What’s the Secret of Boba Fett’s Staying Power?

When The Empire Strikes Back touched down like a nuke in 1980, Boba Fett was just another bounty hunter with little screen time in the Star Wars universe. But the icy killer still managed to bend that universe to his will in the second Star Wars film trilogy and television’s animated blast The Clone Wars.

Friday’s episode of The Clone Wars, “Duchess of Mandalore,” will be the third to focus on Mandalorian terrorist group Death Watch, which is comprised of the bloodthirsty line of bounty hunters from which Boba Fett is descended. (His father, Jango Fett, became the ultimate warrior prototype for the Republic’s entire army in Attack of the Clones.)

And then there are the ancillary descendants, like the $35 Boba Fett helmet that stars at New York’s Toy Fair 2010 next week. But just how did such a small-timer get to be such a big shot?

When most mallrats first encountered Fett in The Empire Strikes Back, he stood out because of his momentous silence and his fearsome gear. He looked like Darth Vader’s right-hand man, rather than Jabba the Hutt’s errand boy (which he turned out to be in Return of the Jedi, a film in which he put up not much of a fight before cashing out). Attentive geeks caught a glimpse of Fett in cartoon form during the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

But since the first trilogy dropped, he has gone viral like the flu.

The bounty hunter has lately infused The Clone Wars with some much-needed threat, now that its main evils, such as General Grievous, have been unmasked as mostly comic relief. For the last three weeks, The Clone Wars has been mired on Mandalore, as Obi-Wan Kenobi and his old flame, Mandalorian duchess Satine Kryze, try to stay alive in the midst of a violent conspiracy from Death Watch, who miss the good, old, bloody days of warrior supremacy.

The Mandalorian Death Watch narrative is a stellar chance to throw out as many Boba Fett clones, pardon the pun, as possible, in hopes of exploding the character’s history and mythology even further. But lost in the exponential horde are the reasons why Boba Fett became so damn popular in the first place.

This article appeared at Wired

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