The Hypocrisy of Star Wars Fans
Without question, the biggest hurdle Solo had to overcome was finding a younger actor to inhabit the role. Harrison Ford is so synonymous with the character it's difficult for viewers to separate the two. So, when Lucasfilm confirmed plans for Solo, several dismissed the project believing nobody could adequately fill Ford's shoes. While that mindset ignores the fact there have been six cinematic James Bonds and a plethora of big screen Batmen (among other parts that have been recast), the skepticism of the daunting search for a new Han is understandable... that is if Star Wars fans weren't advocating for other "young X" films.
Lucasfilm is now in the business of annual tentpole releases, and viewers have no shortage of ideas they'd like to see. In the wake of Stranger Things' success (and comments from Millie Bobby Brown herself), there's a campaign for the young actress to star as Princess Leia in a spinoff. Due to Sebastian Stan's uncanny resemblance to Mark Hamill, people would like to see the Winter Soldier bring life to Luke Skywalker (possibly training Finn Wolfhard's Ben Solo). Since Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and now Adam Driver are just as defined by their Star Wars characters as Ford, it begs the question why these are deemed acceptable, while Alden Ehrenreich's Han Solo isn't widely welcomed. It's true the Hail, Caesar! standout has won some people over following a solid marketing campaign, but there are just as many still giving him the side eye simply for not being Harrison Ford, doubting he could do the role justice.
Another issue viewers have had with Solo from its inception is the supposed low-hanging fruit it's set to cover, revealing how Han befriended Chewbacca and won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. A criticism is that these are questions nobody wanted answered, which again, would be a fair comment if there wasn't a constant clamoring for an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff movie. The Jedi Knight's life has been covered more extensively in the various mediums of canon than Han's, seeing that just in the films Obi-Wan went from a 20-something Padawan learner to wise, old mentor. This doesn't take into account his key role in the Clone Wars animated series, plus a memorable guest spot on Rebels. Still, a movie chronicling Obi-Wan's Tatooine exile has been oft-requested for years, even though there's little left unexplored for it to tackle. This isn't to say an Obi-Wan spinoff (or one about Lando, which has also been called for) couldn't make for a strong film, but we have to crack the story.
Solo lends itself very well to film. It combines buddy elements (Han and Chewie), coming-of-age (Han going from idealist to cynic), and crime/heist to coalesce into a fun summer blockbuster. This is probably why Lucasfilm saved it for the movies and used non-film canon mediums to fill in other gaps. Brown's Leia movie would most likely be Claudia Gray's Leia: Princess of Alderaan novel (and a book is a better fit for Star Wars politics). The comics detailed certain incidents Obi-Wan handled on Tatooine as he kept an eye on young Luke (mainly helping the Lars family resolve issues). Flashbacks from The Last Jedi sucked the air out of a Luke/Ben Solo movie (and Force training is more effective as part of a larger story, not the story). Han's backstory is rich for a movie (and possibly more), while these "preferred" concepts come across a bit thin on-paper. If it lands, Solo is going to enrich rewatches of the saga films.
If somebody takes issue with Solo's writing, directing, or performances and pens a negative review, they're more than entitled to that opinion. Part of what makes film great is the fact the medium is subjective, and the same product can impact everyone differently. However, naysayers need to do more than proclaim Solo has no reason to exist, because the same can be said about any movie - whether it's an acclaimed Best Picture winner or a goofy action flick. Solo shouldn't be viewed with this odd double-standard because circles of the community aren't willing to accept a new actor as Han. Like all films, the spinoff should be judged on its merits, and if its various elements make for a worthwhile experience, regardless if someone personally wanted it or not.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019