SPOILER WARNING: If you have been trapped in a Sarlacc pit for the past three months and have not seen all of the episodes of Season 2 of The Mandalorian, you may wish to complete the Kessel Run instead of reading further.
Short Appearances, But Long-Lasting Impact
The galactic bounty hunter known as Boba Fett, first appeared in the infamous Star Wars Christmas Special in 1978 as part of an animated segment. His first live-action appearance was in The Empire Strikes Back, played by the late Jeremy Bullock, with the character getting a few more minutes of screen time plus some digital retconning in an added scene in A New Hope. In total during his 6 minutes and 32 seconds on screen, he had four lines of dialogue consisting of 27 words. And 13 seconds of that is just an exterior shot of Slave 1.
Despite that short time, his character intrigued and fascinated fans. What exactly is a Mandalorian? Are they all bounty hunters? The novelization of Empire contained a throwaway line that they were “supercommandos” defeated by the Jedi during the Clone Wars. In the 80s and 90s, Marvel’s Star Wars comics and those published later by Dark Horse had various takes on Mandalorians including that the entire culture was one of a mercenary army fighting for anyone with enough credit.
The ongoing popularity of the on-screen character lead to an origin story buried in the prequel trilogy where it is revealed that he is a clone of a Mandalorian warrior named Jango Fett (played by Temuera Morrison) who similarly had a brief appearance on screen as himself, although he was… well… digitally cloned for those scenes where helmetless clones were shown on Kamino. And when Disney purchased Lucasfilm, the six movies became the sole source of canon for Mandalorians as the comics and novels were reduced to “legends” status. A new lore built through the comics published by Disney’s Marvel comics after they regained the rights from Dark Horse and appearances by Boba Fett and other Mandalorians in the animated The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels series also fleshed out the culture while introducing new fans. As a result, it is no surprise that fans have been hungering for a return of a favorite villain.
Big Screen Plans Sent to the Sarlacc
A few years back as the final Star Wars trilogy films were being filmed, Disney’s plan was to intersperse standalone films in between the releases. The first one, 2016’s Rogue One did well, while 2018’s Solo didn’t fair as well. It was the latter’s disappointing performance with the audience and box office, that lead the studio to suspend further such stories that same year. For years, rumors had been swirling about whether Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Boba Fett would be getting their own standalone film. Fans reported spotting Boba Fett wearing the non-Mandalorian helmet he wore in the animated The Clone Wars series in the background of a cantina scene in Solo. While easter eggs teasing upcoming films is more of a Marvel thing, there is a lot of cross-pollination among the teams.
However, the box office disappointment of Solo, resulted in the simultaneous confirmation of the fan rumors that a Boba Fett Star Wars Story had been in the works, but that it was also cancelled. It was to be written and directed by James Mangold who had helmed the Logan movie. Instead, it was announced that Kathleen Kennedy, the head of Lucasfilm, would be concentrating on a series for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service which would be launching in December of 2019.
When it was announced that a series entitled The Mandalorian would be among the first shows produced exclusively for the streamer, speculation again returned to whether it would star the only two Mandalorians to have appeared on the big screen – Boba Fett or his “father”, Jango. Over the following months, Disney slowly teased out that this was a new character whom, halfway through the season we would learn that he was named Din Djarin. To say that this flagship series of Disney+ was a monumental success would be an understatement. It no-doubt contributed to the streamer’s rapid growth of subscribers – subscribers who stayed after the last episode aired.
The success of the second season lead Disney to announce that there would be a third season of the show at its Disney Investor Day 2020 presentation on December 10 – a few days before the final episode drop. Along with this announcement of the Mando’s return in December of 2021, the Disney team announced seven additional shows including an animated series centered around Boba’s genetic brethren, the clone troopers of The Bad Batch and a spin off from The Mandalorian entitled Ahsoka which will follow the Jedi, played by Rosario Dawson as she continues to look for Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger. No dates were announced for most of the new shows, aside from a spread across 2021 and 2022 leading to the possibility of new Star Wars content nearly every week in the near future.
With Disney’s announcement of Season 3 still fresh in everyone’s mind as they watched the final episode of Season 2, “The Rescue” with Grogu finding a Jedi to train him, and the fulfillment of Din Djarin’s quest, the post-credit scene starring Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison returning as the clone of Jango) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) lit the internet up almost as much as the surprise cameo appearance just a few minutes earlier. Elation and confusion were present in equal measures with the big question being whether The Mandalorian was to become an anthology series with Season 3 to be entitled The Book of Boba Fett, or was Din Djarin, who was last seen with fellow Mandalorians Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackoff), Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks), Fennec Sand and Alderaanian marshal Cara Dune (Gina Carano) aboard Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Espinoza) captured light cruiser, somehow going to be drawn into Fett’s as-yet-unrevealed machinations? Given that Fett was accompanied by Fennec in the short clip, he certainly had to have returned to the cruiser to pick up the sharpshooter who owed him a life debt, so Din joining him, yet remaining off screen was not out of the question.
The confusion was laid to rest the following Monday when the show’s creator appeared on Good Morning America, the national morning show of Disney-owned network ABC. In his appearance, he confirmed that he would be personally involved in both of the previously-announced live action shows set in the same era as The Mandalorian; Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic, the latter theoretically centered around Cara Dune. But he also announced that The Book of Fett was not only filming before Season 3 of The Mandalorian, but that both would debut in December 2021. He also addressed why Fett did not appear in the Disney Investor Day presentation.
“We wanted to hold this back because we didn’t want to spoil the surprise during the big Disney announcement for all the shows.. and so they let me keep this one a secret”…. “This is actually separate from The Mandalorian Season 3, and then we go into production after that with Season 3 of The Mandalorian, with the main character that we all have known and loved.”John Favreau on Good Morning America, Monday, December 21
With the surprise reveal and Favreau’s clarification, the hopes of Fett fans appear to be finally coming true after 40 years of waiting. While it will be on the small screen (if 82″ 4K UHD screens can be considered “small”), The Mandalorian has certainly proven that one can get the full cinematic “big screen” experience in bite-sized doses at home. And based on both the skillfully crafted episodes as well as Temuera’s portrayal of the battered bounty hunter in the two most recent episodes, it appears that the belated telling of his adventures will have been worth the wait.