‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: How Lucasfilm is Doing it Right

Chewbacca and Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Chewbacca and Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens |  Lucasfilm

Han Solo is a character who is iconic in science fiction. He’s the quintessential handsome rogue, whose wisecracking style and affable demeanor wooed audiences from the second he appeared on-screen in A New Hope back in 1977. Harrison Ford brought the character to life, and even decades later, his performance stands the test of time. Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, Solo no longer belongs to George Lucas, leaving the beloved smuggler in new hands for all future endeavors. So far, it appears as though those hands are steady.

We saw Ford don the role for the last time in The Force Awakens, but that won’t be the last we see of Solo in the new-look Star Wars universe. Lucasfilm already has plans for a standalone anthology film featuring a younger Han, directed by LEGO Movie super-team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. There have been various rumors about who might play the role of a young Han Solo, but nothing has been confirmed yet (although we already have our own favorite actor for the part). [Update, 5/31/16: Alden Ehrenreich (‘Hail, Caesar!’) has officially been tagged for the lead role, having been cast out of a group of over a thousand potential candidates.]

[Update, 3/9/16. In related news, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Chewbacca, Han Solo’s faithful Wookiee sidekick, will also appear in the film. Per The Wrap, Iger characterized the Han Solo anthology film as a “an origin story about Han Solo and Chewy.”]

Han Solo Comic Book - Marvel

Han Solo comic book | Marvel Comics

For a movie telling the story of a universally loved character in their early years, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Thankfully, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy came forward to assuage any doubts, in an enlightening interview with Entertainment Weekly.

There’s got to be a reason for [the stand-alone film] to be. And obviously the thing that Star Wars has always done so well is it doesn’t spend a lot of time [explaining] the stories that have come before. We don’t want to do that either. We don’t want to spend time going back and answering a lot of questions that, quite frankly, I don’t think people want answered.

Many of the pitfalls that we’ve come to expect from someone like George Lucas seem to be the exact things the Disney-owned Lucasfilm avoid, putting Han Solo’s story in capable hands. That trust is key to any future plans for the franchise, and in turn their planned anthology films.

[Update, 7/27/16: A source told NY Daily News that Alden Ehrenreich has been signed on for a three-picture deal, hinting at a potential Han Solo trilogy in the works for Lucasfilm]

Alden Ehrenreich

Alden Ehrenreich | Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Kennedy goes on to note that any Han Solo spinoff movie will feature him somewhere in his mid-20s, indulging in the humor that’s come to define the character. This is further emphasized by the choice of Lord and Miller as co-directors, and if the duo has proven one thing throughout their meteoric rise the last year, it’s that they can balance humor and action elements with the best of them. Compared to Lucas’s decidedly somber attitude toward his prequel trilogy, we get a stark contrast, and a clear demonstration that Disney is determined to make Star Wars feel fun again.

The prequel trilogy in a lot of ways felt more like a chore than the romping fun of the original films. Disney likely understands this, and knows that the best way to infused life into their new canon is simple: Include more practical effects, real set-pieces, and models, and then feature a charismatic character from the old trilogy to drive the point home. The new Lucasfilm is making a careful, concerted effort to unravel the tangled mess that George Lucas made of the Star Wars franchise, and a Han Solo anthology movie is the perfect way to highlight this.

Many fans felt alienated by Lucas’s prequel trilogy, and if we know one thing, it’s that Disney understands that all too well. They know what’s at stake with a Han Solo spinoff, and the potential for continuing to push their devoted superfans away. In the end, they see the bottom line: They stand to make the most possible money long-term by making a well thought-out anthology movie that embodies the fun-loving attitude of its main character. With confirmation from the higher-ups at Lucasfilm, it’s nice to know justice is being done.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest