This week’s episode of The Mandalorian was heavy on the fan service, as Mando and everyone’s favorite little green Force-user traveled to Tatooine. In an episode full of references, including a trip to the Mos Eisley Cantina, nothing got fans online stirring quite as much as a brief tease that closed the episode. But was it actually Boba Fett?
[Ed. note: this post contains spoilers for the first five episodes of The Mandalorian, as well as speculation about future episodes]
In the closing seconds of “The Gunslinger,” a fresh pair of boots enters the frame, and walks up to the corpse of Fennec Shand (played by Ming-Na Wen). Immediately, Star Wars fans scrutinized the boots, the only real details provided through the show’s dim cinematography, and concluded this masked character must be Star Wars’ most famous bounty hunter.
Fans quickly cited Boba’s appearance in the post-Special Edition versions of A New Hope as having a similar tracking sound to the one in the episode, and even called out the noises of the character walking as being similar to those in The Empire Strikes Back. But if this is Boba Fett, he would have to have gotten an entirely new wardrobe ... and also cheated death by escaping a slow and painful demise in the Sarlacc pit.
We don’t get many shots of Boba Fett’s full cape in the series, but as we can see from this image of him in The Empire Strikes Back he’s only wearing a small half-cape that rests on his left shoulder. The Mandalorian’s new character wears a near body-length cape. And it’s not like Boba is the only one to wear something like that. Further muddying the fan theory is Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga, who wears a long duster in many of his scenes, and who we know is still on Mando’s trail.
But if we throw out the fact that the cape looks nothing like Boba Fett, and the fact that the sounds of his boots being similar could mean anything, the idea of him surviving the Sarlacc pit isn’t necessarily impossible. As C-3PO says, the Sarlacc digests its prey over the course of a thousand years. Thankfully, this means that you’ve got a pretty healthy amount of time to escape, especially if you’ve got a jet pack.
In the old expanded universe, now part of the retired “Legends” series rather than official canon, Boba Fett did exactly that. Despite being initially eaten by the Sarlacc the bounty hunter managed to activate his jet pack and fly out of the beast and survive. While this isn’t part of Disney’s Skywalker Saga continuity, it did seem like it might be in the cards early on.
When Disney brought Fantastic Four director Josh Trank on-board to direct his own Star Wars Story spin-off movie, rumors swirled that the film would focus on Boba Fett — though based on the track record of Star Wars Story films, it certainly could have been a prequel. When Trank and Lucasfilm parted ways, the film was initially thought to be handed off to Logan and Ford v Ferrari director, James Mangold. However, after Disney changed its plans for the Star Wars franchise, the Boba Fett spin-off seemed to be all but canceled.
Boba Fett’s appearance in The Mandalorian would mean a significant new twist in the canon, and while there isn’t much evidence at the moment, his potential presence could serve an important purpose to the show’s story. As we learned in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Boba Fett is a clone of his father Jango Fett, who provided the genetic basis for the entire Clone Army created on Kamino. Jango wanted a “son,” and in return for offering his DNA, the Kamino scientists delivered.
While it hasn’t been explicitly talked about in the series so far, Kamino and cloning could both play interesting roles in The Mandalorian. Dr. Pershing, the Imperial doctor accomplice of The Client who hopes to extract some kind of material from Baby Yoda, has a patch on the arm of his uniform that set off alarms for Star Wars scholars.
The only other place in the Star Wars universe a similar patch has appeared is in the cloning facility on Kamino. The same symbol appears on the arms of each clone soldier being trained on the planet.
The possibilities for bringing cloning back to Star Wars seem clear: either Baby Yoda is really a clone or even the Empire wants to replicate the genes of a lil kiddo who can wield the Force. Either way, it certainly seems like cloning is involved. In the extended universe of Legends canon, we know that Emperor Palpatine was a fan of the cloning process, even cloning himself multiple times as a way to outrun his own mortality — something that could be relevant to his return in The Rise of Skywalker later this year.
If Baby Yoda hails from the cloning labs, maybe even the ones on Kamino, then it could make sense to bring in Boba Fett, the story’s most famous clone, as a threat — existential or otherwise. This would also make for a very sensible way to resurrect the fan-favorite bounty hunter, while also giving him an important and interesting relationship to the story.
While all this cloning nonsense would certainly make the return of Boba Fett seems plausible, all we’re missing now is the evidence. Fans may want to believe, and Boba himself may fit The Mandalorian’s subtly teased cloning twist well, but we’ll just have to wait and see whether or not the show drags the bounty hunter out of the Sarlacc pit or not.