It’s no secret that Solo: A Star Wars Story has had a tumultuous production process. The film, which is set to chronicle the young adventures of the galaxy’s best smuggler Han Solo, has switched directors and suffered from cast changes. However, Star Wars fans are still cautiously optimistic. After all, Han is arguably the most interesting character in the franchise and viewers know so little about his life before he picked up Obi-Wan and Luke in Mos Eisley. There have been hints about the Kessel Run and a famous card game with Lando Calrissian, but how did he become the cynical yet charming scoundrel who would win Princess Leia’s heart?
Very little is known about the plot, except that it may feature some sort of heist and new aliens. The problem is Star Wars fans are notoriously difficult to predict. The unexpectedly mixed reactions to The Last Jedi shows Lucasfilm never really knows what to expect from its fanbase. Despite their sometimes picky nature, everyone will still be there opening weekend, because it’s a new Star Wars movie. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not worried. So, here are eight reasons we’re excited for Solo: A Star Wars Story and seven reasons we’re dreading it.
15 EXCITED: POSSIBLE EASTER EGGS FOR EPISODE IX
Yes, it seems silly to think that there could possibly be Episode IX Easter eggs in a young Han Solo movie that’s set before he even enters the franchise, but that’s what everyone thought about Rogue One. Then The Last Jedi comes out and the whole movie is based on a throwaway line Jyn Erso says while looking for the Death Star plans.
It’s completely feasible that at some point during the heist Han and Chewie could come across some tech that becomes important later. Perhaps more likely is that one of the new gangsters they meet will be a necessary ally for the Resistance. Plus, Ron Howard had every opportunity to consult Rian Johnson and JJ Abrams during reshoots. Either way, audiences are sure to be paying close attention this time around.
14 EXCITED: SEEING THE EMPIRE ON-SCREEN AGAIN
Let’s get real, the First Order is menacing and intimidating, but they’re still not the Empire. Supreme Leader Snoke was definitely no Emperor Palpatine and no matter how hard he wishes, Kylo Ren will never be Darth Vader. The only real leader they have is Captain Phasma. She would fit in perfectly with the Empire. The First Order has the Resistance on the run, but they just don’t feel as tough as the Empire.
Like Rogue One, Solo will remind audiences why the Empire was so feared and how they were able to conquer the galaxy. One of the good things about the prequels is that they showed how important it was for Palpatine to take over the Senate before taking over everything else. The First Order is good at blowing things up, but Ren and Hux will never be able to control the galaxy.
13 DREADING IT: BEHIND THE SCENES DRAMA
We can’t discuss Solo without talking about the behind the scenes drama that unfolded. The choice of Chris Miller and Phil Lord always seemed like an odd fit, but Lucasfilm obviously wanted this movie to have a more comedic tone. Unfortunately, things went south and the directing duo ended up being fired and replaced with Oscar winner Ron Howard. At this point, the film was reportedly two-thirds through filming and extensive reshoots would have to take place. The new reshoots meant that Michael K. Williams had to leave the production and his role was taken over by Paul Bettany.
As if that wasn’t enough, rumors began to come out about the underwhelming performance of leading man Alden Ehrenreich. Even with steady hands like Howard and Kathleen Kennedy at the helm, there’s no way that all that upheaval doesn’t show up in the film in some way.
12 DREADING IT: HAN SOLO IS FUN BUT NOT LIKEABLE
Here’s the truth that Star Wars fans don’t like to admit about Han Solo, he’s really not that likeable. Sure he’s cool, and there’s no one else you want to have your back in a fight. However, from the minute we meet him, he’s kind of a jerk. He cavalierly dismisses Obi-Wan’s religious beliefs, belittles Leia and leaves the Rebels high and dry when they really need him. It’s only through his work with the Rebellion, his relationship with Leia and friendship with Luke that he starts to become a better person.
