Director Ron Howard revealed the official title of his Star Wars anthology is Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it’s not as awful as some are making it out to be. Through a prolonged production process that saw the cameras roll from February to October under the leadership of three directors (first Phil Lord and Chris Miller, then Howard), Lucasfilm kept the project’s name a closely-guarded secret from the general public, with Howard using the hashtag #UntitledHanSolo for his various behind-the-scenes teases he posted on social media. But now that filming has finally wrapped, Howard commemorated the occasion by showing off the movie’s logo as he moves on to post.
In the aftermath of the announcement, moviegoers and fans mocked the title, scoffing at its obviousness and lack of creativity, but Solo: A Star Wars Story is actually a strong fit that makes a good deal of sense for a variety of reasons. With more than enough negative reactions flooding the Internet, we’re going to take the time to put a positive spin on things by showing why the title isn’t bad at all.
For starters, the spinoff was always going to be called something along these lines for marketing purposes. Han Solo is one of the most beloved and iconic characters in all of Star Wars, so of course a movie about him is going to bear his name. Die-hard fans may have been hoping for a more elaborate title like The Kessel Run, but it’s always important to keep in mind Lucasfilm is releasing these tentpoles for a wide, mainstream moviegoing audience. With the big, bold, impossible-to-miss Solo title card popping out in big yellow font, casual audiences know right away the famed Corellian smuggler is the subject of this latest Star Wars film, instantly seeing something they’re familiar with. If Lucasfilm tried to get more obscure or “cute” with the title, they’d run the risk of confusing people in some circles.
From a storytelling perspective, Solo is also quite logical. As many know by now, the film details Han’s younger years before he met Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, covering key events like meeting Chewbacca for the first time and winning the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. Hollywood has an extensive history of using the main character’s name as the title for a movie (Logan, Deadpool, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Superman: The Movie, etc.), so this is simply the latest instance of that. Lucasfilm arguably didn’t do themselves any favors by withholding the information for so long (creating the illusion Solo‘s title contained a big revelation), but once speculation pointed to Han Solo: A Star Wars Story as a possibility, fans should have been mentally prepared for this. Realistically, there were only so many ways it can go.
Keeping the title as simple as Solo stays in line with Star Wars tradition, as the names of the films are typically straightforward and quite literal. The Last Jedi is a direct reference to Luke. Rogue One is the name of the Rebel group that steals the Death Star plans. The Force Awakens alludes to Rey’s discovery of her abilities. Even the movies of the pre-Disney era followed this formula, as illustrated by the on-the-nose The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith – titles that essentially spoil which side of the ongoing conflict wins this time around. The spinoffs present an opportunity for Lucasfilm to experiment with different filmmaking styles and tones in the franchise, but some elements remain the same, it seems. One can expect J.J. Abrams’ Episode IX and any future spinoffs will follow suit.
One can easily write off Solo: A Star Wars Story as a lazy title in which no effort was put into, but it’s a name that works across the board. It gives Lucasfilm’s marketing department something succinct and clear to work with when the promotional campaign revs up, and it’s an accurate representation of the film’s content – which literally is a story about Han Solo. The hysteria surrounding it was simply overblown (as is the case with anything Star Wars), and it arguably is the least important aspect of the whole picture. If Solo is another quality series installment, none of this will matter in the long run. Quentin Tarantino still can’t explain the meaning of Reservoir Dogs, and that’s hailed as an all-time crime classic.
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