Star Wars: Does Han deserve his own ‘Solo’? Fans weigh in
Star Wars: Does Han deserve his own ‘Solo’? Fans weigh in
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Over the course of three “Star Wars” films, Han Solo blasts the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace, gets flash-frozen and thawed, kisses the princess and outsmarts the Jabba the Hutt.
But does he deserve his own movie, an honor not given to any “Star Wars” characters yet? Yes, say fans eager to see their favorite scruffy-looking nerf herder back in action. In “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” opening Friday, May 25, we’ll learn how Han – played by Harrison Ford in the original movies – met his furry sidekick Chewbacca, and won the Millennium Falcon in a game of chance.
Alden Ehrenreich (“Rules Don’t Apply”) will portray a young Han Solo. Donald Glover (“Community,” “Atlanta”) is smuggler Lando Calrissian, who was played by Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy.
Han’s love interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”), his mentor Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and master criminal Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) are among the new characters that “Solo” introduces to the “Star Wars” universe.
Han deserves his own movie because the character is more complex than he seems at first glance, said Damon Blalack, who taught classes on the mythology of “Star Wars” at Oklahoma State University. Currently Blalack is attending film school at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland.
Like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han goes on a mythic hero’s journey in the original “Star Wars” films; both men are plucked out of obscurity to serve a bigger purpose, Blalack said. Critics have pointed out that Han and Luke gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world as they struggle to make moral choices and find redemption.
Han’s a lone wolf who only reluctantly joins the Rebel Alliance. He pretends to know what he’s doing, when he actually doesn’t. Remember the time that Han flew the Millennium Falcon into a cave, not realizing the cavity was really the gullet of a huge worm? “It’s a bravado he’s milking to make others feel at ease,” Blalack said.
Plus, he’s got humor and charisma. “That’s why he’s the perfect choice for a stand-alone movie,” Blalack said.
Fans feel so passionately about Han that they were outraged when “Star Wars” creator George Lucas digitally tinkered with a crucial scene in the original movie to make Han seem less menacing. “Han fired first!” became a rallying cry seen in memes and T-shirts.
‘Star Wars’ movie universe expands
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is part of Disney’s grand plan to release a “Star Wars” story every year. Disney took over Lucasfilm in 2012 and announced six new “Star Wars” films, consisting of a sequel trilogy alternating with one-off movies that are separate from the continuing story.
The sequel trilogy has given us “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” (2015) and “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” (2017), both featuring new characters Rey, Poe, Finn and Kylo Ren.
In “The Force Awakens,” we learn that Han and Leia have a son, Kylo Ren, who has been seduced by the dark side of the Force. Han is killed by his own son.
The trilogy wraps up when “Star Wars: Episode IX,” directed by J.J. Abrams (“The Force Awakens”) arrives December 2019, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Solo,” the second stand-alone movie after “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016), had a rocky path to the big screen. Directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord were dismissed when the movie was almost finished, and veteran director Ron Howard was brought in to complete it.
Han changes through the years
The character of Han has existed since “Star Wars” creator George Lucas’ early drafts of the screenplay for the original movie. Lucas first described Han as “a burly bearded but ruggedly handsome boy dressed in a gaudy array of flamboyant apparel,” accompanied by an 8-foot-tall “gray bush-baby monkey with baboon-like fangs,” according to the book “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise,” by Chris Taylor.
While meeting with Luke at the cantina in that early draft, Han demands “an even million” for Luke’s fare to a nearby planet, but later it’s revealed that Han doesn’t own the spaceship. Han is a cabin boy, and the ship is owned by Jabba the Hutt.
When “Star Wars” reached theaters, Han stood out as a regular guy in a movie filled with weird-looking aliens and droids. He believes in blasters over lightsabers. Audiences identified with him, which made it easier for them to deal with the unfamiliar stuff in the movie, Blalack said.
When he meets Luke and Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, instead of demanding “an even million,” Han brags that his ship “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” Since a parsec is a unit of distance, not time, is Han confused, or trying to pull one over on Obi-Wan? Fans have been debating it ever since.
Han brings a touch of romance to the space saga, although he has trouble expressing tender feelings toward Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Their slow-burn relationship reaches a turning point moments into “The Empire Strikes Back” as Han is about be to frozen alive in carbonite. “I love you,” blurts Leia. “I know,” Han replies, in one of the most famous lines in movie history.
“The Empire Strikes Back” ends with Han still frozen in carbonite, which kept fans guessing about his fate until “The Return of the Jedi” resolved the original trilogy. Ford reportedly wanted Han to be killed off, and the frozen-in-carbonite plot point gave the filmmakers a way to write Han out of the next movie if Ford refused to return, Taylor writes in his book.
In “Return of the Jedi,” Han gets thawed, but now the scoundrel has reformed into someone who’s noble and understanding.
“This isn’t the Han we fell in love with,” said Anne Lancashire, professor emeritus of English and cinema studies at the University of Toronto and a “Star Wars” expert. “We like the cynical, heartless Han better.”
Lancashire isn’t sure a Han Solo movie is a good idea. She’s afraid that the new movie may spoil the character by adding too many details. The less we know about him, the more interesting Han is, she said.
Terry Meehan, a film appreciation instructor at Lorain County Community College, sides with fans who are curious about the early experiences that shaped the man. “I don’t want to see a perfect student in a military academy; I want to see a rebellious student,” Meehan said.
If “Solo” wins big at the box office, it will give a green light to other stand-alone movies centering on popular “Star Wars” characters.
Stephen Daldry, the Oscar-nominated director of “Billy Elliot” and “The Hours,” is under consideration to direct a movie about Luke’s Jedi Knight mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The plot would center on Obi-Wan watching over an infant Luke Skywalker until the actions of a local war chief bring Obi-Wan out of hiding, TMZ reported this week.
One-off movies about Jedi Master Yoda and the mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett also are being discussed.
Blalack doubts there will ever be a young Princess Leia movie, although it would be interesting to see her as an inexperienced diplomat traveling to war-torn planets. “I think people would get behind it. There’s certainly potential there,” Blalack said.
And, it would make Han Solo proud.
Read a review of “The Last Jedi” here
Read a review of “Rogue One: a Star Wars Story” here
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