In defense of Solo: A Star Wars Story

When I heard they were making a Han Solo movie, I was a little annoyed. The first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One, was an amazingly original idea. It’s one of my favourite Star Wars films. So I considered a Han Solo movie to be the Star Wars version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Then it released and everyone was bashing the film, saying it had terrible writing, it was cliché and boring, etc. I decided I was still going to watch it because it is a Star Wars movie after all (and I have seen this).

But to my complete surprise, Solo: A Star Wars Story ended up being one of my new favourite in the series. Since I have heard nothing but negative things about it, I thought I’d explain why I liked it so much.

First off, Alden Ehrenreich did an amazing job playing a young Han Solo. Sure, he doesn’t look like a clone of young Harrison Ford, which is one of the complaints I’ve heard, but he doesn’t have to be. It’s not like Rogue One where the events lead directly into the first movie. This takes place quite awhile before we meet Han in A New Hope. About ten years, according to this article.

That article was clearly written before the film actually came out, so that’d explain this paragraph:

A lot can happen in 10 years, and from what we’ve seen in the Solo trailer, Han’s boasting and bravado have been there since day one. What’s missing is more of his sarcasm and mercenary attitude. This guy seems too naïve and idealistic to be the kind of person who’d tell Leia, “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.” So what happens between now and then to change things?

Actually, that’s exactly the sort of thing that he’d say in Solo. In fact, at the end he refuses to join the Rebels when they ask him. He just wants to be paid, and that’s all he wants. He’s so determined to live that sort of life that he tells Qi’ra (his lifelong friend, played by Emilia Clarke) that he’s an outlaw even though he’s not. He’d smuggled at that point, but he hadn’t been caught and no one even knew about him. The one person who knew, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), was dead at his feet. Killed by Qi’ra, not him.

I think part of the reason people didn’t like his characterization in this film is because we just saw how far Han had grown as a character in The Force Awakens. He’d gone from “There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny” to “The Force. The Jedi… All of it… It’s all true”. His arch had come to and end.

So to then watch him go back to being an obnoxious, arrogant douchebag kind of felt like going in the opposite direction. Which, to be honest, is the point! If he had the ideals of the later Han, then he’d have gone backwards going forwards. Meaning this is how you do a prequel! When watching the series chronologically, you’ll see Han grow as a character, and all of the changes will make sense through the films. Had he agreed to help the Rebels at the end of the film, why would he have refused in A New Hope? It wouldn’t have made sense.

I’ve also seen people take issue with the fact that he joins the Imperial Navy. But honestly, he didn’t have much choice. It was his chance to get off that planet. Plus, it’s not like he realised they were evil at the time, and if he did I don’t think he would have really cared. He was in it for himself. Plus, it explains how he knew so much about the Empire in A New Hope. So again, it remains consistent with his character.

One of my many issues with the prequels is that it contradicts things that were said in the original trilogy. This film did a great job at following things what were said in the original trilogy. Chewie is rescued by Han from the Empire, and stays with him as a result. In the original trilogy, Han said that he saved Chewie’s life and he feels he has a life debt to him.

In fact, pretty much my only gripe with the film is the famous Kessel Run. Han brags in A New Hope that the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run in “less than twelve parsecs”. I was looking forward to seeing that scene. While the scene is exciting and action-filled, the Falcon only makes the run because of a special fuel. I mean, it still did it, but not because of it’s own ability. But even that adds to Han’s character. Of course he’d still brag about it anyway. He’s not lying, but he’s not being entirely honest either.

Speaking of the Falcon, Lando says in The Empire Strikes Back that it was his but Han won it from him gambling. That happens at the end of Solo, just like we were told it happened. Actually Donald Glover‘s Lando might be my favourite thing about this film. It’s good that they’re introducing the new generation to Lando, because it’s been confirmed that Billy Dee Williams will be returning for Episode IX.

Another of my favourite things about this film was something that was a surprise to everyone when it came out, but I already knew happened (because the internet loves to spoil everything). Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace makes a sudden appearance as the leader of a crime ring called Crimson Dawn. Ray Park reprised the role. I love this not only because Maul was the best thing about Phantom Menace, but also because it legitimizes the Clone Wars animated series.

Maul was seemingly killed in Phantom Menace, but in the Clone Wars is revealed to have survived. It’s a long story that’s best experienced yourself. But even though the show is canon, not everyone is aware that he lives. It likely confused all of the film-only fans who have never seen the show. So it’s nice seeing them basically acknowledge the Clone Wars in some sense. They did the same with referencing characters and ships from Rebels in Rogue One. It’s all canon, but I still love that they’re referencing each other instead of keeping everything separated. Like how the MCU movies rarely reference the shows (and vice versa). I mean seriously! They could have had a Daredevil easter egg in Spider-Man: Homecoming!

But I digress…

I know this movie is getting a ton of backlash, but I for one love it. It’s unfortunate that the negative feedback was so bad that Disney is rethinking it’s annual Star Wars idea, because I was looking forward to that. They’re still making them, but not as often. At least that’s what they’re saying. I’m really hoping they make an Obi-Wan Kenobi film. Even Ewan McGregor wants to do it. He played Obi-Wan in the prequels and would be the right age now to play a between-Episodes-3-and-4 Ben Kenobi.

But even I have to admit that they need to make some original stories eventually. Rogue One is the closest we’ve gotten to an original idea. It was new characters, but was still tied to the saga films. I’d love to see stories set in that galaxy but not tied to the saga films.

Hopefully that’s what we’re going to get.

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