With each new installment in the Star Wars saga comes a great deal of expectation and judgement. Indeed, it seems like the whole world is watching, and while that isn’t entirely accurate, it also isn’t too far off.
Still, we’ve seen those numbers slipping a little since the release of The Force Awakens, which brought in over $2 billion in global box office revenue. Both Rogue One and The Last Jedi fell short by nearly $1 billion, an indicator that Star Wars-fever may be overshadowed by the cinematic giant that Marvel has become. It also doesn’t help that Star Wars fans can be notoriously harsh, and are often divisive when it comes to either favoring or dismissing new films.
With that being said, Solo: A Star Wars Story carries just as much expectation and potential for heartbreak or hallelujah as any Star Wars story has before it. Here’s an extensive breakdown of everything you need to know before its release on May 25th.
Solo: A Long Time in the Making
In a recent interview with io9, writer Lawrence Kasdan revealed that was hired to write the Han Solo spinoff, not only before working on The Force Awakens, but before Disney had even acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. He also goes on to state that, while he originally expected the film to release in 2020, the excitement from co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller put more pressure on an earlier release.
This is where the irony comes in. While Lord and Miller were thought to be the two guys who best-related to the lovable rogue at the time, their continued involvement and creative direction turned out to be their own undoing.
During filming, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy began to express concerns with the direction the film was taking. Kasdan was also displeased, as revealed in an article by the Hollywood Reporter sometime last year. It seems like the improvisational directing style that Lord and Miller preferred from their experience directing films like 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie weren’t appreciated by Kasdan, who insisted that lines be read word for word.
When continued creative differences brought the matter to a head, Kennedy promptly fired Lord and Miller, who were then replaced by Ron Howard. While the firing took place less than a year ago, Howard filmed non-stop from June to October 2017. According to another recent io9 article, about 70% of the completed film is Howard’s work.
While drama on the set is exciting, we all know it’s the finished product that matters in the end. So what are the chances that this one will be a success? In a lot of ways, it comes down to the new Han, Alden Ehrenreich’s performance.
Alden: From Rumors to Reassurances
There was a considerable backlash in the Star Wars community about the decision to cast Alden Ehrenreich. This involved a lot of “Why him?” rants, and doubts concerning the young actor’s ability to step into the role.
Perhaps one of the most prevalent rumors is that Ehrenreich needed an acting coach to advise him. He addresses this in an interview that he had with Esquire last month. The “acting coach” was later identified as writer and director Maggie Kelly. “She was part of conversations that happened for a couple weeks at one point,” Ehrenreich says, “but that was basically it.”
Ehrenreich further goes on about what the reality of starring in a Star Wars film means to him. “The world we live in now, everything is so niche,” he continues. “One of the beautiful things about being a part of Star Wars is that it’s one of those few things that are community- building in that way. Maybe that way of putting it is a little self-important. But it is something we all have a connection to, something everybody knows about. There aren’t that many of those things.”
The article covers some of the research Ehrenreich went into to prepare for the role of the roguish smuggler. This included delving into the fan-curated site Wookieepedia, and getting comfortable with the wardrobe. While that last one is typical of any actor, at least Ehrenreich is trying. Also, we may just be stuck with him, whether he turns out fit for the role or not. During the interview, Ehrenreich let slip that he signed on for three movies as Solo.
Cast & Plot
Even if Ehrenreich can’t quite cut it as Solo, the movie has a star-studded cast to support it. Donald Glover will be stepping in as a young Lando Calrissian, and remains the biggest sign for me that this movie won’t be a total flop.
Other supporting roles go to Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as the femme fatale Qi’ra, Woody Harrelson as Solo’s criminal mentor Tobias Beckett, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Lando’s protocol droid L3-37.
Other cast members include Paul Bettany as the crime boss Dryden Voss, and Westworld’s Thandie Newton playing a character named Val.
In January, Disney released a full synopsis of the plot for Solo: A Star Wars Story. It may not give you many surprises, but here it is:
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.
Like I said. Hits all the points you’d expect it to.
Solo: A New Hope?
I had my own reservations when it came to Ehrenreich. In my mind, no one could replace Harrison Ford as Han Solo. I watched the trailers for Solo: A Star Wars Story with a sense of dread. “Not this too,” I thought. Why couldn’t they just leave one character untarnished?
I was sure that this was the next red flag that Star Wars was going downhill for good. Now, after getting a better look at Ehrenreich, there’s a tiny spark of hope in me that I’m trying to keep under control.