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Star Wars: Boba Fett’s return risks overshadowing The Mandalorian

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

He’s a man of few words – driven by bounties and not much else. He shoots first and asks questions later. The chrome-helmeted child of Mandalore has become synonymous with George Lucas’ original vision for Star Wars as a space Western.

For one generation, that description fits the bounty hunter Boba Fett. For another, it’s Din Djarin AKA The Mandalorian. The pair are very much cut from the same battle-scarred cloth, and will potentially share the screen for the first time in The Mandalorian season 2 – a decision that could dilute the Disney Plus series.

Tumera Morrison (who previously played Jango Fett in the prequels) will don the jetpack and blaster of Boba Fett and, as per THR, will only have “a small role.” But, walk-on part or otherwise, Mando and Boba are fairly inseparable as characters in terms of look and style, a creative blurring which muddies the waters slightly. Those who have more affinity with the original trilogy may find themselves tuning in for Boba, not the Mandalorian. There’s a real risk of his presence distracting from the man who should be having the spotlight.

That reliance on the safety net of Star Wars lore goes against everything that made the first season of The Mandalorian so great. It felt fresh; able to stride forward and tread its own path away from the constant warring of Sith and Jedi.

(Image credit: Disney)

This little corner of the universe has an abundance of creative freedom – even ‘Star Wars’ trademarks such as Yoda have been given a unique spin – but looks set to be reined in by the inevitable questions that will spring up upon Boba’s return. Boba’s introduction also fails to heed the lessons the Clone Wars series learnt. That animated show’s decision to centre mainly on Ahsoka Tano paid dividends and created a new Star Wars icon. Ironically, this popularity is the reason why she, too, will be showing up in The Mandalorian season 2.

Mostly, though, Boba showing up is another black mark in the column of what I’ve started calling the “Six Degrees of Skywalker.” Everyone in a galaxy far, far away has either met a Skywalker or directly knows someone who had a hand in the events of one of the trilogies. It makes everything feel a lot smaller – something that’s a detriment to Star Wars’ otherwise limitless scope for storytelling.

For a cosmos that spans dozens of planets, the franchise is often far too limited and often over-explains things: How was C-3PO built? How did Leia get the Death Star plans? What was the origin of the Millennium Falcon? Why is Han Solo called Solo? All questions that no one asked outside of a possible late-night Google search, but all detailed in some way thanks to the prequels and spin-offs. It’s the same deal here with Boba and this post-script to his supposed untimely demise in Return of the Jedi.

Boba’s cartoonish plunge into the gaping maw of the Sarlacc pit should have been the end of him. It’s a question mark that hasn’t had a follow-up – outside a smattering of non-canon books and comics – in nearly four decades. Having Boba suddenly show up will lead to a frenzy of theories and speculation unless his miraculous escape is hand-waved away, which would be equally as jarring. It’s one of the last big unanswered questions in Star Wars history and placing the possible answer here feels like the wrong move at the wrong time.

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

But Boba isn’t all bad news – far from it. If the seemingly inevitable happens and we get a Mandalorian/Boba showdown, it would be the makings of Mando. Better still, having Boba be dispatched – or at least get beaten fair and square – would then build up the Mandalorian as a credible threat, one that dwarves the most famous bounty hunter in the galaxy. Even the Empire’s PR team couldn’t buy that sort of good press.

On a more granular storytelling level, it also shows Lucasfilm’s confidence in not only The Mandalorian as its own franchise, but as a bellwether for where Star Wars should go next.

Backdoor pilots – where characters show up to gauge audience reaction with the objective of potentially spinning them off into their own shows – are nothing new, but The Mandalorian is being tantalisingly poised as the genesis of a whole host of new Star Wars series and offshoots.

Alongside Boba, at least two characters from Star Wars: Rebels will be showing up in season 2. Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryse will be appearing in live-action for the first time. From there, who knows? But giving them, and Boba, an opportunity to sink or swim in an environment that has proven to be a successful new slice of Star Wars is far better – both creatively and economically – than creating millions at a miniseries straight off the bat. In essence, you could look at The Mandalorian as a mini-Iron Man; a starting point where breadcrumbs are scattered and followed up elsewhere in a Star Wars cinematic universe on television. And isn’t that exciting?

It’s hardly a do-or-die precipice, but what The Mandalorian chooses to do with Boba could say a whole lot about Star Wars’ future. If he dominates proceedings, it could see the show stagnate slightly as greater emphasis is placed on the supporting cast. Have Boba turn up and either get beaten down to propel Mando to new heights or have him cameo in the expectation of a larger role elsewhere and we’re looking at a promising new chapter for Star Wars. It could be an evolution that is underpinned by a faith in telling new stories – ones that, crucially, can stand toe-to-toe with the generation that preceded it.

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GamesRadar+'s Entertainment Writer. Lover of all things Nintendo, in a tortured love/hate relationship with Crystal Palace, and also possesses an unhealthy knowledge of The Simpsons (which is of no use at parties).