Boba Fett Designer Criticizes Star Wars' New Direction for Character

By Andrew Gilman Posted:
Boba Fett Star Wars

The Book of Boba Fett is mere days away, and Star Wars fans are hungry. It's been roughly half a year since The Bad Batch made the most recent screen contribution to canon storytelling, and over a year since Boba's new series was teased in a surprising post-credits scene after The Mandalorian Season 2's finale. At last, the legendary character's journey continues.

While most books and games generally place Boba Fett in the villain category, the former bounty hunter's leanings are a bit more gray. As he told Din Djarin in The Mandalorian, Fett gives his "allegiance to no one," instead operating under the philosophy of being "a simple man making his way through the galaxy."

Boba's been a huge part of the Star Wars franchise for over 40 years, but it wasn't until The Mandalorian that fans were able to get a look at the man behind the beskar. The once silent mercenary is now a man with an honor code, and he'll be stepping into uncharted waters as a crime lord in The Book of Boba Fett.

While most are thrilled to see Fett receive significant characterization, there are those who would prefer he remained the faceless mercenary... including the man who designed him.

Joe Johnston Wouldn't Remove Fett's Mask

Star Wars Boba Fett
Star Wars

In an interview with The New York Times, director and concept designer Joe Johnston criticized the direction taken with Boba Fett, claiming that showing the character's face removes any sense of mystery:

“I never would have shown his face. I would never have had an actor underneath where he takes the helmet off and you see who it is. I think that eliminates a lot of the mystery. Before that helmet comes off, he can be anybody."

Johnston served as art director for The Empire Strikes Back and was responsible for designing Fett's look. The white prototype armor was originally a concept for Imperial super-troopers, but Johnston says George Lucas requested the fine-tuning to make him a bounty hunter:

“George said we couldn’t afford an army of super-troopers, but we’ve got this new suit. He said, ‘Let’s make him a bounty hunter.’ OK, sounds cool.”

The character's appeal, for Johnston, was Fett's willingness to work for anyone:

“He was neither a hero nor a villain. You could hire Boba Fett to do whatever job you wanted him to do.”

A Man With A Name

The inspiration Clint Eastwood's Westerns had on the creation of Boba Fett has been well documented. For The Empire Strikes Back, the bounty hunter's final design was based on the Man With No Name, played by Eastwood in director Sergio Leone's Dollar trilogy.

But Boba Fett has a name, and he's now more than just the mercenary who captured Han Solo.

Fett's characterization really began in the Legends novels, where he similarly escapes the Sarlaac and lives on for many decades. He makes peace with Han, deals with his Mandalorian heritage, and even has a child of his own.

As for the canon, any criticism regarding the removal of Fett's mystique can be directed towards his appearance as a young boy in Attack of the Clones. While there are some who aren't thrilled with the character being a clone of his father Jango, the movie's events reveal where the character gains inspiration for his future career - and hunger for vengeance.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars expanded on Boba in significant ways, demonstrating his lust for revenge on Mace Windu for the death of his father - a bloodthirst that will drive the character in his series. It's understandable that Johnston feels the character has strayed from the initial intent, but for Boba Fett to have the staying power in pop culture that he does, he needs to evolve.

And evolve he will.

The Book of Boba Fett arrives on Disney+ on December 29.

- About The Author: Andrew Gilman