The Mandalorian: How Is Boba Fett Still Alive and How Did He Survive the Sarlacc Pit?

The greatest bounty hunter in the Star Wars galaxy is making a comeback! What does Boba Fett's return mean for The Mandalorian season 2?

The Mandalorian Boba Fett
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.

From the very beginning, Boba Fett has inspired The Mandalorian. Showrunner Jon Favreau’s “toy box” approach pitched protagonist Din Djarin as a Boba Fett-like figure, and although the two are quite different in terms of personality and history, the iconic silhouette of the space western gunslinger is very similar. 

But now Boba Fett himself is back in The Mandalorian season 2, played by none other than Temuera Morrison in a very brief cameo. At the very end of the season 2 premiere “The Marshal,” we find Boba watching from a hill as Mando rides off with his old armor, a scowl on the old bounty hunter’s face that would silence a krayt dragon. With all the Mandalorian history and bounty hunting on the show, it was only a matter of time before we finally got to see Boba in the flesh!

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While new Star Wars fans may not be as familiar with Boba Fett, fans who’ve spent hours rewatching the Original Trilogy of movies likely let out a shriek when Morrison hit the screen on the live-action series. The helmeted bounty hunter first appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special in animated form, but more famously in The Empire Strikes Back as a mysterious figure able to talk back to Darth Vader without consequences.

Although he’s barely on screen and speaks very few lines in Empire and Return of the Jedi, his iconic look and intimidating swagger have made him one of the most popular characters in the saga. Most Star Wars fans will recognize his iconic T-visored Mandalorian helmet, jetpack, and gauntlets that can shoot either missiles or ropes for capturing bounties alive. His entire storyline in the Original Trilogy involved hunting down Han Solo for Jabba the Hutt, and he’d fit right in The Mandalorian’s Bounty Hunter’s Guild.

Morrison isn’t the original actor to play Boba Fett: that’s Jeremy Bulloch, who wore the helmet in the Original Trilogy. Other people helped bring the character to life, too. John Morton filled in as body double for Bulloch and Jason Wingreen provided the voice. But Morrison played Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones and is, therefore, the live-action face for all of Jango’s clones, including Boba. This is also why George Lucas later dubbed Morrison’s voice over Wingreen’s performance for the DVD release of the Original Trilogy in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, Boba Fett’s return has sparked a lot of talk among fans, who will likely spend the entire season theorizing how the bounty hunter was able to escape his fate in Return of the Jedi and what’s next for him on The Mandalorian. Let’s discuss…

Why Did Boba Fett Return in The Mandalorian?

Disney has already tried to bring Boba Fett back to live-action twice since it purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars in 2012. In 2015, Fantastic Four director Josh Trank was attached to direct a Boba Fett movie that was originally going to be announced as a third Star Wars Story standalone movie, along with Rogue One and Solo. According to an interview with Polygon, Trank “quit because I knew I was going to be fired if I didn’t quit” after Fantastic Four‘s dismal performance and the well-known behind-the-scenes drama during production.

The Boba Fett project was revived in 2018, with Logan director James Mangold set to helm the movie, but this second attempt was also shelved after Solo‘s tepid turn at the box office that same year. Simon Kinberg, Rebels producer and Dark Phoenix director, would have co-written the movie.

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In 2020, The Mandalorian provides the best re-entry point for Boba Fett. Not only does it star a main character with a similar occupation and a taste for carbonite, but it delves deeper into Mandalorian culture as well as what happened to places like Tatooine after the fall of the Empire. Even though Boba Fett isn’t Mandalorian by blood, the fate of Mandalore could still affect him personally, especially since his father was a member of that culture, even if Jango was treated like an outcast by the planet’s pacifist government. Would Fett still be an ally of the Empire after what they did to his father’s people?

“The Tragedy” answered that question with a resounding “NO.” The episode sees Boba Fett team up with Mando and Fennec Shand to fight back the stormtroopers trying to take away Grogu on Tython. In fact, Boba seems shocked that the Empire is even back in such force after all this time, expressing surprised when he sees Moff Gideon’s dark troopers flying towards an Imperial cruiser reminiscent of the Star Destroyers of old.

