Making a good anti-hero, or not
Boba Fett: Still not much
The thing about Boba Fett as a character is that he basically isn’t one. In the original trilogy Boba’s a good looking suit of armour and three lines of dialogue. He got to do slightly more in the one portion of The Star Wars Holiday Special anyone remembers fondly as anything but camp or a cautionary tale, but that’s still a deep cut. And I guess Young Boba did a few episodes of The Clone Wars but as far as I can tell they didn’t imbue him with a rich inner world then either. Then came Mandalorian, and the sole takeaway I got from his appearances there was “Don’t worry everybody! Boba’s every bit as much of a badass as you always assumed he was, despite the fact that he was in one fight and got taken out by slapstick!”
I mean I guess he was a nasty boss fight in Shadows of the Empire. One of those boss fights where my main strategy was “collect enough one-ups that I can die a few times fighting him.”
(Don’t talk to me about the books. The books haven’t been canon in almost a decade, I don’t care.)
So what I’m saying is that, by and large, Boba Fett is a blank slate. You could do basically anything you wanted with Boba Fett. And what they did was… make him kind of a blank slate.
The first four episodes are a split narrative. Flashbacks show us what happened to Boba after he got out of the Sarlacc (as the Pitch Meetings YouTube series may inevitably say, that part was super easy, barely an inconvenience). Basically he bonded with a tribe of Tusken Raiders but they pissed off one too many local crime syndicates and, well, there’s a reason we didn’t see his new found family in Mandalorian. While in the present, Boba and his right hand lady assassin Fennec Shand (who has gone from Mandalorian villain-of-the-week to major player based basically entirely on being played by Ming-Na Wen, which, fair) try to stake and hold Boba’s claim as new daimyo of Mos Espa, one of Tatooine’s less reputable port cities. Okay, fine, Tatooine doesn’t appear to have “reputable” port cities.
We’ll get into the plot on another page but my issue here is that I still couldn’t tell you much about Boba Fett as a person. Temura Morrison’s a good actor when given anything to do, but Boba’s still mostly a blank slate. Why does he want to be the new Jabba the Hutt? When did that get added to his vision board, exactly? I get being upset at losing his family but jumping from that to “May as well become a crime lord” feels like it’s missing some steps.
And it really feels like they lost some faith in Boba as their main character right around the halfway mark. We’ll get into that later.
“Peacemaker. What a joke.”
Okay so this is where I’m gonna have to spoil something a little big about The Suicide Squad. If that’s an issue maybe just pop out and watch it real quick then meet me two paragraphs down, I’m-a do a quick fun fact while we wait for you.
“Peacemaker. What a joke,” is a neat line to unpack because Peacemaker was the inspiration for the Comedian in Watchmen. Alan Moore was going to use characters DC had just acquired from Charlton Comics, making them Earth-4 in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but was told DC had plans for them, so he filed off the serial numbers and–oh, hey, here come the people who hadn’t seen The Suicide Squad, back at it.
When we rejoin Christopher Smith, aka Peacemaker, he’s just getting out of a small-town hospital after getting shot by Bloodsport and having a building land on him. Chris thinks he’s free and clear when nobody tries to arrest him leaving the building, but soon finds he’s still on the hook with the government. A new task force, led by black ops agent Clemson Murn, informs him he still has plenty of prison time to work off doing murders for Uncle Sam.
Thing is… maybe Chris isn’t up for killing like he used to be. His line from TSS, “I cherish peace with all my heart, I don’t care how many men, women, and children I have to kill to get it,” gets thrown around a bunch, but…
See, on his mission with the Suicide Squad, under orders from Amanda Waller, he ended up killing Rick Flag, a legit hero and good person, in an attempt to cover up the US government’s dirty secret about Project Starfish. By the start of the series, maybe we weren’t quite ready to forgive him for this, one of the three saddest deaths in a movie with a ludicrous body count (the third one is the kaiju starfish, oh look me in the eye and tell me you were that attached to Captain Boomerang). But it’s okay, because neither is he. Early in his time with the new squad, Chris has a breakdown of self-loathing, decrying himself as the exact piece of shit we may have seen him as starting this show, and “You killed Rick Flag” is right there on the list of reasons. And a later, more gutting emotional meltdown even cuts to that very moment, and Col. Flagg’s last words… “Peacemaker. What a joke.”
Turns out that Peacemaker’s internalized those words. Turns out that his fight with Flag was a final straw, and now decades of barely-processed trauma over his original sin, the death of his older (and more beloved by his father) brother are boiling over. His squad needs a murder machine to save the world, but Chris is losing his taste for killing. He wants to be a better man, but right now the world still needs a monster.
James Gunn takes us into the horrific realities of Chris’ upbringing, introduces us to the father who forged him… a true monster, a literal Nazi supervillain that Chris should hate can’t help but love (it’s his only parent) despite getting nothing but disdain and abuse back. Okay, fine, disdain, abuse, and high-tech Peacemaker helmets. Chris was raised by a monster to be a monster, turned out less of a monster than hoped and is thus branded a disappointment… but maybe there’s a better man under it all.
It took two, maybe three episodes to get me from “Ha, I’m glad you got shot” to “Oh you poor man, someone hug him.” In that amount of time, Book of Boba Fett was still stuck on “Seriously though what’s the story.“