Stuart here. I’m taking over Streaming Saturday for another week. Last week’s Boba Fett love-fest was a little more than I could take.
Disney+ proved once again that I was wrong with its new series, The Book of Boba Fett. I came down hard on Disney+ calling it a failure even before it came out. I also expressed doubts that they would be able to sustain viewership with just its old catalog. The streaming service has rolled out at least one major movie or series pretty much every month it’s been around, and some of them have really been very good.
But, I’m not here to talk about very good. I’m here to talk about Boba Fett.
A little bit about the bounty hunter
Boba Fett made his first appearance in an animated segment of the ill-fated Star Wars Holiday Special. In canon, he was referred to initially only as “bounty hunter” and his sole purpose was to capture Han Solo and turn him into the world’s largest refrigerator magnet.
For some reason, fans including Jake Buckler really dug Boba and his story became an ever-growing part of the Star Wars experience. He was the subject of several books and comics before seeing his history fleshed out in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. That film first featured Temuera Morrison as Boba’s father as well as the seed stock for every future imperial trooper.
The next Fett sighting took place during the last season of The Mandalorian, where Temuera Morrison played an older, wiser, scarred Boba and it was revealed that his Mandalorian armor wasn’t stolen so much as he had (sort of) earned it. That closed a hole in canon for those people who follow that sort of thing.
And now, Boba Fett stars in his own series where we see how he escaped hundreds of years of pain and suffering in the Sarlacc’s gut and took over for Jabba the Hutt. You may recall that Jabba perished in an S&M-related incident during Return of the Jedi.
Which brings us to where we are now.
Starting with The Mandalorian
I ended up liking The Mandalorian a lot for two reasons. Disney+’s first live-action Star Wars show wasn’t really science fiction. It was more of a western with lasers. I think the western genre has faded for good reasons, but there’s a lot to be mined from it today if it’s handled right. I think The Mandalorian did a great job of updating Sergio Leone’s “Man with no name” for a new generation, and deft writing and directing turned it into an enjoyable experience.
The other reason I liked that show was because there wasn’t a Skywalker in sight, at least until the end of season 2. My biggest complaint about Star Wars is that you have this whole galaxy and the stories keep revolving around the same three people. It’s a disservice to the whole concept. Finally, you see a story about someone who’s never met a Skywalker. I was ok with that show bringing in Boba Fett for two episodes because it seemed natural. But I wasn’t completely on board with basing a series on yet another Skywalker-adjacent minor character.
My review of episodes 1 and 2
I’ll admit that the two episodes so far have been really excellent. Robert Rodriguez is an undervalued gem in the filmmaking world and he does a great job of telling a story here. He doesn’t rely on special effects and you don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars minutia to understand it. A 5-minute primer on Boba, like what I posted above, is more than enough.
The Book of Boba Fett continues the western motif set by The Mandalorian. It shows both Boba as a maturing warlord and shows his transition. Older fans will appreciate that Temuera Morrison, 61 years old, does his own stunts. Although the character is at most a year older than he was in Return of the Jedi, you don’t really care that suddenly Boba is about 35 pounds heavier and 35 years older. That’s a tribute to both Morrison and Rodriguez.
Both episodes shown thus far have been tightly plotted, beautifully shot, and made good use of prior footage from older Star Wars movies. Not only that, by showing us a different side of the Tusken Raiders, one of Star Wars’ earliest alien species, the show rights a very old wrong.
George Lucas’ original Star Wars called the raiders “Sand People” and played on established white-supremacist tropes to depict aboriginal natives as uncivilized monsters. Star Wars Episode II showed them as dark and sinister terrorists. The Book of Boba Fett finally shows the raiders as compassionate and civilized when they can be. They have different values than most humanoids but they aren’t monsters. Some may call this a revisionist snowflake move but I think it’s the right one.
So Buckler was a little right…
But I still don’t think he was right enough for it to go to his head. This show isn’t half bad. Watching it reminds me of classic cinema in a way that you don’t see a lot. But all in all it’s still an unnecessary addition to the Star Wars mythos, one that relies too much on its ties to the Skywalker clan for my taste. I’d like to see some other cultures please, and let’s leave the Skywalker stuff behind.