From 1977 until 2014, there were six Star Wars movies. From 2015 to 2019 there will be just one less than that. And, right now, we are smack in the middle of the weirdest part of that stretch. Over the course of our lives we’ve been kind of wired to accept that Star Wars movies were rare and, after we see a new one, we had an at least three-year wait until the next one. If someone was born when Return of the Jedi was in theaters in 1983, that person could drive themselves to the theater to see the next Star Wars movie that was released in 1999, The Phantom Menace. (And what a great use of that new license.) The lore of Star Wars was based a lot on anticipation. Anticipation is fun. It’s nice to look forward to things.
Star Wars has become a little exhausting. (Yes, I realize there are people right now thinking, “Um, a little?” But as a massive Star Wars fan, just admitting this at all is a lot.) Now, I loved The Last Jedi, but like anything in this age of social media, the conversations surrounding it became exhausting. From the “Rey’s parents truthers” to the small but loud angry fanboy, #notmyluke crowd, it’s just a lot. It’s always a lot, with everything, but add in the most popular franchise that has ever existed, and the whole thing is multiplied to an outrageous amount. Now, kind of crazily, we will go through all of this again in just a little over four months. Four months!
Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released this May and — though I’m sure this will change — right now it’s pretty tough finding anyone who is legitimately excited for this movie. Yes, the behind-the-scenes problems probably don’t instill a lot of confidence in this one, but everything I’ve heard through the grapevine is that, yes, this movie started off with a lot of chaos, but once Ron Howard took over, it ran smoothly. Now, this doesn’t mean it’s going to be good or bad, but at least it’s something positive. But the overwhelming majority of people I ask about the new Han Solo movie say something along the lines of, “Wait, there’s another Star Wars in four months?”
Yes, I worry about Solo: A Star Wars Story (as much as I can really worry about something I have nothing to do with and won’t affect me personally and isn’t a humanitarian crisis of some sort). Han Solo is one of my favorite characters to ever be in a movie, but even I’m thinking I could wait a bit longer on this one. Or, you know, maybe not at all? I still think it’s kind of a miracle we got to see Harrison Ford play Solo one last time in The Force Awakens and I kind of accepted that as the farewell to the character. And I still maintain that what made Solo such a good character is because it was played by an actor who thought the whole thing was stupid. It’s just one of those happy accidents. (Don’t forget, George Lucas’ original idea for Han Solo was that he was a big, green alien-looking thing.)
I like Alden Ehrenreich as an actor. He’s just wonderful in Hail, Caesar! But when I have seen some of the images that are floating around of him on set, I don’t see Han Solo, I see an actor who is about half a foot shorter than Harrison Ford (I’m sure this will be fixed by movie magic). Even if he does a dead-on Han Solo (and I’m sure he will), making a movie about one of the most iconic characters of all time, one so closely related with the actor who played him, may not have been the best idea. And maybe this is why Lucasfilm is now so bullish on going to places we’ve never seen before as evidenced by the new trilogy Rian Johnson is writing with all new characters.
The other day a friend of mine who has a similar job texted me that it’s weird that we don’t have some sort of teaser trailer yet for this movie – especially something that could have run before The Last Jedi. I responded that I think it’s weird we don’t even have a photo yet. We have no official image of Alden Ehrenreich playing Han Solo and this movie comes out in four months. Okay, yes, Lucasfilm doesn’t really start promoting a new movie until the last one has run its course. The Last Jedi trailer didn’t premiere until April, after Rogue One was already out on Blu-ray. That makes sense! Then you sill have eight months to promote The Last Jedi. (Oh, and they did.) But that window is much smaller this time. And I’m sure we will see something from Solo sooner than April, but the fact remains we have seen nothing except a few pictures of inanimate objects from Ron Howard’s Twitter feed and the font being used for the title.
Also, the bits of plot that are leaking are not encouraging. It seems apparent we will be seeing the movie version of the Kessel Run – an event that anyone who has seen the original Star Wars has played out in his or her mind in many different ways. It could be anything. Now it will be something. I kind of miss things being “anything.” I don’t need to have everything that’s ever been mentioned in Star Wars to be explained to me. I don’t need to see a movie about the bounty hunter Han and Leia ran into on Ord Mantell. This was always part of the charm of Star Wars: just random, crazy things being mentioned without any explanation. And there are rumors that we might see Vader again. Or Tarkin. (I mean, who knows? Of course, these rumors would exist whether they are true or not.) But it’s apparent this movie wants to show us “big events,” but I kind of wish they were just random adventures instead. In the late ‘70s, a series of books were published with titles like Han Solo at Stars’ End and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. How fun would something like that be? Just crazy adventures with Han and Chewbacca and the outcome will not mean anything for anyone other than them. And those titles are a lot better than Solo: A Star Wars Story. (I’m sure someone at Lucasfilm said, “Um, that’s too close to an Indiana Jones movie title.” And that person would be correct. But, also, so what?)
The original Star Wars has surprisingly little exposition for such a big galaxy. It just moves ahead, dropping reference after reference without a care in the world. It left a lot up to all of our imaginations. And everyone single one of those interpretations are different. And that’s always what made Star Wars fun. Now we get movie after movie that fills in those gaps, which not only takes away some of the fun, but also a real sense of Star Wars fatigue is setting in. And there’s a better than average chance I’ll enjoy this new Han Solo movie. Ron Howard is a pro and this isn’t his first go-around with a Lucasfilm movie. But, man, it’s a lot.
In the original Star Wars, Leia tells Han Solo, “I don’t know who you are or where you came from.” Come to think of it, I don’t think I do either.
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