Though taciturn Mandalorian bounty hunter Boba Fett (as played by Jeremy Bulloch, Temuera Morrison, and Daniel Logan) technically appeared before The Empire Strikes Back, his scenes from the film are what truly popularized him. He doesn’t say much, but his presence stands out even among his fellow bounty hunters: the scratched-up armor, the equipment he totes around, and — of course — his iconic dented helmet. Indeed, Boba doesn’t have to be the film’s most interesting character when he looks like he does. Star Wars’ environmental storytelling tendencies often make you wonder about minor characters’ backstories, and Boba is among the first and best to have that effect.
With his return to live-action on The Mandalorian, as well as the announcement of the enigmatic series The Book of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter is on everyone’s minds once again. Before looking forward, however, let’s look back at The Empire Strikes Back, because there’s something about Boba you may have missed no matter how many times you’ve seen the classic film (or how much merch of him you own).
The bounty hunter with … no name?
Jeremy Bulloch, who portrayed Boba in the original trilogy, said in a 2004 interview at Chicagoland Entertainment Expo that he largely based his performance on the Man with No Name of Clint Eastwood fame. “The way [Eastwood] moved slow and easy, silent […] I tried to translate that over into Boba Fett,” the actor said. Whether George Lucas or The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner were aware of Bulloch’s inspiration or not, it ironically worked out because — believe it or not — Boba’s name is never used in the film. To prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, let’s take a look at all his scenes in The Empire Strikes Back.
Boba first appears when Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) hires a group of bounty hunters to go after the Millennium Falcon. His reputation obviously precedes him, as Vader walks up to him specifically and demands, “No disintegrations.” No name is mentioned.
Next we see Boba, he’s tailing the Millennium Falcon as it leaves an asteroid field in his own ship, the Slave I, and no dialogue is spoken.
Then comes Cloud City, where Boba meets Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) for a joyless dinner party with Vader. Once again, names aren’t exchanged. As Han is being tortured later on, Boba stands outside with Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), waiting for Vader to come out. Lando does refer to Boba when Vader finally appears, but he only calls him “this bounty hunter.”
Vader, too, refers to Boba as “bounty hunter” after Han is frozen into a block of carbonite. Never a fun scene to watch.
Carting Han away with a detachment of stormtroopers, Boba is silent as he takes aim at Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who’s following them in the hopes of saving his friend. Finally, the last we see of Boba in the film, he’s putting “Captain Solo in the cargo hold” of the Slave I. The credits display his name, but it isn’t said out loud until Return of the Jedi, when Chewbacca warns an unfrozen and recovering Han of the daunting bounty hunter’s presence.
The Skywalker siblings and Boba Fett
For as much as it’s stepped around in The Empire Strikes Back’s final cut, though, Boba’s name is dropped in one of the film’s deleted scenes. In this scene, Leia is tending to Luke’s multitude of Vader-inflicted wounds, and they have a brief exchange to catch Luke up to speed.
Unaware of the specificities of the carbon freezing process, Luke asks Leia how being encased in carbonite is going to affect Han. She was there when Han was frozen, so she knows a bit more, and tells Luke that Han’s not dead, but in hibernation. She then says, “Lando’s fixed it so we can find Boba Fett’s ship.” Luke is as blind to the name as the final cut of the film is, and funnily enough, Leia specifies by describing Boba as everyone else does: “The bounty hunter.” So, even after his name is revealed, the aura of mystery surrounding him prevails.
Neither Boba’s name nor his story end with the sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi, but only time will tell what The Book of Boba Fett has in store. As always, with the galaxy far, far away, the possibilities are endless.