Boba Fett's First-Ever Appearance Actually Wasn't In Star Wars Movies Or TV

Who thought to call it Star Wars Celebration, and not The Boba Fête?

At last recount, the character of Boba Fett was one of thousands of clones extracted from his father, Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), in "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones." Boba's childhood wasn't a happy one, however. The kid was present when an army of lightsaber-wielding Jedi attacked, and he got to witness Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) decapitating his father. As an adult, Boba Fett would become a bounty hunter, fall in with criminals, and eventually be fed into the mouth of an awaiting Shai Hulud on the distant planet of Arrakis Tatooine. Many years later, Boba Fett would be seen climbing out of the sand worm's mouth and starring in his own TV series

In terms of "Star Wars" production, Boba Fett (Don Francks) first appeared in an animated sequence of the hardly beloved 1978 "Star Wars Holiday Special." He would also have small roles in "The Empire Strikes Back" (his first live-action appearance) and "Return of the Jedi." Over the years, "Star Wars" fans latched onto Boba Fett, expanding his myth in ancillary "Star Wars" media and bolstering his importance in the franchise. By the time "Attack of the Clones" came around, he was just as important to certain fans as a Darth Vader or a Princess Leia. 

This may come as a surprise to even Boba Fett's biggest fans, but his first proper public appearance wasn't on the big screen, or even on TV. As revealed in the Disney+ documentary "Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett," he first appeared at a parade for the San Anselmo Country Fair in September of 1978.

Super Troopers

Boba Fett's life as a fan favorite likely has little to do with his character and everything to do with his design — he has only five lines in two movies, and one of them is "Aaaah!" Something about his helmet made people excited to see what he was capable of. As "Under the Helmet" points out, Boba Fett's costume was originally designed to be a pure white suit of armor worn by a class of soldiers that George Lucas wanted to call Super Troopers (no relation to the Broken Lizard feature film). 

Fun trivia: During the screen test, editor Duwayne Dunham wore the costume and sported a "Star Wars" bath towel as a cape. Budget issues prevented the building of a hundred Super Trooper costumes, so George Lucas repurposed the costume to serve as a singular bounty hunter. The white costume was painted, and Boba Fett was born.

The making of the Boba Fett costume happened to coincide with a public fair in Lucas' own hometown. It was September of '78, and Lucas wanted to contribute something fun for the locals in San Anselmo. He dressed up one actor as Darth Vader — in the screen-used costume, incidentally — and Dunham put on the Boba Fett costume and the two of them walked down the main drag waving to kids and signing autographs. 

In "Under the Helmet," Lucas pointed out that the audience reaction, in retrospect, kind of served as market research. People responded so positively to the costume, that it became important to include it in the movie. Boba Fett became the bounty hunter that tracked down Han Solo and froze his body in a block of stone. Boba Fett exits "The Empire Strikes Back" with a hero in his captivity. 

I knew Boba Fett before he was cool, man

If you were one of the attendees of the San Anselmo County Fair parade in September of 1978, and you managed to get Boba Fett's autograph, find the slip of paper, have it framed, and call Sotheby's.

"The Star Wars Holiday Special" would air on November 17, 1978, a month after Boba Fett's official coming out at his own personal debutante ball. The presence of Darth Vader denoted that the new character was "Star Wars" related, but no other explanation was given. There was no narration, no pamphlets, and no scripted public performances giving any kind of backstory to Boba Fett. The best one could say is that he and Darth Vader were friends or colleagues. "The Empire Strikes Back" would hit theaters on May 6, 1980, and the character would finally be put into a broader context for an audience. Well, an audience larger than the one for the "Holiday Special." 

One can imagine being the kid who met Boba Fett before he was ever even in "Star Wars." Those kids are the original "Star Wars" hipsters. "I met Boba Fett before he was cool." 

As the years passed, Boba Fett's armor became something more than a disused Super Trooper costume, and it was eventually repurposed to be a vital part of the order of Mandalorians.

Boba Fett's explosion in popularity is emblematic of the way "Star Wars" fandom tends to operate. Fans, after watching the films 100 times, came to place importance on every single tiny detail in the movie, no matter how incidental. New movies and TV shows would later be based on quick throwaway lines of 1977 dialogue or minor background characters. 

Eventually, it will all be mapped out.