Star Wars fans got an extra post-Christmas gift this year with the Dec. 29 premiere of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+. The long-awaited (we’re talking decades) series centering on one of the most beloved characters in the franchise launched with plenty of buzz after the second-season finale of The Mandalorian set it up nicely back in 2020.
So what is there to get excited about? And what do you need to know to get into it if you haven’t been paying much attention until now? Here’s a quick primer so you can jump right into the Book of Boba Fett conversation without skipping a beat.
Boba Fett in the Original Trilogy
The iconic bounty hunter made his live-action debut in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, but true fans know that it wasn’t technically the first time Boba Fett ever appeared on screen. That distinction belongs to an animated short, which introduced him nearly two years before Empire premiered in theaters. If you haven’t seen it or even heard of it, there’s a good reason for that—the short originally aired as part of the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, a network TV production that’s become something of a legend in the fandom for its truly epic levels of cringe.
For many fans, though, Boba’s brief but memorable appearance in Empire was their first glimpse of the character. Believe or not, between Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Boba only had four spoken lines and about six and a half minutes of screen time. But that was enough to make an impression. Even after seemingly falling to his death into the Pit of Carkoon in Return of the Jedi—where, we’re told earlier in the film, you suffer the fate of being slowly digested for a thousand years by the Sarlacc—fans didn’t want to let him go.
Boba Fett in the Prequels
Part of the appeal of Boba Fett has always been his mysterious history. So it was kind of a no-brainer that when it came time to return to the era before the original Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas and his team would throw in an origin story for the fan-favorite. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones we found out that Boba was actually a clone of an older Mandalorian named Jango Fett, who raised Boba as his son. Fans were thrilled to see the return of actor Temuera Morrison—who originally played Jango and later re-recorded Boba’s four lines in the first three films—appear as Boba in the second season of The Mandalorian. Young Boba’s arc ends with him witnessing his father’s death at the hands of Jedi Mace Windu on the planet Geonosis. Footage from this scene, as well as a shot of Boba’s home planet Kamino, was included in opening moments of The Book of Boba Fett.
Boba Fett in The Clone Wars
The animated series The Clone Wars is also worth a mention, as it has already factored into The Mandalorian and will likely have some relevance to The Book of Boba Fett as well. That’s down to the influence of Dave Filoni, Executive Creative Director at Lucasfilm, who’s widely respected in fan circles for his borderline-obsessive dedication to the franchise. As the original showrunner for Clone Wars he has a special connection to the lore from that series, which has a way of popping up in the Disney+ shows. Clone Wars filled in a bit of Boba’s teenage years as an orphan learning the ways of bounty hunting. The series (which takes place in between the prequels) left him on the planet Tatooine, leading a gang of fellow hunters (any of which could potentially return in Book of Boba Fett).
Boba Fett in The Mandalorian
Boba’s return was only teased in the first season of The Mandalorian, but that was enough to get fans speculating about how he would be brought back officially. At the end of the S1 episode “The Gunslinger” we see a pair of boots in the sand approaching the unconscious assassin Fennec Shand (played by Ming-Na Wen in both series). Keen-eared fans only had to hear the characteristic jingling of spurs—a sound effect that’s accompanied Boba Fett since his introduction in Empire, evoking the gunslinger archetype—to know exactly who it was.
Those speculations were confirmed in Season 2, as Boba (and Morrison) returned fully to the Star Wars universe, with the deadly Fennec by his side. At the very end of the season finale we see them forcibly take over the palace on Tatooine once ruled by Jabba the Hutt. And here is where we find him at the beginning of the new series.
What are Critics Saying?
The Book of Boba Fett is currently rated 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite that relatively high score, some reviews have been critical of the premiere’s slow pace and are wondering whether more backstory will ruin the character’s enigmatic quality. Others appreciated the action and the callbacks to the original films. Mike Hale of The New York Times calls it “Mandalorian Lite,” in comparison to the earlier series’ attention to detail and stylish visuals, while The Hollywood Reporter’s Dan Fienberg felt like the first episode was mostly “filler.” Nick Wanserski of The AV Club was more positive, calling it “a solid first episode” that has him curious for more.
What are Fans Saying?
With only the premiere to go by, the fan reaction has been cautiously optimistic. Fans on Twitter and the show’s reddit board are appreciating the fleshing out of old characters and locations, like the fiercely loyal Gamorrean guards (those green pig men who used to work for Jabba) and new insights into Tusken culture (also known as Sand People). Those who watched the animated series The Bad Batch (also available on Disney+) had an emotional reaction to the image of Kamino at the beginning of the episode (no spoilers, but if you know, you know). There’s also been lots of praise for both Morrison and Wen’s performances.
The Book of Boba Fett will run for a total of seven episodes, premiering weekly on Wednesdays on Disney+ through Feb. 9, 2022.