During their time on Solo: A Star Wars Story, original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller reportedly were going for a vibe similar to Guardians of the Galaxy. Lucasfilm's second Star Wars spinoff experienced quite a journey to the big screen, undergoing a major change in the creative team last summer. Four months into production, Lord and Miller were fired due to creative differences with Kathleen Kennedy, and Oscar-winner Ron Howard stepped in to steer the ship back on course. Howard's work on the film saw him helm massive reshoots, which allegedly doubled the production budget.
This situation was highly unprecedented, so it obviously begged many questions about what went wrong with Lord and Miller. While we may never get the full story, it's been suggested they were let go due to their improvisational style (frequently going off-script) and making Solo more of a comedy than initially intended. That latter claim seems to have some merit with this latest update, seeing that Lord and Miller tried to emulate one of Marvel's biggest hits.
A write-up in the Wall Street Journal (via /Film) detailing the behind-the-scenes turmoil made note of the fact that Howard's goal in mind was to craft something reminiscent of the original Star Wars trilogy. This greatly contrasted with Lord & Miller's approach, which is said to have emulated Guardians of the Galaxy. If true, it's easy to see where disagreements between Lord & Miller and Kennedy stemmed from.
One of the selling points of the Star Wars spinoffs is that they can experiment with different genres and filmmaking styles without adhering strictly to the space opera feel of the Skywalker saga. However, an argument can be made that a more traditional direction was the right call here. Star Wars has always had a sense of humor, but it's rarely (if ever) as overtly jokey as the Guardians films (which, to be fair, serve up plenty of heart and drama). Plus, Guardians itself was heavily influenced by Star Wars (Chris Pratt based Star-Lord off Han Solo and Marty McFly), so it would have been odd to watch Alden Ehrenreich try to channel Peter Quill. Han should be, well, Han, as that character essentially set the template for the charming rogue archetype. This revelation may also explain the infamous acting coach Lucasfilm hired for Ehrenreich, helping ease his transition from Star-Lord to Han Solo. Based on the footage, he adjusted extremely well.
It remains confusing how Lord & Miller were hired for Solo (and why they stayed on for two years) if this was what they wanted to do, but what matters most is Kennedy recognized a problem and went to extreme measures to resolve it. Once Howard arrived, he steadied the waters, and a solid marketing campaign has box office tracking set for a record-breaking opening weekend. Troubled productions are nothing new for Star Wars (A New Hope was hell to make), so this is par for the course for the franchise. From the sound of things, Solo turned out fine and should be another winner for Lucasfilm.
Source: Wall Street Journal (via /Film)
- 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