In an era of innumerable franchises, Star Wars still stands out as one of the most popular and enduring. Though it’s actually considerably younger than Marvel and DC Comics, which are now dominating the film world, it has nonetheless remained at the forefront of audience engagement, recently venturing into the most accessible modern space: television. An interesting feat of reverse engineering introduced a new character first in The Mandalorian, spinning off a series featuring a fan favorite who was only brought in during its second season: bounty hunter Boba Fett.
The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t require much context aside from having seen the original Star Wars trilogy. A key player in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Fett was seen in the films only with his helmet on and as a major villain, famously encasing hero Han Solo in carbonite. That uniform is a key part of the title character’s life in The Mandalorian, where he is almost never seen without his helmet on and only removes it under the direst circumstances. As just one indication of the fact that Fett is different, he is seen without his helmet for most of the first episode of his spinoff show, giving audiences a lengthy opportunity to get to know actor Temuera Morrison’s face.
The New Zealand actor has a certain charm, one that isn’t immediately apparently due to the deep nature and gruffness of his voice but which is evident by his actions. While Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin, whose backstory was a mystery, seeks to return to the old way of doing things on The Mandalorian, Fett is determined instead to rule magnanimously where he is. Flashbacks reveal how Fett was taken in by the Tusken Raiders after saving one of their own and taught to be like them. He is not looking to preserve his culture but instead to learn about others, and he is eager to help them in whatever way he can, which in episode two of The Book of Boba Fett leads to an epic train action sequence with the potential to make viewers forget they’re not seeing this play out on a big screen.
There are additional callbacks to Star Wars lore that should delight fans, like the arrival of two gigantic twins, cousins of the late Jabba the Hutt, who claim that they should be sitting on Fett’s throne. The mix of those references and new characters, like Garsa Fwip, the cantina owner played by Jennifer Beals, makes for a successful recipe combining intrigue with familiarity. Ming-Na Wen, initially known for voicing Mulan in the Disney animated film and then playing Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, is a welcome presence who mixes a lack of patience with a sardonic wit to serve as Fett’s very dependable right-hand, Fennec Shand.
What The Book of Boba Fett does best is to return this saga to its origins, literally to the planet of Tatooine, where both Luke and Anakin Skywalker grew up, and also to a nostalgic excitement. Star Wars has been described as a space western, and the desert setting of Tatooine truly does make for an extraordinary backdrop for vivid chase scenes and battles to play out, assisted by cutting-edge visual effects. The runaway success of The Mandalorian and the expansive reach of Disney with its relatively new streaming service guarantees that this is only one of the many Star Wars series that will come into existence, with tremendous source material and continued advances in technology sure to make numerous additional spin-offs, sequels, and prequels possible in the next few years alone. Spotlighting a character like Fett was a no-brainer, and this show will enjoy a long and healthy life while its protagonist will certainly have more than a few close brushes with death over the course of its run.
The first two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett are now streaming exclusively on Disney+, with a new episode dropping every Wednesday.