Latching onto bit characters simply because they look cool
January 8, 2016 9:45 AM   Subscribe

WHO IS BOBA FETT? WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE PREQUELS - Noelle Stevenson (of Nimona and Lumberjanes awesome sauce) breaks down her theory of who Boba Fett really is.
posted by jillithd (45 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Exhibit A in "awesome things that happen when actual talented writers grab an incoherent mess of a plotline and play with it."

Also it will likely upset the more sexist Fett fanboys.

Win-win!
posted by emjaybee at 10:12 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Nope. Wrong.
THE SARLACC WAS REALLY FETT.
Think of it - a long-lived, intelligent apex predator knows a thing or three about survival, stalking prey and throwing off others.
Fett's introduced in Empire as working for Jabba, who has a floating barge near a sarlacc pit (ROTJ). It doesn't matter who had the costume beforehand, what matters is that it's now worn by a seedling.
Fett didn't "die" in ROTJ - anyone who knows botany will tell you it merged with its senior host and spat out the helmet just as a way of telling off Jabba ("no more favors - I held my end, and the failure was all yours!").
It's as simple as that.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Noelle gets points for the enthusiasm, but I've got to disagree with one her starting pronouncements, "being a badass (this is completely unfounded...." Last year I wrote up a defense of Boba Fett (and also a way to salvage the character), but regarding the former, I think it clearly demonstrates that Boba Fett is, indeed, a bad ass.

The short version: Fett is the only bounty hunter who Vader specifically identifies and tells him, "No disintegrations!" Likewise, Vader is not going to hire the most incompetent bounty hunters in the galaxy to find Luke, he's going to get the best. We already know then he's awesome. Next, Fett is the one who figures out Han's trick and tracks him to Bespin, so Vader can set a trap for Luke. Third, Fett talks back to Vader. How many people do that in the movies? Those who do are only very high ranking imperials and even their rank doesn't protect them from Vader's wrath. We can only assume then that Fett has garnered some kind of reputation with Vader, which unless it's absolute pity (not coming from a Sith Lord) must be based on his abilities and skills.

Truly, only Lucas' decision to humiliate the character for laughs in Jedi result in Fett being any lesser than fans want to believe.

Another issue with her post, unfortunately, is that it's premised almost entirely on the old invalidated Expanded Universe. As a think piece, it can exist, but it no longer has the strong foundation it had.

But...beyond those two points, I do kinda like the idea that Jango arranged for clones to fill in for him and his clone son. This would have to go against Clone Wars (part of the Disney Canon still), though, which posits that Boba Fett of Attack of the Clones was indeed the true Boba Fett.
posted by Atreides at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The main reason I and my childhood cohort venerated Boba Fett was because he had a fucking rocket on his back.

The action figure was obviously a favorite, but there was always that one kid who claimed he used to own the original version with the missile that you could actually fire, but then they outlawed it because some kid swallowed it or shot his eye out, or something. We all hated that kid.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:27 AM on January 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


Everybody knows that Boba Fett is Darth Vader's right-hand man.
posted by graymouser at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was a child, I played the Star Wars roleplaying game that existed back then (totally different from today's version). The sourcebook indicated that no one knew anything about Boba Fett; what race or gender or anything at all. And that was perfect.

And then the prequels came out and it was like, "Oh, he's just some dude from New Zealand." :/
posted by neuromodulator at 10:34 AM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


As a note, on Saturday, the actor who provided the voice (not the body) of Boba Fett, Jason Wintergreen, passed away. George Lucas in the blu-ray release of the Original Trilogy replaced his voice with that of Temeuera Morrison, the actor who played Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones.
posted by Atreides at 10:38 AM on January 8, 2016


The West End Games sourcebooks were like just the perfect amount of expanded-universe supplementary information about minor Star Wars characters. Before the Dark Times. Before the coming of Darth Kevin J. Andersonius.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Reading this article makes me realize that I remember way less about the prequels than I thought I did.
To which I say, "fuck yes, the whiskey is working."
posted by murphy slaw at 10:50 AM on January 8, 2016 [18 favorites]


Reading this post initially, I didn't honestly recognize the screen caps from the prequels. I am not entirely certain I've seen Episode II anymore!

(Not quite sure if that's something to brag about or be embarrassed about, honestly.)

