It’s a really terrible idea.
There are few characters in cinema as perfect as Han Solo. Harrison Ford’s shabby, strutting, occasionally down-at-heel smuggler is beloved – and for good reason. Ford invests the character with a perfect mix of edge and hugability (his relationship with Chewie; “I know…”). He’s our wonderful scoundrel and a hero for kids and adults alike. And now Disney are planning a prequel movie examining his early years.
I’ll just come out by stating the obvious. I have no idea what’s going to be in the solo Solo flick. And I’m still hoping for the best. The Force Awakens was fabulous and I have high hopes that Rogue One will make these new ‘Star Wars Stories’ as essential as the main episodes (for someone who hurriedly watched all the parts just to be on the same wavelength) I’ll certainly be lining up on the opening night and hoping for the best. But from where we’re standing right now, in space year 2016, the young Solo movie sounds like a potential disaster waiting to happen.
Honestly, where is there for Han to go in this film? When we first meet him in A New Hope he’s a cynical smuggler only concerned with money and his own safety. He evolves over four films into the man who will come back for his friends, stand alongside the Rebellion – and one day walk out onto a bridge to meet his son, fully aware that he will not be walking back. BOOM!
But before that? Well, we might find out about his childhood, see his first meeting with Chewbacca, find out how he got the Falcon. Interesting stuff, sure, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much room for character progression there. And do we really need to have those details filled in? Isn’t it part of Solo’s charm that he has a mystique and a back story that we only catch glimpses of? This movie risks damaging that by making everything explicit.
You could argue the same about this year’s forthcoming Rogue One, of course, but that’s set in a nook of continuity that’s broad enough to accommodate new stories. Aside from a few rumoured cameos it’s based around fresh characters whose fates remain unknown to us and again, they are fresh characters, We don’t have any emotional connection with them, yet. Make a Han Solo movie and you already know what happens to the hero, the hero’s best pals, the hero’s spaceship and so on. You know everything and worst of all, we know what’s gonna happen.
That said, it is slightly concerning that all of the ‘Story’ movies are looking backwards. They’re about the Death Star and Han Solo and maybe Yoda… We have a fantastic new galactic history to fill out now, so why aren’t the ‘Story’ films exploring that? After all, one of the few major complaints about The Force Awakens is that it’s pretty vague about what exactly the First Order is, why the Resistance are resisting, and so on. Some of that information is in deleted scenes and spin-off books, but wouldn’t the movies be a better vehicle for this sort of thing? The timeline skips some major parts and then go back to fill the blanks. Rogue One is one such project.
It is possible to recast iconic characters, of course. The recent Star Trek movies absolutely nailed the central cast, with Chris Pine’s Kirk and Karl Urban’s McCoy especially treading a perfect balance between the old and new. And maybe we’ll get something similar here. I hope so.I find it hard to be cynical about this new series when every choice Disney has made so far has been on the money. But the Han Solo movie has the odds stacked against it and the eager fanatics will take quite a lot of convincing. Then again, I might be wrong.