Considering how far he evolved during the original trilogy and the sacrifice he made in The Force Awakens, do we really want to go back and spend more time with the jerk who only cared about himself? Without Harrison Ford’s charm, he’s going to be hard to root for.
11 EXCITED: SEEING MORE OF THE UNDERWORLD OF THE GALAXY
One of the more fascinating elements of the Star Wars universe is the way the criminal underworld operates while under the thumb of the Empire and First Order. Through Han Solo we get a glimpse of gangsters like Jabba the Hutt. Jabba is clearly very rich and powerful, so how does he stay off the Empire’s radar. Is it bribes, favors or blackmail? Sure Boba Fett is the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, but what about his competition? There’s just so much happening that we don’t have time to see while we’re following Luke and Rey.
These characters and others have always been fan favorites who the audience wanted to know more about. By getting a closer look at Han Solo’s smuggler background, we finally get a deep dive into Star Wars’ criminal world and that’s absolutely reason to get excited.
10 DREADING IT: WILL IT FIT IN WITH THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE?
We’re now nine movies into the Star Wars franchise and no matter what you think of certain movies in the series, they follow a singular connected thread. Though Rogue One was billed as a separate anthology movie, if you watch it between episodes three and four it makes sense. While viewers want to see original stories in the universe, they also want them to still fit in with the core films they’ve grown up with.
Whenever a movie is set to fall outside of the established timeline there’s questions about whether is will still feel like it’s part of the universe. Obviously centering it around Han Solo and Chewbacca helps, but if we’re being honest he’s not really our Han Solo. What it comes down to is that fans don’t want to be disappointed like they were with the prequels.
9 EXCITED: INTRODUCING NEW CHARACTERS WE’RE DESTINED TO LOVE
With Rogue One viewers had to start from scratch with all new characters, all new settings and situations. There was some trepidation about finding new heroes to love. Turns out those concerns were unfounded as Jyn Erso, K2SO, Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus all quickly became new fan favorites. The Force Awakens gave moviegoers Rey, Finn, Poe, Captain Phasma and BB-8. Solo is already starting with an advantage of featuring Han, Chewie and Lando. Characters we know and love.
With the experience of Rogue One, fans can now wonder which new aliens, droids and heroes will they become obsessed with this time around. There will definitely be standouts and it provides a first date kind of excitement to see who audiences will fall in love with.
8 EXCITED: WOODY HARRELSON JOINS THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE
There is not a more interesting actor in Hollywood than Woody Harrelson. He’s made a lot of big hits and critically acclaimed darlings, but he’s never done anything as huge as Star Wars. Rumor is that he plays Han’s mentor in the smuggling business. His free spirit style and comedic chops are tailor made for the universe. Seeing Harrelson as a scoundrel in the Star Wars world, where literally anything is possible, feels like it will be a can’t miss movie moment.
Harrelson brings an unpredictability to every role he plays so having him be a part of the criminal side of the franchise just makes sense. No matter who his character is or what his relation to Han, his involvement is one of the most anticipated parts of Solo.
7 DREADING IT: JOHN WILLIAMS NOT COMPOSING
Let’s be clear, John Powell is a successful composer who has worked on the Jason Bourne films and several animated franchises including Happy Feet, Rio and How to Train Your Dragon. He obviously knows how to make music for different genres. However, he’s not John Williams. Except for Rogue One, the legendary composer has scored all of the Star Wars movies. His music is so recognizable, it’s another character in the franchise.
Williams has made Star Wars music its own genre, so some of his familiar themes and notes will surely make an appearance in the Solo score. Powell will also probably put a new spin on classic favorites. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much you dress it up, without John Williams there’s something missing from Star Wars.
6 DREADING IT: KNOWING TOO MUCH COULD RUIN HAN
Remember how excited we were to find out how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader? Then we actually saw the prequels and it wasn’t quite as great as we thought it would be. Turns out losing the mystery, lessened some of the character’s impact. Sure Darth Vader is still the greatest villain in movie history, but that big “NOOOOOO” scene did not help him at all. This also happens a lot in TV, where a flashback episode reveals way more than we need to know about a character and the storyline never recovers.
