I would worry about the collective wisdom of Lucasfilm and Disney if they chose Solo for the next Star Wars story; it’s the worst choice, by far.
Lucasfilm without George Lucas has erred in pursuing this project. Not because Solo could end up being a bad film, and not because the actors may do a terrible, mediocre, or an excellent job with the roles they’ve been given. The entire concept of a Solo movie misses the essence of Star Wars.
It’s this essence that has been altered by Disney. While Solo may not exhibit the same irrelevance as The Last Jedi, the choice to explore the early life of Han Solo is indicative of Disney’s lack of respect for a universe that already exists. Solo is just an attempt to make money off a useless story.
I’m not just bashing it for the sake of bashing it. There are legitimate reasons why Solo is useless and why Disney has erred in its current direction.
1: Solo is not a story that needs to be told. For as much as people hate the Prequels, there is a level of legitimacy to them in that they had to complete a story that had already been told. We had to get from the waning days of the republic and the Clone Wars to the events in A New Hope. Disagree with how it was done all you want, but the story had value.
Rogue One is an outstanding example of what a Star Wars story should be like. It was constrained by the opening crawl in A New Hope. We knew the events happened somehow. It quite literally was a story that needed to be told. So maybe it differed from the original story of rebel prisoners escaping the Death Star with the plans to Polis Massa where they transmitted the said plans to Princess Leia (as the campaign of Battlefront II suggested). But it nevertheless added something of value to the universe.
Aside from the possible contributions to the universe as a whole, there is little need to develop the character of Han Solo. We have three movies with a young Han Solo and one with an older Han. I might reconsider if we met Han in A New Hope when he’s already been with the rebellion for some time, then we might want to explore his past. We got the smuggler part.
That being said, Han’s story is no more necessary than a Yaddle movie or a Sy Snootles movie.
In the Expanded Universe, Han was an Imperial Officer who refused to enslave the Wookiees. Am I saying that the EU story is better? No. I’m merely pointing out that this is what the EU is for. It’s for the inconsequential storylines that don’t merit their own movies.
2: Solo breaks what should be a cardinal rule of film making: having multiple actors play the same character. It produces a subconscious dislike for the new actor. You know it’s not the same person. Well you might say “but the prequels did it with Obi-wan!” Yes, but there are at least two reasons why the retort falls flat. The cardinal rule can be broken when there is such a difference in the age of the character. Alec Guinness was old as Obi-Wan. Ewan McGregor was needed to play Obi-Wan in 32 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). Solo on the other hand will take place around 10 BBY. Either way, Han is still an adult in Solo and in A New Hope. According to Wookieepedia, there were plans for including Han Solo in Revenge of this Sith as a child. This angle would have been acceptable. It places enough time between the portrayal of the same character and reduces the uneasy dislike.
The second reason stems from the fact that Ewan McGregor’s role was not limited to one movie. He was able to grow as the character, proving that he is worthy of the role. The same goes for some of the voice actors in the various animated Star Wars series. Over time, a person is able to accept the change in portrayal. It can’t be limited to a one off movie. How can it be fixed? Give Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover multiple opportunities to play those characters. But by then, you’re just beating a dead horse of a franchise.
3: A combination of the first two points reveals that there was a better choice for the first anthology film (Rogue One is more about events than people). Disney had the perfect opportunity to follow up Rogue One with a movie of significance. While there is talk that this may finally be occurring, it seems almost unbelievable that Disney would not immediately pursue a Kenobi movie. Ewan McGregor IS Obi-Wan Kenobi. His experience in the role makes him the best choice for a Star Wars story. Not only that, but the twenty years of his exile are ripe for additional material. Why? Because it is constrained by Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. We know he had more training to complete, and we know he developed the reputation as crazy old wizard. Rogue One even plays into the notion that Senator Organa had contact with Obi-Wan as referenced by Mon Mothma. The only thing we get for Solo is the Kessel Run (insert overly scientific mumbo-jumbo regarding the Maw, a collection of black holes that warp space and time making it nearly impossible to complete the Kessel run in 12 parsecs). I digress.
4: The direction of Star Wars reflects a desire by Disney and Lucasfilm to break away from an already established universe. Solo may or may not illustrate this point. But it is already evident from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. I did not mind TFA. There are problems with it, but it provided ample room for a new story-line that stayed true to the essence of Star Wars. The Last Jedi completely ignored the universe where it resides. TLJ proved that writers and executives should not be able to concoct films that throw out all consideration for continuity. It’s as if they took the TLJ and said “it’s my Star Wars now, I can do whatever I want with it” or as Cad Bane said “I make the rules now.” They are so focused on making their own contribution to the Star Wars universe that they fail to do actually do it. We get new planets and aliens, new technology and new abilities with no attempt to tie any of it into what already was. When it is tied in, it’s a poorly executed homage that comes off as an inept copy. When I was younger, I got two books, one is the complete Star Wars Locations, and the other is the Star Wars Atlas if you will. Based solely on locations listed in the previous six movies or in some of the prominent EU material, there is no way we’d end up with Hosnian Prime, D’Qar, Takodana, Crait, and the infuriatingly stupid Canto Bight. How does anyone go to a casino planet and not go to Nar Shaddaa? I’m surprised Snoke didn’t end up being Spock.
This ignorance of continuity has also come with insufferable virtue signaling. With messages like “love trumps hate” and “meat is murder” in TLJ, it’s no surprise that Solo had to revive the type of incessant pandering that results in the promotion of unnecessary details about characters.
The executives, writers, directors, and producers of Star Wars have been let loose on an unsuspecting fan base. No one thought that this monstrosity would be unleashed on the public. Paraphrasing Luke Skywalker, it’s time for the money grabbing to end.
It’s high time that Disney cease and desist with the incessant plans for a new and improved Star Wars universe.
We were told TLJ was going to be the darkest of all the films. We are told that each new movie is innovative and fresh. We are told that moviegoers will like it. We are told that critics will like it.
Perhaps instead of worrying about what casual moviegoers and critics will think, they should worry about what value the story has. How does it fit in a larger universe?
Perhaps any new movie should have been restricted to pre-Phantom Menace, allowing the two trilogies to constrain the possible deviations. Instead, we were given a trilogy post-VI that is unrestrained, and it shows. Now the Star Wars stories may show the same lack of restraint.
Solo could be a good movie, but based on the direction Star Wars has been going, with the exception of Rogue One, I won’t hold my breath.