For a movie that is well under a year away from premiering, Disney has remained tight-lipped on the Solo anthology film. We have yet to receive any major plot details, or even the first teaser trailer. That likely has a lot to do with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being let go and replaced with iconic Hollywood name Ron Howard so late into shooting. Still, that doesn’t change that we’re really starting to itch for Solo details.
At least Howard has been letting out photos from the set on occasion, giving us a little bit of a peek into what’s going on with our favorite scoundrel and his furry friend. Let’s take a look at the recent rumors and tidbits we’ve learned in the last few months, including a new set photo (on page 5!)
We might see Chewie’s family return
In another photo revealed from the set, a small glimpse at a TV screen shows us what appears to be two wookiees (one of them presumably Chewbacca) embracing each other. Could this mean that we’re seeing Chewie’s family? It would make sense, seeing as we’re getting the history of Han Solo, that we’d be getting a little of Chewbacca’s history and how he came to fly side-by-side with Han in the Millennium Falcon.
Hardcore Star Wars fans will remember the first time we got a look at Chewie’s family, the much-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special. If you have no idea what we’re even talking about, take about 90 minutes and get familiar. In the special, Chewbacca is trying to return home to his family to celebrate Life Day, which is the Star Wars equivalent of Christmas. The whole thing is the biggest mistake George Lucas ever made with the franchise, arguably even worse than Jar Jar Binks. Maybe we’ll finally get to see Itchy, Lumpy, and Malla again?
A brand-new Millennium Falcon
Of course, after Han, Chewie, and Lando, the fourth iconic character from the original trilogy confirmed to return in the Han Solo film is the Millennium Falcon. In the movie, it will be owned by Lando and will be practically brand-new, with a slightly different paint job and a few original features. And we would assume that at some point in the film, it’ll end up in the possession of Han Solo.
The Millennium Falcon being brand-new in the movie does raise some questions about the timeline and official Star Wars canon. While it may seem like small potatoes in the grand scheme, the Falcon does make a brief appearance in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, which takes place right around 20 years before we first run into Han and Chewie at Mos Eisley in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Maybe by “brand-new,” they mean only 10 years old? Or refurbished? Either way, this will likely be explained in some creative way.
Will Maz Kanata make an appearance?
Although she first appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we got a sense by the way Han talked about Maz Kanata that he had some serious history with her. So will she show up in the anthology film to help out the young smuggler? Rumor has it, she just might. As Screen Rant wrote:
As part of his SDCC 2017 coverage, Star Wars podcaster Steele Saunders interviewed Mark, a representative from Funko, about the toy company’s output. In their chat, Mark stated he was excited for Han Solo, citing the impressive including “Emilia Clarke, Lupita Nyong’o, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson.” The obvious out-of-place actor there is Nyong’o, who plays Maz Kanata in the sequel trilogy, which has got fans speculating she may appear in the prequel too.
It certainly sounds like something that wasn’t supposed to be public knowledge got released there. If we do run into Maz in the Han Solo film, will it be at her castle from The Force Awakens? Or will Han encounter her in a different setting? Involving Maz opens plenty of doors.
Originally, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were tapped to direct Solo. Known for their success with 21 Jump Street, the idea seemingly was that Lord and Miller’s unique comedic style could turn the traditionally action-packed dramas with a side order of humor to a light-hearted comedy featuring the young smuggler. It made sense, even if the whole thing didn’t exactly feel like a Star Wars movie.
Apparently, Disney was less-than-thrilled with the way things were going. Lord and Miller were let go in the middle of production, with Ron Howard — known for Backdraft, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind — taking over the director’s chair. Edicts that actors were not allowed to ad-lib were made, and at least one actor — Michael K. Williams — was cut from the movie entirely.
Switching from Lord and Miller to Howard, in a vacuum, is not a bad thing. You could rightfully argue that Howard is a much more accomplished Hollywood director. But we just hope that the sudden directorial switch — not to mention, a major change in tone — isn’t a huge red flag.
New set photo reveals speeder race scene?
Howard posted a recent set photo to his Instagram account that seems to tease some sort of speeder race scene in the movie. We can’t be positive who is in the driver’s seat, but the lines on the side of the pant leg are somewhat reminiscent of the pants that Han wears throughout the original trilogy. So maybe speeder racing is how Han wins the Millennium Falcon away from Lando Calrissian?
If we were to map out our concern over this photo, it’s inevitably tied to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and the pod racing scene. Just knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing a 10-year-old Darth Vader yelling “yippee” at every twist and turn would make any racing scene infinitely better, but there is still a small part of our brain that gets concerned when we hear about more racing in Star Wars. Just don’t overdo it, please.
Paul Bettany joins the cast
A late addition to the cast for the movie is actor Paul Bettany, who is probably best known these days for his voice-acting as Jarvis in several Marvel movies, including the Iron Man trilogy. He also stepped out from behind the scenes to play Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War and is an alum of previous Howard films, such as A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.
As is pretty standard for Howard and Star Wars, we don’t know much about this addition or what character Bettany will be playing. It could be a small role or even a cameo appearance, as Bettany is currently working on Avengers 4 — which just started filming in August. Either way, Bettany is an excellent actor. We’re looking forward to seeing what it will be that he brings to the Han Solo movie.
Michael K. Williams leaves the cast
Bettany joining the cast came on the heels of another exceptional actor unfortunately leaving the cast. Michael K. Williams had shot all of his scenes already when Lord and Miller were replaced with Howard, and from there, it appears the character was scrapped when Williams was unavailable for reshoots.