But, what really has me excited is ... Is Zam Wesell NIMONA? (both the actual character in her lifespan and also quite possibly this theory is what seeded the original idea Noelle had for Nimona)
posted by jillithd at 10:51 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The relationship that post describes between Zam Wessel and Django Fett is quite similar to how Nimona and Lord Blackheart get along.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:55 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's really Lucas being tidy to the point of ridiculousness in his linkages within the story. Boba Fett is an interesting character because he's mysterious, cool, a cipher you can write a whole world of weird adventures onto. He is diminished tremendously when he's chained to the prequel character of Django Reinhardt Fett. Seeing him crying and holding his father's decapitated head in Revenge of the Clones is a moment that reduces Boba Fett in retrospect. In a whole galaxy, there should be dozens of characters who just don't have a key role in this whole epic story, and they only have a single, tangential intersection with the Skywalker family.

Anyway, the important thing about Boba Fett is that he's featureless and wears a mask, so it could be anybody in there. It'd be more interesting if he turned out to be a Dread Pirate Roberts. The guy who flies into the Sarlacc pit wearing Mandalorian armor is just one "Boba Fett" of several.
posted by graymouser at 10:56 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anyway, the important thing about Boba Fett is that he's featureless and wears a mask, so it could be anybody in there. It'd be more interesting if he turned out to be a Dread Pirate Roberts. The guy who flies into the Sarlacc pit wearing Mandalorian armor is just one "Boba Fett" of several.

Stevenson is way ahead of you.

Fast-forward to the original trilogy, where we meet Boba Fett as we know him. Who is he? Is he the real Boba Fett, the one perfect clone of Jango Fett? Is he the clone of the clone who only thinks he’s the one perfect clone of Jango Fett? Or is he someone else entirely? Jango’s Mandalorian armor could have fallen into the hands of anyone at any time. Even the name “Boba Fett” could be easily adopted as soon as the previous Boba Fett was dead, his armor up for grabs. A Dread Pirate Roberts of space, perhaps. We just don’t know!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:00 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


In Shadows of the Empire, the N64 game where you play as Dash Rendar, there's a level where the boss is Boba Fett and Slave (I or II, I can't remember) (IG-88, that robot bounty hunter is another boss). You have a jetpack, he has a jetpack, it was incredible. I remember playing through that whole game and I remember that Boba Fett fight better than most of the rest of it. Other than the super terrifying sewer level with the underwater boss with the tentacles that still creeps me out.

Her two assertions are mostly correct. He's definitely a badass (I hate that word) because he hangs out with Jabba and Darth Vader and has the respect of both. That's not easy. A bounty hunter would have to be pretty accomplished to manage that. This article then reminded me of Star Wars Bounty Hunter and now I need to go away because I've played too many Star Wars games and yet still haven't beaten KOTOR II. Which I will do now.
posted by Neronomius at 11:00 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


The current implications, as set up in Aftermath, an Expanded Universe book released in September of last year, does appear to run with a Dred Pirate Roberts idea. Fett's armor is found for sale by Jawas and purchased by someone who doesn't appear to be Fett, himself. So pretty much, someone else will don the Mandalorian armor. Don't know if they will assume the name, however.
posted by Atreides at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


My theory is similar to the dread pirate roberts but the armor is a curse to those who wear it.

The original Boba died years ago at the hands of one of his targets. It's not that surprising really, he was a relatively untrained kid who started bounty hunting as soon as he grew big enough to wear the suit. His killer assumed the identity to hide from the guys who placed a bounty on his/her head. The identity of Boba Fett is assumed and he starts to believe he's a total badass in these sweet threads. Of course he's not a total badass and one of his targets takes him down and the cycle repeats.

The various incarnations of Boba Fett are actually really bad at their job but you'd never know it. Stories of him cheating death and "disintegrating" his targets are in every cantina in every spaceport.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:28 AM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


>Seeing under the mask and getting a tragic backstory for your favorite mysterious masked asshole ruins the mystique.

She's talking about Boba Fett, but this is the prequels in eighteen words.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:30 AM on January 8, 2016 [18 favorites]


My theory is that Boba Fett is popular because, to date, he's the only character that's ever been overtly released and messaged out of context with and before the release of any other materials associated with the movie in which they first appear. Moreover, in his introduction(s) -- the action figure, the holiday special, etc -- the messaging was always very deliberately styled as, "This is a new guy that plays a huge role in the next movie." That's essentially the VO in the first toy commercial.

Contrast: The first time anyone ever saw Darth Maul was the trailer for TPM and/or other pre-release assets. It wasn't, "Yeah, there's a movie coming out, and while I won't tell you anything else, here's a new character."

