Recently read a blog post saying that a movie about young Han Solo would be a bad idea. But is that true?
First, let’s see what Disney has to say about what the planned movie would be. According to my research, the story won’t be infant Han Solo or teen Han Solo. It’s most likely going to be 19-30 Han Solo.
That’s good, as a baby Han with a blaster at his side would be… weird. However, this brings up a different problem.
While casting Ewan McGregor as a young Obi Wan wasn’t terribly jarring, given how old Alec Guinness was, our first, and the real, Han Solo is Harrison Ford at his prime. Which means that if by the end of the film, we see him just before he meets Luke, well, that would be terribly confusing.
I think it educational to look at what J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek. Although we have voluminous records of what Leonard Nimoy looked like in his original role, Abrams didn’t choose a look alike, per se. the same holds true for most of the cast of the new Star Trek films. Chris Pine is in the same box as William Shatner, but isn’t a look a like. Ditto for Uhura, and especially for Chekov, whose hair could have been the same, but isn’t. McCoy is very similar, but Scotty… they have the same accent. That’s about it.
Of course, Abrams isn’t directing the Han Solo film, but one assumes his hand in casting will be there. Given the success of that transition, I have faith that he will pick someone who looks just enough like Ford to be believable, and that the timeline will be separated enough that you could see the actor becoming the Solo we know.
Assuming that’s true, what about the story?
Well, there’s been a lot made of the comics depicting Han Solo as having a wife. As being married while he was flirting with Princess Leia. I’ve thought that was wishful thinking, to believe that he wouldn’t have had his share of women. After all, he hangs out in a hive of scum and villainy. Heck, he does business with Jabba the Hutt, a slaver and feeder-to-rancors of attractive Twi’leks. Solo is no saint. Which makes his arc in Episodes 4-6 pretty good storytelling, as he becomes less selfish and more willing to help others. Given where he ends up in TFA, that’s an important arc.
For me, then, an ideal Han Solo movie would be a little like Rockford Files or Support Your Local Gunfighter. Or the original Maverick series. Here we have the sly, charming con man looking for a way to make a living. He’s willing to bend the rules a bit, and has no problem shooting someone who he thinks deserves it, but when the chips are down, he does the right thing.
But maybe he got there somehow. Was he that way at 20? Or did something happen that changed him, made him lose respect for the rule of law? Not to mention a bunch of other fun stories: how he met Chewie (and why Chewie is so loyal); his dealings with Lando Calrissian and how he won the Falcon; how he came to be in the employ of Jabba; and any of a thousand other stories that could have happened to him before we meet him in A New Hope.
If this movie was about some other time period, like between RotJ and TFA for example, then I would be worried. And if George Lucas, who gave us midiclorians, were heading it up, I’d also have concerns. But Abrams has managed to not destroy the Star Trek universe (as long as you don’t count lens flares and making Khan into a white Brit), so I think he can manage to give us a compelling story that won’t ruin what we love about Han Solo. At least, assuming you have an accurate image of who Han Solo really is.
What’s more, TFA gives us a taste of what “the new Star Wars” is all about. The stories in this expanding universe are more nuanced than before. It’s not Battlestar or Eureka, sci fi shows where character conflict and development is paramount. But it’s deeper than any of the first six Episodes were. Which means it’s very possible to end up with a better picture of Han Solo, without losing the romance of the character.
Eliot has been orbiting show business for over 20 years as an improv comedian, video director, and general guy you might barely recognize. Currently best known for his work on the comedy podcast Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast. He wrote previously for MacEdition.com, and is working on a collection of short sci-fi and weird tales that will probably be published someday. He is also one of three principals in Modest Games.