The James Clayton Column: Hubba-Boba – bounty hunter searching for romantic spin-off

James considers the brand new rom-com The Bounty Hunter, and wonders if the world could use a Boba Fett spin-off movie instead...

Now in cinemas, Gerard Butler (King Leonidas from 300) and Jennifer Aniston (Rachel from Friends) are paired up and fronting a flick called The Bounty Hunter. If this was pitched as a gung-ho guns-for-hire action movie with King Leonidas and Rachel from Friends, it’d be an appealing prospect. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to turn out that way.

It hurts seeing how Butler has been reconfigured as a hunk of romcom eye-candy. Some women swooned when they saw his toned abs in 300 and the higher powers consequently decided that he should be cast in mediocre material as a piece of meat. P.S. I Love You? This is madness! I want to see Gerry screaming, sticking a spear in things and going berserk against the amassed nasties of the Persian Empire. Who is that slushy smoothie on the poster for The Ugly Truth? Madness!

Ah well, I guess I’m not the target audience for The Bounty Hunter and similar chick flicks. The marketing people know that graphic novel-based films about half-naked ancient warrior men stabbing at ugly monsters are more my thing. They don’t care if I shrug off a trailer for Sex And The City 2. They just want me to scream “oorah!” and have a nerdgasm when they flash a clip from Clash Of The Titans.

Back to The Bounty Hunter (never turn your back on a bounty hunter), this sort of stuff normally flies right below my radar. There may be a blip of “Ah, Gerard Butler: this is Sparta!”, but otherwise it goes undetected or passes by without raising more than an iota of interest in my mind. However, the new movie that matches Aniston and Butler has caught my attention for another reason unrelated to the Leonidas Factor. Once again, it’s because my entire existence is affected by a childhood obsession with Star Wars.

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The Bounty Hunter. What beautiful words. There’s so much promise in that title that it’s a shame to waste it on a woeful romcom (it might not be woeful, but I’m willing to bet it’s as ropey and insubstantial as King Xerxes’ golden g-string). Say ‘bounty hunter’, though, and the first thought is one of the coolest and most compelling characters in movie history. My imagination is whirling towards The Empire Strikes Back, a deal with Darth Vader and Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Star Wars geekstreak never dying, upon seeing a poster for The Bounty Hunter, all I could think of was Boba Fett.

He’s so cool. An enigma wrapped in a mystery acting as a mercenary wearing a helmet. Plus he’s got a jetpack, which makes him all the more awesome. As far as things go, he’s pretty much a humourless version of Han Solo, who hides his face and has lots of gadgets. Ice cold and unflinching, he cruises the crummiest dives and scummiest holes of the galaxy, capturing all kinds of low-life for instant cash. It takes a special sort of person to pursue that kind of a lifestyle, and so Boba has my admiration.

It’s no surprise that a cult following came following his brief appearances in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. Seeing ‘Baby Boba’ in Attack Of The Clones was one of the best things about the prequels and the sight of the child bounty hunter picking up his dad’s helmet post-decapitation for the tragic ‘pass-the-torch’ moment deeply moved me.

It was nice to get some backstory for the shadowy predator and if I could choose which Star Wars multiverse character should get their own spin-off (any opportunity will do for George Lucas), it’d either be the bounty hunter or Admiral Ackbar.

Seeing as I’m seeking a romantic-comedy I’d want to actively watch and a fish-headed alien doesn’t have much chance as a romantic lead, I think that the Boba Fett blockbuster love story is most likely.

If you’re feeling imaginative you could even see Fett as a pretty attractive figure of mystique and sexual suspense. Holding that blaster firm, he’s got the whole phallic archetypal macho-hero pose going on and you can picture him appearing on the covers on men’s magazines with scantily-clad ladies hanging around his neck. Princess Leia is renowned as the Star Wars pin-up, but you can’t deny that there’s something sexy about Fett and his silent-but-deadly manner. It’s hard to describe, but the bounty hunter has undeniable mojo.

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We have no idea what’s underneath the outfit. All we know is that in Attack Of The Clones he was a good looking young lad with curly locks that suggest he’d grow up to be a handsome guy. He could be a great taciturn knight in shining armour – literally – to lead a romantic movie, dropping in on a jetpack to yank some heartbroken young woman for an unforgettable fling on the fringes of the Outer Rim.

If he doesn’t have the personality and chemistry with co-stars to do puppy love or fairytale fantasy, he could always be adapted for more erotic ‘adult’ material. With a spacecraft named ‘Slave I’ and a spacey gimp mask, a kinky S&M space opera spin-off would also be do-able.

The possibilities for Boba are endless, but I’d like to see him cast in his own romantic spin-off, mainly because he strikes me as a lonely fellow who could do with a loving, intimate relationship. The path of the bounty hunter is a lonely one and having spent years crawling through the seamiest corners of the galaxy, scarred by his father’s death and compelled to do dirty work to make a living, it’s nice to imagine that Fett will find a soul mate.

In the end, the closest poor Boba comes to a romantic resolution is being digested by the Sarlacc at the same time as one of Jabba’s slave girls. He needs a classic weepy moment where he removes his helmet, reveals that he’s actually Sean Bean and then sweeps the damsel-in-distress off her feet.

The taglines would scream “She was the bounty hunter’s greatest catch!” and the aisles would run with tears of joy as the credits rolled and the newly-married Fetts flew off in a ’50s car into the happily-ever-after sunset.

We need that more than another movie that emasculates Gerard Butler. Because George Lucas hasn’t hooked the randy middle-aged woman market demographic (a.k.a. the Mamma Mia! audience) into Star Wars yet, I’m optimistic that Beauty And The Bounty Hunter Boba Fett will be in pre-production soon.

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James’ previous column can be found here.