- "You know, he's younger in this movie and that's fun because you have to imagine him 10 years earlier in his early 20s. What was he like before he hardened up? Before he had some setbacks? Before he put on this cynical coat? What got him there?"
- ―Lawrence Kasdan
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a stand-alone Star Wars film directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, scheduled for release on May 25, 2018. It stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in the years prior to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Donald Glover portrays Lando Calrissian and Joonas Suotamo portrays Chewbacca. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge also star.
The film was first announced as a Han Solo picture in 2015, along with the news that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller would be the film's directors. Principal photography began in January 2017, after which point creative differences arose between the two directors and the studio. They were replaced by Ron Howard, who was tasked with completing principal photography along with what was reported to be extensive re-shoots.
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga's most unlikely heroes.
On the shipbuilding world of Corellia, a "scrumrat" and aspiring pilot named Han and his lover Qi'ra long to escape the clutches of the local criminal gangs. They successfully bribe an Imperial officer who grants them passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi'ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her, and with no means of income, joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet, with the Imperial recruiting officer dubbing him "Han Solo" in absence of a surname.
Three years later, Han has been expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination, and is serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban. He encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. He blackmails them into allowing him to join, but Beckett has him arrested and condemned to battle a "beast" held in captivity. The beast is revealed to be a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Owing to Han's ability to speak Shyriiwook, the two stage a fight for the benefit of their captors and escape after collapsing their cell. A sympathetic Beckett rescues them, and enlists the two for a planned train heist to steal a shipment of the hyperfuel coaxium on the planet Vandor, but is enraged when Han ditches their shipment after they are ambushed by the Cloud Riders criminal gang.
Beckett reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, leader of the Crimson Dawn criminal syndicate, and he now fears Vos' wrath. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment. They travel to Vos' yacht where Han is confused to discover Qi'ra, who confesses that she is a member of Crimson Dawn. Han announces a plan to steal unprocessed coaxium from the mines on Kessel. Vos insists on Qi'ra accompanying them. To procure a ship for the heist, Qi'ra introduces the team to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando's ship, reputed to be the fastest in the galaxy. Lando uses sleight of hand to win but is convinced to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits. The team boards his ship – the Millennium Falcon – and head for Kessel. After reaching the planet and infiltrating the mine, Lando's droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a riot. They use the confusion to steal a consignment of unprocessed, volatile coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando injured during the escape. Han pilots the ship knowing that they must make the infamous "Kessel Run" in less than twenty parsecs if they are to reach Vos before the coaxium explodes. Han's prodigious piloting skills allow them to evade an Imperial blockade and they rendezvous with Vos on the planet Savareen.
Vos surprises the team by announcing that the coaxium is fake – he reveals that his "inside man," revealed to be Beckett, informed him of Han's plan to sell the real shipment to the Cloud Riders, a rebellion group led by Enfys Nest. Han announces that he anticipated Beckett's deception – the coaxium they are holding is real. Beckett takes Chewbacca hostage and escapes with the coaxium. A gunfight between Han, Qi'ra and Vos results in Qi'ra killing Vos. She urges Han to help the Cloud Riders and insists she'll join him shortly. After Han leaves, Qi'ra seals the room.
Han catches up with Beckett and Chewbacca and kills Beckett after a stand-off. Han and Chewbacca deliver the coaxium to Nest, who reveals her plans to use the coaxium to aid the Rebellion against the Empire. She offers Han the chance to join her but he declines, and Nest states that some day he may feel more sympathetic to the rebels' cause.
Alone aboard Vos' yacht, Qi'ra contacts Vos' superior who is revealed to be Maul. She informs him of the mission's failure and assumes Vos’ position. Elsewhere Han and Chewbacca, track down Lando and Han again challenges him to a sabacc game for possession of the Falcon. Han subtly relieves Lando of the cards stashed up his sleeve and wins the game. Han plans to go to Tatooine, where Beckett told him that a gangster is putting together an organization, as the Falcon jumps into hyperspace.
