The story of The Mandalorian never would have worked with Boba Fett as its hero. Though an established character in the Star Wars franchise with a sizable fan following, Boba Fett wouldn’t have made a good fit for The Mandalorian, despite his similarities with the show’s main character. The Mandalorian shows that Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Boba Fett aren’t interchangeable.
The Mandalorian is the first live-action series in the Star Wars universe. Aside from its star, the cast of The Mandalorian includes Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi, Werner Herzog, and more. Created by Jon Favreau, the show focuses on a mysterious bounty hunter from the planet Mandalore. The Disney+ series follows its protagonist — who goes by the nickname “Mando” — as he embarks on dangerous missions in the outer reaches of galaxy, all the while encountering monsters, various alien species, droids, rival mercenaries, and of course, Stormtroopers.
The series is saturated in Mandalorian culture, a corner of the Star Wars universe that was first teased in 1980’s Empire Strikes Back with the introduction of Boba Fett, a ruthless mercenary who never shows his face. His iconic Mandalorian armor led to the world of the Mandalorians being more fully fleshed out in Star Wars comics, novels, animated shows, and video games. Boba Fett remains the most popular Star Wars character associated with Mandalore. For a while, a solo Boba Fett movie was even planned, but it never worked out. Boba Fett’s popularity has led some to wonder if not making him the protagonist of The Mandalorian was a missed opportunity, but in actuality the series wouldn’t have worked with someone like Boba Fett.
Comparisons between the Mandalorian and Boba Fett are unavoidable, regardless of their personalities. There aren’t many famous characters in the Star Wars universe who are recognized by their Mandalorian armor and their habit of never removing their helmets, so when Mando appears on-screen, Boba Fett is the first one who comes to mind.
What the Mandalorian shares in common with Boba Fett is more than just skin-deep. The Mandalorian is an expert shot and a man of few words in the vein of Western icon Clint Eastwood. Intelligent, confident, and calculated in his decisions, Mando is an experienced and ruthless bounty hunter. These are all qualities shared by Boba Fett. Also, Mando has a reputation for efficiency, as noted in his conversations with the Client (Werner Herzog) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). The recognition and respect Mando receives from his peers and his potential clients is similar to how Boba Fett is viewed in the Star Wars movies. Both characters can be relied upon to get the job done, no questions asked.
Make no mistake, despite everything they share, Mando and Boba Fett are not the same. The third episode of The Mandalorian exposed some fundamental differences that have nothing to do with the fact that Boba Fett isn’t an actual Mandalorian. After Mando completes his mission and hands over Baby Yoda to the Client, he makes a move that as the Client points out, is very uncharacteristic of a man like Mando. He asks what will happen to Baby Yoda. Mandalorian bounty hunters like Mando don’t ask such questions, because to them, they don’t matter. All that matters is the mission and making sure they get paid. Up until this moment, Mando was just another bounty hunter, but this episode reveals a bit of what goes on behind that helmet. Mando’s backstory factors heavily into what comes next. Mando is haunted by flashes of his troubled childhood when he was left an orphan by the events that took place during the Clone Wars. Understanding what it’s like to be a child swept up into a conflict that involves the Empire, Mando has second thoughts about his decision.
In a pivotal scene, Mando goes against the bounty hunter code and rescues Baby Yoda from the clutches of the Client and his men. Completely aware of the consequences of his actions and the reality that he has violated everything he stands for, Mando expresses a willingness to do whatever it takes to save Baby Yoda. So at the end of the day, Mando’s conscience wins out as he begins his journey of redemption.
What Mando does for Baby Yoda is what draws the line between his character and Boba Fett. Like Mando, Boba Fett had his life turned upside down by the Clone Wars, but how it affected them is quite different. Boba Fett’s past hardened him into the ruthless mercenary seen in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. As a sign of his pride in his work, Boba Fett makes a display of his accomplishments by wearing trophies of his victims on his Mandalorian armor. There’s a reason why Boba Fett is a legendary bounty hunter feared throughout the galaxy. He’s not the kind of person who doubts his mission or suddenly has a change of heart. Boba Fett is a mercenary to the core.
Mando has it within him to go against the code and do what he believes is right, but for Boba Fett, saving Baby Yoda truly would have been uncharacteristic. Boba Fett wouldn’t have risked everything for a creature he barely knows. Obviously, this wouldn’t have worked for The Mandalorian‘s story, since what’s followed has been a direct result of those actions. The plot of The Mandalorian hinges on Mando’s sympathy for Baby Yoda, and that’s why Boba Fett would never fit the show, at least not as its protagonist. A dark character like Boba Fett wouldn’t be interested in redemption. If Mando was swapped for Boba Fett in The Mandalorian, viewers would been treated to a much more anticlimactic ending with its hero forgetting about Baby Yoda and flying away in his ship without a care in the world.
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