Following the popularity of The Mandalorian on Disney+, Star Wars fans can expect a slew of new content, some of which, surprisingly, features old fan favorites. Before bringing back Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lucasfilm brought back Boba Fett, the mysterious original trilogy bounty hunter, and with him, generations of stories and expectations.
Boba Fett makes his theatrical debut in The Empire Strikes Back as a mercenary with few lines and an obvious notoriety, despite his appearance in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Despite the fact that he died in a humorous and untimely manner in Return of the Jedi, the lack of information about the galaxy’s greatest hired gun only led to fan ideas.
Following these expectations, and ahead of Darth Vader’s return on Disney+, Lucasfilm CEO and George Lucas apprentice Dave Filoni offered his thoughts on the character and why he disagrees with fans. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dave Filoni discussed why he believes Fett’s reputation has been exaggerated by fans.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Filoni described Boba Fett’s encounters with Vader, reminding audiences that Boba Fett “doesn’t capture Han Solo,” but rather “calls Darth Vader to capture (him),” pointing to Boba Fett’s cautious and reserved nature:
“Darth Vader is summoned by Boba Fett to capture Han Solo, but he fails to do so. ‘Come over and collect Han Solo, I found him,’ he shouts over the phone.”
Filoni says he never bought into the public assumption that Boba Fett could defeat Darth Vader; therefore, he wasn’t sad when Boba fell into the Sarlaac pit in Return of the Jedi since “the tale is not about him:”
“It’s amusing that you think (Boba Fett) defies Darth Vader. Is he capable of that? I believe he was hired, and when Vader says, ‘No disintegrations,’ he says, ‘…Okay.’ Even as a kid, the idea that Boba Fett falling into the Sarlacc pit never disappointed me because I always thought, ‘The story isn’t about him.”
Director and executive producer Jon Favreau recognized that Boba Fett “means a lot of different things to a lot of different people” when asked about his relevance to Star Wars fans.
“To many different people, Boba Fett is many different things. Boba Fett was a faceless, quiet, mysterious bounty hunter in my childhood. All we knew was that he was frightening enough that Darth Vader considered him a threat to Han Solo. Then, by the time you got to Boba Fett’s second film, Return of the Jedi, you had a completely new version of the character. He died after being thrown into the Sarlacc pit. People probably expected he’d live longer in that situation.”
What’s fascinating about Fett, and what has earned him such adoration from fans, is that the character’s identity and capabilities are first revealed through Darth Vader himself. In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader is so determined to find the Rebels that he summons reinforcements. The fact that the galaxy’s most feared villain refers to these bounty hunters quickly raises their prominence.
When Vader stops in front of him to announce, “No disintegrations,” Boba Fett’s stock rises even more, since it accomplishes two goals. For one thing, it implies that Vader has previously worked with Boba Fett, instantly enhancing his ruthlessness; and two, it leaves audiences to envision his brutality and dread for Han Solo, as his powers appear to be restricted by Darth Vader.
Where Filoni appears to differ from some fans is that he feels Boba’s success was due to his brains, and possibly even self-preservation, rather than talent. Filoni’s mindset is more in line with what spectators saw in The Book of Boba Fett, when the older bounty hunter-turned-crime-lord emphasized respect and building ties over cruelty.