Boba Fett is one of the most beloved scourges of the Star Wars universe. Yet, he says only 27 words (28 if you add the Wilhelm Scream), and is on screen for a mere 6 minutes and 32 seconds.
He even gets defeated in a pathetic way by being knocked into the Sarlacc pit by a blind Han Solo. And yet, fans look past that and still love him as one of the greatest characters.
Why is this?
Sure he’s got cool Mandalorian armor and a Clint Eastwood swagger. But that only adds to what we witnessed in the films.
2 Reasons Boba Fett Is the Coolest of Cool Characters
We love Boba Fett for two reasons:
1. A representative statement made by one particular character.
2. An action leveraged by this character against another.
Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett, the script writers of Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, didn’t need a backstory or drawn out details to create Boba Fett—they didn’t even give him that much dialogue. Instead they used pre-developed characters to quickly build the lore of the bounty hunter.
We’ll explore this more below so that you too can use these tools when you want to create cool characters quickly.
1. The Power of a Representative Statement
Enter Darth Vader, with his flowing cape and menacing black helmet. On the deck of the Star Destroyer stands the most vile bounty hunters in existence, awaiting Vader’s instructions. In the middle of his orders on capturing Han and Leia, Vader turns and specifically looks at one bounty hunter and says,
Let that sink in.
Darth Vader is a developed character who is evil and kills without remorse so as to accomplish his mission. And yet, even he needs to single out this one bounty hunter and throttle back his destructive nature. With only two words, the writers of the script leveraged the character of Vader to imply that Boba Fett was of a whole new level of villainy and swine.
We, as the audience, do not need proof, action, or even a backstory, because we just witnessed Vader having to give special attention to one single bounty hunter with only a single turn and a statement.
As you develop your characters or introduce new ones to your book, think about previous characters you can leverage in order to quickly build upon the new ones. Instead of spending time developing backstories or placing a hero in a situation to prove their capability, use established notoriety of existing characters.
2. The Weight of a Leveraged Action
A simple act can only tell readers so much. But when that act is leveraged against another developed character, it can mean so much more.
Han Solo, one of the most sly, scruffy-looking nerfherders in the galaxy is being chased by the Imperial fleet. In a moment of brilliance, he fools them all and attaches his ship, the Millennium Falcon, to the back of one of the Star Destroyers. There, he waits for them to release their trash so that his ship can drift away—and no one will know.
Pretty cunning, huh?
Except for one small thing…
Boba Fett not only figured it out, but laid his own trap. While Han Solo may have outsmarted the entire Imperial fleet, and even some of the most notorious bounty hunters sent to capture him, he was no match for Boba Fett.
In essence, Boba Fett proved he’s worthy opponent to and thinks like the cunning smuggler, Han Solo.
Outthinking Luke or Leia wouldn’t have been as great of a feat. Sure, they’re smart—but we don’t love them for it. Han, however, is known for smelling a trap and being on top of things even when everything has gone wrong. He’s known for being the sly one who gets away. And yet, with this one simple action, Boba Fett shows the audience he is brilliant enough to outsmart even the greatest smuggler.
When looking at actions, choose the right character to signify true character development.
- Does your character outsmart someone who is known for being impervious to defeat?
- Does your character, with a simple glance, have the ability to instantly take the breath away from a character who seems unfazed by anything?
These simple effects on particular characters can build true development with less effort and without slowing the pace with long dialogue or backstories.
Developing Cool Characters vs. Creating Cool Characters
Creating a character is easy. Developing them is hard.
When you find yourself developing new characters, think about the characters you’ve already worked so hard to develop and find ways to leverage that to develop others, whether it’s through representative statements or actions. The way they act and the things they say about others could turn your latest character into the next Boba Fett.