Boba Fett, for all of his cool street cred and name recognition and raspy voice and supposed toughness, is just not very good at his chosen profession. Bounty hunters have to go after the worst of the worst, they’re basically mercenary police officers, and those kind of people have to have something about them that screams, “Look, dude, don’t mess with me, because I am so much more of a bad dude than you are.” Boba Fett has that vibe, that je ne sais quoi that projects intimidation, when, in fact, he is anything but a professional. He is, in fact, the clumsiest luckiest SOB in the whole Star Wars universe.
I’m basing this solely off of the original Star Wars films that Mr. Fett appears in and not any of the expanded universe, expanded editions or prequel stuff that came later. If you read books or watch cartoons based on the expanded universe you learn more about Boba Fett, and how he really is a totally bad dude who can survive falling into the stomach of the Sarlacc, but I’m not focusing on that, because diving into the expanded universe is a never-ending slogfest of links and other characters whose names you don’t know. I’ll be focusing only on the parts of the original trilogy where Boba Fett appears or does something, nothing more.
The first time we see Boba is in The Empire Strikes Back, awaiting orders along with a group of other bounty hunters from Darth Vader. Like Wesley from The Princess Bride, he mutters, “As you wish.” He then looks menacing while standing next to IG-88, a walking coffee maker.
The next time we see him he’s floating away in the garbage cloud that the Millennium Falcon used to escape from the Star Destroyers chasing them in the asteroid field. How did he get his ship, Slave I, into the garbage cloud? It’s not explained, but he follows, heroically pushing some buttons that make his ship’s engines turn on. Also, this is the only scene where we see Boba’s little optometrist scope being used. 1
When our heroes get to Cloud City on Bespin, sneaky Boba appears next after Vader has disarmed Han Solo, sidling up next to Darth Vader while Stormtroopers point their blasters at Han, Leia and Chewbacca. He has literally done nothing but follow the Falcon to Bespin, and now he’s standing next to the most powerful Sith lord there is. This tells you that he’s a very tough, quiet individual! Later, after Han is being tortured for fun, Boba tells Vader that Han is “no good to (him) dead.” He then traipses around, holding his rifle while Lando Calrissian prostrates himself before Vader. After that it’s off to the carbon freezing chamber where he once again complains about needing Han alive. He then points his rifle at Chewbacca, who could rip Boba’s arms out of their sockets without even trying. Once again, he’s one tough dude, showing you what he’s made of. After Luke arrives on Cloud City, he shoots at Luke, then runs away like a scaredy cat, then tells a Bespin guard to put Han on board his ship before flying off to Tatooine.
On Tatooine, he comes across in an almost civil fashion when he acknowledges the bargaining prowess of Boushh (Leia), after the “bounty hunter” secures 50000 credits for handing Chewbacca over to Jabba the Hutt. Repeating his placement on Bespin, Boba stands (once again) behind a powerful individual (Jabba the Hutt) while said powerful individual talks to someone (Luke). But all of the supposed toughness and bravado come crashing down on him when Boba ignites his jet pack and flies into battle to recapture Luke, Han and Chewbacca on the desert skiff, only to have Luke slice his blaster in half. He performs the ultimate wimp out move by lassoing Luke (lame!) and getting hit in the jet pack by a blind Han. As his jet pack once again ignites, rocketing him across the desert expanse, he cries out, slams into the side of Jabba’s sail barge, and then plummets to his death in the stomach of the Sarlacc monster.
Why is this man revered? I’ll admit, his outfit is cool, he carries himself with a Harry Calahan-like confidence and speaks only when it’s necessary. He seems like a tough dude, but I think that lying beneath that mask is the face and eyes of someone who knows they’re hiding their fear from everyone and realizing that, deep down, Fett is a charlatan who has to keep up the act before someone finds out that he’s really only good enough to be Sarlacc food.