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Please, Star Wars, forget about Tatooine

Anakin was right about sand

Boba Fett stands unmasked next to Fennic Shand on the streets of Tatooine. Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd./Disney Plus

In my life I have been frequently bored, yet I don’t really believe that anything — except perhaps television personality Carson Daly — is inherently boring. Subjects that seem boring often just haven’t been explored with the right lens, and with the right creators and ideas, new life can bloom in just about any desert. Except Tatooine. Apologies to all of the careful work bringing that planet back to life for The Book of Boba Fett, but I have moved on, and Boba should too.

Here, in no particular order, are a list of things that make Tatooine an irredeemably bad place to tell a story:

  • It has two suns (one is enough!)
  • It’s a planet-sized desert. Deserts are not for people!
  • Tusken Raiders: They’re built on an archetype that’s pretty racist!
  • The coolest thing about Tatooine is a bar. There are so many of those.
  • Its whole deal is being a lousy place! Star Wars was about a kid who hated it so much he signed up for a war.
  • No, really: The sequel trilogy invented a second desert planet because Tatooine freaking sucks. Two suns!

The Book of Boba Fett has tried, valiantly, to make Tatooine more interesting this time around, showing us all a little bit more than Sarlacc pits and endless dunes. There’s a whole culture of criminal presentation, one Boba Fett eschews while everyone else embraces it. There’s the cyberpunk biker gang of teens with body mods — which is frankly a great idea, just one with no place to go. They’re on a desert planet! There’s also the underworld half of the show, with Fett establishing himself as a replacement crime boss for Jabba the Hutt. This, however, has the same problem: There’s not a lot of places to do crimes on Tatooine.

There’s possibility for a great story to be told on Tatooine. Let George Miller rip the place a new one, or set Terrance Nance loose on an arid acid trip. Something that would expand the emotional and visual palette of live-action Star Wars the way Star Wars Visions did in animation. So far, there just hasn’t been live-action approach to the setting more compelling than the one first used in 1977’s A New Hope: Tatooine is the stand-in for any place you desperately want to leave.

This, more than any quibble about Boba Fett’s characterization — I agree with Temuera Morrison, the guy talks too much — is what holds The Book of Boba Fett back for me. Part of the character’s allure wasn’t just the mystery, but the potential: What would it be like if we could follow that guy around the Star Wars universe instead of our fun but otherwise straight-edge heroes? That fantasy, however, is currently being fulfilled by The Mandalorian, which leaves The Book of Boba Fett in an unusual predicament, its protagonist eclipsed by the character designed to evoke him.

Yet the idea still allures: Would Boba Fett be any different from Din Djarin if he were the one we were following across the galaxy? Would he still want to be a crime lord and not a bounty hunter? And would he want to be the same kind of crime lord he is attempting to be here, one that rules with respect over fear? These questions are fundamental to Star Wars, and the exact sort of thing that Tatooine is designed to evoke. Because after all, the definitive shot on the planet isn’t of the endless dunes, nor the slums and moisture farms where meager livings are eked out. It’s of those damn twin suns, and the idea that anyone would do whatever they could to get out from under them.

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