I felt great about what I created with the directors that I worked with. It is what it is … When Ron Howard got hired to finish out the film, there were some reshoot issues that needed to be done in regards to my character, in order for it to match the new direction which the producers wanted Ron to carry the film in. And that would have required me on a plane a month ago to London, to Pinewood, to do reshoots. But I’m here, on location in Africa. It’s scheduling.
Williams is a busy actor and is best-known for his roles in 12 Years a Slave, the recent RoboCop reboot, and The Wire. According to Williams, his character was to be a link between Han and Emilia Clarke’s character. It’ll be interesting to see how they will change the story if Williams’ character was indeed as integral to the plot as his description makes it sound.
Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson’s characters
When Williams revealed himself as a tie between Han Solo and Emilia Clarke’s character, he revealed that Clarke’s character is to be named “Kira.” There have since been reports that the name is actually Kura, but the difference probably isn’t that important. Clarke is best known for her work in Game of Thrones, as well as her portrayal of Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys. She will have a major role in the Han Solo film, but what exactly that means is still unknown. A possible love interest, pre-Princess Leia?
As for Woody Harrelson, possibly the most recognizable name attached to the movie, he has revealed that his character will be named Beckett. “Yeah, I play a guy named Beckett who is kind of a criminal and a mentor to Han…. I’ll be there until the end of July,” he said, per Making Star Wars.
This kills the thought that Disney might be bringing Legends character Garris Shrike to the big screen, who diehard Star Wars fans will remember from the novel The Paradise Snare. Harrelson’s character does sound like he could be inspired by Shrike, who was a smuggler that raised an orphaned Han.
As for any other character details, we’ll just have to wait patiently for Disney to start releasing more information.
Replacing an icon
Let’s just get this out of the way: Harrison Ford is Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich will be taking up the mantle in Solo, which is set 10 years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. Given that the character is supposed to be roughly 30 years old in the original film, that means Ehrenreich is to play a 20-year-old (and possibly also slightly older, as the movie goes on) Han Solo.
The character may not have been Ford’s first role back in 1977, but it was the one that propelled him to stardom. There’s no debating that Ford is the breakout star of the Star Wars franchise, going on to star in the Indiana Jones movies, Blade Runner, The Fugitive, and many others. He’s a beloved actor who many fans associate with the role, and that’s a steep uphill climb for Ehrenreich.
The best case scenario is hard to achieve, but let’s hope that the young star can gives a performance that gracefully adds to the character’s history.
The first anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, featured new characters within a timeframe that was familiar to Star Wars fans. It worked, with great success, thanks in large part to the background of the Death Star, the rebellion, and the way the movie succinctly leads into A New Hope. But Solo is a bit different.
This is a movie with characters with which we’re already familiar. Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian are introduced in the original trilogy, with their own beginning, middle, and end — or in Chewie’s case, no end yet. We immediately get all the backstory we need on Han; he’s a smuggler and a scoundrel, a rebel without a cause. Over four movies, he finds his heart, becomes a true rebel, falls in love, and gets murdered by his own son. Beginning, middle, and end.
A prequel to the Han Solo story — and that’s really all this movie is — only provides backstory that fans were better off not seeing on the big screen. Could it work? Sure. But after seeing George Lucas’ prequels, fans were painfully aware of why they never needed to see Darth Vader as a little boy or a whiny teenager. That may unfortunately be where we’re headed with Solo, as well.
Vader may be involved
If you hadn’t heard, fans of Darth Vader will be getting a lot more of him on the big screen very soon. That includes a rumored appearance in Solo, which frankly makes very little sense. Why Disney would want to do it is clear; Rogue One’s Vader cameo was brief in total screen time but a major hit nonetheless. So why not find a way to shoehorn Vader into everything they do?
But it doesn’t work that way. Vader’s appearance in Rogue One was organic and a true fit, considering the timeline and story. In the original trilogy, we never got a sense that Han Solo had ever encountered Vader before or that he had any sort of Imperial trouble, minus him dropping a shipment at the first sight of a Star Destroyer. Would a small-time smuggler really be something that Vader is concerned with? We don’t think so, and writing Vader into Solo for a cameo feels like little more than fan-service.
Don’t get us wrong, having more Darth Vader on the big screen is very cool. In fact, we’d love it if Disney would just haul off and announce Vader: A Star Wars Story — only with a cooler title, maybe. But the rumors of his appearance in Solo don’t have us as excited.
Will this be a no-win situation for Disney?
The truth of the matter is that Disney may be in a no-win situation with Solo. That is, unless you count simply making a ton of money off one movie as a win — and maybe Disney does. But diving into the unknown life of a beloved character and completely botching it would be a dangerous precedent. That goes extra because of the money that stories based on other well-known characters, such as Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Darth Vader, could potentially make.
Unlike Han Solo, who already has a true introduction, a story arc, and an ending, those characters have timelines that are ripe for exploration. Kenobi’s story currently is missing 20 years while he dwells on Tatooine. We first meet Yoda when he’s already 850 years old and a Jedi Master, meaning there are plenty of early years to dive into. And don’t tell me that Vader’s time with the Empire as a Sith Lord isn’t worth fleshing out into a full movie.
But if Solo is a massive flop, there’s a very real chance we never get any of those movies. Failing to appease the fans will definitely direct the future of the anthology movies. It’s no coincidence that Disney has waited to officially announce its next film, currently projected to release in 2020. So for the sake of the franchise and the fans that love it, we’re hoping that Solo pulls off a one-in-a-million shot and becomes another huge success for Disney.
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