The ‘Logan’ director’s take on the bounty hunter could be a more ambitious and open-ended outing than ‘Solo.’

Lucasfilm is officially raising Boba Fett from the Sarlacc Pit to become part of their ever-growing empire of Star Wars spinoff films. According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Mangold has been tapped to write and direct a standalone feature centered on the taciturn bounty hunter.

The announcement comes concurrent with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the first standalone Star Wars film to focus on one particular character. But the studio has been developing its slate of character-driven standalone Star Wars films for a while now. Curiously, an Obi-Wan Kenobi film has reportedly been in the works since summer 2017 with Stephen Daldry set to direct, although no writers have signed on to pen the script. At the moment, Mangold’s Boba Fett film looks like it could have more momentum.

Our review of Solo describes the movie as “uninspired and visually dull,” albeit with intriguing potential for a sequel. This is largely because its urge to illuminate all the familiar details of Han Solo’s character in the original franchise (his blaster! the Millennium Falcon! doing the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs!) ultimately remove any sense of mystery surrounding his first solo outing. But a key narrative advantage that a Boba Fett film would have over Solo or an Obi-Wan Kenobi adventure is that the character is pretty much an open-ended cipher.

In the original trilogy, he is mostly silent, receives next to no screen time, and keeps his face entirely shielded away within a battered green helmet. Attack of the Clones laid a little more groundwork for Boba Fett’s identity, introducing him as an unaltered clone of the bounty hunter Jango Fett that Jango raised as his own son, leaving the young Boba alone as he solemnly took up his slain father’s helmet on the sands of Geonosis.

The Clone Wars animated series further hinted at his evolution into a fearsome bounty hunter and his desire to avenge his father’s death, but Boba’s actual personality still largely remains a blank slate. Whoever ends up playing him will get the opportunity to blaze an entirely new path.

Mangold’s involvement is also promising, given that the Oscar-nominated director’s last outing was the critically-acclaimed Logan. Its earnest solemnity, emotional depthand sense of genuine stakes still feel groundbreaking for a superhero film (especially compared to the overkill extravaganza Avengers: Infinity War). If the Boba Fett film picks up somewhere in between the prequel and original trilogy, tracing his evolution from a disillusioned, orphaned kid into a stoic bounty hunter feared across the galaxy, Mangold is sure to mine those angsty emotional beats for all they’ve got.

Moreover, both Boba and Jango’s actors in Attack of the Clones (Daniel Logan and Temuera Morrison, respectively) were of Māori descent, so if this upcoming project chooses to follow that lead in casting the title character, the film could provide an opportunity for an unknown Māori actor to break into the mainstream.

While it’s true that Boba Fett is a fictional character whose actor’s ethnicity wouldn’t explicitly have any bearings on his actor, it’s still rare to see actors of Māori descent getting fully realized, three-dimensional leading roles — let alone as fan-favorite characters in a global blockbuster franchise. Naturally, Twitter fans have already begun urging Lucasfilm to cast a Māori actor in the lead role. Actor/director/global treasure Taika Waititi has been one of the most popular names put forth.

Of course, this announcement might not be so exciting to viewers who feel like Star Wars franchise fatigue has already set in (there are multiple TV series in the works, and Solo might end up being a trilogy of its own). And yes, it’s frustrating that Lucasfilm still can’t seem to think of a single woman worthy of helming a Star Wars project. But the open-ended potential of Boba Fett’s character also has the foundations of a genuinely dramatic, character-driven adventure.

The era when a new Star Wars release felt like a giddily anticipated, capital-E Event now seems long gone, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. If Lucasfilm is genuinely willing to grant its new projects more creative risk-taking and willingness to experiment with genres, the possibilities would be endless. Given Mangold’s track record, there’s reason to believe that the Boba Fett film will be a step in the right direction.

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