It seems like only yesterday Lucasfilm announced the second Star Wars anthology film would be a prequel centering on young Han Solo, and now directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have just begun principal photography on the project. Rising star Alden Ehrenreich leads the charge as the iconic smuggler, fronting an A-list cast that’s one of the finest ensembles the studio has assembled. Many viewers are excited to see what the likes of Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Thandie Newton bring to the galaxy far, far away.
For all the positives surrounding Han Solo (Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan is co-writing the script), there’s still an aura of skepticism about it. The living legend that is Harrison Ford is a tough act for anyone to follow, and Star Wars is a franchise with a rather touchy history with prequels. Some would prefer Lucasfilm leave Han alone and pursue other stories, but there’s still a way to make this spinoff work very well. Here are Screen Rant’s Dos And Don’ts For The Young Han Solo Movie.
15. Do: Expand the Mythology and Lore
Since the standalone anthology films are separate from the main storyline of the Skywalker family saga, they run the risk of coming across as supplemental and inconsequential, which clearly is not a good recipe for a massive studio tentpole. In order for these productions to resonate with audiences as strongly as The Force Awakens did, they need to add something of value to the larger franchise, further exploring the rich mythology. Rogue One was a perfect example of this, introducing the Guardians of the Whills, taking viewers to all-new worlds, and continuing to flesh out the Rebellion and Empire. It was a terrific complementary piece to A New Hope and actually made that film more impactful.
For Han Solo, the easy route is to explore brand new corners of the universe, particularly the galaxy’s underworld. Harrelson has already indicated his mentor figure is “a bit of a criminal,” which should be a fun angle for the films to examine. In all likelihood, Han didn’t exactly keep the best company prior to his fateful meeting of Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, so the main setting should be something unsavory. With the approach pitched as a Western or heist film, it would be a wasted opportunity if Lord and Miller did not bring the more crime-ridden areas of the galaxy to life. Han does smuggle, after all.
14. Don’t: Overdo/Force Reference to Earlier Films
Whenever a franchise runs as long as Star Wars has, it’s easy for the latest installments to get a little too cute with Easter eggs and callbacks to previous entries. The modern Star Wars films of the Disney era have so far done a good job of avoiding this pitfall, but there are still instances where longtime fans roll their eyes. Did Rogue One truly need the cameos from Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan? Could The Force Awakens have done without the holochess board starting up or Finn tossing aside Luke’s old training remote? There’s no denying these can be fun inclusions, but the filmmakers need to use them wisely.
It goes without saying Han Solo is going to have Star Wars references that viewers will eagerly be seeking out, but it would be better for the movie if they were few and far between. Mainly, the script should avoid any winks to the audience (i.e. Han saying, “If I had a kid, I bet he’d kill me!”) as a means of providing humor. Kasdan is a smart writer who knows the Star Wars universe well, so hopefully Han Solo is in strong hands. With Han, Chewbacca, and the Millennium Falcon, there’s bound to be at least some nostalgia within the film, though it needs to be a natural fit that doesn’t pull viewers out of the action.
13. Do: Detail Han and Chewie’s Backstory
Han Solo and Chewbacca are one of the most dynamic duos in all of cinema and have been a favorite of fans for the past 40 years. There’s a reason why the second Force Awakens teaser ended with the famous shot of them boarding the Falcon, coming home once more. Audiences love watching the two interact, as they typically provide and entertaining riff on the old “boy and his dog” trope. It’s evident the two love each other, and the official canon has started to peel back layers of their history through the new novels. For instance, Life Debt reveals how Han and Chewie saved one another from darkness and despair, adding layers to their relationship on-screen.
Since everyone knows Han and Chewie are intergalactic best friends, Lord and Miller don’t necessarily need to depict exactly how the pair came to be. That said, it would be nice to learn more about their backstory through dialogue, which will hopefully add something to the main saga films. Even a brief retelling of the story from Han in a single scene would be enough to make their interactions all the more emotionally resonant, giving fans something to think about whenever Solo and the old fuzz ball are together. It’s already been said Han Solo is an “origin story” of sorts for the pair, so viewers should expect some kind of history lesson.
