Monday, December 27, 2010

Fett & Son(s): The Significance of Jango Fett

'When there are clouds in the skies, and they are grey.
You may be sad but remember that love will pass away.
Oh Django!
After the showers is the sun.
Will be shining...

Luis Bacalov, Django (1966)
Though it may come as a surprise, the origins of the Jango Fett character may have predated not only his debut in Attack of the Clones, but the character of his son Boba, as well. In Leigh Brackett's 1978 script treatment for The Empire Strikes Back we are introduced to Lando Kadar, who would later become Lando Calrissian. In the early draft Lando is a member of a family of clones, who participated-in and eventually became refugees-of the then nebulous conflict of the Clone Wars. Kadar lived in a Cloud City, along with a mystical race of natives appropriately named the Cloud People.

The concept of a clone legacy and a genetically identical family was one of many early ideas that Lucas, true to form, would put in the proverbial back pocket of his blue jeans and utilize in the prequel trilogy. However, rather than applying this backstory to the Smoothest Cat in the Galaxy, The Maker gave Boba Fett a father and enough big brothers to make the Sarlacc's belly burst - the Cloud People, too, were to evolve into the Kaminoans.

For better or worse, this revelation irrevocably changed how the hardcore audience would percieve Boba Fett in the original trilogy - Boba's a clone; Boba's a Stormtrooper; Boba's a human being; Boba was once a curly-haired squealing ten year old from New Zealand with a papa who loved him and now he's an orphan. They even took away Jason Wingreen's phenomenally sinister vocal performance in The Empire Strikes Back and replaced it with the voice of Temuera Morrison, muttered long distance through a speaker phone (probably just to spite me).

Jango as seen in Open Seasons.

While this seems to tell us more than we ever wanted to know about our enigmatic tax collector, we have yet to learn anything truly illuminating about the origins and motivations of Jango Fett. And no, I'm not taking into account the Open Seasons comic series produced in 2002. While certain elements of that series (Death Watch, the Vizsla family) were adopted into official, or 'G-Level' canon, the identity of Jango as a Mandalorian warrior was one of the details left behind: the concept was outright rejected in the second season episode of The Clone Wars 'The Mandalore Plot'.

Other EU material depicts Jango slightly before the events of Attack of the Clones, and gives us little to no insight into his character other than hinting at a relationship between Fett Sr. and bounty hunter Bond girl Zam Wessel.

So if traditional Expanded Universe sources aren't to be trusted, what do the films tell us about Jango Fett?

For one thing, the whole family appears to have an antagonistic relationship with doors.
He's the Clone Template.
This is Jango Fett's most significant contribution to the Star Wars story: his flesh and blood was destined to annihilate the Jedi Order and transform the GFFA into an interstellar Third Reich. But rarely is it asked why Jango was selected to be one the of the defining elements in Palpatine's machinations.

We can guess at the criteria. On a genetic level Jango probably had to be perfect, or the next best thing, to meet the Emperor's standards (while Fett is not exactly Aryan, one wonders to what extent Palpatine subscribes to the theory of a master race. By the time of A New Hope all the Imperials are white human males). And while a genetically flawless nerf herder wouldn't be much use to the Emperor as a clone host, a notorious galactic gunslinger he can work with.

An army of these guys? Christopher Lee can understand the appeal.
He wanted a son.
If the Clone Army is Jango Fett's most notable contribution, his desire for offspring was his most notable characteristic. Jango's decision to nurture a young life is the sole light of altruism and humanity we see in him; at least, on the surface. The actual motives for Fett wanting a son are somewhat murkier upon close examination.

Like the father-son bonding scene from Jaws, but with the sharks.
It has been suggested that Jango was out to create a legacy for himself in creating Boba. It's hard to argue with this assessment - after all, when we look at the phenomenon of reproduction on a cold, purely philisophical platform, we want to have children because we hope that a part of ourselves will continue on into the future.
But Jango Fett takes this desire to an extreme, because Boba Fett is a clone. If Jango wanted a son so much, he probably wouldn't have had trouble finding a partner to have kids with the old fashioned way (chicks dig the armour). So barring impotence, why did Jango choose to carry out his legacy in such an artificial fashion?


When we view Jango Fett as a complete egotist the pieces of his character's puzzle fall neatly into place. He was genetically perfect, and he was the mold for the most sophisticated and successful armed force in galactic history. Of course he was a narcissist, and his sheer vanity would prevent him from even considering siring a son with inferior genetic fortitude. He didn't want a sullied fragment of himself to continue on after his death: he wanted an heir and a replacement. While the Clone Army would be deployed for Palpatine's ulterior motives, Boba Fett was Jango's personal master plan.

Boba Fett is not the man his father was.
Jango's inferred vision of a long line of identical Fetts never came to fruition. He, like his son down the road, succumbed to a potent recipe of animal cruelty, jetpack malfunctions, and Jedi interference, with an unhealthy additional dose of Samuel 'Trying-Real-Hard-To-Be-The-Shepard' L. Jackson. The instruction of his clone protege was cut short, and Boba was left a pretty sad kid.

Worst 'Take Your Kid To Work Day' ever.
You need only compare the costumes of the two Fetts to see where their life paths differed, and even what subject matter the different characters are most aligned with. Jango Fett's armour is a spotless, gleaming relic of honourable weapons and civilized ages; a space nouveau rocketman with Flash Gordon guns and low-slung holsters. Boba Fett's armour is quite the opposite: a ramshackle mishmash of chipped paint, burned mementos and dented war machines.

They're not even physically the same set of armour. Jango Fett's helmet, which most thought Boba would use as his own, was utilized in an episode of The Clone Wars as a booby-trapped IED intended for Mace Windu. The rest of Jango's armour is of very different dimensions than Boba's, which puts a hole in the 'Boba takes his papa's armour and goes out for revenge' theory (would you stripsearch your brutally decapitated dad?).

And Boba's personality differs from Jango's as well. While Fett Sr.'s main concern appeared to be the legacy of his DNA, Fett Jr. had no cloned offspring and was later rendered impotent by the treacherous stomach acids of the Sarlacc (the EU suggests that before the Pit, Fett started a family and had a daughter, whom he later abandoned. You can take this theory or leave it depending on your Mary Sue tolerance).

Rather than answering old questions, the revelation that Boba is a clone opens up new ones. Jango Fett's true origins remain as shadowy as Boba's ever were. And while I'll always hear the Jason Wingreen voice when I think of Boba Fett, Jango Fett remains a fascinating and welcome addition to the Star Wars mythos.

'Oh, he looks even better without the helmet! Surprise ending!'
Boba Fett, Robot Chicken: Star Wars


  1. you really should play starwars:bounty hunter. it is Canon, and Open season aint. it tells why jango wanted a kid, and gives a nice story to the character and its a good game.

  2. "Worst 'Take Your Kid To Work Day' ever."

    If I'd been drinking milk, it would have been spilled.