Star Wars 9 is introducing Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell), another rogue character with a cool costume, and it can avoid repeating the Star Wars saga's Boba Fett problem. Not a lot is known about Russell's role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but the comparisons to Boba Fett are inevitable, and yet something the film needs to move beyond.
Boba Fett became a huge fan-favorite when he was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, but he's also been subject to a lot of debate amongst Star Wars fans too because, well, he doesn't actually do all that much. While he looks undeniably awesome, his role is somewhat limited, with most of his prowess as a bounty hunter implied through his interactions with Darth Vader, rather than explicitly told in the story itself. Before long, he's being unceremoniously - and rather hilariously - killed by Han Solo accidentally knocking him into the mouth of the Sarlacc, which isn't exactly a fitting end for such a supposedly powerful character.
The Star Wars Prequels don't help too much, showing Boba Fett as a little boy and making his father more of a badass bounty hunter, and this is a mistake Star Wars has continued to repeat. Darth Maul has had a great story through other mediums, but in the movies his time is cut short. He gets a little more to do, but it still boils down to being a great design and concept, without a whole lot of plot or backstory. It's been made worse in Disney's Sequel Trilogy with Captain Phasma who, despite having such a good actress in the role, has been wasted in two movies so far, and been turned into a running joke about how many times she can be killed off and brought back. Zorri Bliss is potentially the latest of these characters: she isn't going to be a main character in Star Wars 9, has a great actress playing her, a superb costume, but Star Wars 9 can avoid this mistake.
In some of the cases above, it was as though the costume was the character; that can't happen with Zorri. Even though her outfit is great, it needs to go far beyond that and actually give her an important role in the plot of Star Wars 9. It's unclear what her involvement will be, but Russell is a stellar actress coming off the back of one of the best TV performances of the decade, and can handle anything that's given to her. It could be that Zorri Bliss has a very personal reason to get involved with the Resistance/First Order conflict, some links to another character, or even if she's just out for herself, then she can still be more compelling.
Star Wars 9 mostly just needs to give Zorri Bliss something to do. Give her some great fight scenes, actually explain the character's motivations, and make sure her part in the story carries genuine stakes. Make her a real threat, or a surprising ally. A supporting character doesn't need to dominate screen time in order to make an impact; actually having some solid dialogue, a few memorable scenes, and being a proper character with a clear personality, rather than just a costume, will do that, and be complemented by the aesthetics.
It's unclear if Captain Phasma will return again in Star Wars 9, but if she does then they can give her more to do too, especially if the First Order is going to be defeated, but her role is arguably done after the fight with Finn. It's in Zorri, now, that the Boba Fett problem is a potential issue yet again, but by allowing Russell's performance to shine through and giving her an actual character to play, then Star Wars 9 can avoid the issue and make Zorri Bliss worthy of the costume.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019