Today, we’re going to talk about Boba and Jango Fett, and a piece created by John Alvin called Like Father Like Son. I love The Mandalorian. I love Padro Pascal, I mean, who doesn’t? In fact, Grogu has become my second favorite Star Wars character after Yoda. All that being said, as bounty hunters go, my heart will always belong to Boba Fett, the OG bounty hunter. As even Star Wars series mastermind John Favreau will tell you, without Boba Fett, the Mandalorians and Mandalore would not exist.
I’m sure if John Alvin were still here today, he’d love Mando and Grogu, too, but as it was, he was one of the first diehard fans of Boba Fett all the back in the late 70s.
WHAT’S UP WITH BOBA?
Boba has been in the news a lot lately. There’s been a lot of conjecture recently about whether they’ll be a second season of The Book of Boba Fett, and it’s looking more and more, based on recent information, that we won’t be seeing a season two. The Mandalorian, however, is trundling along into another season, and a feature film spearheaded by producer/director Dave Filoni is now in the works. The film will, in his own words, “focus on the New Republic, and “close out” the interconnected stories that are told in series including The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, and other Disney+ shows.” It’s being called the “Mandoverse”, and a number of folks are imagining the various powerful characters working together as a sort of version of Star Wars Avengers. Still, let’s be honest. As far as bounty hunters are concerned, (and to paraphrase a famous Disney quote), It all started with Boba Fett.
If you’re not someone who can win every Star Wars trivia contest, you may be wondering how the Mandalorian and Boba Fett, and Boba Fett and Jango Fett are connected.
BOBA AND JANGO HISTORY
There’s a huge difference between Mando and Boba. Mando (or Din Djarin) is adopted by the Mandalorians as a foundling, and grows up learning the way of the Mandalore. Both are bounty hunters, but Boba Fett isn’t a Mandalorian.
Jango Fett IS a Mandalorian. Like Din Djarin, Jango is raised as a foundling, and in the ways of the Mandalore, After fighting in the Mandalorian Civil Wars, Jango becomes the best and most renowned bounty hunters in the galaxy. Subsequently, Sith Lord Darth Tyranus hires Jango to be the template for millions of clones, secretly bred on the lonely aquatic planet of Kamino in the outer rim. His body, face, and all his DNA are used to build an army of clone troopers. As payment, Jango is given a clone, whom he calls Boba, to raise as his son.
Jango was a bad dude. He took part in a plot to assassinate Senator Padmé Amidala, and conspired with Count Dooku to decimate the Jedi Order. He was beheaded in the First Battle of Geonosis.
Boba Fett, who is the first bounty hunter represented in the Star Wars canon, not only has all the talents and skills of his father and genetic donor, but uses an altered version of Jango’s Mandalorian armor. Driven largely by a need for revenge against his father’s death, he works both with the gangster Jabba, and the Sith Lord Darth Vader. While trying to prevent Han Solo’s rescue by Luke Skywalker, he falls into the Great Pit of Carkoon, and into the jaws of the man-eating sarlaac. BUT WAIT! He survives and escapedsthe sarlaac and joins forces with a Tusken tribe, where he finds a stronger sense of honor and integrity, building his own moral code. He becomes the ruler of the territories of Mos Espa, and gains the respect of its citizens by protecting them in repeated attacks by violent outside forces.
Maybe you’d like to see an official timeline for Boba’s life and career. LucasFilm is only too happy to oblige, and you can read it here:
or perhaps an official video might be better at breaking down Boba’s history. You can see that HERE, or below:
Boba Fett, and by extension all the Mandalorians, are, in part, based on what was dubbed in the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone as “the man with no name”. George Lucas was very strongly influenced by Leone’s films, as indicated by this quote. “There were quite a few films made about bounty hunters in the Old West. That’s where that came from. He is also very much like the man-with-no-name from the Sergio Leone Westerns.”
Boba Fett figures far more prominently in terms of inspiration for the original trilogy than you might imagine. In Lucas’s early draft of the Star Wars: A New Hope, Boba Fett was the prototype for Darth Vader. Vader started out as an intergalactic bounty hunter. When Darth evolved into a sort of dark knight, Boba Fett became the bounty hunter.
So: how did a character that has very little screen time in the original Star Wars trilogy become so popular? Toys. Two years before Empire Strikes Back was released, Kenner created a series of action figures, and Boba Fett was one of the hardest to obtain, making that toy highly prized by Star Wars fans.
For fans of what is NOT arguable the best Star Wars movie, here is a video of behind the scenes from The Empire Strikes Back:
“IT’S ALL ABOUT BOBA” (John Alvin)
That brings us to John Alvin, and his love of Boba Fett and Star Wars (and the piece Like Father Like Son), because Andrea Alvin remembers that toy.
I spoke to her about her memory of John and his interest in and fascination with Boba Fett, which he had from the beginning. She explains, “Whenever you bought one of the toys, there was the chance of a special prize, and that prize was a Boba Fett action figure. It was before he was a big deal, after the first movie. He had gotten enough attention from fans that they used him as a premium, and he was very hard to get. You’d have to buy a bunch of the toys over and over just trying to get him. Of course, John got multiples of it.”
John was also a huge fan of the Sergio Leone movies, so it was no surprise to her at the time that he was attracted to the character. “He was always a fan boy for Boba. He and his friends would talk about plot points, and where they thought George would take him in the next movies. They’d all parse out what his connection to the rest of the characters might be, who he might be related to, how he might figure in future plots, and if they’d ever get to know his backstory. With all the many characters, heroes and villains, Luke Skywalker’s journey towards being a Jedi, Leia’s stint as a scantily clad slave, it was still all about. Boba. He was always the one they’d talk about.”
BOBA, “LIKE FATHER LIKE SON”, and the inspiration for FORCE OF INFLUENCE Series:
Out of his fascination with who is related to whom and the timeline of it all, John Alvin created a series called “Force of Influence”. Many of the originals from that series were purchased by George Lucas himself, because he too used the connections between characters as a lynchpin for the whole saga.
One of the first pieces John worked on in the series was “Like Father Like Son”, with Boba and Jango Fett together in one image. Andrea remembers him working on the original. “The piece was really big, at least 20 x 30. He watched the movies the whole time he was painting it. We must have seen the original Star Wars trilogy hundreds of times. It was in constant rotation. It got to the point where he could literally speak the whole movie while painting. Much as I loved them too, I knew what seemed like overkill to me was inspiration to him. It’s why he wanted to gHet the “heavy light” and the emotional truth of the visual image exactly right.”
She goes on to talk about the color story of Like Father Like Son. “The color is very much in his aesthetic, that turquoise blue and orange. Jango is the father figure, so he’s standing behind, and there’s this fiery light between Jango and Boba. It has this great composition with the fire swooping up from left to right and right to left is this lens flare and smoke. John was a master at leading the viewer’s eye. It’s great visual storytelling and a very dynamic piece.”
In going through the archives a few weeks ago, Andrea found a small number of hand-signed limited editions created from this original, which is owned by George Lucas. For a limited time while they last, the John Alvin art estate is offering these limited editions to Star Wars fans. Click on the image of Like Father Like Son or HERE to buy this iconic image of two classic Star Wars characters.