The Book of Boba Fett was always going to fight an uphill task. Only the second ever live-action Star Wars series — all seven episodes are now available on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — it arrived at the tail end of 2021, following two seasons of the beloved The Mandalorian. That’s two full seasons of Grogu, better known as Baby Yoda, carving a place in our hearts through instantly meme-able moments. Two seasons of a bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) kindling his paternal spirit, overcoming his dislike for droids, and searching for his place in the galaxy. And then, when The Mandalorian season 2 ended with an emotional goodbye for the two, it was The Book of Boba Fett — made by the same creators — that stood in the way, leading to a two-year gap between seasons 2 and 3.
To be fair, a subset of Star Wars fans has clamoured for more Boba Fett for ages. It’s essentially the reason The Book of Boba Fett exists. Boba Fett’s (Jeremy Bulloch in the ‘80s) enigmatic presence in the original trilogy — he had mere minutes of screen time before falling to his death — allowed audiences to imagine a whole world of stories around the character. Unfortunately, for the longest time, outside of books and comics that have since been declared non-canon, there was no room for that. Star Wars was a Skywalker-driven film franchise. Other characters just existed around them. In the prequel trilogy, Star Wars creator George Lucas did give us more Boba Fett by revealing that the famed bounty hunter had a “father” in Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison, now playing Boba Fett in the Disney+ series). And oh, he’s a clone.
But ever since Star Wars producer Lucasfilm came under Disney ownership — the entertainment giant bought it from Lucas for over $4 billion (about Rs. 29,896 crore) in 2012 — a standalone Boba Fett feature had been in the works. And it would’ve even happened, with Logan director James Mangold at the helm, had it not been for the critical and commercial failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Owing to that, the Boba Fett movie — and other “Star Wars Story” projects such as Obi-Wan Kenobi — were shelved. It took the success of The Mandalorian for Lucasfilm to reimagine them as Disney+ series. (Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Ewan McGregor returning in the title role, is also due in 2022 following The Book of Boba Fett.)
But oh boy did it turn out to be a miscalculation. The problems with The Book of Boba Fett were, naturally, manifold. On one level, this story has already been told — by the same people. It’s called The Mandalorian. After all, both are enigmatic bounty hunters who stem from the Mandalore race. The story of Din Djarin (Pascal) in The Mandalorian is what a Boba Fett movie could’ve been. Except by adding Grogu to the mix, and detaching from Star Wars lore (for one season anyway), The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau — also The Book of Boba Fett creator — was able to go to places no one had gone before, literally and thematically. With The Book of Boba Fett, he’s re-treading ground he himself has been to. Why put himself in that place?
Not that this can’t work. Star Wars has itself shown that, with writer-director J.J. Abrams mimicking the structure of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope on Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The Book of Boba Fett’s bigger fault is poor and lazy writing. The first four episodes, devoted to Fett’s character development, were entirely useless. The backstory was largely boring — all it did well was expand on the Tusken Raiders — and the present-day story moved at a humdrum pace. Stuck in one place (Tatooine), The Book of Boba Fett ground to a halt. It could have overcome that if it had something to say or show, but the episodes had little to offer. And when they ran out of Fett’s past and present, The Book of Boba Fett simply ditched him and switched over to Din Djarin.
That also gave new meaning to The Book of Boba Fett being described internally during production as The Mandalorian season 2.5, as the new Star Wars series literally became a bridge to The Mandalorian season 3. Frankly, it was a nonsensical move — does no one realise what this show is called? More than a quarter of The Book of Boba Fett had nothing to do with Boba Fett. Disney+ and Lucasfilm would’ve been better off just releasing those two Mandalorian-driven episodes as part of season 3. But by giving Mando his own episodes in someone else’s show, The Book of Boba Fett only served as further proof of how boring Boba Fett was. The new Star Wars series instantly became better the moment it left its title character. That’s not a good look.
The Book of Boba Fett also gave its leads — Morrison as Boba Fett, and Ming-Na Wen — very little to do. And Morrison being told to remove his helmet didn’t add much, when the Kiwi actor could’ve made the same impact by keeping it on. He doesn’t have a lot of expressions, is what I’m saying.
But even the best The Book of Boba Fett episodes had their own issues. Some typical Star Wars ones. Following Grogu’s departure with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) at the end of The Mandalorian season 2, everyone including I wondered how long Grogu would remain off-screen. After all, Baby Yoda was arguably the bigger star in The Mandalorian. But we didn’t even make it to The Mandalorian season 3 before Grogu’s (inevitable) return. The Book of Boba Fett also brought back Luke Skywalker, this time in broad daylight. Not happy with giving him a few minutes towards the end of The Mandalorian season 2 finale, The Book of Boba Fett gave Luke Skywalker a starring role in its sixth and penultimate episode.
Star Wars has a real problem with nostalgia. The nine-film Skywalker Saga wrapped up in the worst of fashions, too beholden to the past. And even though that saga is technically done, Star Wars writers keep finding new ways to exhume the Skywalker name. In the past five years, Hamill has returned to play Luke — in one way or another — in The Last Jedi, The Mandalorian, and now The Book of Boba Fett. Meanwhile, Hayden Christensen will reprise his role as Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader in two upcoming Star Wars series: the aforementioned Obi-Wan Kenobi opposite McGregor, and later Ahsoka — another The Mandalorian spin-off, from Star Wars veteran Dave Filoni — that follows Rosario Dawson as his former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Why can’t Favreau, Filoni and Co. leave them alone?
On one level, the problem lies with Lucasfilm itself — it wants to sell toys and theme parks that are heavily tied into the Skywalker era. That results in the Star Wars universe collapsing in on itself all the time. If George Lucas was good at one thing, it was at expanding the world. But everyone involved with Star Wars today refuses to do that beyond a certain point. While Favreau did well on The Mandalorian’s debut season in that regard, the second season felt like a cycle of just backdoor pilots for more Star Wars, from Ahsoka to The Book of Boba Fett. This was all supposed to lead into the “climactic” Rangers of the New Republic, though thanks to Gina Carano’s firing, that series is dead — and its ideas might become part of The Mandalorian season 3.
Ultimately, The Book of Boba Fett was the worst possible start to the expansion of — what I dubbed two Decembers ago — the Star Wars cinematic universe on TV. The Mandalorian had excelled with its barebone approach; The Book of Boba Fett needed Favreau to do more, and well, he failed. It showed the limits of Favreau’s storytelling abilities. And more importantly, The Book of Boba is further proof that Lucasfilm needs to broaden the talent base, not close down the hatches. The Star Wars universe is already plagued with this problem, the making of Star Wars shouldn’t fall into the same trap.
It’s the second time this has happened to Star Wars in recent times. After behind-the-scenes trouble on Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm went back to Abrams because of his capable handling of the franchise soft reboot The Force Awakens. He bombed. And now, Favreau has done the same after his success on The Mandalorian. Thankfully for Favreau, he can brush off this miniseries like it never existed — too bad for those couple of episodes in the middle. Good luck to Star Wars fans and guide creators on how they accommodate The Book of Boba Fett in their recommendations — and go back to doing what he’s good at with The Mandalorian season 3.
A section of Star Wars fans took issue with Boba Fett taking off his helmet too much on The Book of Boba Fett. Alas, that was hardly a problem in a show where everything went nowhere. At least Mando and Grogu are back together — we even got a couple of instantly meme-able Baby Yoda moments in The Book of Boba Fett finale — and are happily flying off into the distance away from Tatooine. Good riddance.