Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story should have released right after J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens instead of over two years later. The thing is, the idea of a young Han Solo movie was around long before The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, when George Lucas was still in control of the Star Wars brand, and it was given the green light almost right after the Star Wars acquisition. It didn't need to take five years to develop and film before hitting theaters this year; it could've released long before that, which was the original plan.
But, behind-the-scenes issues required Lucasfilm to introduce audiences to their Star Wars spinoff movies by leading with Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016, which was the second movie to release following the Disney acquisition. While that movie was well received by audiences and critics alike, and it had an exceptional run at the domestic and worldwide box office, it stands to reason that Solo: A Star Wars Story - which is based on a script by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan - should've released first, with Rogue One following suit in 2018.
- This Page: How Solo Parallels The Force Awakens
- Page 2: Solo's Box Office Potential & Lucasfilm's Original Plan
Solo: A Star Wars Story Parallels The Force Awakens
Han Solo is the galaxy's most beloved smugger (turned Rebellion hero), but not too many people were initially sold on the idea of a young Han Solo movie - and many people still aren't. There's been an active base of detractors for Solo: A Star Wars Story ever since its announcement, with the common feeling amongst those critics being that this movie is "unnecessary" (which in and of itself is a ridiculous argument since all Star Wars movies are "unnecessary"). But, it's arguable that audiences would've been more receptive to the film if it had been the first Star Wars spinoff to release way back in December 2016, not Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
And while several Star Wars fans consider Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to be the best Star Wars movie that has been released under the Disney-owned Lucasfilm brand, its story is one that would've tied more organically into the events of Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi instead of 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lucasfilm purposefully put a focus on Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, not to mention paralleling his story with that of Rey's, which is a narrative that would've continued if they had released Solo: A Star Wars Story the year after. Seeing Harrison Ford's Han Solo die on-screen, and then seeing Chewbacca lose a lifelong friend in the process, was an emotional twist for longtime fans.
Then, in theory, an ideal narrative structure for the overall saga, one that would've been somewhat cathartic for fans, is if Solo: A Star Wars Story released one year after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving audiences Han Solo's origin story (a rebirth, of sorts, with a new cast and new story) a year after showing those moviegoers Han Solo's concluding arc. Plus, as mentioned, there are certain parallels between Han Solo and Rey's early character arcs, such as them both wanting to go back to forsaken planets (Corellia for Han and Jakku for Rey) because they both have to get back to someone(s). And what's interesting about that is Han and Rey both use the same quote when talking about going back: "I've already been away too long." That is a parallel that could've been explored while audiences waited for Episode VIII to come along.
Interestingly, while there's a similarity for Rey and Han Solo's character arcs in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story, respectively, there's also an intriguing narrative parallel for the Resistance and Rebellion in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Resistance was at the end of their rope in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the film ended with them finding a new hope to fight another day; the same thing happened to the Rebellion in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which means it could've released after Episode VIII and given audiences more to examine. Of course, there's no telling what that movie's box office gross would've been like if it hadn't released in 2016, regardless of its quality. But, it's possible Solo: A Star Wars Story could've fared better.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019