Star Wars is coming up on its fourth year in the new canon, and there’s a curious omission in all the books, novels, cartoons, and so forth. We’ve seen extremely little of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who was possibly one of the most beloved secondary characters of the original franchise. Fett was just awesome; reputable for his ability to survive any situation including his apparent death in the mouth of the sarlaac in Return of the Jedi.
Post-2014 reboot, and Fett is almost entirely gone.
Well, he’s not quite gone, but as the Disney canon develops itself, there’s a noticeable de-emphasis of Fett in the new material. In the new Marvel comics, set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Fett had a small but prominent appearance in the early issues of both the main book and Darth Vader, where he’s sent on a failed mission to capture Luke Skywalker. And…that’s about it.
The only other mention of Fett is in the Aftermath trilogy of novels, where a guy who goes on to become a new sheriff on Tattooine discovers some badly damaged Mandalorian armor which is very obviously implied to be Fett’s from the sarlaac incident. There’s wiggle room for a revelation that Fett, as in the old canon, escaped the sarlaac, but Aftermath seemed to be making a solid statement that Fett is dead.
Fett also had several appearances in the still-canonical Clone Wars animated series. Curiously, he has yet to appear on Star Wars Rebels despite the show being set in a period where an adult Fett would be active, and despite the show being heavily stepped in Mandalorian issues. Rebels is now in its fourth and final season, and with only ten episodes projected, it’s doubtful that the show has time for a Fett appearance (despite working in almost every other major character from both Clone Wars and the original film trilogy).
This is very weird considering that Star Wars fans couldn’t get away from Fett when the Expanded Universe was still around, and to be fair, they really wanted him. The original Marvel Comics run made an early attempt at giving Fett an origin with the first hints of how he was involved in the Clone Wars, and a later short story revealed him as a character named “Jaster Mereel.” This origin couldn’t stand the definitive take of the Clone Wars in Attack of the Clones, but the earlier Mareel origin was at least rewritten to make sense in light of the prequels.
The 1990s and 2000s EU capitalized on the success of Fett as a fan-favorite, and had him turn up alive in Dark Empire* (along with Palpatine, but work with me) and in the ensuring years, made a concerted effort to squeeze every drop out of the Fett lemon. Fett became a regular in the Dark Horse comic series, getting several miniseries and appearances in Star Wars Tales or the ongoing Empire title. The novels progressed decades past the events of Return of the Jedi in a very different manor from what The Force Awakens gave us, including the continued existence of Boba Fett. Despite moving into old age, Fett remained very active through the Yuzzhan Vong War and beyond, developing his own legacy as the man who revitalized Mandalore and living on in his daughter (who was, ironically, killed by Han’s son) and granddaughter. Fett’s final fate was never established in the EU, but it seemed that there really was no end to the stories that could be told about him.
But, as said above, Fett’s been subjected to limited usage since the official recanonization in 2014. It’s a very curious phenomenon given his fan-following. One possibility is that Star Wars, in the Disney era, is looking to de-emphasize the classics, move out of the original trilogy era, and focus on the sequel trilogy and its newer, shinier characters. True, Rogue One was a firm OT-era film, but it was very much a piece of nostalgia porn, even if it was very well-done nostalgia porn. Rebels is similarly wrapped up in OT material—sometimes excessively—although it also firmly kept a foot in the Clone Wars era, wrapping up old plotlines from the hastily-ended show. And anyway, we’re not getting another Rogue One or Rebels. One would suspect that Disney will start ramping up Sequel Trilogy era material as the story progresses and the company has more room to play around in the larger universe. And that means winding down the OT-era stuff, because—as much as we love that era—we know how it ended.
It’s a shame if Fett has been intentionally de-emphasized, because now that he’s a blank slate again, there’s plenty of opportunity to do a lot more with him. Marvel’s business model right now is to run two or three ongoing Star Wars series at once (currently Star Wars, Darth Vader, and Doctor Aphra), along with an ongoing series of miniseries focusing on one character at a time. Boba Fett would seem to be very fertile ground for a new Marvel book at some point. A miniseries is more than justifiable, but maybe even an ongoing set in the OT era would be a good opportunity to explore the Star Wars universe outside of yet another look at Luke, Leia, and Han.
The only possible thing that could be holding Fett exploration back is the rumors of an upcoming feature film…though these have been rumors for years now, and nothing seems to come of them. But at some point, Marvel will have to finish its ongoing Star Wars title, but people will still yearn for OT-era material and Fett could be an ideal figure to revisit that period without cramming in more Luke Skywalker stories. It’s a big rebellion and a bigger galaxy, and Boba Fett could offer a new opportunity to see things we haven’t before.
* How Fett escaped from the sarlaac is ambiguous, to say the least. Marvel’s Star Wars #81 had an amnesiac Fett climb out of the Sarlaac, get captured by Jawas, and promptly fall back into the sarlaac. The 1996 short story “A Barve Like That” has a more detailed version of Fett’s final escape which seems to be the version which stuck. Finally, the Tag and Bink parody comics had two different versions of Fett’s escape, though these were considerably out-of-continuity.