Does The Boba Fett Show Have A Boba Fett Problem?

Let me start this by saying I get just as frustrated as many of you by a lot of the hot take articles that appear around popular movies and shows, especially when those takes are working off of limited information. Like, for instance, only having seen the first episode of a show and condemning the whole thing before the rest of the episodes air.

I want to make it clear that's not my goal here. However, there was a narrative decision made in the very first episode of the Disney+ series "The Book of Boba Fett" that I'm trying to work out for myself, and I figured there may be some value in digging into that decision and what it might mean as the show goes forward, for good or ill.

The topic at hand is character growth, ladies and gentlemen, and I'm not exactly sure where Jon Favreau, Robert Rodriguez, Dave Filoni, and the rest of the creative team behind this show are taking Mr. Fett.

That's normally a good thing. We want to be surprised by storytelling! Not seeing a character's path right at the top of their story keeps things fresh and allows for left turns and surprises down the line. However, there is a thin line between being purposefully ambiguous and starting off by painting your title character into a corner.

If the pilot episode is anything to go by, "The Book of Boba Fett" tracks the infamous bounty hunter taking over organized crime on Tatooine shortly after retrieving his armor set from Din Djarin. The character of Boba Fett as glimpsed on "The Mandalorian" was threatening, yes, but also a man of honor, and that's what he seems to be at the beginning of his spin-off.

What's sticking out to me isn't that Fett is a moralistic gangster as he sits on his throne in Jabba's former palace — it's that the character is seemingly portrayed as having always been this way.

A Changed Bounty Hunter

The pilot episode is riddled with flashbacks which give us some glimpses at a younger "Attack of the Clones"-era Boba Fett mourning the loss of his father, Jango. But most importantly, it shows us what happened to Boba Fett after getting knocked into the Sarlacc pit in "Return of the Jedi."

After being robbed of his family armor (curse those little Jawas with their sticky fingers), the nearly dead bounty hunter is picked up by a tribe of Tusken Raiders and held prisoner. In this flashback, there's not much of the Boba Fett I remembered from "Return of the Jedi." Yes, this guy can take a beating, but I'd never have pegged him to be the type that would stick his neck out for another random prisoner, or spare the younger Tusken Raider who has been so gleefully tormenting him.

In short, there is no humbling of Boba Fett here. I could totally buy him falling in with the Tusken Raiders and having a kind of "Dances with Wolves" transition from killer to stoic warrior, but it seems like Boba always had that nice guy in him.

What is Boba Fett's Arc Going to Be?

There could be a generational disconnect here. I'm more than willing to admit that my favorite portrayal of this character is the mysterious bounty hunter that's brave enough to sass Darth Vader about mishandling his merchandise. Most "Star Wars" fans nowadays are probably more familiar with his portrayal in the prequels and his animated appearances than as the striking figure from the original trilogy who was heavily inspired by Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name films.

Boba Fett's a much more complicated character if you've seen him pop up in "The Clone Wars." He spends that time looking to get revenge for the death of his father by attempting (many times) to kill Mace Windu. But he's also still just a kid, and is seen wrestling with a lot of the heavier demands placed upon him by the older bounty hunters he had fallen in with.

I absolutely love that Boba Fett isn't coming into his new role as crime boss just slaughtering everybody left and right, but I'm kind of perplexed as to why he was portrayed as being so kind-hearted in these post-"Return of the Jedi" flashbacks. Even Mando has to go from ruthless bounty hunter only interested in upgrading his armor to big-hearted adopted daddy to Baby Yoda. That's a significant arc. What is Boba Fett's arc going to be? He goes from guy who doesn't want to fight to ... guy who doesn't want to fight?

The only thing I can see happening that gives Fett any kind of growth at all is a darker path than I expect to see from a Disney+ "Star Wars" show. It feels like the only way the character changes at all is if he gets more ruthless, not more kind. That's the Michael Corleone from "The Godfather" route or Walter White from "Breaking Bad" path. Would Disney go that far? I doubt it, but who knows?

Again, it's silly to pass any kind of broad judgment with only one episode under our belts, but it's a worry I have as someone who is pretty much the target audience for this show. Right now, "The Book of Boba Fett" feels like a lesser version of "The Mandalorian" instead of its own unique thing, and I hope the coming episodes change my mind on that.