By: Roberto Nieves
We’ve always admired a badass, but being a badass takes many shapes and forms when you think about it. Rambo, Nathan Drake, Kratos, Bayonetta, John McClane, Lara Croft, the list could stretch for hundreds of miles. But, when one thinks of what a badass is, what a tough guy encompasses, it is usually associated with a cold, unflinching conviction and usually a weapon. In the Taken trilogy, Brian Mills, portrayed by Liam Neeson, embraces a grizzled, raw, uncompromising bringer of death, old and weathered but nevertheless dangerous. In Kill Bill, The Bride, portrayed by Uma Thurman, unsheathes a katana blade and goes to town in a room filled with ruthless killers, slaughtering each and every one of them. Of course, there Is John Wick with pretty much every scene in his trilogy, so far being a bonafide masterpiece in action film-making. These aforementioned characters in film are just a drop in an ocean of many characters encompassing the term “badass.” One indisputable fact maintains consistency in our pursuits in gaming, movies, and pop culture in general: Times change, and so do the definitions of certain things.
Being a badass, a tough guy, a strong person doesn’t necessarily involve the complete destruction of a foe through cold steel, but instead, a monumental feat of growth, change, and establishment. Watching The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+, I’ve come fully aware that the show, at least as of this writing, hasn’t shown Boba Fett as depicted in the comics and video games. This has disgruntled fans, though, given the nature of the Star Wars fandom, disgruntled is putting things lightly. I’d encourage them to use this article on whatever youtube video being made to consider a viewpoint. Being badass doesn’t involve jet packs and blaster rifles. It involves a change of heart and growth.
Here is a quick lesson from a Star Wars fan for those unfamiliar with Boba Fett. Boba Fett appeared as a strange, masked, lone nomad aback an alien brachiosaur in the cringe-inducing Star Wars Holiday Special, which is available on Disney+ for your viewing pleasure. Featured in a short animated segment, the character would then make his debut in 1980, with the release of the legendary installment, The Empire Strikes Back. Cold, calculating, and a man of few words, Boba Fett intimated audiences with his weathered but distinct armor and his desire for coin no matter where it comes from. He looked like a soldier from the future, with a rocket-equipped backpack, wrist-controlled flamethrower, a quick-working grapple, and a custom-made blaster rifle. George Lucas, the grandfather of Star Wars, envisioned the character with inspirations from Clint Eastwood and the wild westerner, the Man With No Name. His appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, while brief, enticed audiences.
Subsequently, there was a demand for toys, and finding a Boba Fett action figure became a grand crusade. These two elements combined made Boba Fett a sensation, with Star Wars fans storming their local Toys’r’Us and KB Toys to grab a Boba Fett figure. The character’s popularity stood tall, even as Boba faced an embarrassing demise, encountering a jetpack malfunction and falling into a Sarlacc Pit. Still, the character persevered for decades. Boba would be further unveiled in various books and games, from the graphic novel Shadows of The Empire to being a boss fight in the first-person shooter Star Wars: Dark Forces. More of his origins were revealed during 2002’s Attack of the Clones, which revealed that Boba is a direct clone of infamous bounty hunter Jango Fett, the most ruthless bounty hunter in the galaxy until he was decapitated by Mace Windu during The Battle of Geonosis, orphaning young Boba. From that point, not much was seen or heard of Boba until his triumphant return in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, where he regains his armor and goes to town on Imperial stormtroopers. Now, the center of his own show in The Book of Boba Fett, the show hasn’t been what many expected. Boba has always been the icon of a lone wolf type, cunning and dangerous, smart and ruthless, a man unafraid to get the job done and get his reward in whichever way the moment requires. Since the debut of The Book of Boba Fett, he hasn’t been depicted as one would expect. There’s been some thrilling action sequences, especially a train heist greatly inspired by Lawrence of Arabia, but not the lone space Rambo fans expected. This is not to say Boba is weak or soft. Throughout the show so far, Boba goes through change.
