Ever since Disney/Lucasfilm announced their plans to produce a young Han Solo anthology film, the overwhelming response has been, “Why?” It’s not that a good young Han Solo movie is impossible; it’s that it’s unnecessary. The original trilogy did a pretty good job of fleshing Han out as a character, and while we may not know every little detail of his backstory as a smuggler, how much do we really need or even want to know? There are hundreds of characters from the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy and the extended universe that fans would love to know more about, but Disney wants to put them on the backburner to play it safe with a popular character.
To make matters worse, production on the film has been riddled with behind-the-scenes issues from the beginning and rumors that Disney is unhappy with how the film is turning out. Granted, the young Han Solo film still has a lot going for it in terms of creative talent, but as the premiere inches closer, the problems are stacking up. As Star Wars fans, we’re hoping for the best, but… we’ve got a very bad feeling about this. Here are 15 reasons why the Han Solo film is doomed to fail.
15. THE PREQUEL NOBODY WANTED
Let’s be honest, when the phrase “Star Wars prequels” comes up in conversation, most people don’t have many positive things to say. While Rogue One was a surprise hit, it dealt almost exclusively with unestablished characters, telling an original story rather than filling in the blanks for a character we’ve already had four films with.
“Prequel” isn’t necessarily a bad word, but we already know everything we need to know about Han Solo. Why not give us a film exploring Boba Fett’s journey from orphan to mercenary? How did Darth Maul become a Sith Lord? Did Obi-Wan get into any crazy shenanigans while he was hiding out on Tatooine? Star Wars fans still have questions about their favorite characters, but almost none of them are about Han Solo.
14. THE LAST MINUTE DIRECTOR SWITCHEROO
One of the most recent bits of worrying news from the set of the young Han Solo movie was the firing of its directing team, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. This might not have been all that worrying had it been earlier in the production, but their axing came just three weeks before principal production was set to wrap.
After replacement director Ron Howard was officially signed on, it was announced that production would be extended until September, presumably so Howard can reshoot any scenes that Disney isn’t happy with and complete the work still yet to be done. Since it would be impossible to reshoot the entire film in two to three months, we could be left a final product that feels disjointed and rushed.
13. RECASTING A LEGEND
For any other franchise, this would be nitpicking, but it’s not just that we already know what young Han Solo looks like (because we saw it in A New Hope), it’s that Harrison Ford is Han Solo. Granted, nobody thought Sean Connery could ever be replaced as James Bond either, but he was only in the role for five years. Harrison Ford has been the iconic face of Han Solo for four decades.
There’s really no comparison for a recasting of this magnitude because no franchise has ever had the cultural relevance and staying power of Star Wars, and Han Solo is one of the most iconic faces of that franchise, with only Darth Vader being arguably more recognizable, and we all saw what happened when they tried to make a young Darth Vader trilogy.
12. WE KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT
“Unnecessary” is certainly going to be a recurring theme among reviews if the film ultimately fails, but what makes it so unnecessary? Mostly that there are no surprises to really give the audience. With Rogue One, we knew that eventually, they were going to succeed in stealing the Death Star plans, but it had the advantage of dealing with all original characters, and of course, they were able to surprise us.
With Han Solo, we already know our established characters are in no real danger, and we pretty much know where they’ll all end up. Han and Chewie will end up being best buds, Lando will go off to Cloud City some time after losing the Millennium Falcon to Han, and any tertiary characters will probably die or not be important enough to show up in Han’s life for the next decade or so.
11. A NEW HOPE IS HAN SOLO’S ORIGIN STORY
Origin stories exist to show you how an established character grew to be the character you know and love, giving you a glimpse into who they were before, but we already saw that about Han Solo. He’s one of the few characters with a solid development arc in the original trilogy. When we first meet him, he’s not a hero. He’s literally the kind of guy who shoots someone who’s threatening him in cold blood and walks away from a galactic war once he gets paid.
His development as a character comes toward the end of A New Hope when he returns to assist the rebellion in blowing up the Death Star. It’s the moment he starts caring about more than just himself. Any attempt to make him honorable before the events of A New Hope is just going to be like Greedo shooting first all over again.
10. FANS WANT SOMETHING FRESH AND UNEXPLORED
The Star Wars universe is far more massive than most people realize. Up until a few years ago, every video game, cartoon, comic book and novel was considered “extended canon,” and a lot of people were disappointed Disney didn’t jump on the opportunity to do something fresh with the movies like a treatment of Knights of the Old Republic, or the X-Wing Saga.
The Force Awakens was generally praised by most people, but one criticism that kept popping up was that it took too much from the formula of A New Hope and didn’t bring anything original to the table. For the first Star Wars film in a decade, it made sense to play it safe with tried and true methods, but Rogue One gave us something unique and was praised for it. If Disney wants to keep Star Wars alive, that’s the direction they should be going in.
9. IT COULD RUIN FUTURE ANTHOLOGY FILMS
One thing to worry about is how the success of the young Han Solo movie will affect future Star Wars anthology films. If it turns out to be a critical failure, even if Disney decides to continue making films with original characters like Rogue One, it could mean that they take it as a sign that people don’t want to see characters from the original or prequel trilogy explored, and that’s just not true.
One of the most in-demand ideas for a Star Wars spinoff is a film exploring Obi-Wan Kenobi’s time on Tatooine between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope starring Ewen McGregor. McGregor is a self-professed superfan and one of the best parts of the prequel trilogy, yet the failure of an ill-advised young Han Solo movie could prevent his return. The same goes for a movie centered on Boba Fett, Yoda or Darth Maul.
