The Star Wars anthology films are about to get more dangerous, as evidenced by the news that bounty hunter Boba Fett is finally getting his long-awaited solo film.
With Logan director James Mangold at the helm, the plot of the story remains a mystery, but there’s only really two possibilities: A prequel about his time as a young bounty hunter, which we’ve more or less already seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, or a tale post-Return of the Jedi that redeems him after his rather pathetic death in the Great Pit of Carkoon. However, regardless of which way Mangold opts to go, Fett has already been upstaged by his counterpart of the prequels — Darth Maul.
Like Fett, Maul was built up as a big deal in the marketing for The Phantom Menace in 1999, and while he had an absolutely killer fight scene against Obi-Wann Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, he was disposed of with the same amount of dramatic irony. He did his cool thing — killing Qui-Gon — and was subsequently cut in half, serving as little more than fuel for Obi-Wan to grow into the great-but-flawed Jedi master we would come to know him to be. In the end, what made Maul popular is also what made Fett popular: they’re both visually striking compared to other villains in their respective films, and they originally come with a lot of personality that the films in question don’t really give them.
Beyond just looking cool, Maul and Fett are similar in that they were both robbed of their lives by the Jedi and the Clone Wars. Even though they were both at wildly different points of their lives during the saga of the Prequel and Original Trilogy, they actually do share a fair bit of common ground; Boba’s father Jango and Maul’s brother Savage found themselves missing limbs by way of a lightsaber, conscripted into a life of evil largely by force rather than choice. Thanks to his extended time on both Clone Wars and Rebels, Maul can’t help but feel like he just hijacked any interesting thing that could be done with the bounty hunter.
Rebels’ approach to Maul, in particular, served as the best example of what could be done with a Fett movie post-Jedi. Showing him through the perspective of the ever-impressionable teenager Ezra Bridger makes him feel appropriately larger than life, but also elevates him to a status that he doesn’t really deserve. Between Phantom Menace, Clone Wars and Rebels, he’s little more than a pathetic troll that bothers people actually trying to get work done in the galaxy. A deadly troll with a great voice, but a troll nonetheless.
Maul was so singleminded in his pursuit of killing Kenobi that everything eventually looped back around to it; he went mad obsessing over Kenobi, hired a small army to draw out Kenobi, became a crime lord and started a coup to lure Kenobi, and so on. Then, it all concluded in the most fitting way ever — with Maul soliloquizing just for the fun of it before trying to kill Obi-Wan for the umpteenth time and getting offed in one hit.
Darth Maul and Boba Fett are both beloved characters in the Star Wars universe, but they’re also both complete jokes in the real world and the larger narrative of the franchise. Expanding Maul’s story only worked the one time because it allowed Ezra and Kenobi to grow. As they’re both two sides of the same coin, Fett doesn’t really have that opportunity for real growth like Maul did, and he should just remain in the Sarlacc Pit where he belongs.
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