The HoloFiles

The History of Boba Fett

By Josh Bate

As 2021 came to a close, a new chapter in the Star Wars galaxy arrived in the form of the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett. Starring Temuera Morrison in the title role, the latest Disney+ series features a character engrained deep in the history of Star Wars, despite having just four lines of dialogue in the original trilogy and not having a starring role until now (and not to forget his comedic “death” in Return of the Jedi). While it’s hard to chronicle every part of the history of a character so iconic, here are the most important beats of Boba: From his beginnings in the Star Wars Holiday Special to The Book of Boba Fett and everywhere in between. Here’s the story and history of Boba Fett.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Holiday Special is famous for many reasons among Star Wars fans, including the fact that a character as iconic as Boba Fett made his first appearance ever in the episode. The majority of the special was live action, but Fett appeared in an animated segment, sporting a blue and white armor derived in part from concept artist Joe Johnston’s initial ideas for the look of the character. Boba also carries an Amban phase-pulse blaster in the special, a weapon later used by Din Djarin in The Mandalorian, one of many long-standing legacies of the episode.

His First Kenner Action Figure

Boba Fett became even more of a sensation amongst the growing early fandom of Star Wars when Kenner released the first action figure of the bounty hunter. Unlike the toys for A New Hope, Fett’s first figure was exclusively part of a mail-in program, meaning that there were significantly fewer of these toys even at its peak compared to most Star Wars merchandise. Dave Filoni himself, an executive producer and writer on The Book of Boba Fett and who helped bring the character back in The Mandalorian Season 2, spoke in 2020 about his participation in the mail in program, becoming one of the lucky few to get the toy. If Filoni still has it, then he could be in for a big pay day, as current predictions state that there’s only a few dozen left in the world, some of which are not in great condition, and the last to go on the market was put up for $225,000.

Boba and Vader at the San Anselmo Country Fair Parade

The Holiday Special is often stated as the first appearance of Boba Fett, but the character actually made one appearance that predated the episode. In September of 1978, a few months before the Special, Boba Fett marched with Darth Vader at the San Anselmo Country Fair Parade, equip with his full green costume that would become iconic. Interestingly, the man in the suit was Duwayne Dunham, the assistant director of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (who also worked as an editor several iconic projects like Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet). Dunham spoke about his experience in the suit that day, telling

“What I remember about that day is it was incredibly hot. I’m not just talking about the suit, I’m saying that day in San Anselmo was really hot. It could have been 100 degrees. I think we were at the head of the parade. And Vader, he stands out. I don’t know what people thought of me. Nobody knew about Boba Fett at that point. I remember telling [producer] Gary Kurtz: ‘Gary, I gotta get out of this suit or I’m going to pass out!’”

Dunham also spoke of his initial impressions of the character:

“Everybody had high, high hopes because Boba was such a cool-looking costume. Outside of Vader, it was the best. The character evolved…the all-white [version] was just another stormtrooper, a supertrooper. But as the character evolved, when he got painted…it was so cool. But everyone had high hopes. I was around George all the time and would hear all the conversations [so] I was looking for another character kind of on the level of Han Solo. But for some reason it just didn’t pan out as George had imagined, and then came Jedi, it was “throw him in the Sarlaac pit!” We kinda mounted a protest saying “You can’t do that to Boba Fett! He’s deserving of more!” But they threw him in…and as you know, fans have never let him die.”

Fans certainly didn’t let Fett die.

The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi

Fett appeared in The Empire Strikes Back as his first mainstream appearance in the iconic armor, and became forever associated with the imprisonment of Han Solo in Carbonite. In the second of the trilogy, Fett only had 6 minutes and 32 seconds of screen time, with only four lines that included the famous “He’s no good to me dead”. Fett had even less screen time in Return of the Jedi, with a death that fascinated, angered, and intrigued fans for decades after. Despite rumors that George Lucas wanted to kill off the character to make a point to fans who latched onto someone who was essentially a background player, the maker himself countered this in the DVD commentary for Return of the Jedi. Lucas stated that if he knew how popular Fett would become, he wouldn’t have killed him off in that manner, instead opting for something more thrilling and monumental. In the build up to Attack of the Clones, Lucas contemplated going back to film a scene showing Fett escape the Sarlaac Pit to add in in Return of the Jedi, but ultimately decided against it.

Special Editions

As many fans know, Lucas retroactively changed the Original Trilogy to add improved special effects, improved audio and sound quality, and the occasional new scene. One of these new scenes was Fett appearing in A New Hope after Han talked with Jabba, as he’s seen walking past the camera and coming into focus for a few seconds. In 2004, Lucas again made changes, this time replacing original Boba voice actor Jason Wingreen with Temuera Morrison.

The Clone Wars

Daniel Logan played Boba in Attack of the Clones, and later reprised his role in several episodes of The Clone Wars. One more memorable moment for Fett in the series was his attempt to kill Jedi Mace Windu, who decapitated his dad in the Battle of Geonosis. In the animated series, Fett befriends Aura Sing (before being betrayed), and also crosses paths with Cad Bane. In a planned arc for the original version of season 7 of The Clone Wars, which was scrapped as the show was cancelled, Fett was shown to kill Bane in a western style shootout, as Dave Filoni showed at Star Wars Celebration. Will he and Cad Bane reunite in The Book of Boba Fett?

The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian marked the return of the iconic bounty hunter. First shown in season 1, Boba rescues Fennec in the desert. We didn’t see his face, but fans immediately guessed that it was Boba due to the sound of his walk alone.

Season 2 is when he properly arrived, first at the end of Chapter 9, watching Mando speed away with his armor on Tatooine. In Chapter 14, he appears on Tython, first an enemy but then his true morals come out; he stays loyal to Mando and vows to help rescue Grogu. He appears in every episode in the rest of the season from there on out, and takes the thrown as Crime Lord in the post credits scene of the finale.

The Book of Boba Fett

After all these years, Boba is finally in the spotlight. Without spoiling too much from the first two episodes for those who haven’t seen it, the series balances Boba as a Crime Lord with his time living with a Tusken Raider tribe. And writer Jon Favreau seems pretty excited to work with the character again:

“We’re digging really deep in the toy chest and pulling out the action figures that people were always curious about and were not quite in the center frame, but have a lot of potential.”

Dave Filoni also said something similar:

“These are the [action figures] you got. Your older brothers have had ‘good’ ones. Somehow you got Boba Fett. And if you have Boba Fett, you could always tell a good story.”

The most exciting thing is that his story doesn’t end here. Rather, he seems set to continue for years to come.

Images courtesy of Disney and Lucasfilm

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