Saturday, February 25, 2006

Boba Fett: The Dark Shadow of Lucas, The Dark Hero of Legend

I’m trying to figure out what is the thing that really draws people in about Boba Fett.
I think part of it is his ability. He’s hired by the Empire because they can’t find the heroes, because the heroes are just that damn good. Then he finds the heroes, and captures them, proving that he’s just that damn better. Part of it is the fact that he exists beyond the normal drives of the mere mortal. But mostly it’s the mystery. He’s a tough nut to crack, a bona fide bad ass, totally high and tight and above the base moral drives, and behind the mask, with a sketchy past and unknown future, he can be any man. He is your shadow, and you can wear it without fear. He’s an excellent cipher.

As he’s developed, he’s become a good example of Dark Hero, but that took so much time to create: a word of mouth legend is not born overnight.

It’s not good enough to tell someone, ‘yeah, he’s one dark somnabitch, so don’t git in his way’. Boba Fett didn’t talk much, he was all action, and even that action was economical.

Think of the scene in Empire where the Millennium Falcon eludes the Empire, floating away as they jettison their trash from the Star Destroyer without so much as a ‘by your leave’. Wow, that’s clever. Then picture what follows: a brief flare of engines, a distinct, compact, (and you know without being told) very lethal ship detatches from the hiding place on the hull of the destroyer, and sets a course to follow the Falcon: swift, silent death, rolling through the blackness of space. That scene spoke volumes about the sentient creature at it’s helm, the mysterious bounty hunter warned by the Sith lord “No disintegrations”, the same bounty hunter who replied only grudgingly (and without fear of Vader) “As you wish”.

Such brilliance, whether planned or unconsciously imprinted, is the reason he survived in fan’s memories. Whether or not Lucas intended, he cast the Shadow Self in stark clarity, and fans were drawn like moths to the flame. Lucas could not slay the shadow, no matter how many Sarlaacs he fed him to: the shadow is eternal. I think he's come to accept that, based on the use of the character in EU material, and the development of the race of shadow selves: the Mandalorians.

Is it possible to achieve the same effect as in that above scene, in the written medium of novels? A picture speaks a thousand words. It reaches us on a symbolic, visceral level. I presume you’d need a thousand very precise, sharp tipped, visually loaded words placed with extreme consciousness of the economics of less is more that is pacing’s mantra, to create the same effect in a novel. To create this character in the same way, you’d need to see him in action, without explanation, many times over, before you’d be ready to tell his story in detail.


Aaron said...

Excellent post. :)

Larry the Male Fan said...

I'm really not a big STAR WARS fan, Chris, but I understand why you like Boba Fett so much. The thing is, it's not just that he's a bad guy, it's that he does his own thing. He works for the Empire, but they don't own him.

I liked THE ROCKETEER even better than STAR WARS because it was more romantic and it had Jennifer Connelly (sigh!) But at one point Howard Huges is talking, and he says, "I'll remind you gentlemen, I don't work for the government. I collaborate at my discretion."

That's what makes Boba Fett cool. He collaborates at his discretion.

Christine said...

Thanks Aaron!!

Hey Larry! Never saw the Rocketeer. I think the first part of the SW saga had intense romance, between Anakin and Padme. They were the prototype star crossed lovers, and Anakin was (excuse the pun) the ultimate dark hero. He wanted to posses Padme. That she had thoughts of her own, and not in alignment with him, fed his own insecurity and helped push him over to the darkside. A dark hero doesn't worry about the means, they focus on the end that is important to them. The hero, I think, has concern for the means, and the end, which is why their options are so often limited.

Larry the Male Fan said...

"That she had thoughts of her own, and not in alignment with him, fed his own insecurity and helped push him over to the darkside."

That's brilliant, Chris! I just wish the movie had made that point as clearly as you did -- I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.

aaron said...

I'd love to post this on > Editorials.

Christine said...

I am humbled and honored! Please, post away!