When Rogue One arrives next month, it marks the start of Disney’s Star Wars Story enterprise; a side series of movies spinning off from the main episodes that tell more stylized adventures in the galaxy far, far away. There’s been a lot of rumoured contenders for what’s next for the treatment, with Ewan McGregor open to returning as Obi-Wan for a trilogy-bridging escapade, rumours of a Yoda prequel impossible to shake and fans still clamouring for a Knights of the Old Republic-era set movie. The only post-Rogue One anthology movie that’s confirmed, however, is Han Solo.
Starring Hail, Caesar‘s Alden Ehrenreich as the eponymous smuggler and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, two of the most subversive directors working today (they’re behind both Jump Street films and The LEGO Movie), it’s shaping up to be a very interesting movie. That said, while you can assume Lord and Miller will create something with tongue firmly in cheek, not too much is known about what we’ll get to see: it’s going feature Chewbacca, Lando (played by Donald Glover, no less) and the Millennium Falcon, but you could have guessed that when the project was announced. We recently learned Emilia Clarke has a role to play, but other information is thin on the ground.
Speaking with Variety about the future of the franchise, in amongst some other comments about Rogue One, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy dropped an interesting hint about what genres the standalone will fit into; namely a mixture of a heist movie and Western, in the case of Han Solo:
“[Han Solo] moves closer to a heist or Western type feel. We’ve talked about [Frederic] Remington and those primary colors that are used in his paintings defining the look and feel of the film.”
The Star Wars franchise has always borrowed from a variety of other genres; ostensibly a space fantasy, George Lucas’ original film borrows from Akira Kurosawa samurai movies, Saturday matinee serials, World War II fighter pilot thrillers and, yes, Westerns, to construct his sprawling world. Based on Kennedy’s comments, it now seems that the Story movies are breaking down those influences, with Rogue One honing in on the war elements, while Han Solo takes on the western.
In many ways, this is a perfect fit – Han is basically a gunslinger already – and for long term fans and cinephilles, this makes the Star Wars anthology entries even more alluring, promising an exploration of cinematic technique. The Remington reference is particularly interesting, suggesting a switch up on the traditional Star Wars aesthetic to double-down on stark, contrasting colours and expansive locations. It’s a little statement, but comments such as this go a long way to alleviating skepticism over something as potentially cynical as a Han Solo prequel.
There’s also the heist side of things. This is rather curious as that same word was used a lot in early discussion of Rogue One, but would seem to be saying that Lord and Miller’s film will be focused on Han having to use all his smuggling know-how on a single deadly mission, rather than showing a series of episodic adventures.
In the Variety article Kennedy also stoked the long-standing discussion over whether Rogue One and other “Story” movies will have an opening crawl:
“We felt that’s so indicative of what those saga films are. Initially, we probably will begin the film in a way that is traditional, with just the title.”
Those comments are still very vague, but it certainly feels like Lucasfilm is leaning towards a more standard presentation to further distinguish the standalones. We’ll find out for certain on December 16th.