Samuel Brace on the Han Solo saga and Disney’s handling of the Star Wars franchise…
There were more than a few that let out cries of anguish upon hearing the direction of the next Star Wars anthology movie. The fact that we would be revisiting such a famous and iconic character as Han Solo seemed like a smart one financially but a troubling one thematically, and unfortunately for all involved, this worry has manifested itself into reality. But will Disney learn from the mistakes of the past? Will they learn not to mess with what is sacred, that this was all so predictable and oh so avoidable?
The issues affecting the untitled Han Solo movie have been well documented; from the changing of directors to the issues the folks involved have supposedly had with their starring talent. But what it basically comes down to is this: Han Solo was an already incredibly well defined character, that when recast, myriad tonal issues started to present themselves.
The film that Lord and Miller wanted to direct – a wacky comic adventure – was at odds with the character at its centre and the existing tone the franchise had worked so hard to define. And it seems that the performance of the new Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), has been unable to live up to – or at least capture the essence of – the work Harrison Ford had already so famously achieved. What a monumental shock.
The trouble isn’t that this was always going to cause problems for the movie, but that these are problems that never needed to present themselves in the first place. Star Wars is such a rich world, replete with fascinating locations and dense lore. The world created through numerous films, animated series, novels and comics, have provided content creators with a vast playground of numerous opportunities. So why was the decision made to produce a movie with a character we all know and that we don’t want to know any more about? The answer is of course that they believed it to be one of the safest and most lucrative options available to them. There is only one problem with such logic however. It’s idiotic.
And it’s idiotic because this is Star Wars. Star Wars will make money regardless of the story presented, and the characters featured. Audiences around the world will run to screens in droves to see any movie from this franchise simply by knowing that they like this world and the themes it presents. Star Wars doesn’t need Han Solo to make money, they don’t need classic trilogy names to rule the box office, so why not follow the path that has proved so successful with The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and provide stories populated with new leading characters that don’t come heaped with accompanying decades of baggage.
Better yet, these anthology movies provide such a glorious opportunity to take us to places we’ve never seen before. So why not just take us there? There is nothing wrong with visiting eras we are familiar with, times like in between the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy, times like the prequels themselves, but why not present a story rich with fascinating characters and an engaging plot in a time far removed from that which we have seen before? Star Wars history didn’t start with The Phantom Menace, so what’s wrong with taking us to events before this, perhaps hundreds of years before this?
At this stage Disney can surely take risks, if any film with Star Wars in its name can ever be called such a thing.
Han Solo is a great character, but we don’t need to see him again, and we certainly don’t need to see some poor actor with the unenviable task of replicating Harrison Ford while also not copying everything he himself did with the part. Recasting characters is rarely a good idea, especially one of such stature and note as Han, so please Disney, please Lucasfilm, learn from this, don’t tread such sacred ground again, don’t try and revisit characters that don’t need revisiting, especially if the only way to do it is by hiring an actor to do their best impression of work already achieved.
None of this is to say that the Han Solo movie can’t be a success, of course it can, but the point is that it never needed to exist in the first place. There were (and are) so many options for the future of this universe, so let’s go with those, let’s not start the race by shooting ourselves in the foot. An Obi-Wan movie has a better chance of working because it would surely have to involve Ewan McGregor, an actor that has already played the role, and a Boba Fett film would star a character whose face we don’t know, but this is hardly reason enough to pursue these endeavours. And as we’ve already discussed, Star Wars will get people in seats simply by simply being what it is, so we may as well have some fun with the damn thing.