8. NO AD-LIBBING ALLOWED
One of the big issues that apparently led to the firing of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller was a clash with writer Lawrence Kasdan over letting the actors ad lib lines. In previous films, they’ve had a collaborative approach with their actors, allowing them to bring some of themselves to the character. Kasdan reportedly came in and told them to stick to the script word for word.
Lots of movies have a no ad-libbing policy, but it could be a problem when actors have been allowed to throw in their own lines for five months and then have that freedom taken away. It leaves performers feeling less involved and like they’re having less fun in the roles, which could lead to less enthusiastic performances. Plus, we miss out on anything great from the creative minds of Donald Glover or Woody Harrelson.
7. MULTIPLE CREW FIRINGS LATE INTO PRODUCTION
Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller weren’t the only ones to be fired from the production of the young Han Solo movie so late in the game. In May, Lucasfilm fired editor Chris Dickens and replaced him with Pietro Scalia. Reports indicated that the film’s producer, Kathleen Kennedy, had clashed with Lord and Miller from the beginning, as she didn’t approve of the way they were shooting scenes with only three to five camera setups, whereas a typical film of this size would have at least 12 to 15.
Shooting so few angles gives an editor fewer shots to choose from when cutting the film together, so was the editor fired because he couldn’t make cuts work to Disney’s satisfaction, or because he didn’t have enough to work with in the first place? The answer to that question could already indicate the quality of the final film.
6. HAN WAS BEST AS LUKE’S JADED COUNTERPART
Maybe one of the most fundamental problems with a young Han Solo movie is that it loses the charm that Han Solo had in the first place. In the original trilogy, Han was the cynical, jaded foil to Luke’s young naiveté, and that’s what made him so fun. While Luke was learning about the Force, Han scoffed that it was “no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Even by Return of the Jedi, he’s still the character to come in with a cynical point of view.
Meeting young Han Solo either means meeting him before he was jaded and cynical, which completely loses the charm of Han, or worse, it will force Han to already seem jaded and cynical as a young man and give him someone even younger to fill the role of naive, optimistic Luke, which would just end up feeling forced.
5. TAKING THE MYSTERY AWAY
While Han Solo is one of the most developed and fleshed-out characters in the Star Wars universe, what little we don’t know about him is part of he mystery of his character that makes him interesting. We don’t know exactly how he and Chewbacca met, how he became a smuggler, or how the deal went down that caused Lando to lose his ship to Han, and we shouldn’t get to know.
Before the prequel trilogy, Darth Vader’s past was shrouded in mystery and he was one of the most terrifying figures in all of cinema. A lot of fans were excited to learn about how the Sith Lord fell from the Jedi and became the villain. There’s no question that the prequels suffered from poor execution, but just seeing young Anakin Skywalker would make Vader less mysterious, and therefore less interesting. The same goes for young Han Solo.
4. WOODY HARRELSON IS HAN’S MENTOR
Let’s preface this by saying that Woody Harrelson is great. He’s a terrific actor with great comedic timing. He’s likable and he even proved himself a badass in Zombieland. The problem is that Alden Ehrenreich is going to be playing an undeveloped Han Solo, someone who isn’t quite the character we know from the original trilogy, but almost.
The Han Solo-like qualities that Ehrenreich doesn’t push forth in the movie are going to have to be displayed by his mentor, Beckett, played by Harrelson so that it makes sense where Han Solo is getting it from. Sadly, even on Woody Harrelson’s best day, nobody has ever compared him to Han Solo. He can play a scoundrel, but not in the charming overly braggadocios way that Harrison Ford plays one. It’s an odd casting choice, to say the least.
3. STAR WARS WITHOUT THE FORCE
“I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything.” Han Solo utters these words shortly after we meet him for the first time in A New Hope, and it informs his whole character and the rest of the saga.
If the young Han Solo movie is accurate to continuity, that means that it will be the first Star Wars film to contain no reference to the Force at all. There’s no guarantee that this can’t be done in an interesting way, but without the Force, is it even really Star Wars? Other than Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon, leaving out the Force is likely to make it feel oddly disconnected from the Star Wars universe.
2. STRICT STUDIO INTERFERENCE
As everyone knows, when decisions are made in a boardroom rather than by the creative mind of a writer, director or actor, creativity and quality suffer. Disney is notorious for having a heavy hand in their major franchises. For the most part, it works out fine, but the more they push, the more the cracks show up. Joss Whedon was famously miserable while working on Avengers: Age of Ultron because the studio was dictating basically every creative choice in the film, which led to… well, Age of Ultron.
Han Solo is already starting to show signs of over-interference with the axing of directors and editors, “stick to the script” rules and the fact that the movie exists at all, since “young Han Solo” reeks of creativity by committee. We’re likely to end up with an overly safe kid’s film with too much fan-service and not enough creativity.
1. ALDEN EHRENREICH’S ACTING COACH
Perhaps the most worrying thing from the whole production is that, just after the sacking of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Disney brought on an acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich. This should be frightening news for any Star Wars fan, because no matter how flawless the script and direction are, a young Han Solo movie hinges on Alden Ehrenreich channeling Harrison Ford from the original trilogy.
It has nothing to do with Alden Ehrenreich’s actual acting ability. He could give the performance of a century, but if it doesn’t look, sound and feel like the mannerisms of a young Harrison Ford, people are going to hate it, because they already know what young Han Solo acts like. Some insider rumors have compared moments of his performance to Jim Carrey from Ace Ventura, which is the last thing you want to hear about any Star Wars movie.
What do you think? Are you still pumped for the Han Solo solo-flick, or have the space winds been taken out of your sails? Let us know in the comments!
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