Change is strength, and a moment of softness can be a moment to flex a new, stronger muscle. Vulnerability is not a weakness but a form of honesty, reconstruction, and trust in oneself. Boba was always alone. All he had in the world was his father. He was a clone, surrounded by millions of others who looked like his father but bred for a devastating war that reigned across the galaxy. He may have had companions, from droids to the Kamino scientists, but his father was the only one that directly looked after him. He was a product, the result of a plan to raise a massive army to defend democracy, only for that army to serve an Empire and an Emperor. His world was destroyed at the hand of the Jedi, with Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber ruthlessly striking down his father right in front of him. Left to mourn, and at one point seeking revenge, he became bitter at the galaxy around him. The selfish politicians. The villainous leaders. The dark crime lords entrenched in the darkest cracks of Coruscant and Tatooine. No friends. No allies. Only himself. He is a survivor of grief and puts that grief into rage, anger, and his father’s armor. This lone warrior status made him incredibly dangerous, and anyone standing in his way was met with death. He took his contracts, got his funds, worked to survive. The life of a bounty hunter isn’t for the faint of heart. One has to be smart, incredibly strong, and be willing to do what it takes to survive. Trusted allies are few, and betrayal is everywhere for coveted rewards. It's a nomadic life where the wrong contract can cost you your life. It nearly cost Boba his, falling into the Sarlacc and slowly digesting for years. Throughout the series, we see his growth, shedding the lone wolf stance. His will to live blasts him from the bowels of the Sarlacc and his determination has him survive his initial encounter with The Tuskan Raiders, formerly known as The Sand People. At first, learning from a different people proves difficult, but it soon grows for Boba. He learns new techniques. He learns new weapons skills. Practices close-quarters combat. We witness Boba doing something he has never quite done before, which is learn from strangers' wisdom. In turn, he passes his leadership and coordination to The Tuskan Raiders, which allows them to successfully launch a heist onto the Pyke train. In particular, the ending of that episode sees Boba performing in a ritualistic dance around the fire, The Raiders celebrating the destruction of the deadly train that intruded and infringed upon native lands. It's a way to bring cultural relevance into the show and the narrative of indigenous and native peoples within Star Wars. But, we see something important within Boba Fett. Here, we don’t see Boba going soft. Here, we see a character growing and changing to let himself grow and learn. Changing to attain a newfound viewpoint to his role in the galaxy. He wasn’t a weapon. He was his father’s son. He discovers the unity that comes with brotherhood and companionship. He slowly embraces humanity, allowing the Pykes to transport their goods through native lands, so long as they pay the toll to the indigenous tribes. His old ways would have seen every last survivor of the heist slain, but his new ways find the power of assertiveness and mutual respect. It's from here he learns to find a sense of trust in others around him, but not just any trust. Instead, it's a trust in opportunity. To see a need, give that person a chance, and give that person a chance to grow as well. Unmistakably, Boba is vulnerable. His skin is scarred from being nearly digested. He is weakened from his ordeal. He is haunted by the bad memories. He gets a thrashing from a 7-foot tall Wookie, Black Krrsantan, a former arena fighter who can crack necks like eggshells. Even when cornered by a mysterious group of assassins, he has difficulty fighting like he used to, getting electrocuted several times. This isn’t to say he’s weak. It’s to say that he is in a different position. He is no longer the hunter but the survivor struggling to become ruler and leader. Boba soon becomes Daiyamo and establishes himself as a ruler. However, he wishes to rule with respect instead of fear, as he states. The former Daimo, Jabba The Hutt, and his successor Bib Fortuna, rule through corruption and control. Sure, he’ll partake in debauchery, as is the case with his role, but he won’t intimidate the streets with acts of violence and aggression. Instead, it's through respecting others and giving people that opportunity. Boba gives a cyborg gang an opportunity to work for him, earning his trust and providing an income. His honesty becomes a form of invitation, and through that, he gains the respect of those around him and those that have just met him. Finally, with Boba Fett, we have self-affirmation. In episode 4, after he rescues Fennec Shand from a lethal blaster bolt to the abdomen, Boba offers Fennec a chance to become accomplices. Wary, she detests, but Boba lays out his newfound perspective “I’m tired of our kind dying because of the idiocy of others. We’re smarter than them. It’s time we took our shot.” Boba rejects the contractual bondage that comes with the job. All his life, taking bounties to pursue others has left him disillusioned/ Boba knows he can be more. He can reinvent himself. He just has to shoot his shot. Part of the journey we find ourselves on is a case of constant discovery. There are certain parts of ourselves waiting to be unveiled. There are newfound strengths and dark fears within us all. There are parts of ourselves that maybe we are not ready to come to grips with, at least not yet. There’s a good chance you are reading this and can, in many ways, relate to Boba Fett’s plight. The isolation, a painful past, the self-preservation, and the yearning for a new purpose. In a moment of great challenge, there is the chance at facing ourselves and putting ourselves into a position of new change and chance. Life is about constant self-discovery and re-discovery. No one is destined for a single path forever. On the contrary, every moment is a chance at a new start, even if it means blowing up a pit of digestive juices. Where Boba Fett’s arc concludes for in Star Wars is to be debated. This big fight at the end and the unexpected conclusion of Luke, Ahsoka, Cad Bayne, and Grogu will be up for discussion, at least until Obi-Won Kenobi gets his show this coming May. There will be those undoubtedly downplaying the need for a Boba Fett season 2, but that doesn't take away the points made here. As a Star Wars fan, I've enjoyed the Book of Boba Fett and hope to see more of Boba in the future. I hope everyone takes away a newfound notion that softness doesn’t equal weakness, especially when there is a focused goal and growth. Softness and vulnerability can lead to near-frontiers and a stronger path, which is pretty badass. Be your own Daimyo, wherever you are, and whatever planet you are on.
The Book Of Boba Fett is streaming now on Disney+.