The majesty and mystery of the "Star Wars" universe can really be traced back to one character: Boba Fett. Although the infamous bounty hunter was first introduced in the much-maligned "Star Wars Holiday Special," everyone really remembers his original appearance alongside IG-88, Dengar, Bossk, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM in "The Empire Strikes Back." Who was this cool and calculated mercenary? What's his backstory? For dyed-in-the-wool fans of the original trilogy, Boba Fett should have remained an enigma, shrouded in secrecy.
In the decades since he ushered Han Solo away to Jabba's Palace aboard Slave-1, Boba Fett has also come to represent everything that's wrong with the "Star Wars" universe. Fans now know his backstory and then some. He's an unaltered clone of his father, Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), who re-emerges from the Sarlacc pit 5 years after "Return of the Jedi" to take over the criminal underworld on Tatooine. A young Fett also appeared in multiple seasons of the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Fett even told Darth Vader that Luke Skywalker was his son in issue 6 of 2015's "Darth Vader" Marvel comic.
Then, the sound of Boba's boot spurs announced his arrival in the Disney+ series "The Mandalorian." In his own spinoff series, "The Book of Boba Fett," the titular soldier of fortune (also played by Temuera Morrison!) wound up having a heart of gold, angering some fans that wanted their action figure version of Fett to stay uncharitable and ruthless.
Knowing so much about the character can make the "Star Wars" universe feel a lot smaller. To some, Fett has become an example of Disney's and Lucasfilm's constant meddling. But they have made Fett's jetpack and rocket a lot cooler than it was back when Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie first designed the character.
A Brief History Of Boba Fett's Rocket
In the incredibly comprehensive retrospective piece Empire at 40 over at StarWars.com, the evolution of one of the most popular characters in the saga's history is covered in incredible detail. Originally, George Lucas wanted a new trooper design for "The Empire Strikes Back" that visual effects director Joe Johnston and concept artist Ralph McQuarrie were tasked with creating. "The original idea behind Boba Fett was that he was going to be an army of super troopers. There was going to be 40,000 of these guys," Johnston revealed. It didn't take long for producer Gary Kurtz to realize they didn't have the budget for that many costumes, so Lucas changed the character into a bounty hunter instead of an army of super troopers (the idea would later resurface in "Attack of the Clones").
The now-iconic prototype armor was created, but translating the design from the page to live action proved to be a lot more challenging once Fett was suited up in an awkward painted costume. A galactic bounty hunter inspired by Old West gunslingers has to look menacing and cool and be able to move around without looking like a buffoon. The rocket in Fett's jetpack wasn't cooperating, however. "The rocket was a pain in the ass, you know," Johnston remembered. "When you tried to run with it, it would bounce up and down. It would affect the way you moved." Thinking back to Fett's brief appearances in the sequel, he's always standing or walking (or turning his head to look at the camera). Johnston solved the problem of Fett's rocket with a simple explanation. "He's too cool to run."
That Rocket Is A Hazard
It took decades for Fett's rocket to actually look cool in live-action. In "The Mandalorian," Jon Favreau and Robert Rodriguez finally let the reformed merc destroy a few of Moff Gideon's ships in some thrilling sequences that harkened back to Tony Stark blowing up tanks in the original "Iron Man." Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) even got a chance to show the full capabilities of Fett's rockets in the season 2 premiere of "The Mandalorian," paying off a tease from a legendary unmade toy.
The unmade J-slot rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure was never sold to the public for fears that the detachable device would be a choking hazard for children. As a result, it's now considered the Holy Grail for toy collectors everywhere. Made by the Cincinnati-based company Kenner, the original figure was part of a mail-in promotion available to anyone that had purchased at least four other "Star Wars" action figures. If Kenner had fulfilled those orders, there would likely still be a lot of the figures floating around for collectors to snatch up. Since they were never sent out, the prototype has only become more sought after. At a recent Star Wars Special Event Auction by Hake's, one of the 3¾-inch unpainted figures sold for an unprecedented $236,000 dollars.
Although it's true that the toy version of Boba Fett is growing increasingly rare, the character has never been more prominent in the legacy of "Star Wars." The enduring popularity of Fett will probably ensure that "The Book of Boba Fett" is not the last time we'll ever see that rocket in action. Even after all the holes from Fett's backstory have been narratively filled, he's still undeniably cool. But there may be one character in the "Star Wars" universe that's even cooler.
Definitely Too Cool To Run
Introduced in Dave Filoni's "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," bounty hunter Cad Bane encompasses the merciless, shrewd, unstoppable gun for hire that will never get a chance at redemption. Bane is the man of mystery (actually he's part of an alien race called the Duros) that Boba Fett could have been. Although their meeting in "The Clone Wars" is not officially a part of the canon, Bane and Fett did duel in a deleted scene that Filoni unveiled at Star Wars Celebration in 2017. That encounter shows Bane shooting Fett with a direct hit on his Mandalorian armor, explaining how Fett's iconic dent was created.
That was definitely not Bane's best moment in "Star Wars," however. In a truly jaw-dropping sequence, Bane is introduced in live-action for the first time in episode six of "The Book of Boba Fett." With no ship in sight, Bane appears to have walked all the way to the small Tatooine town of Mos Pelgo to have a standoff with Cobb Vanth. When the brim of his hat rises up just enough to reveal his beady red eyes, it's exhilarating and terrifying, simultaneously.
Boba Fett has definitely had his share of defining moments on screen, but it's hard to top Cad Bane literally coming out of nowhere for a classic standoff in the desert. Bane essentially upstaged Fett in his own show, and he never had to run to do it, either.
Read this next: Andor Character Guide: Meet The Cast Of The Rogue One Prequel Series
The post Boba Fett's Rocket Was A Major Pain During Production On Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back appeared first on /Film.