Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Tao of Boba

By: W. Wright

It is a known fact that Boba Fett, the cunning Mandalorian bounty hunter, clone son of Jango Fett, is a fan favorite. As interesting as his in-universe story is, his out-of-universe story is just as captivating.

George Lucas stated that he wanted to “develop an essentially evil, very frightening character,” who evolved from Darth Vader’s character. The task of designing the character’s trademark looks was handed over to concept artist Joe Johnston, who collaborated with the late Ralph McQuarrie. Originally, Boba’s outfit was to be totally white in color, hinting at the fact that he was of Stormtrooper origin, making him a sort of “Super Trooper.” His ivory outfit was fabricated in real life, then used in an screen test, led by sound designer Ben Burtt. Burtt described the various functions, weapons, and characteristics of the suit, which was worn by Duwayne Dunham, Empire’s assistant film editor. In the video, a Star Wars beach towel was used for Fett’s tattered serape, and his makeshift gun used a lightsaber hilt for its barrel.

Even at the costume’s early stages of production, the plan was to give Boba’s costume a muted look, to make it seem as if he was ranked between stormtroopers and Darth Vader. Joe Johnston says, in Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplay, says "I painted Boba's outfit and tried to make it look like it was made of different pieces of armor. It was a symmetrical design, but I painted it in such a way that it looked like he had scavenged parts and had done some personalizing of his costume; he had little trophies hanging from his belt, and he had little braids of hair, almost like a collection of scalps."

Boba’s costume was first public unveiling was in a parade, two month’s before his first official appearance in The Holiday Special. The parade took place on September 24, 1978, and was part of a Country Fair in San Anselmo, a town north of San Francisco. He was photographed by the press alongside Darth Vader, and was given little notice in the local papers.

Boba’s first nationwide appearance was on what is often considered one of Star Wars most embarrassing moments, right alongside Jar Jar Binks: The Holiday Special, which aired in 1978. In the show, Boba seemed to be a friend of the Rebels at first, but was later revealed to be in collaboration with Darth Vader.
Now that Boba was known by much of the fan community, he hit the road, visiting special events and malls. He signed photos as Boba, and posted “WANTED” posters, to make it clear he was not a member of the Galactic Empire, but a cunning bounty hunter. He also appeared on the back of a summer 1979 installment of Bantha Tracks, the official Star Wars newsletter. He was described as a bounty hunter who "wears part of the uniform of the Imperial Shocktroopers, warriors from the olden time." With this, the fan community erupted with talk of who Boba was, and what his true identity was. To add to the excitement, Kenner released an action figure of Boba, which was originally planned to had a spring-loaded rocket. A 13-inch Boba figure was also released at the time. Both the figures underwent slight color scheme changes, much like Boba did in The Holiday Special.

Finally, The Empire Strikes Back was released. Fans flooded the theatres, knowing that Boba, portrayed by Jeremy Bulloch, would finally be making his long awaited appearance. Fett had limited screen time, along with only 27 words of dialogue: “As you wish,” along with “He’s no good to me dead” and “Put captain Solo in the cargo hold.” However, the brief appearance of Boba does have a few pros. The lack of Boba in the film made him that much more intriguing, allowing the future to fill in Boba’s history.

Boba made an appearance in the next, and what was thought to be last, installment of Star Wars, titled Return of the Jedi. His dialogue increased by a mere two words. He exclaims “What the?” just before his jet pack malfunctions while above the Great Pit of Carkoon, resulting in what led to his death- or so we thought.

Throughout the following years, Boba’s backstory grew. In the Marvel comics, it was believed that Boba was part of a group of super-commandos hailing from the planet Mandalore towards the end of the Clone Wars.

From here on out, Boba became very popular in the Expanded Universe (everything outside of the Star Wars movies). He played a large role in the comic series Dark Empire, in which it was revealed that Boba survived and escaped the Sarlacc, to be found by fellow bounty hunter Dengar, who was thought to have been killed by Boba in Tales of the Bounty Hunters. He made cameos in many comics and books.
In the second prequel trilogy film, Attack of the Clones, Boba returned, this time much younger, with his father, Jango Fett. He was played by young actor Daniel Logan. After Attack of the Clones, Boba appeared in more comics, and the animated series The Clone Wars, in which Logan returned to reprise his role as Fett.

During the production stage of Revenge of the Sith, the idea of bringing Boba back was brushed upon. The production team feared it would be too much story, and ultimately didn’t make the cut.

From his appearance in Empire to his most recent appearance on The Clone Wars alongside fellow bounty hunters, you never know what you’re going to get.


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