For over forty years, Boba Fett was a character that every fan put into one of two categories. The first was that the armored mystery man was a do-nothing who dies a chump’s death. The second was a near-fanatical obsession with the character because he looked cool and the mystery allowed him to be a gunslinging, cold-blooded badass. Both are valid, and yet neither is true any longer.
The Book of Boba Fett is changing all of that. The legend of Fett is being reborn, both on-screen and in the hearts and minds of fans.
The Boba Fett that fell into the Sarlacc pit is not the same one who emerges from it. His old self has been burned away in the same way that he burned his way through the Sarlacc. The wounds to his flesh protest this fact. (Star Wars also has a strong connection between death and fire across its narrative, from Qui-Gon Jinn all the way to Anakin Skywalker.) As he emerges, covered in the fluid from the Sarlacc’s innards, it is as if he is coming out of the womb and is covered in embryonic fluid. But this birth, like his original birth, is unnatural. His hand comes out first as if we are watching a zombie Star Wars movie. Fett claws his way out of his tomb and, right as it seems the legendary figure will rise into a hero pose, he collapses and says, “I can’t.”
Which is spot on, of course. He can’t continue on, for his history has burned and scarred him too much. Just in case he didn’t want to do so himself, the Jawas come in and literally strip him of his identity by taking his armor. The Boba Fett we knew is gone. He is no longer protected by his legend, both in the galaxy and in our understanding. In his place is a man in a white jumpsuit, symbolic of his lack of identity and belonging.
After numerous trials, Fett is handed water by the chief of the Tusken tribe that imprisoned him. Boba Fett has proven himself worthy of a second chance and thus has been accepted into the tribe. He is a “foundling” in the way his father, Jango, was as a Mandalorian. Based on his appearance in the later timeline, this inclusion has become a part of his identity. As such, it will influence his decisions as a leader on the same planet.
Survival will also play an influential role in his regime. Although his armor is back and he reigns on the throne of Jabba the Hutt, Fett is not fully healed. The episode starts and ends with him in the bacta tank, which is apparently forcing him to come to terms with this evolution of his identity. It is reminiscent of the pods the clones were born in, furthering the rebirth narrative, but also reminds one of the tank that the unarmored Darth Vader is seen in in Rogue One. Without the armor, they both are vulnerable and rely on the protection of others. With the armor, they are strong. Does the armor make the man, then?
For years it did for one Boba Fett. Although stories around his youth exist, the man in the armor was still too much of a mystery to definitively judge. This new series is clearly setting up a revolution for Fett, one that will look at this old character while also making him something new. As it regards the survival of the saga and continued passing down from generation to generation, this is an essential element. Fans who have loved Boba Fett, fans who have maligned Boba Fett, and fans who never knew about or cared about Boba Fett are all being fed. But, unlike the Sarlacc, this story won’t take 1000 years to digest.