overlook this now, but Jango Fett versus Obi-Wan Kenobi was a huge deal in 2002's Attack of the Clones.
That film gave us a little-kid version of Boba Fett, which, honestly, brings us back full circle. In Clones, Boba Fett saw his father Jango murdered by Mace Mindu in front of him. This single scene suddenly created a huge backstory for the silent bounty hunter fans had loved since 1980. Like it or not, Clones humanized Boba Fett and made his story parallel to Anakin's. The difference being, Anakin was saved by the Jedi, and Fett's life was destroyed by them.
If you track Boba Fett's canonical biography from Attack of the Clones forward, some of his more merciless activities in the '90s cease to exist. Essentially, the character of Boba Fett was overwritten by the prequels and The Clone Wars. Sure, he was still a criminal and a killer, but he wasn't as one-note as he'd previously been. That said, other than his origins, the consequences of Boba Fett's humanization were never really explored. Yes, he appeared as a pissed-off tween in The Clone Wars, but that's about it. Jango and Boba's connections to "real" Mandalorians have always been shady.
According to real canon — and the Mandalorians we met in The Clone Wars — Jango was not a Mandalorian, and only wore Mandalorian armor. But everything about bringing Boba Fett back to a series calledThe Mandalorain seems to suggest that the Fetts actually do have a legit claim to Mando heritage.
This is why Mandalorian Season 2 could be a redemption story for Boba Fett. Din Djarin has proven that it's possible for a ruthless Mando to actually be a pretty good person. Relative to Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, Boba Fett's crimes are fairly small. Plus, because Boba saw the Jedi kill his dad, it's also reasonable that he saw Yoda lead the Clone Army into the Geonosis arena.
So, if Boba Fett meets Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian Season 2, he's going to have strong feelings about the young Force-sensitive child. What he does next could change the way we think about the number-one hired-gun in Star Wars history. Again.
The Mandalorian airs new episodes on Fridays on Disney+.