While Star Wars fans are counting down the days until J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters this December, Disney and Lucasfilm are plotting out the future of their mega franchise. By now many of our readers know that in addition to a sequel trilogy for the core saga, the studio is also developing a series of standalone "Anthology" films to tell more stories within the universe - beginning with Gareth Edwards' Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One (which arrives in December 2016).
Recently, it was officially confirmed that the second of these Anthology movies will be a young Han Solo film, directed by LEGO Movie helmsmen Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Star Wars veteran scribe Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon are penning the script; few details are known beyond that, but now some additional information about the project has come to light.
In the ultra-informative EW coverage about all things Star Wars, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shared some tidbits about Han's solo movie (pardon the wording). One of the most important aspects the filmmakers have to consider is how much of the smuggler's past they want to show. That seems to be the driving force behind the preliminary discussions at this point in the film's development, according to Kennedy:
“There’s got to be a reason for [the stand-alone film] to be. And obviously the thing that Star Wars has always done so well is it doesn’t spend a lot of time [explaining] the stories that have come before. We don’t want to do that either. We don’t want to spend time going back and answering a lot of questions that, quite frankly, I don’t think people want answered.”
By its very nature, a young Han Solo prequel could easily fall into the trap of being predictable. Low-hanging fruit narrative beats could include how he met his trusted pal Chewbacca or how he came to be the captain of the Millennium Falcon, but arguably would not make the most interesting film to watch. The answers to those questions really aren't relevant due to the existence of the other films, so Kennedy says the trick is to find an engaging character story that encapsulates why Han Solo is who he is:
“I think the key here is that we are identifying an event or events in Han Solo’s life that gives you some idea of who he is and why he is the character we have all known to love.”
As we've seen in works like Better Call Saul, there are ways to go back in time and keep audiences on the edge of their seats as the journey unfolds. As long as Lord and Miller place Han in an intriguing situation we have little to no prior knowledge about, it could make the film very entertaining (even if we know Han's ultimate end point). The script is still early in development, but it's encouraging to see Kennedy is committed to telling a great story that will hopefully be rewarding for viewers to check out.
One thing that Kennedy could confirm at this juncture is the tone they're striving for with this Anthology film. Citing Han's penchant for being a snarky troublemaker, the Lucasfilm head stated that they're going for an adventure/comedy vibe:
“You can imagine, given who we’ve chosen to come in and direct, it should be very entertaining and funny. Han Solo is the character inside Star Wars that everybody knows has a wit and sense of humor. So that’s what this should be.”
This could be a refreshing change-of-pace for the Star Wars franchise as a whole. While the films are no stranger to moments of comedic relief, none of the six released films to date can be classified as an outright comedy. This harkens back to an earlier comment when Lucasfilm VP of development Kiri Hart made public the studio's intention to blend multiple genres with the new Star Wars movies. Especially as the Hollywood tentpole landscape becomes more and more crowded, this technique could help make the Han Solo standalone unique.
But what will really make or break this project in many fans' eyes is the actor tasked with the unenviable task of following Harrison Ford's footsteps and playing a young Han Solo. Lucasfilm is not anywhere close to casting a lead, but Kennedy did say that the character will be in either his "high teens, low 20s" when we see him in the Anthology film. Meaning, those of you worried about experiencing Jake Lloyd 2.0 need not fret.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.