12. Don’t: Connect All the Dots of Han’s Past
Whereas some examining of Han’s backstory is likely in order, Lord and Miller shouldn’t go overboard here. There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit for a Han Solo prequel movie, including the famed Kessel Run, winning the Falcon from Lando Calrissian, and his tumultuous history with Jabba the Hutt. There’s no denying some of this would be cool to see in some form in the franchise (be it a novel or comic book), it could be considered a poor use of resources if the spinoff film dealt exclusively with events and details that viewers already have some familiarity with. Han led a full life of adventure long before his time as a Rebellion hero, so take advantage of that.
Han Solo would perhaps be at its most compelling if it told a story about something fans knew little (or anything) about. That’s one way to keep audiences engaged in the proceedings even though they know Han lives through the Galactic Civil War. Placing the characters in fresh situations and then watching how they deal with the conflict has a lot of potential. The creative team seems to be on this path, as Han never mentioned a mentor in any of his previous big screen appearances. So there are numerous ways for the narrative to go. Lord and Miller just have to choose a compelling one.
11. Do: Make The Film Fun and Light-Hearted
Star Wars has always been breezy entertainment, but lately the franchise is telling some more serious-minded stories. Rogue One was a hard-hitting war drama that saw all of its main characters die in the third act (and was capped off with the great Vader massacre of 2016), and it’s long been reported this year’s The Last Jedi will be “darker” than its predecessor. This is all fine and good (The Empire Strikes Back is still the créme de la créme of the series), but if Star Wars is to thrive for years to come, some tonal balance is going to be required.
With Lord and Miller at the helm, it goes without saying Han Solo should have a sharp comedic edge to it. After all, the directing duo made names for themselves on 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. Granted, this wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without some compelling character moments that serve up the drama, but there’s no need for Han Solo to be all that heavy. The Force Awakens is actually a good template to follow here, since that had plenty of funny parts, but wasn’t afraid to take things in a more somber direction. The spinoff should have its own tone a la Rogue One, and hopefully it leans more towards an action-comedy of sorts.
10. Don’t: Give the Force A Prominent Role
Han Solo was first introduced as the galaxy’s version of a religious skeptic, telling Luke, “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of the galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff. But I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.” He mocked the whole concept as “hokey” and firmly believed a blaster was a better choice of weapon than a lightsaber. By the time he reached old age and had a son trained by Luke, he came around and knew the Force was real, but his youth was a different story.
This is highly important. Han Solo takes place before the original trilogy, so in order to keep the canon in line, this should be the first Star Wars film that minimizes the role of the Force. It could theoretically be mentioned in passing once or twice, but Han’s uncertainty of its existence can never be tested. He didn’t have his epiphany until well into his adult life. The story group is most likely aware of this fact, as evidenced by their decision to keep Wedge Antilles out of Rogue One. They do a good job of paying attention to little details, doing the best they can to not create new plot holes. After the prequel trilogy played fast and loose with the continuity, the studio seems to have learned their lesson.
9. Do: Flesh Out Han and Lando’s Friendship
By virtue of starring in four movies together, Han and Chewbacca have had a lot of time dedicated to their companionship. However, the same necessarily can’t be said for Lando. Brought in halfway through The Empire Strikes Back as an old acquaintance of Han’s, Lando quickly betrayed his buddy and sent him into carbon freeze. While Calrissian came back to the good side and aided the Alliance in Return of the Jedi, there still wasn’t much there between Han and Lando. The two spent the Battle of Endor separated; Lando served as Gold Leader in space while Han fought his way on the moon’s surface. Through their interactions, there’s clearly a long history there, but it hasn’t really been covered yet.
This is obviously the perfect place to shine a spotlight on their friendship, which will hopefully add a lot to their scenes from the saga films – particularly Empire. Lord and Miller showed great adeptness at crafting a fun and compelling buddy cop dynamic for officers Schmidt and Jenko in the Jump Street movies, so they should be well in their element here. Of course, there’s more to the ensemble than just Han and Lando, but giving their relationship room to breathe and really developing it could go a long way in ensuring Han Solo is a vital part of the canon.
