How The Mandalorian Redeemed Boba Fett

Once a minor character with barely any lines, Boba Fett has become a core part of the "Star Wars" saga — thanks in no small part to the fans who fell in love with the mysterious bounty hunter. The "Star Wars Legends" books, which are no longer canon, detailed Boba's escape from the Sarlaac pit and his subsequent adventures. He was also featured in the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which was spared from the Disney-era streamlining of the franchise and remains part of the current "Star Wars" continuity. 

When Boba's armor appeared in Disney+'s hit series "The Mandalorian," worn by a marshal on Tatooine, fans wondered if the new canon would give us some closure on Boba Fett. Instead of just closure, we got a whole new look at the character, and he was given a chance to both deepen his backstory and redeem himself. 

Sure, silent and mysterious dudes in armor are cool, but giving them a pathos and backstory is even cooler. "The Mandalorian" helped do what previous "Star Wars" entries couldn't do: make Boba Fett into a three-dimensional character.

The "Legends" of Boba Fett

The "Star Wars" universe has almost always been an expansive, sprawling thing. Prior to Disney buying the franchise, the canon was collected in a system called the Holocron, broken down into five varying levels of canonical authenticity. When Disney took over, the studio did its best to reshape the canon into a single, cohesive timeline — which meant leaving a lot of the Star Wars Extended Universe behind. This eventually became rebranded as "Star Wars Legends," and includes all non-canon entries, including the holiday special, video games, and more than 150 novels and short story collections. 

A handful of those novels and several of the short story collections featured tales of Boba Fett, one of the most feared and revered bounty hunters in the galaxy. The "Tales" series of short story compilations had two important Boba Fett stories. 

The first story, "A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett," was published in "Tales from Jabba's Palace" in 1996. It detailed Fett's experiences trying to survive in the Sarlaac pit and explained how he eventually got out by creating an explosion that broke him loose from the Sarlaac's grasp. The story is surprisingly gruesome for "Star Wars," describing in great detail how Fett is slowly being digested, the Sarlaac's stomach acid eating through everything but his armor. Fett survives, but he loses his left leg and uses a prosthetic leg in subsequent "Legends" stories. 

In "Tales of the Bounty Hunters," also from 1996, a story called "The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett" gave Fett a backstory and established his long-standing feud with smuggler and rebel hero Han Solo. The vast majority of this backstory was retconned in 2002 when "Attack of the Clones" was released, and Fett was given a new backstory as one of the clones of Jango Fett.

A Look at Baby Boba

Even though there were a whole slew of books that gave Fett a backstory and loads of fun adventures, it was almost all retconned in 2002 with a new origin story in "Attack of the Clones." Jango Fett, a Mandalorian bounty hunter, worked with the Empire and allowed them to clone him, creating the titular clone troopers. As part of the deal, he asked them to give him a cloned son who wasn't tinkered with genetically, but instead was simply a direct copy of Jango. The rising Empire obliged and we got a chance to see a very young Boba Fett alongside his father. He doesn't do much in "Attack of the Clones," but it at least establishes a new canon for him.

The only problem? The new canon has him following in the footsteps of the guy who was basically the biggest sellout in the galaxy, and then falling into a Sarlaac pit like someone in a YouTube blooper reel. The mystery of Boba Fett was gone, and he lost some of his cool. He was given an arc on the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," but he was still a child for most of it.

Thankfully, the folks behind "The Mandalorian" had a way to make Boba just as badass as we remembered, all while giving him significantly more depth as a character. 

Boba's Back, Baby!

"The Mandalorian" hinted at the return of Boba Fett with the season 2 premiere episode "Chapter 9: The Marshal," in which the self-appointed marshal of a remote part of Tatooine helps the titular Mando in his mission to protect Grogu and return him to the Jedi. The marshal, named Cobb Vanth and portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, wears armor that looks exactly like Boba Fett's. Since the new canon hadn't established any fate for him post-"Return of the Jedi", it was a great tease. 

At the end of the episode, we see a man who looks a lot like Jango Fett, unmasked in the desert sand. We soon discover that this man is indeed Boba Fett, and he wants his armor back. Disney made the brilliant choice to bring back actor Temuera Morrison, who played Jango in the prequel trilogy movies, since Boba is Jango's clone. It gives him an immediate familiarity to viewers, and brings the new canon full-circle.

Boba Fett remains a central character in the second season of "The Mandalorian," and we discover that he is a foundling Mandalorian, much like our hero (portrayed by Pedro Pascal). He is not a Mandalorian by blood, like Bo-Katan, but was adopted into the creed and is still very much a part of it. Because of this, Mando ends up giving Fett his armor back, and the two join forces to do some good in the universe despite their dark pasts. 

We don't get a ton of background information on Boba or his whereabouts between "The Return of the Jedi" and the events in the series, but we do get to see more of his grizzled but generally good personality. Morrison plays Fett with a world-weariness that fits his character's difficult life, without ever crossing the line into seeming washed up or past his glory days. 

Fett's return in "The Mandalorian" went so well that Disney approved a spin-off series, "Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett." That series will hopefully flesh out the character even more, because what we've been given so far is fantastic. A silent, gruff "Man with No Name" cowboy-style character is a lot of fun, but learning more about the man behind the mystery will help fans care about more than his cool armor. 

I love what "The Mandalorian" did to help fix the Boba Fett storyline retcons, and I hope maybe they can do the same for my other favorite masked character who didn't get enough screen-time, Captain Phasma. I mean c'mon, she has chrome armor – what's cooler than that?