By the end of the episode, Boba Fett has decided to join Mando on his quest to rescue Grogu, which will likely mean shooting his way through the faction he once allied himself to in the Original Trilogy. Had Boba had a change of heart after all these years or was he always just in it for the credits?

One thing we do know for sure is that Boba’s return has been a long time coming on The Mandalorian. The show first teased the return of Boba Fett in the season 1 episode “The Gunslinger.” That episode ends with a mysterious figure inspecting the body of Din Djarin’s latest target on Tatooine.

When does this moment take place with respect to Fett’s timeline? Has he only just recently escaped the sarlacc or has he spent the years since Return of the Jedi as a hermit in the desert? The Mandalorian season 2 seems to confirm Boba’s hermit status, as we first see him wearing black robes and carrying a rifle and a gaffi stick as his only protection, even though he’s clearly had access to his ship, Slave I, this entire time. Why hadn’t he tried to leave Tatooine before?

There are still plenty of questions to be answered about Boba Fett’s missing years, which is probably why Lucasfilm is interested in producing a Disney+ spinoff for the character, but at least one piece of the puzzle is in place by the end of “The Tragedy.” Boba has his armor back and is deadlier than ever.

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How Did Boba Fett Survive the Sarlacc Pit?

Fett’s death in Return of the Jedi wasn’t the end for the bounty hunter in the pre-Disney Legends continuity, either. In fact, he lived a long life that stretched decades beyond the events of the Original Trilogy. But how did he survive a fate as gruesome as being slowly digested over a thousand years inside of the sarlacc?

Fans learned in the classic Dark Horse comic series Dark Empire by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy that Fett’s armor allowed him to survive inside the sarlacc and fight his way out, blowing up the creature in the process (a move very similar to how Mando escaped the belly of the krayt dragon in “The Marshal”). The novel The Mandalorian Armor by K.W. Jeter further explained that it was rival bounty hunter Dengar who found Boba Fett half-dead in the desert and nursed him back to health.

From that point on, Fett became a regular character in the Legends Expanded Universe, featuring in many bounty hunter-focused books. He also made a brief cameo in the 19-book New Jedi Order series and appeared in the Jedi-focused Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi books. In fact, Fett lived on until the very end of the Legends timeline, completely defying the odds after his initial demise in Return of the Jedi.

Boba Fett eventually became the leader of the Mandalorians, which had a sprawling culture and even their own official language in Legends. Fett had a family and his granddaughter ended up assisting in the training of Jaina Solo, Han and Leia’s daughter.

As in the Sequel Trilogy, Legends included the continuation of the Skywalker-Solo clan, and, while Fett mostly kept to himself as the leader of a third faction sometimes opposed and sometimes allied with the Republic, he was involved with incorporating Mandalorian fighting into Jaina’s Jedi training. He also became a formal ally of the Jedi in the war against Jaina’s brother, Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus, in Legacy of the Force.

Will the Disney canon do something similar with Boba Fett’s post-Return of the Jedi story? We don’t know what the studio might have in mind for Fett, but it wouldn’t be surprising if some elements from his Legends storyline were brought into the new canon. That’s exactly what Disney did with Grand Admiral Thrawn, another character whose Legends story was pieced together in a new way in the canon animated series Rebels.

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Fans certainly have had a lot of time to come up with opinions, headcanon, and theories about the bounty hunter. Fett speaks sparingly and radiates intimidation, even if his most famous role features him falling into a large pit. Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars added to Fett’s backstory and showed him learning the ropes of the bounty hunting trade. All that could be paid off depending on how Disney incorporates Boba now that he’s made his return to the universe.

The Star Wars franchise has been in a rather uncertain place since the Disney purchase, with movies doing well at the box office but cultural cache falling. The Mandalorian is one of the most unquestionably successful and high-quality parts of the franchise right now, so it’s a good business decision to bring a very popular character to the show. We’ll see what that means for the story. 

Keep up with all of The Mandalorian season 2 news here.

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