HAN SOLO: THE MOVIE
HOW TO DO IT ‘RIGHT’
Well: it’s now official. As in it’s been announced and discussed, properly. HAN SOLO: THE MOVIE is on its way. It will of course focus on a YOUNG Han rather than his later HARRISON FORD incarnation (although frankly, one cannot rule out entirely, Mr. Ford popping up in a cute little cameo: it would work here in a way it would not with INDIANA JONES).
Han Solo is one of Cinema’s most beloved characters. He transcends the limits of the space fantasy genre by which STAR WARS is defined. Of course, he would not ever have been written or realised without STAR WARS. But equally, one could argue that the whole series benefited hugely from the character’s input. Contrary to Ford’s own initial belief, this is an interesting role with much to offer the story-teller in this genre.
No Solo: no fun? That’s certainly a proposition worth considering. Harrison Ford’s portrayal of the swashbuckling space pirate injected a warmth, humor, humanity and romance to what can be a somewhat sterile universe. Revisit those prequel movies again and consider for a second that for all their overlooked merits and much dissected flaws, it’s a simple case of missing the Harrison Ford /Han Solo factor.
On the one hand, a HAN SOLO movie that’s an ..er..solo venture (geddit? see what I did there? no? ok) seems, prima facie, to be an exploitative milking of a cash-cow by the Disney masters of the STAR WARS brand. On the other, with a now expanded universe finally being committed to film, it is every fan wish come true to see their beloved hero take center stage.
And it’s not like anyone is stinting here. There is a high grade of talent involved here. PHIL LORD and CHRISTOPHER MILLER are on Directing duties. So picture the heart and wit of the LEGO movies, fused to the fun of 21 /22 JUMP STREET. Critically: the WRITING! We are being treated to a LAWRENCE KASDAN screenplay here (Kasdan = the man who helped to make Han Solo cool in the first place: a writer with innate understanding of romantic adventure story-telling).
HAVING SAID ALL THAT, one cannot help but offer just a BIT of gratuitous advice. ‘Hey. it’s me!’.
So here we go with our wishlist / trilogy of quick tips for perfecting that HAN SOLO MOVIE!
1. Go YOUNG. But not TOO Young
NOBODY wants to see Han as a ‘kid’. He was NOT a callow youth in the original films, so he should not be one here. Sure, give him some lessons to learn and make him a little bit rough around edges or even wet behind the ears relative to his Harrison Ford incarnation. But DON’T make him some weakened wally.
This is a determined, worldly, cocky and generally competent though sometimes hubristic character who likes to chance his arm and never truly admits his own limitations. KEEP him that way!
People don’t change all that radically in life. You are basically the same person in template version, despite inevitably learning lessons and modifying behaviors and skills as years advance. Maturing is not a metamorphosis so much as a revelation of your core self. So let’s NOT make this a ‘BECOMING HAN SOLO’ movie. He just ‘is’ who he is!
2. CAST IT RIGHT
A few names will of course float around before the official announcement of the new Han. Aaron Paul was mooted. Chris Pratt is already Star Lord and Mr. Jurassic Park bit could fit in a little Solo action if he’s not already the new Indiana Jones, too. Anthony Ingruber’s impression of Ford is a viral video sensation and that thereby makes him a candidate.
But this is NOT about looking like Ford or doing an impression of him or being the cool name that everyone wants to cast in every second reboot. No. This HAS to be about CHARACTER.
Can the actor entrusted with this somehow echo the charm that Harrison Ford conveyed in the part, whilst remaining very much his own man with a fresh interpretation? Can they nod and wink to the screen whilst staying ‘in’ the story rather than taking us out of it? They must be credibly competent, whilst implying that Han has a few tricks left to learn. They must be youthful without being weak. And above all: audiences must LIKE this guy and want him to win against the odds.
And one name that stands out in terms of meeting that tough criteria set is TARON EGERTON. He’s already been mentioned by some as a possible candidate. Whilst not yet a household name, the kid has bags of star quality and there are character moments in KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, where Egerton somehow evokes the Han Solo spirit without even knowing it. As Darth Vader might say: ‘IT IS YOUR DESTINY!’
3. BE KNOWING, BUT NOT TOO KNOWING!
There are certain moments in Han Solo /Star Wars lore that have been hinted at in both the original movies and extended /expanded works (comics, books, games etc). And throwaway remarks in a script could credibly be integrated as whole set-pieces in the movie. So yes, it’d be logical to show Han meeting Chewie and saving him from slavery, thereby earning the wookie’s ‘life debt’.
And we’d like to see Han win the Falcon from Lando and make his first ‘special modifications’. Character wise, it would also be an idea to map out how this man goes from classy Imperial Navy cadet to a wide boy pirate geezer that keeps company with gangsters as the galaxy’s best smuggler.
But: avoid prequel-itis! Han Solo is NOT Luke or Anakin Skywalker. So he will NOT be a man of destiny. No premonitions or flash-forwards to the original films. Also, avoid trying to cram EVERY detail from the character’s mythology into one film. If it’s a hit there can be sequels for that!
Above all else: avoid ‘ORIGIN STORY SYNDROME’.
We don’t NEED a big scene where much is made of Han getting ‘that’ jacket; we don’t require a big freeze frame on a character when their name is announced JUST because that person MIGHT be significant later in Han’s life. Keep the in-jokes to a minimum and just tell the best self-contained adventure in space story possible.
No matter how good or bad the final product, you cannot please everyone! But we are cautiously optimistic about the HAN SOLO movie and its prospects . We await it with great interest and will keep you appraised of its progress. And remember: HAN SHOT FIRST!
‘Fly casual. But don’t LOOK like you’re trying to fly casual’.