WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters May 25.
Everyone from hardcore fans to casual cinemagoers recognize the yellow text, rising slowly across the screen before fading into the background, giving audiences a little context to the stories they were about to watch. Sometimes it was information on trade disputes and political chaos, other times the text would elegantly lead into spectacular space battles and it was always done with the accompaniment of that pulse raising score composed by John Williams.
It wasn't initially clear if the films of the Star Wars Anthology series would bear the Star Wars film franchise's signature opening crawl. Rogue One dealt with this by cutting right to the action in the opening, right after the familiar blue text reading, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." It was the first live action Star Wars film to do so, and fans took notice.
This creative decision was not made lightly, according to director Gareth Edwards. The reason why the opening crawl was removed during development was because the anthology film was already mentioned in the opening crawl of A New Hope, which briefly described a battle, during which rebel spies captured plans to the Death Star. Still, fan reactions made it clear that some kind of an introduction was required, to make it feel more like a Star Wars film, if nothing else.
Solo: A Star Wars Story reintroduces us to Han Solo as a young, relatively inexperienced smuggler. His journey doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the saga, making an opening crawl less meaningful with regard to the film's relationship with each of the numbered installments. The film does not, however, skip an introduction. After all, the story begins with Han at the end of small heist of his own, so a bit of background is definitely required. But if the film can't have an opening crawl, what's the alternative?
The film begins as every other with the Lucasfilm logo and the equally iconic line, "A long time ago..." before introducing several frames of more text, each presenting a paragraph or two about the characters and the film's setting. Through this expositional text, we learn that Han is currently on the planet of Corellia, desperate to escape the planet with his partner. What's more, he's been given an opportunity to do so having just completed a job for his employer, Proxima. However, at no point in the opening do we hear John Williams' famous score, though it does feature later on.
It may feel somewhat lacking to some, but this alternate opening is purposefully different. It's relatively simple, elegant and is generally in keeping with the style of the Star Wars franchise. Depending on whether it appeases fans, we may be seeing similar openings in future instalments-- assuming there will be more-- of the Star Wars Anthology series. If not, then we'll just have to sit through more experimental openings, keeping one thing in mind: the original Star Wars opening crawl was unique back in the '70s and it's unique today, which means it's going to take some time to create something as original and as memorable to replace it.
Directed by Ron Howard, Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. They’re joined by Thandie Newton as Val, Phoebe Waller-Bridge L3-37, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos and Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett. In theaters May 25.