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'Star Wars': Why Hopes for a Boba Fett Movie Won't Die

The spinoff has run aground at Lucasfilm, but will that stop fans from dreaming?
Courtesy of Photofest
The spinoff has run aground at Lucasfilm, but will that stop fans from dreaming?

Lucasfilm's attention is no longer on a stand-alone Boba Fett movie that was in development from James Mangold, but can that truly hold the Star Wars bounty hunter back?

The story initially broke on Twitter, thanks to Critics Choice Association journalist Erick Weber, who wrote, “Kathleen Kennedy just confirmed to me Boba Fett movie is 100% dead, 100% focusing on The Mandalorian.” (The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed the project is on hold for the time being.) While Jon Favreau’s streaming series — which focuses on an alien from the same race as Fett — likely played a part in the project’s shelving, the failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story also presumably played a role.

Despite the confirmation of Mangold’s departure and the hold on the feature, one part of Weber’s tweet requires some contradiction. Despite what Kennedy might have said — what she may have believed at the time, even — history has demonstrated that, sadly, nothing about Boba Fett is ever 100 percent dead at any point.

Mangold’s movie, for example, was going to be a resurrection of a once-abandoned project that was, at one point, scheduled to be the second of the Star Wars Story series following 2016’s Rogue One. Fantastic Four director Josh Trank had been hired to helm the movie originally in light of his success with Chronicle, only to be fired less than a year later following concern from Lucasfilm executives. In that respect, he was a trailblazer, being simply the first in a series of high-profile creative dismissals from Star Wars projects; for his part, Trank rejects the characterization that he was fired, saying he left as the result of a “personal decision.”

That Lucasfilm returned to a project that had already been nixed is a sign of the strange zombie-like quality that Boba Fett brings with him at all points. After his first big-screen appearance in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, Fett died in 1983’s Return of the Jedi — only to return multiple times in the next couple of decades; he was inserted into shots of the Special Edition for the original Star Wars: A New Hope in 1997, and then appeared as a child in 2002’s Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and multiple episodes of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. All told, he was far more important to the series after his death than before.

(For those looking for a metaphor about how surreally ubiquitous the character became, consider the retcon in Attack of the Clones that established that Boba Fett shared cloned DNA with every single Stormtrooper in the Clone Wars. He was, for a period, almost literally everywhere in the franchise.)

This busy life after death wasn’t only metaphorical: Before Disney and Lucasfilm rewrote the mythology of the franchise, Boba Fett literally survived his onscreen demise in Return of the Jedi when a series of novels and comic books established that he was so bad-ass that the alien who seemingly ate him couldn’t actually digest him, and so he went on to fight and hunt bounty for decades afterwards.

The strangest thing is, it’s unclear what Boba Fett did to deserve this lavish attention. Looking at it objectively, he’s a relatively minor character with little screen time in the original trilogy, who has less than 30 words total of dialogue across his two original movie outings and who first appeared in the much-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978. He’s little more than an errand boy in Empire, not contributing anything of note beyond collecting a frozen Han Solo from Darth Vader, and in Return of the Jedi, he’s so inept that he flies to his (seeming) death after someone accidentally hits his jetpack. He is, to be blunt, a cool looking idiot who somehow managed to capture the hearts of a million fanboys.

But that also feels like a summary of Boba Fett’s ability to survive. There’s nothing about his actions in his first two appearances that earned the love and longevity the character earned, but that love is exactly as nonsensical as the fact that he’s had two (apparently failed) shots at a solo movie despite the many different characters in the franchise, more than a few of whom are more deserving, or the fact that, in-story, he was eaten by a giant alien mouth in the sand only to fly out again years later because… well, let’s just ignore any pretense of logic there at all, really.

It’s this lucky streak — this cockroach-like ability to survive and thrive in fandom’s collective heart — that should give anyone pause before declaring that anything to do with Boba Fett is ever “100% dead.” At best, even if a body is presented for dissection, it’s 70, 80 percent, tops. Boba Fett survives, no matter the danger or the odds; that’s just what he does. No wonder everyone loves him so much.

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