So, it's not that Boba Fett captured some ineffable aspect of coolness. The audience was told he was cool. The audience wants him to be cool. Therefore, the audience will bend over backward to make him as cool.

In other words, Boba Fett is famous for being famous.

Boba Fett is the Paris Hilton of Star Wars.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


I'm enjoying this if only to read something written by someone with a deep attachment to Attack of the Clones.* It's a bad movie, part of a series of bad movies, but the nerdy backstory writing, connection drawing impulse has little to nothing to do with the quality of the fiction and it was fun to see that play out in something I've seen, but not really enjoyed. It's fun to read without attachment and just watch how the connection drawing unfolds.

*Also, her comment about seeing it as a kid made me feel old. It's weird that I'm already at a stage where stuff I enjoy is being made by people clearly young than I am.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:43 AM on January 8, 2016


As many have said, Boba Fett's cool largely because of the mystery. He's a well created character because we learn things about him through implication rather than being told it.

In the first scene:

-He's with a collection of presumably the best bounty hunters, so we know he's good.

-Of all of them, Vader picks him out, waves a finger in his face and tells him "no disintegrations". That tells us:
1. Vader knows his reputation well.
2. VADER of all people thinks Fett is really too trigger happy.
So by implication, Fett's done work for the Empire, and is really brutal.

-We don't see what species Fett is. But the assumption most people make is that he's human, since it's human shaped armor. This implies that Fett's not super strong, super fast, etc, but he's got cool gadgets and is presumably crafty. (Which is confirmed later when he's the only one who figures out how Solo got away).

It's a sign of good writing that rather than being told how awesome Boba Fett is, we get all this stuff about his character through implication.
posted by unreason at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Maybe he's just the only one Vader can boss around? Maybe IG-88 is the real bad ass? IG-88 is cool you guys.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:48 AM on January 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


As a note, on Saturday, the actor who provided the voice (not the body) of Boba Fett, Jason Wintergreen, passed away.

Personal anecdote time! I once worked at a fan convention in Seattle and met Jeremy Bulloch, who wore the Boba Fett costume. A few of us went to the hotel bar with him and he shared some anecdotes. Really nice guy. You can see his face in the scene where Leia is screaming "Luke, it's a trap!" He's the Imperial officer who uses Leia as a shield.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:51 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


4-LOM is way cooler. He's C-3PO from the darkest timeline.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


You can see his face in the scene where Leia is screaming "Luke, it's a trap!"

This scene is also the basis for my "Leia is a secret Mon Calamari" theory
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:53 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Heh. This all came about because Tumblr user sashayed was trolling obnoxious fanboys on her page, and it spiraled wildly out of control over the course of the week. So delighted that Noelle took it all to an even higher level of absurdity! You can see the whole escalation of outrage and nonsense through the #bobafettisalesbian2k16 tag on sashayed's Tumblr page.
posted by merriment at 11:56 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


IG-88 was the coolest to me back in the day. Boba Fett didn't make an oversized impression for whatever reason, but I loved IG-88.

Partially because droids, in the movies, were shown to be mostly obedient servants up until then. IG-88 was working independently and was obviously a killer. And partially because the action figure was hard to get. When I finally found one, I was the envy of the playground.
posted by honestcoyote at 11:57 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


The IG-88 figure always bugged me because I got it into my head at some point that its head looked like a cigarette butt.

I have no idea what this has to do with anything.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:59 AM on January 8, 2016


Well, TFA points out there was obviously a small Boba and a big Boba..
posted by k5.user at 12:34 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


(constant confusion lately if "TFA" means "The Fucking Article" or "The Force Awakens")
posted by jillithd at 12:40 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


i would give ANYTHING for the photo from the filming of return of the jedi of boba fett’s actor in the jabba’s palace set without his helmet on and he’s like a horrible out of shape 70s dad with glasses and a mustache to canonically be what boba fett looks like under the helmet
posted by odinsdream at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Bun E. Fett?
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:50 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm really glad someone else read and liked that graphic novel as much as I did! Jango/Zam tragic murderous love 4ever
posted by capricorn at 1:08 PM on January 8, 2016


By which I mean, I finished reading TFA now and I veritably enjoyed this theory.
posted by capricorn at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2016


