The new Star Wars movie Solo is an enjoyable action-comedy, but it fails in one important area: really exploring how Han Solo developed his cynical, jaded attitude. The movie also mostly skips over Han’s time as an Imperial soldier, which fantasy author Erin Lindsey feels is a big mistake.
“I wanted to see Han learning to become a pilot, going up against the norms and expectations of the military, deciding it wasn’t for him—or it deciding he was not for them,” Lindsey says in Episode 312 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
Science fiction author Matthew Kressel agrees, noting that a brief sequence of trench warfare is one of the movie’s most interesting set pieces. “We could show Han in the trenches,” he says, “seeing how ugly war is, and maybe coming out of that a little bit darker, a little bit world-weary.”
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley thinks that Solo tries to cover too much ground, with the result that everything in the movie feels somewhat cursory. He says the story would have more impact if it were divided into two separate movies, with the first one focused squarely on the character’s growing disillusionment.
“So we see the story of him going from a kid up through his first big heist, and it all goes wrong, and now he’s cynical,” Kirtley says. “And maybe at the end he meets Lando. And then the next movie could be the Lando movie. We jump ahead some number of years, and now they know each other and have some history together, and it’s about the Kessel Run and how Han ends up with the Millenium Falcon.”
Science fiction author Rajan Khanna had mixed feelings about Solo, but he loved Donald Glover’s performance as Lando Calrissian, and is looking forward to seeing more of the character.
“I kind of want a Lando and Chewie movie,” he says. “Because those were my two favorite characters in this whole movie.”
Listen to the complete interview with Erin Lindsey, Matthew Kressel, and Rajan Khanna in Episode 312 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Rajan Khanna on prequels:
“I think it’s a mistake trying to do prequels based around these huge characters. … People like me have had 40 years to cement in their minds exactly what the character is about, what these little moments have been about, and like I said, I didn’t need it to be explained to me, because I had so many years to think to myself, ‘Oh, well this was probably like this, and this was probably like this.’ I feel like maybe this is why the box office isn’t so good, because they run the risk of people comparing what they see on the screen to what they’ve imagined. I think it would have been so much better if they focused on secondary characters. How about a heist movie with Bossk and IG-88? Characters like that, that are kind of in the background.”
Erin Lindsey on Han Solo:
“You sort of sense that somewhere in his life he’s made this journey from being naive and romantic—a journey we all make to some extent—to cynical. So in this movie we needed to see Han get his heart broken, and I don’t mean that, necessarily, in the romantic sense, although that’s one way of doing it. We need to see his heart broken, where there’s just somehow a betrayal of his worldview, a betrayal of the people that he trusted most. They gesture in this direction, and I think we’re meant to feel that it happened, and to see it, but the betrayals that do occur in the film never really landed for me. I don’t know if that’s just me. You could see that they were trying to break Han’s heart, but I didn’t buy it.”
David Barr Kirtley on L3-37:
“It’s very explicit in the first movie that the robots are slaves. They have these restraining bolts that give them electric shocks, and basically torture them, and the bartender when they go into the Mos Eisley cantina says, ‘We don’t serve droids here. Get them out of here.’ But then none of the heroes in the movie ever acknowledge that or say, ‘Hey, maybe we should try to free the robots.’ And in this movie, I think they just thought it would be funny if there was this social justice robot who’s always advocating for freeing the robots, and it is. It obviously raises deeper questions that this movie is in no way in any position to address, but I think that’s fine. … I don’t think this movie possibly could have, or should have, done anything serious with that.”
David Barr Kirtley on the Star Wars franchise:
“There was definitely a point in time where probably I would have watched this movie and I would have been outraged. I would have said, ‘That’s not how I imagined Han Solo, and they turned it into a big joke when it’s deadly serious,’ and all this kind of stuff. But I just don’t care that much anymore. When we reviewed The Force Awakens, Matt London said that when it was just the original trilogy, there was something mythical about Star Wars, and by making all these new movies so quickly, it was going to just turn it into the Marvel Universe, where you’re like, ‘Well this one was better than Spider-Man but not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy,’ and that’s kind of where I am with it. They’re just kind of movies now. … It’s not like a religion to me, the way that maybe it was when I was younger.”