The earliest incarnation of a live-action depiction of young Han Solo came during the pre-production of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Writer and director George Lucas conceived an idea of Solo as a child on Kashyyyk, with Chewbacca raising the young boy like a son. Solo would have been present during the Battle of Kashyyyk and would have encountered Yoda, helping the Jedi Master discover scraps of a droid that could have aided Yoda in determining the whereabouts of General Grievous. Concept art from Iain McCaig showed the young Solo as a slob, a juxtaposition of the character in his later years. "He's such a persnickety guy later — he always has to have the best of everything," McCaig said in The Art of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, "so I thought it'd be great if when he was a kid, he was an absolute slob." These concepts never made it out of pre-production, and Solo did not appear in Revenge of the Sith—though Chewbacca ultimately did make a cameo appearance during the battle.
After the release of Revenge of the Sith, Lucas began planning a live-action television series called Star Wars: Underworld, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The unproduced series, dealing with elements of the criminal underworld, could have included some of Solo's backstory. According to Stephen Scaia, the show's writers came up with a story for how Solo met Chewbacca. Another story would have dealt with how Solo first met Lando Calrissian, who first appeared in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.
- "…George had sort of roughed-out many movies—not just the new trilogy but other movies, the spinoffs and things. I wasn't sure I wanted to do anything, but I said, "I could do the Han Solo movie"—because he's my favorite character."
- ―Lawrence Kasdan
Ideas for a young Han Solo film began to percolate in the lead up to The Walt Disney Company's acquisition to Lucasfilm. In October 2012, as Lucas was preparing to sell his company, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy contacted Lawrence Kasdan, writer of The Empire Strikes Back and co-writer of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and asked him to meet her and Lucas to discuss new films in the franchise. Kasdan recounted that Lucas had already come up with some basic ideas for the sequel trilogy and had also come up with the concept of stand-alone films. One of those movies was about young Han Solo, before the events of A New Hope. Kasdan was initially hesitant on being part of the new films, but he decided he could do the Han Solo movie as Solo was his favorite character. He pitched his idea to Bob Iger by telling him about the scene where Han gets his last name.
After agreeing to the job, Kasdan was also asked to help develop what would become Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Once he had completed work on that film, Kasdan felt creatively drained, so he asked his son Jon to assist in developing the Han Solo film. The Kasdans worked on the script for nine months, during which they were inspired by Treasure Island, Heat, Unforgiven and various films by the Coen brothers. Meanwhile, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were hired to direct. Lord and Miller tested several thousand actors for the part before settling on Alden Ehrenreich, who had been the first person to audition. According to Miller, they didn't want an impersonation of Harrison Ford, but "someone who could evoke the spirit of the iconic performance we all remember while bringing something new and fresh." Ehrenreich was officially announced during Celebration Europe. He (and later, Ron Howard) met with Harrison Ford to discuss the character, and Lucasfilm sent Ford a copy of the script for his approval. Once Ehrenreich was cast, certain parts of the script were revised to be tailored to his voice; The final script also incorporated contributions from Lord, Miller and Howard. As Jon Kasdan told SFX magazine, "I think ultimately the movie that you'll see is truly a product of the five of us all coming together in this weird way to tell this story."
- "I think in terms of us leaving the project, I think everybody went in with really good intentions and our approach to making the movie was different than theirs. That was a really big gap to bridge, and it proved to be too big."
- ―Phil Lord
Principal photography began in January 2017, with a working title of "Star Wars: Red Cup." By March, a film crew was present in Fuerteventura, Spain. One of the three rewards in the 2017 Force for Change fundraiser was a role in the film.
On June 20, 2017, Lucasfilm announced that directors Lord and Miller were departing from the project due to creative differences and that a new director would be announced soon. Entertainment Weekly reported that Lord and Miller encouraged an improvisational style on set, which Lucasfilm insiders believed was moving the film away from the vision crafted by the Kasdans in their script and ended up significantly changing the story. Lucasfilm believed that these apparent issues could be fixed during reshoots, but Lord and Miller were reportedly reluctant to significantly alter their approach to the film. As a result, Kennedy made the decision to remove Lord and Miller from the production. Co-writer Lawrence Kasadan later attributed it to tone: "You can have fun with the tone but you never make fun of the tone, in my world."
