Boba Fett only has a few lines, gestures, and actions in the original Star Wars trilogy, yet has a fanatical and devoted fan base. The Star Wars Expanded Universe made sure we all know Boba Fett is the most successful, feared, and bad-assed bounty hunter to ever exist. But many of us who love Boba Fett, loved him *before* exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Boba had his fans who considered him the ultimate badass long before his character was more fully fleshed. We loved him, and knew he was the biggest badass bounty hunter ever from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi alone.
How, you ask, do we know?
It’s called context.
Here is the thing about the bounty hunter Boba Fett . . . .
His bad-assery in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are based upon not just what is seen in the movies but what can be inferred, i.e., the necessary backstory that happens off-screen for the few actions seen in the films to be possible.
In Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett reaches Bespin’s Cloud City before the rebels. His custom designed spacecraft the Slave 1 is fast, for sure, but Boba also knows where to go. Think about what cognitive skills and the intelligence network he must possess to make this happen. Fett flies a physically fast craft, he’s smart and a quick thinker and decision maker, and has an incredible intelligence network.
More importantly than reaching Bespin before the Rebels, he arrives with enough time to make a deal with Darth Vader somewhere along the way. Let me emphasize this part again. Boba Fett has the cojones to approach Darth Vader, a figure who terrifies his own Imperial Officers, and cut a deal. Boba goes to Darth Vader and says, “O hai I want something from you.” He not only has the balls to negotiate with a Sith Lord but apparently the reputation to even get an audience with Lord Vader as well. Also, Fett’s negotiation skills must be nothing short of amazing if after approaching Vader, and being granted an audience with him, Fett is able to successfully convince Vader to just hand Han Solo over. This is nothing short of amazing.
Then comes the famous, “he’s no good to me dead” line. We learn here that not only is Boba Fett only in this for the money but he must have even bigger cojones to openly question Vader’s actions. Amazingly, Boba only gets the crisp response from Vader that he will be compensated by the Empire for his loss. The last guy to openly question Vader got a Force Choke to the neck. Fett must have done something at some time to earn Vader’s respect. That’s impressive.
Boba Fett’s badass reputation is further established with the contextual clues we get from Return of the Jedi. Boba is walking around Jabba’s Palace in his full Mandalorian armor including helmet and jet pack. While others are relaxing, Boba is still wearing every piece of his armor including a jetpack he couldn’t possibly use in such a confined space. The dude never goes off duty. Badass. While walking around in full armor and helmet, he is still a hit with the ladies. Dude has swagger and mad lady-killer skills. You have to give him props.
Then Leia walks in with Chewbacca and dressed in Boushh’s armor. Leia negotiates Jabba the Hutt’s bounty on the Wookie with a thermal detonator setting everyone except Jabba and Boba in a panic. Notice how fast Fett springs to action. He’s in a room of the galaxy’s most vile villainy and scum and he is the least panicky and fastest to his weapon. Badass.
After negotiations are over, Boba Fett gives Leia/Boushh a respectful nod. I love that frikken nod! That nod says, “you threaten to blow everyone up including yourself just for a few extra credits. Respect.” I would be terrified of someone who negotiates with an explosive device. Fett just gives props. Badass.
Boba’s nod also says, “You brought in Chewie, a bounty I was not able to negotiate from Darth Vader.” Presumably Fett asked for Chewbacca from Vader back in ESB; if there were credits to be had, Fett wold have wanted them. He apparently dropped that part of the negotiations in order to secure the more lucrative Han bounty. Fett knows how to negotiate and is smart enough to cut his losses in the aim for a bigger payday. Smart. Also badass.
We can’t forget the look of Boba Fett’s custom Mandalorian armor. While nearly everyone else in the Star Wars original trilogy looks like they’ve never seen a day of combat (ahem Vader and every clean Stormtrooper) Boba Fett’s armor looks like it has been used and used heavily. This is not a man who stands on the sidelines and lets others do the dirty work for him. If after tussling with Boba Fett, his armor is that dirty and damaged, you have to wonder what the *other* guy looks like. We can be sure none of them are around to tell the tale.
Boba Fett also has a jet pack. Need I say more?
In response to the inglorious ‘end’ to our beloved Boba, it was necessary for Fett to be temporarily disposed for the rest of Return of the Jedi to continue. If the Rebels had escaped without taking care of Fett, he would have pursued them and then the whole plot of Return of the Jedi would have changed and we’d never have the big Rebel victory at the end.
So here is the TL;DR – We know Boba Fett is the most awesome bounty hunter in the universe because of simple contextual clues we can glean from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that reveal his backstory. Everything else devoted to Boba Fett in the Star Wars Extended Universe is just confirmation of what we Fett lovers have known all along.
Love, The Nerdista