8. Don’t: Make It Closed-Ended
The Force Awakens concluded on a tantalizing cliffhanger, but Rogue One was something else entirely. The film was conceived from the start to be a single, standalone, self-contained endeavor that left no room for sequels. Jyn Erso and her teammates all perished on Scarif, definitively closing the book on their brief time in the films (unless they show up in another prequel). In the age of constantly setting up shared universes and more stories with each blockbuster, this was appreciated, but it’s something Lord and Miller should stay away from.
Last year, it was reported Ehrenreich is allegedly under contract for three pictures, meaning it’s possible a Han Solo trilogy is in development. The future of the Star Wars anthology series remains very much up in the air, as nothing post-2019 has been officially confirmed yet. Considering the first Han Solo film is a hit, there will likely be a demand for a followup or two. Of course, the creative team should make sure this particular movie can stand on its own merits and doesn’t need a sequel to tell a complete story, but taking another spin on the Falcon in the next decade should be in order. We know Han, Chewie, and Lando can’t die, so there’s room for more movies featuring them.
7. Do: Create All-New Villains
Five of the eight live-action movies feature some variation of the Empire as the main villains. The Imperials were the adversaries in the original trilogy and Rogue One, while the First Order rose from their ashes in Episode VII. Supreme Leader Snoke, General Hux, and Kylo Ren will all return for The Last Jedi, so soon that number will rise to six out of nine. It’s safe to say the series could use some fresh blood on the evil side of things by the time May 2018 rolls around. Stormtroopers are iconic, but there’s only so much you can do with them.
With Han Solo, there’s an opportunity to introduce some brand new antagonists that viewers have never seen before. Han has spent a good deal of time in the far reaches of the galaxy, where there was a limited Imperial presence at best. Since the spinoff will be set in the Galactic Civil War era, there’s always a chance Palpatine’s regime could be mentioned, but since the various Outer Rim planets are not a concern to the Emperor, it’s plausible the Empire has little-to-no role in Han Solo. Since it’s believed to be a heist movie, perhaps there won’t even be a traditional “bad guy,” with the main target of the job being who the audience roots against (i.e. Terry Benedict in Ocean’s Eleven). Either way, Lord and Miller should look beyond the old classics.
6. Don’t: Go Heavy on Meta Humor
One of Lord and Miller’s calling cards is meta humor, which is most apparent in the Jump Street duology. This does lead to some hysterical jokes, but that approach may not work all that well for the galaxy far, far away. The directors should have the freedom to inject their personal voices into the project, but it still needs to fit within the wider confines of the overall franchise. Again, Kasdan as the screenwriter should be able to keep this aspect in check, since he knows what kind of dialogue suits these movies.
When handled in the proper way, these kind of gags can be effective (see: Don Cheadle’s first scene in Iron Man 2), but an over-reliance on them could be disastrous. In particular, there shouldn’t be any “YOU don’t look like Han Solo!” barbs directed at Ehrenreich (who is not the spitting image of Ford), and Lord and Miller must resist the temptation to place a “Han shot first” joke in the picture. The two have made a career of turning genre conventions on their heads and pointing out absurdities in mainstream films, but you can be funny in Star Wars without tying it all back to the real world.
5. Do: Go For Broke On Action Sequences
Star Wars is a franchise known for its big screen spectacle. Ever since the original film came out and blew viewers away with the Death Star trench run, each installment has delivered its own jaw-dropping set piece (or two). Things haven’t changed in the Disney era, as both The Force Awakens and Rogue One featured plenty of classic Star Wars action that was a wonder to behold in theaters. Episode VII even made use of special IMAX cameras, technology Han Solo will also look to take advantage of. It goes without saying Lord and Miller should be able to craft some great sequences, and they’ve demonstrated strong chops before on Jump Street and The LEGO Movie.
Han Solo has the potential to be the most visually-stunning of the new Star Wars movies due to the presence of cinematographer Bradford Young, who shot Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Arrival. Young earned an Oscar nomination for his work, after he created breathtaking imagery that looked incredible at the multiplex. The technical merits of a Star Wars film are usually unquestioned, and that should definitely be the case here. Given the director of photography Lord and Miller have enlisted, this film should be absolutely beautiful to look at.
