Boba Fett is a real character in the Star Wars series. In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he is a bounty hunter hired by Darth Vader and also employed by Jabba the Hutt. He was also added briefly to the original film Star Wars when the film was digitally remastered. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones establishes his origin as an unaltered clone of the bounty hunter Jango Fett raised as his son. His aura of danger and mystery has created a cult following for the character.
Boba Fett first appeared at the September 20, 1978, San Anselmo Country Fair parade. The character appeared on television two months later, animated by Nelvana Studios for the Star Wars Holiday Special as a mysterious figure who betrays Luke Skywalker after saving him, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 from a giant monster, only to be revealed as a bounty hunter working for Darth Vader. After his image and identity were revealed in the Holiday Special, costumed Fett characters appeared in shopping malls and special events, putting up "Wanted" posters of the character to distinguish him from the franchise's Imperial characters. He also appears in Marvel Comics' Star Wars newspaper strip.
The Empire Strikes Back features Boba Fett as the "next major villain" behind Darth Vader. Fett tracks the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City, where Vader captures its passengers and tortures its captain, Han Solo. Wanting to collect a bounty on Solo, Fett confronts Vader about whether Solo will survive carbon freeze. Vader promises that the Empire will compensate Fett if Solo dies; after Solo is determined to be alive, Vader turns him over to Fett.
Return of the Jedi features Boba Fett at Jabba the Hutt's palace where Solo's rescuers are captured, and he travels on Jabba's sail barge to the Great Pit of Carkoon, home of the Sarlacc, where the prisoners are to be executed. When the prisoners mount an escape he attempts to intervene, and ends up in a tussle with Luke Skywalker, but Solo accidentally ignites Fett's rocket pack, sending the bounty hunter falling into the Sarlacc's mouth.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones revealed that Boba Fett is an unaltered child clone whom Jango Fett raises as his son. Boba helps Jango escape from Obi-Wan Kenobi, but later witnesses Jango's decapitation by Mace Windu.
On February 6, 2013, Entertainment Weekly reported that Disney and Lucasfilm were developing a stand-alone film featuring Boba Fett which would take place either between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back or between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014. Boba appears extensively in the non-Star Wars canonical Star Wars Legends expanded universe of novels, comic books, and video games.
The young adult Fett book series released after Clones depicts Fett taking his father's ship and armor to begin his own bounty-hunting career. Some Expanded Universe stories released before Attack of the Clones depict other accounts of Fett's origins. These stories include him being a stormtrooper who killed his commanding officer; a leader of the fabled Mandalorian warriors; and Jaster Mereel, a "Journeyman Protector" convicted of treason. Karen Traviss' novel Bloodlines (2006), published four years after Clones, states that Fett seeded some of these "false" backstories himself.
Various video games and books depict Fett's work as a bounty hunter, for which he charges "famously expensive" fees and that he undertakes only when the mission meets "his harsh sense of justice." K. W. Jeter's Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy (1998–1999) depicts Fett as more communicative than in the films because the books' plots require Fett to show "an ability to convince people as well as kill them." Works such as Dark Horse Comics' Dark Empire series (1991–1992) describe Fett escaping from the Sarlacc. In another trilogy, after it describes him nearly killing the Sarlacc, it goes into detail about how Dengar, one of the bounty hunters hired to find Solo in Star Wars V, and featured in the series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, finds him and restores him back to health. He would have occasional run-ins with Han Solo and his family over the years, before fighting against the Yuuzhan Vong and becoming the leader of the Mandalorians. In the Legacy of the Force series (2006–2008), Jaina Solo asks Fett to train her to help her defeat her corrupted brother and ends up helping fight against Jacen's troops. Such media also reveal that Fett became a family man at one point, though he was forcibly separated from his wife after killing his commanding officer for assaulting her. His wife subsequently disappeared and was presumed dead, and their daughter blamed Boba for her fate, and began hunting him. Her own daughter, Mirta Gev, later sought Boba out and connected with her grandfather, while her mother was killed by Jacen Solo after he became Darth Caedus. Mirta later married a Mandalorian warrior, and Boba's wife was discovered to be alive, having been frozen in carbonite some decades previously.
Boba Fett appears in Star Wars: Battlefront II as a playable "hero" character, specializing in inflicting damage from a range with his blasters and rockets. He is voiced by Temuera Morrison.
Boba Fett appears in the Star Wars: Droids episode "A Race to the Finish", in which the Fromms hire him to help them get back at Jord Dusat, Thall Joben, Kea Moll and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2. He later turns on them after failing their request, deciding to accept Jabba's bounty on the Fromms as compensation.
