If like me, you were an ’80s kid who became a teenager in the ’90s, you’re gonna love The Book of Boba Fett. In between the classic trilogy of Star Wars films and the prequel movies, there was a sea of Star Wars comics and novels exploring all nitty-gritty aspects of the faraway galaxy, including how awesome Boba Fett was. The new Disney+ series honors some of this vibe, creating a smaller, contained story seemingly just about how Fett got his mojo back. That said, if you loved watching The Mandolorian with your partner who was only casually interested in Star Wars, or your older kids who didn’t get every single reference, be aware of one thing: The Book of Boba Fett is cool, but it’s not a crowd-pleaser. The first episode has dropped and so far, this show is for hardcore Boba stans only.
Very mild spoilers ahead for The Book of Boba Fett, Chapter 1, “Stranger In a Strange Land.”
Although the basic status quo of The Book of Boba Fett was spun-out of Season 2 of The Mandalorian, the new series itself kind of relies on the audience being interested in what happened to Boba Fett in between Return of the Jedi and “now.” (Now, being the Mando era, which is five-years post Return of the Jedi, which account for that young Luke Skywalker cameo in 2020, but I digress.)
In Return of the Jedi, Boba Fett got lobbed into the Sarlacc Pit in the Tatooine desert, after Han Solo blindly knocked his rocket pack controls. If you were a kid, Fett’s death probably seemed comical, and even George Lucas described the scene as if Boba Fett had “a ballon on his back that got air out of it.” And yes, my fellow angsty ’90s teens, that silly death for Fett never sat right with our conception of just how badass he supposedly was. The moody 1991 comic book series Dark Empire casually brought Fett back to life, along with a cloned Palpatine, proving that, yes, contemporary Star Wars nostalgia doesn’t just raid the classic films, but like to ransack our old comics and video games, too.
Essentially, The Book of Boba Fett feels like an old Star Wars comic book, video game, or novel. The first episode contains no “Baby Yoda” or “Young Luke Skywalker” type of twist. The trailers have not been lying. This show is basically telling you: Here’s Boba Fett doing some stuff. In the old days of Star Wars media, this kind of thing was enough. The hardcore fans would read a book or comic just about Han Solo or Boba Fett, or ancient Jedi we’d never hear of. And in this way, The Book of Boba Fett succeeds hugely. It feels true to the spirit of the character, but, like his appearance in The Mandolorian, allows us to think about what an older guy would do in this kind of situation, dad bod and all. Boba Fett kicks some ass in this, but he also gets his ass kicked a little. He doesn’t say “I’m getting too old for this shit,” but if he did, it would be fine.
But that’s the rub with The Book of Boba Fett: so, far, it’s just about him. In the first episode of The Mandalorian back in 2019, the show took a hard left turn and revealed Baby Yoda — the ultimate twist. Before we’d seen Baby Yoda, the assumption was that Mandalorian would just be a show about a guy wearing Boba Fett-ish armor kicking ass. But, when Baby Yoda was revealed, the show became something else — the Baby Yoda show, and a series for anyone. Season 1 of The Mandalorian proved Star Wars could be accessible again, while still making nitpicky fans happy. Countless people didn’t understand why Baby Yoda couldn’t be Yoda because they didn’t get the wonky Star Wars timeline, and the greatest thing was, they didn’t need to get it.
The Book of Boba Fett is not like that. Unless you’re totally interested in a post-credits scene from Mandalorian Season 2, or (like me) you read a bunch of Star Wars comics as a teenager, then there’s a very real chance this debut episode will leave you cold. I watched The Mandalorian with my non-Star Wars fan wife and she loved every second of it. I already know she won’t be interested in The Book of Boba Fett. I imagine I’m not alone in this thinking, and I don’t think it’s just because this show lacks a cute Baby Yoda.
The Book of Boba Fett is the opposite of The Mandolorian because, so far, it lacks an air of mystery. In the old Star Wars films, Boba Fett never removed his helmet, an affect which carried over to The Mandalorian. This allowed Mando to suggest that there was more to the story than what we saw. Obviously, some of this was literally true — we had plenty of questions about Mando and his origin — but what was more important was the feeling. The thrust of The Mandolorian, at least at first, created a very real sense of urgency. The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t have the same tension. Instead, it seems happy to give us pretty much all the answers we want right upfront. Here’s how Boba Fett escaped the Sarlacc Pit. Here’s what happened next, and here’s what’s going on now.
There’s a straightforward approach to the show that is refreshing for sure. If you already like Star Wars and Boba Fett in specific, the show will click. I could feel my inner 16-year-old punching the air. But, if you’re looking for another Star Wars series that feels like essential family viewing, The Book of Boba Fett might fall short. In Attack of the Clones, Boba Fett’s dad, Jango, said he “was just a simple man trying to make my way in the galaxy.” It’s a nice sentiment. It’s also dangerously low-key. If The Book of Boba Fett continues on the pace it’s on, it will be a decent show, just not a particularly exceptional one.
But, maybe that’s the point. In our old conception of Boba Fett, he was just a guy who was hired to do a job and then move on. Maybe the show is the same way. It’s doing its job. What more can we ask?
The Book of Boba Fett streams new episodes on Disney+ on Wednesdays.
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