4. Don’t: Use Parsecs As a Measure of Time
In Han’s first scene, he tried to impress Obi-Wan and Luke by bragging the Millennium Falcon was the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. This feat was brought up again in The Force Awakens, when Rey incorrectly said it was 14 parsecs – a humorous callback to the original film. However, this accomplishment by Solo has always been the cause of some confusion, as it is known parsecs are a unit of distance, not time. Regardless of how fast the Falcon is, it theoretically would have to travel the same amount of distance in the Kessel run as any old Imperial slug.
There’s a fan theory that suggests Han was using some mumbo jumbo of his own to try to trick Obi-Wan, so it would probably be for the best if the spinoff film steered clear of this subject. Viewers can continue to debate amongst themselves the nature of the Kessel run and parsecs, but this is one mystery the film should not look to solve. Lord and Miller would have little to gain by explaining away the secrets, and there’s more pertinent elements for the movie to cover.
3. Do: Make Lando a Fully-Realized Character
This is somewhat connected to our point on fleshing out Han and Lando’s relationship, but it would be great if Han Solo added some depth to the Lando character individually. Though Billy Dee Williams was the epitome of cool bringing the scoundrel to life in the original trilogy, he didn’t always have the most to work with as an actor. Empire gave Williams some layers, as he went from sleazy businessman to ally of Leia and Chewie, but Jedi unfortunately shortchanged him. A majority of Lando’s screen time was spent reacting to the space battle and relaying commands to the Rebel fleet.
Since Lando should be a main character this time around, there’s no reason why things shouldn’t be different in the anthology. Han’s life has been well-covered already in four saga films, so this is an opportunity to add something to the canon by shining a spotlight on Lando and detailing what makes him click as a character. He shouldn’t simply be a thinly-sketched “best friend” trope. Eventually, Lando and Han part ways as Calrissian takes over Cloud City, so there’s some interesting material to examine there.
2. Don’t: Make Emilia Clarke A Generic Love Interest
As diversity in Hollywood tentpoles becomes an increasingly hot button issue, the Star Wars franchise has emerged as one of the leaders in changing the tides. Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were led by female protagonists in Rey and Jyn Erso, giving a generation of young girls all-new heroines they can look up to. This obviously hasn’t had a negative impact on the movies’ receptions, since both were critically acclaimed and crossed the $1 billion mark at the box office. With so many people hungry for strong female leads, they appreciate the advancements from Lucasfilm.
Though the Han Solo movie will of course center around… Han Solo, hopefully Lord and Miller will not revert back to traditional Hollywood roles by making Emilia Clarke’s mystery character nothing but a generic love interest for a young Han to admire. Granted, some romantic relationship between the two wouldn’t be a surprise, but Clarke should have more to contribute than just to be a pretty face. Having her be a badass female bounty hunter or rogue – someone who gives Han a run for his money – would be a lot of fun to see. Dating back to Princess Leia, Star Wars has always held their female characters to high standards, so this shouldn’t be an issue here.
1. Do: Show How Han Became a Loner
The Han Solo in A New Hope is quite different from the one in The Force Awakens. In Mos Eisley, he’s content just with Chewie on his side, reluctant to open up to anyone else. He frequently displays selfish tendencies, initially refusing to go resuce Leia and abandoning the Rebellion before the Battle of Yavin. Of course, he had a change of heart – almost as if escaping the Death Star with the Skywalker twins reminded him how great it was to be a part of a team again. Kasdan has mentioned in the past he wanted to figure out how Han became so cynical, so it sounds like Solo’s dark character arc will be the main focus of the spinoff.
This could be connected to the mentor character played by Harrelson, who has been described as “a bit of a criminal.” With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him stab Han and Chewie in the back on a job, teaching Han the life lesson that you should always look after yourself first. Star Wars is built on twisted dynamics between parental figures and their offspring, so a father/son angle between Harrelson and Ehrenreich makes sense. It won’t have a happy ending, but it could make a compelling story if done right.
As always, this list is not meant to be all-inclusive. These are just some of the things we’d like to see Han Solo do (and avoid) as it enters principal photography. Disney and Lucasfilm have done a great job so far with the new Star Wars films and seem to be steering the ship on the right path. D23 could be an excellent showcase for what Lord and Miller have in store, so hopefully their installment doesn’t disappoint and demonstrates the longterm viability of the standalone films.