With ‘Book of Boba Fett,’ Star Wars Has Become the New Marvel
The following post contains SPOILERS for Chapter 6 of The Mandalorian — er, I mean The Book of Boba Fett.
In the last two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett, the title character has appeared on screen for a total of one minute and eight seconds and spoken zero words. In his absence, the show has essentially morphed into The Mandalorian Season 2.5. Suddenly, Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin has become the series’ protagonist as he tries to acclimate to Mandalorian society and then begins to collect allies to help Boba Fett take control of the Tatooine underworld.
This week’s episode, “From the Desert Comes a Stranger,” goes even further down the Mandalorian rabbit hole, reintroducing several dangling subplots from that show’s last season, including Grogu’s training as a Jedi by Luke Skywalker (a CGI Mark Hamill), and Marshal Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) protecting his little frontier town on Tatooine without Boba Fett’s armor. This “chapter” of The Book of Boba Fett also features an appearance by Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano, who is due to get her own Disney+ series at some point in the near future. For Star Wars mega-fans, these surprise cameos are a lot of fun. But they also have almost nothing to do with Boba Fett or his ongoing turf war. (At least, I assume it is ongoing. We’ve basically stopped following it for the last two weeks.)
When Disney first announced Star Wars: Ahsoka back in December of 2020, it was intended as part of a slate of Mandalorian spinoffs including The Book of Boba Fett and Rangers of the New Republic. These shows would supposedly build to a massive event series that would unite all their casts for one joint adventure, in much the same way Marvel uses their individual but interconnected movies to build to epic crossover films like Avengers: Endgame. At the time, it seemed like Star Wars had finally decided to learn from their corporate brethren and adopt their cinematic universe model that had proven so popular with modern audiences. You could call the project the New MCU: The Mandalorian Cinematic Universe.
Now it looks like Lucasfilm didn’t even wait until Ahsoka to start their big crossover. It’s here right now. For almost two full hours of Book of Boba Fett, Boba Fett himself has been an afterthought. The same goes for his partner, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen); in two weeks she’s had two brief scenes and a handful of lines. Instead of resolving its primary plot line, The Book of Boba Fett shifted to setting up The Mandalorian Season 3 and Ahsoka and who knows what other spinoffs Lucasfilm has cooking up over on Skywalker Ranch.
Given how frustrating the first four episodes of The Book of Boba Fett were — back when the show was actually about the guy in its title — the sudden pivot back to the lore of The Mandalorian is not entirely unwelcome. At least as presented on this show, Mando is a vastly more interesting character than Boba Fett, and his problems — his desire to return to the Mandalorian people, his concern for Grogu — make a lot more emotional sense than Boba Fett’s. Truth be told, I have wondered why Boba Fett isn’t the star of his own series anymore. But I have never once missed him or wished they would cut back to him.
The problem isn’t so much Boba Fett’s absence in the last two episodes as his presence in the first four episodes, which feel less and less meaningful with each passing moment. Why did we spend so many hours with this guy going full Dewey Cox while he healed in a bacta tank if the show was going to forget him entirely once he got better? If you really wanted to explore more of the world of The Mandalorian, why not just make another season of The Mandalorian and have Boba Fett appear on it as a guest star, and not the other way around?
Instead, The Book of Boba Fett took another page from Marvel’s playbook and became a launching pad to introduce characters from other Star Wars media. If you’ve watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars or The Bad Batch, then you know that the alien who shows up to fight Cobb Vanth at the end of the episode is Cad Bane, one of the most ferocious bounty hunters in the galaxy. If you haven’t watched those shows, you were probably baffled why Boba Fett was still adding new villains — while ignoring the old ones — with about five minutes left in its penultimate episode.
Marvel has made missteps when it comes to overloading some films with teases — Iron Man 2 comes to mind — but they generally do a decent job keeping the emphasis on each movie or show’s main character and their desires and dilemmas. With The Book of Boba Fett, Lucasfilm embraced the Marvel model while completely botching the balance between setting up future shows and ensuring the present one works as a standalone entertainment. (It might be worth noting here that Iron Man 2 was directed by the creator of The Book of Boba Fett, Jon Favreau.) Even in its best moments, The Book of Boba Fett feels like a piece of decent worldbuilding, not good storytelling.
New episodes of The Book of Boba Fett premiere on Wednesdays on Disney+.