Hello everyone. I’m Tyler Scruggs, and I’m kind of an idiot.
I’m an idiot for a number of reasons, but not in the least of which is I’m an idiot because I love Star Wars. Like, so much. I love Star Wars so much, I’m genuinely excited to see Solo: A Star Wars Story, perhaps more than any other Star Wars movie in my life. I swear to God; the more I think about it, the more clips I see, and the more Denny’s I consume, the more I salivate at the thought of sitting down in my comfy IMAX 3D seat on Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 7pm and just wonder what I’m about to see.
Usually, when you’re seated for a Star Wars film (Solo is the 9th Star Wars film in total), you go in expecting, or at least hoping for it to be, well, good. Disney and LucasFilm have a plan in place to release a new Star Wars film like, every year for the foreseeable future and now four films into this venture, every spin-off so far has been met with a mountain of major production problems (LucasFilm virtually removed Rogue One director Gareth Edwards during reshoots, leaving Tony Gilroy to oversee extensive reshoots, including the film's ending).
Solo's production woes seem somehow stickier than Rogue One's. Not only are fans not up for the idea of a Han Solo origin story (the latest trailer below has only about a third of the views Rogue One gained in the same time period), LucasFilm also replaced the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller late in production with Ron Howard. Apparently, when they hired the creatives behind The LEGO Movie and 22 Jump Street, they expected them to not make an outright comedy. And to top it off, lead actor Alden Ehrenreich was struggling to capture the iconic magic of Harrison Ford's Han Solo. Who could've guessed that? (omg u guys Donald Glover is an action figure now)
There are enough articles ragging on Solo: A Star Wars Story, and this isn't one of them.
Much like this piece, there's a necessary detached sense of irony when it comes to Star Wars, the entity. As a brand, it's so interwoven into American culture, it's a world of themes and iconography that means a million different things to a million different people. It's impossible to really expect anything. In its third theatrical era, following the original and prequel trilogies, people are more divided and emotionally invested in Star Wars now more than ever. Last year's The Last Jedi felt like it shook the planet the way fans either viciously loved it or passionately hated it. Even I admit it took longer than movies usually should for me to understand and appreciate The Last Jedi. But isn't that the point? We forget that movies and art are supposed to be things that make an impression on us, and not just self-gratifying evening content to give us something to tweet about for a week.
A Young Han Solo film has been in development since before before Disney purchased LucasFilm in 2012, when George Lucas himself hired Lawrence Kasdan (writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Force Awakens) to write a script for what would eventually become Solo: A Star Wars Story. There's *some* reason this film exists, but what is it?
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a new story (discarding 30 years of extended-universe books and comics), written by the guy who wrote two-thirds of the original trilogy (and his son), and at one point in time was a comedy-heavy film under the helm of the guys who made a career out of bad ideas that subversively turn into good films. But it's now credited as directed by Ron Howard, a legendarily competent, if unimpressionable filmmaker.
It's so easy to dissect and turn cynical corporate hodgepodges like Solo: A Star Wars Story. And to me, it's far more fun to dig in and find the charm and light side of these films. Despite all these issues, and despite what essentially feels like a neutering of a creative vision once again, there's still a sense of Star Wars HopeTM to be had. I mean, there's a new character named Therm Scissorpunch. That's, um, cool I guess?
If there's one lesson to take away from The Last Jedi, it's that failure is the greatest teacher. The way in which the film shattered expectations alluded in The Force Awakens, could it be indicating something? Could there be surprises in Solo that we don't see coming? Has the Star Wars machine eaten itself?
Or, should we take the advice of Han Solo's mentor Tobias Beckett (played intriguingly by Woody Harrelson):
“Assume everyone will betray you, and you will never be disappointed.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters May 25th.
Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets week in advance. Feel free to validate him on Instagram (@Scruggernaut), Twitter (@TylerScruggs), or on Scruff (you’ll know it when you see it).