Director Gareth Edwards' Rogue One is without question a monumental film in the Star Wars saga. The first of what will hopefully be many Star Wars anthology films in the years to come, the success of Rogue One in both fans' and critics' eyes proved the franchise could be compelling outside of the core narrative that kicked off the series in 1977. True, Rogue One has some ties to the original film series as it expands on the back story of the stolen Death Star plans and a chronicle of the events leading up to the beginning of A New Hope, but apart from supporting appearances by Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia (the latter two recreated using CGI), the film's story stood on its own.
The blockbuster success of Rogue One is both a blessing and a curse for the director team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and their Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film, set for a May 2018 release; a blessing because Edwards proved there is life beyond the original saga, and curse because it set the bar even higher for Lord and Miller to succeed. Not only do they have to make a film that floors moviegoers, they have to do it with the younger version of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), a beloved character (thanks to the roguish charm of Harrison Ford) in the Star Wars universe. Don't expect the western-style movie to be too like the Death Star plan exposé, however.
In an interview at the Empire Film Awards, Edwards said that Lord and Miller are making a very different sort of movie:
"They're amazing filmmakers. I'm very excited about what they do. It'll be a completely different film to what we did. I think they've got the hardest task, I think, out of all the films that I heard about that one is probably the greatest challenge and they're gonna knock it out of the park, but I wouldn't have had the balls to do that."
Now having established himself a vital member of the Star Wars universe, Edwards, of course, has the advantage of being a lot more in-the-know when it comes to Star Wars projects in the works. The disadvantage is, seeing what his Lord and Miller are doing has made him look in the mirror:
"They've got really good taste. You glimpse things – you try not to – as you're going about your business, but you see stuff. And everything I saw, I got really jealous about it."
Hopefully we'll get a sense soon of the tone Lord and Miller are bringing to Han Solo, which went into production at the end of January and released its first official image in February. Given the irreverence of their turns at the helm of The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street – plus the inclusion of veteran Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan as one of young Han Solo's screenwriters – it appears all the right creative elements are in place to bring back the space scoundrel in a refreshing yet familiar light.
If that's not enough, a ringing endorsement of the script from The Force Awakens co-writer/director J.J. Abrams helps tremendously, given that he's the filmmaker who raised the bar for everybody following in his very big footsteps. It's fair to say expectations are high.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019