SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish to know any important details about the end, please bookmark this page and save it until after your screening!
By the time Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story starts to wrap up, it begins making what are clearly steps towards setting up a sequel. Not only does Alden Ehrenreich's Han learn about the Jabba The Hutt job on Tatooine that was first mentioned all the way back in 1977, but it's also revealed that Emilia Clarke's Qi'ra is serving the insidious Darth Maul (Ray Park/Sam Witwer) in his evil machinations. From a narrative perspective alone, these threads are more than enough to justify making a direct follow-up, and it's easy to understand why a franchise as cocky as Star Wars would want those hints dropped in. However, those decisions were all made before the film was completed and released to mass audiences.
Now fans have had a chance to see the finished movie... and the response hasn't exactly been overwhelming. Its opening weekend results are far and away the weakest in the modern era of the franchise, with a number of factors contributing including intense competition, brand fatigue, and mediocre buzz. As a result, an important question is left looming: how does Star Wars deal with the dangling plot threads? The typical Hollywood thing to do would be to craft a Solo 2 and hope for better results, but that really isn't the best option on the table. Instead, when it comes to following up, Lucasfilm might instead be much better off creatively utilizing some of their rumored upcoming projects - specifically the developing Boba Fett and the rumored Lando.
To be frank, making a Han Solo origin movie was a troubling concept from the beginning. Star Wars is a franchise with an unfortunate legacy when it comes to prequels about beloved central characters, and even with Phil Lord and Chris Miller originally at the helm (the men known specifically for turning bad ideas into good ones) it seemed like troubling proposition. There's a problematic urge in these movies to answer questions that nobody ever asked, and Solo did exactly that. Instead, the drive should be to dive deeper into the characters we know less about, and that's exactly what Boba Fett and Lando can do. At the same time, however, those movies can also be utilized unlike any other franchise sequels in history: picking up a story from a previous title and continuing it with a different protagonist.
Shortly before Solo: A Star Wars Story hit theaters last weekend, it was announced that director James Mangold would be taking the helm of the Boba Fett movie, and one can hope that timing has an extra bit of coincidence wrapped into it. After all, the famed Mandalorian bounty hunter is known to have a past relationship with both Han Solo and Jabba The Hutt -- so what if they wound up being supporting characters in his perspective-driven story? Perhaps Jabba gives the smuggling job to Han, but doesn't trust him so he hires Boba to track him and make sure he is doing his job. And given Boba's connection with the Empire (as established in The Empire Strikes Back), perhaps you even set up a twist that reveals he had something to do with Han getting boarded and forced to dump his cargo, as described by Han during his Mos Eisley Cantina conversation with Greedo in A New Hope.
From there, Lando could round out a trilogy. There remains an unclear path that takes the smooth operator from his losing game of Sabacc with Han to his position as Baron-Administrator of Cloud City, and this film could fill the gaps while also continuing threads from Boba Fett -- which would also have Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian as a key supporting role. While not exactly an origin story, the movie could serve to contextualize a character who has never been given a ton of context, and has some built in emotional conflict given the deal he winds up making with the Empire to give up Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO.
As of right now, it doesn't really look like the Star Wars franchise has much of a plan. With the exception of J.J. Abrams' untitled Star Wars: Episode IX, none of the other developing projects have release dates, including not only James Mangold's Boba Fett: A Star Wars Story, but also the separate trilogies being developed by Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, respectively. There doesn't seem to be a ton of order to all of the goings-on -- but the plan proposed here could help to streamline some of the ideas. Right now we can't say if it is even a possibility that this could play out, but it's an idea worth considering.