I think we can all agree that 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story was a few parsecs short of a Kessel Run.
The film was always going to face an uphill battle winning over fans, many of whom felt that a Han Solo origin story was a pointless endeavour, but this was exacerbated further by reports of behind-the-scenes problems. Original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller ultimately departed the project midway through production, with veteran filmmaker Ron Howard brought in as a safe pair of hands. Too safe, you might say.
For a number of fans, the biggest problem with Solo was that it was simply dull. Even with a bloated runtime well over two hours, it failed to add any interesting new ideas or characters to Star Wars lore, instead sticking so rigidly to what fans predicted that it bordered on parody. Alas, we now know exactly how Han met Chewbacca and Lando, completed the fabled Kessel Run and won the Millennium Falcon, not that anybody asked.
Nevertheless, demand has been growing for a Solo sequel in recent months and it isn’t hard to see why. Despite some trepidation prior to release, most fans were reasonably happy with Alden Ehrenreich’s performance as Han Solo and a follow-up would allow him to push into uncharted territory with the character. Likewise, Donald Glover’s suave take on Lando Calrissian also proved popular, although a sharper script would have given him more time to shine.
But while fan campaigns are often admirable, and occasionally successful in the case of The Snyder Cut, we have to address the Bantha in the room – Solo: A Star Wars Story was a catastrophic flop for Disney. While the enormous budget (inflated to almost $300 million after reshoots) was always going to give the film a slimmer profit margin than most, Solo was essentially dead on arrival and failed to top $400 million at the global box office.
You can chalk some of that up to Star Wars fatigue – and in some cases, animosity – following a mixed reception to 2017’s The Last Jedi, but it also suggests the general public aren’t interested in a costly cinema trip to see an unfamiliar version of Han Solo. However, they might feel differently if that story were to play out on Disney Plus instead – a service with a lower monthly fee accessible from the comfort of their home.
Star Wars has been a key selling point behind the platform so far, with The Mandalorian as its flagship title and a slate of other spin-offs waiting in the wings. Lucasfilm is already returning to the world of one anthology for a series about Rogue One’s Cassian Andor and it’s easy to imagine a Solo project joining the line-up.
While Ron Howard’s Solo seemed to set up a future storyline involving Sith lord Darth Maul and Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, it might make more sense to abandon those plans for now. Solo and Maul hardly feel like a natural pairing, particularly as the former is vocally sceptical that the force even exists in A New Hope, so this thread would be best picked up in Ewan McGregor’s upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
Instead, Solo’s streaming show could whittle down the focus from cataclysmic galactic conflict to a more personal character-driven tale, just as The Mandalorian has done so brilliantly. With Ehrenreich and Glover taking centre stage, there’s huge potential for a comedy sharply focused on Han and Lando’s friendship as they get into scrapes across the galaxy, meeting its weird and wonderful inhabitants along the way.
The episodic format of a streaming series would allow the creative team to dream up a plethora of distinct adventures, experimenting with the Star Wars universe in new and unexpected ways. If Disney really wanted to win fan favour, they could even hire back Lord and Miller to helm an episode, which would go a long way to silencing fan speculation on what their version of Solo: A Star Wars Story might have looked like.
With Lucasfilm consciously moving away from the Star Wars anthology format on the big screen, Disney Plus is both the logical and most likely home of any future Han Solo stories. Rather than risk another bog-standard blockbuster, an ambitious streaming show might be just what the character needs to get back on top.
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