This is brilliantly written, and I'm 100% behind lesbian Fett. Also, for anybody craving Boba/Vader interaction, check out Marvel's new (and New Canon) Star Wars line of comics, which are fantastic (particularly Kieron Gillen's Darth Vader).
posted by aedison at 1:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


i would give ANYTHING for the photo from the filming of return of the jedi of boba fett’s actor in the jabba’s palace set without his helmet on and he’s like a horrible out of shape 70s dad with glasses and a mustache to canonically be what boba fett looks like under the helmet

It's actually from the filming of the cringeable 1997 Special Edition material for ROTJ (the inserted shots of Fett hitting on Jabba's dancers, etc) so that guy's '70s dadness is even more out-of-place looking.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:40 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


True or not, this is a very interesting write-up.
posted by kafziel at 1:46 PM on January 8, 2016


I don't know if the specific photo is of Jeremy Bulloch but for what it's worth I met Bulloch at a con once and he was the absolute kindest person to little 10 year old fangirl me and my dad. I generally don't like posting pictures of myself on MetaFilter but I'll make an exception for this one on account of how great it is. (Not immediately visible but the T-shirt I'm wearing is one I made with an iron-on of a picture of Boba Fett.)
posted by capricorn at 1:55 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Partially because droids, in the movies, were shown to be mostly obedient servants up until then. IG-88 was working independently and was obviously a killer.

I hadn't noticed it before, but droids are disproportionately represented among the bounty hunters in ESB. That's interesting to think about, especially given the ways we see droids being treated elsewhere (e.g. restraining bolts). Aside from the Millennium Falcon's passengers and crew in the first movie, is there any other mixed group in the original trilogy where at least a third of the characters are droids?
posted by Gerald Bostock at 1:58 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's EV-9D9's weird droid torture chamber in Jabba's palace. It always struck me as incredibly cruel that gonk droids apparently have pain sensors in their feet.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:25 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


True, but Jabba's torture chamber, like the Jawa transport in the first movie, is specifically a place for gathering droids together. Presumably Vader didn't have any special reason for preferring droid bounty hunters. So it makes me wonder if there are a bunch of "liberated" droids out there who have dedicated themselves to lives of violence, enacting vengeance against a galactic society that has no place for them. Which would mean that 4-LOM and Zuckuss are basically Jamie Foxx and Christop Waltz's characters from Django Unchained.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 3:09 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Presumably Vader didn't have any special reason for preferring droid bounty hunters

Well, actually, I recall reading somewhere that IG-88 placed high on Vader's list specifically because he felt like he could trust mechanicals more than biological beings at that point in his life.

So it makes me wonder if there are a bunch of "liberated" droids out there who have dedicated themselves to lives of violence, enacting vengeance against a galactic society that has no place for them.

I already posted a link to the "Droid World" storybook in another thread...

Which would mean that 4-LOM and Zuckuss are basically Jamie Foxx and Christop Waltz's characters from Django Unchained.

Oh my god I love this so much. Comment flagged as fantastic. DISNEY PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


There should be a trilogy after the one currently in progress and it should feature (as the good guys) a robot revolution that does to the new republic what the rebellion did to the empire in the original trilogy.

moreover, I hold that R2-D2 has been working for the underground robot resistance since A New Hope; it's just that the robot resistance has made temporary common cause with the rebellion/republic while biding its time for the right moment to strike.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:04 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Lucas decided that a man of colour would be the greatest (non-Force supported) warrior in the galaxy and the model for some really cool soldiers. The Clone Wars cartoon demonstrated how much variety was available within the template, and even had a good Boba storyline. No problem with it, no desire to change it. And Lucas did it to improve the prestige of a minor character who'd received short shrift.

(Here I'm tempted to contrast with Finn, where TFA takes pains to show you how he doesn't know how to do things and also, let's use divide and conquer identity politics in that movie so the Black man is nice and non-threatening by not knowing how to do things so the other characters look cool and ultimately sacrifices his body to help a white character. Basically, 8 better fucking fix that.)

People seem to forget who the clones are. On my FB feed somebody wanted a white rando with a beard who shows up in ROTJ to be Rex from Clone Wars. Sorry, a white rando is not fucking Rex. Rex looks like Temuera Morrison with a beard. They all look like Morrison variants, and that's fine. That's amazing.
posted by mobunited at 8:58 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Boh-ba, is your father home?

Boh-ba, is your father home?
posted by ELF Radio at 1:36 AM on January 9, 2016


4-LOM is to C-3PO as HAL9000 is to IBM.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 3:39 PM on January 10, 2016


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