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SYFY WIRE The Book of Boba Fett

Boba Fett's original co-designer has one major problem with Disney+'s 'Star Wars' series

Joe Johnston, who worked as an art director on Episode V, would prefer that the bounty hunter keep his helmet on.

By Josh Weiss
The Book of Boba Fett PRESS

Years after Boba Fett hurtled into the gaping maw of the Sarlacc in 1983's Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans never stopped pondering the fate of the beloved bounty hunter.

Aside from some Expanded Universe materials (such as "A Barve Like That"), the character — who charmed his way into viewers' hearts with a mere five minutes of screen-time in the original trilogy — seemed to be forgotten to the shifting sands of galactic history; allowed to dissolve away into nothing by the slow-digesting stomach enzymes of the Great Pit of Carkoon. That is until Jon Favreau came along and birthed The Mandalorian for Disney+, which laid the groundwork for Fett's grand return in the show's second season.

Temuera Morrison was asked to reprise the role, having already portrayed Boba's father, Jango Fett, and all of the Clone Troopers spawned from his DNA in George Lucas's prequel films. Morrison's kickass homecoming to the Star Wars franchise in Season 2 of The Mandalorian led to a spinoff series — The Book of Boba Fett (also created by Favreau) — whose debut episode premiered on Disney+ last week to generally positive reviews.

You won't hear many people voicing complaints over Boba Fett's long-awaited chance to enjoy the limelight, but the man who helped design him does have one major misgiving when it comes to Lucasfilm's current treatment of the character. That'd be Joe Johnston, who worked as an art director on the first three Star Wars movies, before stepping into the director's chair for high-profile projects like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The RocketeerJumanji, Jurassic Park III, and Captain America: The First Avenger. His grievance concerns Boba's penchant for removing his helmet, and it's got nothing to do with a fear of spreading COVID-19 across the galaxy far, far away. 

"I never would have shown his face,” he said during a recent interview with The New York Times. “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 came up with the look of Fett's iconic armor alongside the late great Ralph McQuarrie. The character didn't start off as a lone bounty hunter, but as a new and improved type of Stormtrooper employed by the Empire. This concept was ultimately scrapped due to budgetary constraints. "George said we couldn’t afford an army of super-troopers, but we’ve got this new suit,” Johnston remembered. "He said, ‘Let’s make him a bounty hunter.’ OK, sounds cool ... He was neither a hero nor a villain. You could hire Boba Fett to do whatever job you wanted him to do."

The first episode of The Book of Boba Fett ("Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land") is now available to stream on Disney+. Episode 2, which has yet to announce its official title, will premiere on the subscription streaming platform this coming Wednesday — Jan. 5.