Concept and development
Boba Fett stems from initial design concepts for Darth Vader, who was originally conceived as a rogue bounty hunter. While Vader became less a mercenary and more of a dark knight, the bounty hunter concept remained, and Fett became "an equally villainous" but "less conspicuous" character. Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie influenced Fett's design, which was finalized by and is credited to Joe Johnston. Norman Reynolds and the film's art department built the costume. Fett's armor was originally designed for "super troopers", and was adapted for Fett as the script developed. Screen-tested in all-white, Fett's armor eventually garnered a subdued color scheme intended to visually place him between white-armored "rank-and-file" Imperial stormtroopers and Vader, who wears black. This color scheme had the added bonus of conveying the "gray morality" of his character. The character's armor was designed to appear to have been scavenged from multiple sources, and it is adorned with trophies. A description of the character's armor in the summer 1979 Bantha Tracks newsletter catalyzed "rampant speculation" about the character's mysterious origins.
Despite two years of widespread publicity about Fett's appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, script rewrites significantly reduced the character's presence in the film. Fett's "distinctive" theme, composed by John Williams, is "not music, exactly" but "more of a gurgly, viola-and-bassoon thing aurally cross-pollinated with some obscure static sounds." Sound editor Ben Burtt added the sound of jangling spurs, created and performed by the Foley artist team of Robert Rutledge and Edward Steidele, to Fett's appearance in Cloud City, intending to make the character menacing and the scene reminiscent of similar gunfighter appearances in Western films. At one point in Return of the Jedi's development, Fett was conceived as being a main villain. Lucas also considered Fett fighting Lando during the sarlacc sequence.
The difficult thing with Fett was finding a worldview for him that permitted him to proclaim a Code — given the stark Evil that permeated the Empire, Fett pretty much had to be either 1) Evil, or 2) an incredibly unforgiving, harsh, "greater good" sort of guy. The second approach worked and has resonated with some readers.
Star Wars creator George Lucas considered adding a shot of Fett escaping the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, but decided against it because it would have detracted from the story's focus, instead leaving the task of "reviving" Fett to Expanded Universe canon. Lucas also said that, had he known Fett would be so popular, he would have made the character's death "more exciting." Lucas at one point considered depicting Vader and Fett as brothers in the prequel films, but discounted it as too "hokey." In continuing to develop the character in the prequel films, Lucas closed some avenues for expanding the character's story while opening others.
Film casting and production
Boba Fett is primarily played by Jeremy Bulloch in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Bulloch's half-brother alerted him to the role. He was cast as Fett because the costume happened to fit "as if a Savile Row tailor had come out and made it"; he did not have to do a reading or a screen test, and Bulloch never worked from a script for either film.
Filming the role for Empire lasted three weeks. The actor was pleased with the costume and used it to convey the character's menace. Bulloch based his performance on Clint Eastwood's portrayal of the Man with No Name in A Fistful of Dollars; similar to the Western character, Bulloch cradled the gun prop, made the character seem ready to shoot, slightly tilted his head, and stood a particular way. Bulloch did not try to construct a backstory for the character, and said later that "the less you do with Boba Fett, the stronger he becomes". Playing Fett in Empire was both the smallest and most physically uncomfortable role Bulloch has played; Bulloch said donning the heavy jetpack was the worst aspect of the role.
Bulloch spent four weeks working on Jedi. He was unaware of Fett's demise before filming began and was "very upset" by the development; he would like to have done more with Fett. Still, Bulloch believed killing Fett made the character stronger, and that his "weak" death makes fans want the character to return. Bulloch thinks a scene created for Jedi Special Edition in which Fett flirts with one of Jabba's dancers is not in keeping with the character's nature.
A younger version of the character is played by Daniel Logan in Attack of the Clones. Logan had not seen the Star Wars films prior to being cast as Fett, but he watched the original trilogy at Lucas' request. The actor had to rely on his imagination for the bluescreen filming.
Boba Fett was voiced by Don Francks in the Star Wars Holiday Special and in the Star Wars: Droids episode "A Race to the Finish". Although Bulloch wore Fett's costume in Empire and Jedi, John Morton filled in during one scene for Empire, while Jason Wingreen voiced Fett for Empire. His brief appearance in Hope was performed by Industrial Light & Magic creature animator Mark Austin; The character's appearance in the Special Edition footage of Jedi was performed by Don Bies and Nelson Hall. For the 2004 re-releases, Temuera Morrison replaced the character's original voice for the wider continuity purposes.
