Solo Has A Lot Going For It
It's important to remember that this troubled production actually has a lot working in its favor. One of the most important assets is clearly the script. Scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan is the co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, and opted in to do Solo over any other Star Wars project. And, whereas Lord and Miller's improv style, as it deviated from the script changed things, in contrast, Howard has reportedly shot the script faithfully.
Ron Howard, of course, is another major asset. He's one of the most respected names in Hollywood, a workmanlike director who excels at motivating his cast and crew. Howard's experience includes classics like Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, and he actually has history with Lucasfilm too; his breakout role was in George Lucas' American Graffiti, and they later approached him to direct The Phantom Menace. In addition to getting Solo back on track, Howard has also conducted a clever social media strategy; he's released a constant stream of set photos on social media, attempting to get the conversation back on track.
And whatever doubts some fans may have over Ehrenreich, the reality is that Solo has an absolutely stellar supporting cast. A particular highlight is Donald Glover's Lando, who's absolutely shone in the trailers. Howard has further increased the film's star power, recruiting Paul Bettany to play a crime boss who may well turn out to be Solo's main villain.
Read More: Wait, Who Exactly Is Solo’s Villain?
The Trailers Have Sold Something Exciting
And now we get to something that makes everything before almost moot: the trailers have promised something good, a film that's a perfect blend of something old, and something new. All the traditional Star Wars concepts are in play, along with countless elements from the old Expanded Universe; the second trailer even introduced a character from the Star Wars Holiday Special. The trailers have made Solo feel like Kasdan's love-letter to the Star Wars franchise, and it's easy to understand why Lucasfilm was so protective of the script.
But Solo is no mere nostalgia vehicle; in Solo, everything old is young again, subtly changed and transformed. The trailer shows the Millennium Falcon like we've never seen her before, lovingly restored by Lando as though she's just come off the production line. Classic characters rub shoulders with newer figures, and there are even Easter Eggs to bounty hunters introduced in Rogue One. Cinematographer Bradford Young (the man behind Arrival's beauty) has accentuated lavish set designs, while the Kessel Run is absolutely beautiful. These trailers, while not as bombastic as some from the franchise, promise to develop themes and ideas that have rarely been explored in Star Wars. Thematically, the film feels like a cross between a Western and a heist movie, with some scenes reminiscent of Joss Whedon's Firefly.
Only one thing about the trailers has been worthy of controversy; their delay. It's true that marketing for Solo has been strangely sluggish, with Lucasfilm holding off on trailers till far later than fans had expected. But that decision was actually easy to understand; Lucasfilm were releasing Solo just a handful of months after The Last Jedi. They're not Marvel Studios, where releasing two films in such swift succession is the norm, so chose to concentrate their marketing on one film at a time, rather than risk diluting the impact of the trailers.
When Lucasfilm did choose to fire the gun on Solo's marketing, it was with an effective double-tap - a TV spot at the Super Bowl followed by a full trailer. Far from displaying a lack of confidence in the film, this was actually a smart marketing approach. Again, the reality has been missed in the face of the online narrative.
Read More: Solo’s Trailer Delay Was Genius
Here's the thing about internet fashions; all too often, they have no basis in reality. A narrative has set in that Solo is a disaster waiting to happen, a film that's destined for poor reviews and low box office figures. The reality, though, is that Lucasfilm still have a potential winner on their hands; right now, all we've really seen of the finished movie are a couple of trailers and some promotional photos. It's far too soon to give up on the next Star Wars movie.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019