Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who originally donned the armor as Boba Fett in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, passed away this week at the age of 75.
After playing the Mandalorian bounty hunter, he later went on to attend many Star Wars conventions over the years, and was celebrated by fans all over the world.
But one has to wonder — how did Boba Fett, a bounty hunter that barely appeared in the original trilogy (and “died” in a hilariously sad fashion), become the icon that he is today? This character not only endured in the extended Star Wars universe, but actually spawned a wildly popular Disney+ series.
Apparently, there’s power in looking really, really cool.
This mysterious mercenary actually first appeared in 1978’s ill-fated Star Wars Holiday Special. He rode up on a gigantic dinosaurian sea creature, wielding a “tuning fork” looking rifle (now the Amban phase-pulse blaster).
“I take it you have no love of the Empire,” he says to Luke. “Well, neither do I.”
One might say he was one of the only good things about it, but that’s a story for another time.
Action figures of the intergalactic bounty hunter hit the market in 1978, too, in anticipation of his appearance in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Kids thought it was really cool, and how could they not? The action figure was advertised as being equipped with a “Rocket Firing Back Pack.”
That first figure wasn’t available in stores, though. You had to mail in proof-of-purchase from buying four other Star Wars action figures to get it.
When Boba Fett finally appeared on movie screens in 1980, he only had four lines of dialogue. It didn’t matter. His popularity soared. And his popularity continued to climb, despite barely appearing in the franchise’s original trilogy. Oh, and then “dying” by falling listlessly into a Sarlacc pit. Thanks, Solo.
He has since remained a prominent figure in the extended universe.
I can’t think of any other character in the Star Wars universe that has climbed to legendary status on looks alone. I mean, Darth Vader has aesthetic, but he also has pretty prominent roles — with dialogue, action, and storylines.
Boba Fett’s popularity has been fueled almost solely on design, paired with mystery and intrigue. His identity remained hidden underneath a helmet, he carried a jet pack and handgun, he had super cool armor and he roamed the galaxy without any affiliation. His dented olive green helmet suggests a violent past. He’s dangerous with a cloudy moral compass, and he answers to no one.
After his four lines of dialogue in Empire, Boba Fett fans unfortunately didn’t get to see his role expanded in the original trilogy. Instead, we see one quick action scene in Return of the Jedi. Han Solo accidentally pierces Fett’s jetpack. It sends him sailing to the ground and then he tumbles to a presumed death in the Sarlacc pit. He was gone in five awkward minutes.
Looking cool and a swift exit.
Perhaps that swift exit is what provoked Boba Fett to become the legend that he is now. Fans wanted more. They wanted to know the stories behind the scrapes and dings on the costume.
He was resurrected, and his origins were explored across tons of movies, shows, games, and comics since then. But most recently, Boba Fett’s popularity fueled one more expansion in the Star Wars universe: the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian.
In an interview with Good Morning America, executive producer Jon Favreau said he “never felt like he saw enough of Boba Fett in the earlier films,” despite there being “so much hype.”
And while the show doesn’t focus on Fett, we sure do get to see more of him — and more of the Mandalorian world.
That’s pretty impressive, for a dude who was originally only given four lines.