(Hey, Resistance Fighters, there are major spoilers ahead) He was a pirate, a smuggler, and a scruffy looking nerf hearder. He did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. We use the past tense because, of course, Han Solo is dead. When has death kept movies or comic books from revisiting or, at times, bringing characters back to life? Never. Thanks to the magic of Hollywood prequels, director Ron Howard, and screen writer Lawrence Kasdan we get to see Han Solo’s life before he became a hero of the resistance.
Die hard Star Wars fans haven’t been happy since it was announced Alden Ehrenreich was cast as the younger version of Han Solo. No doubt they would have preferred Ansel Elgort from Baby Driver. Elgort spent much of the movie wearing a Han Solo style vest. If that’s the criteria Star Wars fans have set to play Han Solo then count me in as the new Boba Fett because I still have my Halloween costume from decades ago.
What these “fans” don’t understand is the Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t the same Han Solo we first meet in Star Wars: A New Hope. Fans wanted the jaded, out for himself Han. Fans wanted the smart aleck. They wanted the Han who could imagine a lot of money for saving a princess from the clutches of the Empire. What they got is a much different Han Solo.
Ehrenreich’s Solo is a man who hasn’t been beaten down by the universe yet. There’s hope in him that he and Qi’ra will get off Corellia. He’s optimistic he will return and save her from a horrible life. Han stays optimistic, even after one bad thing after another happens, right up to the very end.
At then end of the movie, Han learns the hard way what Tobias Beckett had been telling him through the entire movie. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination that over the next ten years or so those lessons would be reinforced and relearned time and time again. Maybe buried somewhere deep inside him is a spark of hope that turns a bitter pirate around to clear the way for Luke Skywalker to destroy the Death Star.
But even that explanation isn’t enough for some people. Forbes writer Erik Kain’s says,” It’s quite the physical transformation from one to the other with less than a decade of aging, and it might be difficult to suspend our collective disbelief, even if the film wants us to assume that Solo is much younger than Ehrenreich.” Transformations aside, anyone could age badly if you’re living as a smuggler, out running imperial cruisers and have a price on your head. We can’t speak towards the height difference between the two Solos except to say they’re two different actors. However, no one ever made these complaints about the number of James Bonds there have been over the years.
The legitimate complaint or question would be how many years does Solo: A Star Wars Story take place before Han and Chewbacca are swept up in the fighting the Empire? A lot of writers with more time and Star Wars material than I do place the movie somewhere between 10 and 13 years before A New Hope. Ten years may be enough for someone to become jaded against the universe, but is it enough time to gain a reputation as smugglers? Are we to assume Han and Chewbacca have been running around the galaxy for ten years with a price on their heads? And are we also to assume the first time we see Lando on Bespin is the first time Han and Chewbacca have seen him since the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story?
As much as die hard fans hated Ehrenreich as Han Solo fans’s reactions were overwhelmingly positive when it was announced Donald Glover had been cast as Lando Calrissian. When Lando was first introduced in The Empire Strikes Back he easily became the coolest man in the universe. Sure, he betrayed Han, Chewbacca, and Leia to Darth Vader, but he had style and class doing it.
If Billy Dee Williams (the original Lando) was cool walking around wearing a cape, Glover brings the character to another level of cool. To be fair, Lando’s screen time in both The Empire Strike Back and Return of the Jedi was limited compared to other characters in the franchise. So, to compare the two Landos wouldn’t be fair to either Glover or Williams.
Glover gets to flesh out the character in a way Williams never could with the script given to him. When we first meet Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story he’s already a well established character in the criminal underworld. What’s not too clear is how old he is during the movie. At first glance, Lando looks to be about the same age as Han. However, he keeps call Han “kid.” Some folks will want to use this word and compare it to how Han will call Luke Skywalker the same thing many years later. However, the word is usually used when talking to someone much younger than yourself. Again, are we meant to believe Lando is old enough to be calling anyone a kid?
Of all the returning, or re-introduced characters in the Star Wars movies Chewbacca is perhaps the most underrated and underappreciated character of them all. He’s played second fiddle in most of the Star Wars movies. He’s had his moments, but they’re few and far between. He didn’t even get a medal for helping destroy the first Death Star. At the end of The Force Awakens and all of The Last Jedi it felt like he was there because he was partners with Han Solo.
It’s nice to see Chewbacca come into his own as a character with a back story, more screen time, and more dialogue. Solo: A Star Wars Story is the first time since A New Hope Chewbacca actually feels like he’s part of the story. Heck, we even get to see him rip the arms off a man.
Solo: A Star Wars Story filled in a lot of holes for the non-Star Wars book reading crowd. We learned that joining the Imperial Army and Academy is as easy as signing a piece of paper. This could explain why Stormtroopers’s aim is so bad. We learned it wasn’t Han who cheated at Sabbac to win the Millennium Falcon. We also learned a lot of people over the last forty plus years have been pronouncing Han’s name wrong. There’s even a little poke at George Lucas’s retooled Star Wars showing Han didn’t shoot first. Thankfully, Lucas won’t be able to go back and edit Beckett shooting first.
Solo: A Star Wars movie may not be for everyone. Even the most die hard fans may not like it for no other reason than the casting choices. One can only feel sorry for them not wanting to see the movie. It’s a little gangster movie, a heist film, a little romantic, and it even has a little wild west vibe. Overall, Solo is fun movie. We can’t wait to see what the sequel has in store for us. Perhaps there will be more Lando. How about some Boba Fett or maybe we will learn if that was really Darth Maul at the end.