[There are spoilers ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story. But, to be honest, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, but are still reading about it and wanting to avoid spoilers, that’s a little weird.]
There’s a bar near my apartment here in New York City that primarily shows movies instead of sports and it’s become our primary neighborhood haunt. One of the bartenders is a huge Star Wars nerd and, often, when he’s bartending, you can be sure one of the installments of the Original Trilogy will be playing. (The bar has one movie rule: no movies that came out after 1985. But for May 4th that rule was lifted and all the unsuspecting customers that night got to watch Attack of the Clones.)
I bring this up because this bartender was not a fan of The Last Jedi, at least at first. And we had endless, all-night debates about the merits of that movie. After its release for home consumption, and a good rewatch, he even came around on the movie and declared that he now likes it – which spawned whole other endless conversations.
After I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story at a press screening, we stopped by this bar and I was given strict instructions, “Do not say a word about this movie to me. We will discuss it after I see it.” This little dance went on for two weeks until the theatrical release of the film. Finally, after all that, the endless The Last Jedi debates and now dancing around each other to avoid spoilers for Solo, at last it was time to discuss the film. It went something like this:
Me: “Alright, so what did you think?”
Him: “Yeah, it was okay.”
Him: “Though I couldn’t see half of it, it was too dark.”
Me: “Yeah, that’s been an issue.”
Him: “So … what are you drinking?”
And that was it. And this is how all the conversations seem to go about this movie (except for the part about what alcoholic beverage I wanted to order). Solo: A Star Wars Story is officially the least interesting Star Wars movie to talk about. Yes, people in media, like me, like to talk about the behind-the-scenes drama – but in reality those conversations are pretty depressing. In the end, it’s about two people losing their dream job. And, honestly, most people who see Solo don’t know a ton about that anyway and don’t really care. Most people just want to talk about the movie. And when the main topic is about how directors were replaced or how some digital projectors can’t handle the darkness levels of the movie, that’s not a very exciting topic. (For the record, when I saw it, it looked outstanding. Apparently the next press screening had the opposite reaction. Until this projector problem came to light, this was starting to become a “yanny laurel” type argument.)
Now, this is not to say Solo is a bad movie. I still, for the most part, like it – but as the weeks roll on I am remembering less and less about it. Look, even the Prequels are fun to talk about. I can go on a 20-minute monologue about my feelings about Revenge of the Sith (which, in my mind, is the absolute worst Star Wars movie) but it’s hard to muster more than a few passing words about Solo. It’s really remarkable. There’s just not a lot to say! “How about that train scene, huh?” Or, “Remember when Han shortened Chewbacca’s name?”
And that’s always been the fun of Star Wars: talking about Star Wars. And I don’t mean online, because talking about Star Wars on social media has become pretty exhausting over the last three years, but I mean in real life, face to face. The Original Trilogy can still spark hours of discussions. Heck, that’s how the whole “What Was Luke’s Plan in Return of the Jedi?” conversation got started: just sitting around a bar talking about Return of the Jedi. It’s fun! Even Rogue One, the only other prior offshoot movie, sparked endless discussions about the Death Star and Tarkin and Vader and how everyone dies and how that’s crazy. The Prequels are so silly there’s plenty to discuss. And, yes, The Last Jedi is polarizing, but polarization can lead to some pretty fun conversations.
With Solo, even discussing the return of Darth Maul seems like an exercise in futility. At this point, it seems pretty unlikely we are going to see that plot point carried out further because the chances of a Solo 2 seem pretty grim. So, what’s the point? (Also: Has any reveal that wasn’t intended to confuse people confused more people than Darth Maul showing up in Solo? I suspect it may have been overestimated how many people kept up on Clone Wars and Rebels. Also, if the last time you saw Maul was when he was cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi, then fell down a shaft, it’s not crazy to think, “I thought that dude was dead.”)
There is one Solo topic that I do find kind of interesting: and that’s how this movie will be perceived in a few years. It really could go either way. Will it be looked at as the safe movie that underperformed? Or will it be looked back as this oddball movie where “some other guy played Han Solo.” Will Alden Ehrenreich be the George Lazenby of the Star Wars Saga? And that’s the interesting thing about movies … someday Solo probably will be immensely interesting to talk about because it will be this weird outlier. But, alas, just not today.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.