One of the most feared bounty hunters in a galaxy far, far away, Boba Fett became a fan favorite as soon as he appeared. Well, not quite that soon. The bounty hunter’s first appearance in Star Wars came in 1978’s infamous ‘Star Wars Holiday Special.’ Fortunately, the animated segment ‘The Faithful Wookiee’ that introduced him – the first Star Wars cartoon – is better regarded than the rest of the festive feature, but it wasn’t a promising start.
There was something about this bounty hunter, though. Unlike other characters, and yes, that sadly includes Chewbacca’s son Lumpy and father Itchy, Boba Fett’s fame had only just begun.
Boba Fett made his live-action debut in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ just over a year later, but he was quite different in the flesh. His costume, the animated version of which had been based on concepts for the film, was muted, and he was a lot less active, even if he was more effective. Even so, the uncommunicative character, decked out in battered armor, a green serape, and a helmet he never removed captured fans’ imagination.
Boba Fett must have been inspired by the Imperial plot of his cartoon debut when he was strangely talkative. He only had four lines in the original trilogy, all of which came in ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ He only managed a high-pitched scream as he was unceremoniously thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon in ‘Return of the Jedi.’ Consigned to a slow death in the stomach of a Sarlacc that took a leisurely 1000 years to digest its victims, that was the last we saw of him.
Only it wasn’t. The bounty hunter’s fame only grew in the Star Wars Expanded Universe of books, comics, video games, and more. By the time of the prequel trilogy, he earned a tragic backstory. In ‘Attack of the Clones,’ we learned about young Boba’s origins and how he was motivated to a life of bounty hunting.
Fans just won’t let Boba Fett go, and his greatest hour might be yet to come. ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ will see him return in a series of his own on Disney Plus in December 2021.
What is ‘The Book of Boba Fett’?
‘The Book of Boba Fett’ will catch up with the fan-favorite after ‘Return of the Jedi‘ as he sets about taking over Jabba the Hutt’s underground empire from Bib Fortuna. It’s quite a turnaround for a character who should still be dissolving under the Tatooine desert. But this isn’t the first time Boba Fett’s been shown to have survived those events. Over the years, several stories have offered up explanations for his escape, although it remains a blank canvas. Those stories were swept under the non-canonical Star Wars Legends banner when Disney cleaned up Lucasfilm continuity in 2014.
Canonical proof of Fett’s survival didn’t come until the second season of Disney Plus’ ‘The Mandalorian’ when he was just one of the show’s jaw-dropping cameos.
The word Mandalorian first appeared in the franchise in early 1983, during Marvel’s Star Wars #68 comic book trip to the planet Mandalore, and Boba Fett remains that culture’s most famous member. Before the film series settled on Fett and his battered garb, the term was devised to refer to white-armored super shock-troopers. Memorable additions to his armor like the helmet, chest armor, vambraces, and jet packs, hint at that original concept.
The Mandalorian has expanded on the concept, presenting the alternative truth to that now non-canonical comic storyline. It seemed inevitable that Fett would turn up at some point, although the show didn’t explain the bounty hunter’s survival half a decade before (‘The Mandalorian’ is set five years after the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’). However, the incident left Boba Fett scarred and without his distinctive armor.
We can only hope that The Book of Boba Fett fills the gap between the original Star War trilogy and The Mandalorian. If it does, it may pick up some of the ideas that Star Wars Legends have offered up over the past 40 years.
How did Boba Fett survive the Sarlacc Pit?
The only thing slightly more unbelievable than the huge cult following that sprung up around Boba Fett in the early 1980s was the embarrassing way he died. Falling on his face before Han Solo accidentally triggered his rocket pack and propelled the bounty hunter helmet-first into Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge and an inelegant fall to the Sarlacc. It may be controversial, but Fett’s death slightly improved in the 1997 Special Edition The Return of the Jedi, when CGI enhanced the sand beast.
It was still a miserable fate until it wasn’t. The earliest attempt to save the Mandalorian came shortly after ‘Return of the Jedi.’ Marvel’s Star Wars #81 was published in December 1983 and picked up just after the trilogy’s conclusion. It shows that the Sarlacc regurgitated Fett, who Jawas later found. Left with amnesia, the bounty hunter didn’t even recognize Han Solo later in the issue. It’s particularly throwaway fun – for everyone except Fett – when the Jawa Sandcrawler falls back into the Sarlacc pit at the end of the story while he’s still on board. Fan-favorite or not, he couldn’t catch a break.
In 1996, J.D. Montgomery contributed in ‘A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett’ to the anthology book Tales from Jabba’s Palace. Its subject was a strange but inspired explanation of Fett’s survival.
In it, the famed bounty hunter wakes in the Sarlacc’s digestive system, his armor badly damaged by the creature’s stomach acid. Oddly, he establishes a telepathic connection with the creature’s previous victims, enabling him to manipulate the Sarlacc itself. That, his jetpack, and a few well-deployed grenades allow Fett to escape the creature’s tentacles to Tatooine’s surface.
Dark Horse’s Dark Empire comic gave an alternative for the events that followed ‘Return of the Jedi’. Although, despite meeting Han Solo once again, it only confirms that Fett survived and not how he managed it. It makes you wonder if the Star Wars canon may decide it’s a mystery that’s far too good to solve. Boba Fett actor Temuera Morrison has suggested otherwise in the few comments he’s made about the upcoming series, saying, “we’re going to see his past and where he’s been since ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’”
While there’s currently no official explanation for Fett’s survival in the canonical Star Wars storyline, we know that Sarlacc’s slowly digest their victims and, thanks to The Mandalorian, just how strong Mando armor is.
The second series showed that Fett’s armor had fallen into the hands of Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth, a sheriff of Tatooine first introduced in Chuck Wendig’s novel Aftermath: Life Debt. That book – which is part of the revised Star Wars canon – revealed that the Sarlacc was severely injured by the destruction of Jabba’s sail barge. One exposed wound allowed the ever-resourceful Jawa to scavenge from its insides, retrieving Fett’s distinctive armor in the process. Could it be that, as suggested by the most far-fetched explanation in Star Wars Legends, the wound was made by Boba Fett’s escape?
‘The Book of Jaba Fett’ streams from Dec. 29, 2021, on Disney Plus.