The marketing machine for Solo: A Star Wars Story has started up, and that includes an informative spread in the latest EW cover story. Of all the new Star Wars films Lucasfilm announced in the wake of being acquired by Disney, this prequel was the one met with the most skepticism due to its premise and the fact someone other than Harrison Ford would be playing Han. Even more red flags were raised when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were shockingly fired towards the end of production and were replaced by Ron Howard. The Oscar-winner essentially handled a second wave of principal photography, as filming on Solo (which officially started in February 2017) didn't wrap until October.
Related: Han Solo's Trailer Delay Was Genius
To make matters worse (in the eyes of fans), Lucasfilm opted to not unveil any promotional materials for Solo until just recently, roughly three months away from release. This was an intentional strategy on the part of the studio as The Last Jedi made its way through theaters, but it was still concerning the project was hidden for so long. One Super Bowl TV spot and a full teaser later, the conversation has changed somewhat. Though there are still some reservations, viewers seem to like the vibe of the spinoff and Ehrenreich's look as the young Han. Now that we've seen some footage, it's time to learn plot details.
The New Han (This Page)
Young Han's Mindset
When we first meet Han Solo in A New Hope, he's a selfish cynic who only looks after himself and cares about getting paid. But he eventually shows his true colors when he swoops in at the last minute to save Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Yavin, demonstrating he really did have a conscious. As it turns out, the younger Han was closer to the soft-hearted man we saw at the end of the original trilogy, since star Alden Ehrenreich described his character as "more of an idealist" than we're used to. He wants to be a key figure in the criminal underworld, but has a nice streak that sets him back.
According to Ehrenreich, his Han dreams of being independent and is striving to get to that point, but Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy noted Han also wants the respect of others. It's an interesting dichotomy brought about by Solo's upbringing. On the streets since he was 10, Han is another Star Wars orphan looking for his place in the universe. That rough childhood leads to Han yearning for human connections, but wary of getting too close to anyone.
Han's Circle of Friends
Though Han is a bit of a loner, he's not completely isolated in the galaxy far, far away. When Solo begins, his longest acquaintance will be Qi'Ra (Emilia Clarke). Ehrenreich called her "a very important person in his life." Qi'Ra will hopefully add to Star Wars' rich legacy of outstanding female leads, and knows how to "work the system" to her advantage. Another fresh face Solo introduces is Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), who is Han's father figure and mentor. He's a criminal hoping to rise the ranks in the underworld by pulling off a big score - seemingly the train heist teased in various promotional materials. Howard mentioned Beckett is the one who hast the greatest influence on Han.
Of course, Solo will reacquaint viewers with a pair of original trilogy stalwarts. The spinoff will show the fateful first meetings Han has with Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Interestingly, Han and Chewie won't instantly become best friends, as it'll take some time before Chewie completely trusts Han. The film should lay down the foundation for their partnership that would last decades before coming to a tragic end. The canon novel Life Debt teased that the two work together to help each other out of tight spots. As for Lando, Ehrenreich joked that dynamic is complicated, and we'll learn more when the film opens.
Harrison Ford's Advice
Ehrenreich has a gargantuan task ahead of him as he follows the footsteps of one Harrison Ford, who perfectly embodied Han Solo in four saga installments. The ultimate success of Solo will depend on how his performance is received. Fortunately, he got some pointers from his legendary predecessor prior to filming. During the duo's famous lunch meeting, Ford gave Ehrenreich some valuable insight that the youngster carried with him to the set. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy noted there were several times during production Ehrenreich would recall something he learned from Ford. Based on the brief glimpses in the footage, Ehrenreich seems fit to do the role justice and should deliver a strong performance.
Ford was also there for Howard once the Apollo 13 helmsman took over the troubled project, telling the director what he learned about the character during his time in the franchise. Ford and George Lucas frequently discussed the character's backstory while crafting the original trilogy, so the Solo team had great interest in what Ford had to say. Luckily, Ford seems to like where the prequel is headed. Not only did he call Ehrenreich a "really good kid," he also gave Lawrence and Jon Kasdan's script a thumbs-up. If the trailer didn't do enough to calm one's nerves, perhaps that revelation will.
- 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