The character's voice in National Public Radio's Star Wars radio dramas was provided by Alan Rosenberg in The Empire Strikes Back and Ed Begley, Jr. in Return of the Jedi, Tim Glovatsky in the audio adaptation of Dark Forces: Rebel Agent, Joe Hacker in audio adaptation of the Dark Empire comics, Temuera Morrison for Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars Battlefront II and Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, Dee Bradley Baker in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Chris Cox in Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, Tom Kane in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Star Wars: Demolition and Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and Daniel Logan for Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Boba Fett (as an evil pig) is featured in the Angry Birds Star Wars episode entitled "Boba Fett Missions". In the Family Guy parody, "Something, Something, Dark Side," Boba Fett is played by the Giant Chicken.
Nerdcore rapper MC Chris' 2001 song "Fett's Vette" humorously describes Boba Fett's motivations and ruthless nature as he travels the galaxy collecting bounties to make payments on his car.
Boba Fett has appeared in two episodes of Epic Rap Battles of History, first in 2013's "Hitler vs. Vader 3" (voiced by Ray William Johnson), and again in 2015's "Deadpool vs. Boba Fett" (voiced by Peter Shukoff).
Reception and popularity
Boba Fett is a "cult figure" and one of the most popular Star Wars characters. In 2008, Boba Fett was selected by Empire magazine as the 79th greatest movie character of all time, and he is included on Fandomania's list of The 100 Greatest Fictional Characters. IGN ranked Boba Fett as the eighth top Star Wars character, due to his status as a fan-favourite and cult following. He personifies "danger and mystery", and Susan Mayse calls Fett "the unknowable Star Wars character" who "delivers mythic presence." Although Tom Bissell asserts that no one knows why Boba Fett has become so popular, nor cares why, both Lucas and Bulloch cite Fett's mysterious nature as reasons for his popularity. Bulloch, who has never fully understood the character's popularity, attributes it to the costume and the respect Fett garners from Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt. The initial Boba Fett toy, more than Fett's actual film appearance, might be responsible for the character's popularity; Henry Jenkins suggests children's play helped the character "take on a life of its own". Moran said Vader's admonition specifically to Fett in The Empire Strikes Back — "No disintegrations" — gives Fett credibility; he was interested in Fett because the character is "strong, silent, [and] brutal". Jeter says that even when Fett appears passive, he conveys "capability and ruthlessness". Bissell credits Bulloch for giving Fett "effortless authority" in his first scene in The Empire Strikes Back, using such nuances as "cradling" his blaster and slightly cocking his head. Fett's small role in The Empire Strikes Back may actually have made the character seem more intriguing. Logan, who was a Young Artist Award nominee for his portrayal of Fett, compares Fett to "that boy in school who never talks" and who attracts others' curiosity.
Bissell adds that Boba Fett, along with other minor characters like Darth Maul and Kyle Katarn, appeals to adolescent boys' "images of themselves: essentially bad-ass but ... honorable about it." This tension and the absence of a clear "evil nature" (distinct from evil actions) offer Fett dramatic appeal. Furthermore, Fett "is cool because he was designed to be cool", presenting a "wicked ambiguity" akin to John Milton's portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost and Iago in William Shakespeare's Othello. Bissell compares Fett to Beowulf, Ahab, and Huckleberry Finn: characters "too big" for their original presentation, and apt for continued development in other stories. Moran finds Fett reminiscent of the Man with No Name.
The San Francisco Chronicle describes Boba Fett fans as "among the most passionate", and the character is important to Star Wars fan culture. Boba Fett's popular following before the character even appeared in The Empire Strikes Back influenced Damon Lindelof's interest in developing Lost across multiple media. Will Brooker calls "superb" a fan's campaign to have Boba Fett unmasked as a woman. Fan parodies include Boba Phat, a cosplay "intergalactic booty hunter" created by David James.
Fett is one of the top five best-selling Star Wars action figures, and Boba Fett-related products are "among the most expensive" Star Wars merchandise. Fett was the first new mail-away action figure created for The Empire Strikes Back; although advertised as having a rocket-firing backpack, safety concerns led Kenner to sell his rocket attached. Gray called the early toy "a rare and precious commodity", and one of the rocket-firing prototypes sold at auction for $16,000 in 2003. In August 2009, Hasbro released a Fett action figure based on McQuarrie's white-armored concept, and Boba Fett as both a child and bounty hunter have been made into Lego minifigures. Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Trading Card Game includes several Boba Fett cards. Hallmark Cards created a Boba Fett Christmas tree ornament. In January 2015, an unopened Boba Fett Star Wars figure sold for £18,000 at auction in the UK, the figure was in factory fresh condition and did not have the packaging punched for hanging in a shop.
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