What if learning about Han Solo’s backstory takes away some of the charming scoundrel’s mystique? No one wants to see a whiny teenage Han Solo who throws tantrums and is just generally annoying. Not even a surprise Harrison Ford cameo could fix that.
5 DREADING IT: EXTENSIVE RESHOOTS AFFECTING THE STORY
As we previously discussed, a director change about two-thirds into production led to extensive reshoots. There are questions about how much footage was used from original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord and how much of the movie is from Ron Howard’s vision. As we saw with Justice League, having two directors' choices in the same movie can lead to a muddied storyline. Rumors say producers weren’t happy with Miller and Lord’s style, but surely not all of it was unusable. There are also still very real questions about how directing credit for the movie will be handled.
Blending all the footage together could lead to uneven storytelling and character development. With Justice League fresh in their minds, these questions are bound to make fans extra nervous.
4 EXCITED: RON HOWARD DIRECTING
Even with all the questions about reshoots, there’s a renewed excitement about the film since Ron Howard took over the director’s chair. The Oscar winner is the man behind Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code films, so fans can rest easy knowing their favorite smuggler is in good hands. There’s a story that Howard was in the running to helm The Phantom Menace, but ultimately passed because he thought George Lucas needed to direct it.
Howard has also spent his life in the business so he knows what audiences want to see. He’s going to make a fun, entertaining movie and not overthink it or go too far off book. Though upheaval is always concerning, hiring Howard actually made fans less nervous than they previously were. Plus, his behind the scenes tweets demonstrated he’s a Star Wars fan who understands why fans love the franchise.
3 EXCITED: DONALD GLOVER AS LANDO CALRISSIAN
No one will ever be as cool as Billy Dee Williams. He just exudes a certain level of cool at all times. As Lando Calrissian, he gave Han Solo a run for his money as the galaxy’s best scoundrel. We know they’ve known each other a while and Han won the Millennium Falcon from Lando, but what’s the rest of their story? It’s something fans have been wondering about for years.
Finding the perfect Lando wasn’t as hard as expected, as everyone knew right from the start that there really was just one choice. Atlanta star and Grammy nominated rapper Donald Glover is the only one who could come a little close to Williams level of style and charm. It will be interesting to see if a younger Lando is as confident and self assured.
2 DREADING IT: ALDEN EHRENREICH
The first thought everyone had when Lucasfilm announced they were making a young Han Solo movie was there’s only one Han Solo. How could anyone besides Harrison Ford be the best smuggler in the galaxy? It didn’t help that Ford returned to the franchise in The Force Awakens and still had it. After a long search filmmakers decided to go with the relatively unknown Alden Ehrenreich.
Before Solo his biggest projects were the teen romance Beautiful Creatures, the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! and Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply. This doesn’t mean he won’t be a good Han Solo, but it’s a big step up to Star Wars. It also doesn’t help his case that there were rumors that his performance wasn’t as strong as producers wanted. This is a high risk situation for the young actor as there’s no forgiveness if you ruin Han Solo.
1 EXCITED: FINALLY SEEING HIS ORIGINS ON-SCREEN
If we’re being honest Star Wars doesn’t really get going until Han Solo shows up. As awesome as Luke Skywalker is, Han Solo is the exciting smuggler who fans can’t help but love. His instant connection to Princess Leia and fearlessness on the Death Star makes him the most interesting character. His banter with Chewie shows that’s he’s a good friend to have in a fight. However, viewers know next to nothing about his life before he shows up in Mos Eisley cantina. Yes, there have been novels about his origins, but Lucasfilm has declared those to no longer be canon, so what we see in Solo will be considered the official story.
How did he and Chewbacca meet? How did he win the Falcon from Lando? These questions have kept fans guessing for 40 years, so it’s fun to anticipate finally getting some answers.