On June 22, it was announced by Lucasfilm that Ron Howard would take over directorial duties for the film. Howard had worked on three previous Lucasfilm projects: 1973's American Graffiti, 1979's More American Graffiti and 1988's Willow (which starred Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis, who also makes a cameo in the Han Solo film). After the announcement, Howard said that he had been a fan of Star Wars since the beginning and that he found it "gratifying to be asked to lend my voice to the [Star Wars] universe." Michael Kenneth Williams was originally cast in the film but was unavailable for the reshoots, so he was replaced by Paul Bettany. George Lucas visited the set at one point, and helped direct a scene. On October 14, it was announced that screenwriter Jon Kasdan and first assistant director Toby Hefferman would portray Tag and Bink, two characters that first appeared in the Star Wars comics published by Dark Horse Comics.
On October 17, Howard confirmed that production had wrapped up, and he officially announced the title of the film would be Solo: A Star Wars Story. By March 30, 2018, the editing and score were finished, and post-production had ended by April 22. John Powell composed the film's musical score and John Williams contributed a new theme.
Marketing and releaseEdit
A TV spot aired during Super Bowl LII, followed by a full teaser trailer the next day and the release of a series of character-themed teaser posters; A theatrical trailer and poster were released on April 8, with the former debuting during American Idol. Tickets became available for pre-sale beginning on May 3, and sold second to Infinity War among 2018 releases. The film had its world premiere on May 10, and appeared at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15. It received its wide release on May 25 (the 41st anniversary of the release of A New Hope, in which Harrison Ford first appeared as Han Solo).
The film was spotlighted in the February and April 2018 issues of Entertainment Weekly, the 300th issue of SFX and the June 2018 issue of Empire. The cast and crew made various media appearances to promote the film, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Donald Glover hosted the May 5 episode of Saturday Night Live. Various cast and crew members participated in Q&A sessions on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Lucasfilm arranged Solo licensing deals with Denny's, Esurance, General Mills, Nissan, Solo Cup Company and Symantec. Denny's aired a commercial that utilized props, characters and a set from the film. The French car company Renault also aired an ad showcasing the film's train sequence. The Solo merchandise line debuted in stores on April 13. The video games Star Wars: Commander and Star Wars: Force Arena will be updated with Solo-related content, and Star Wars Battlefront II's second season content will be based around Solo.
The release of the initial teaser posters prompted a complaint from a French artist, Hachim Bahous, that the design of the posters was a plagiarization of a series of covers he designed for Sony Music for French album releases. A side-by-side post demonstrated that the posters and covers feature nearly identical colorization for both the background and character/album names, as well as a similar font. On April 23, a lawsuit was filed by Ren Ventures, who holds the trademark for the card game Sabacc, against Lucasfilm and Denny's Star Wars card game after Sabacc was featured in promotion for the film.
Forbes reviewer Scott Mendelson described the film as a "Star Wars" story that played like an Indiana Jones movie. While opining that the film had no "artistic" reason to exist, Mendelson praised Solo for its decent cast, fine action sequences, and references to the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. He also described Solo as the first live-action Star Wars that felt like a random adventure rather than the usual "Empire versus Rebellion" struggle.
The Hollywood Reporter's reviewer Michael Rechtshaffen described the film as "an origins story that represented a return to the saga's more humble, original space Western roots which emphasized character development over kinetic, adrenaline–fueled action sequences." He also praised Alden Ehrenreich's performance as Han Solo and Ron Howard's directorship. The Guardian's reviewer Peter Bradshaw described Solo as a "boisterous bromance", awarding the film four out of five stars. Besides praising Ron Howard's directorship and Ehrenreich's performance as the titular character, Bradshaw also credited Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon for "channeling the spirits" of the Original Trilogy into the film.
The BBC reviewer Nicholas Barber gave Solo a mixed review; awarding the film three out of five stars. He wrote that Solo was a "Disney-fied, sub-Guardians of the Galaxy adventure: a lightly comic, family-friendly, action-packed, nigglingly sexist popcorn movie." Barber described Ehrenreich's depiction of Solo as a "likeably goofy hero with an irresistible grin and an air of boyish decency," and compared him favorably to Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy. CNN reviewer Brian Lowry wrote that the film had a "messy, flat opening half before rallying and picking up speed down the stretch," which he attributed to the fraught production process. Lowry praised Ehrenreich and Donald Glover's performances as Han Solo and Lando Calrissian respectively, opining that they captured the spirit of the original trilogy characters.
Solo also received several critical reviews. Vox reviewer Alissa Wilkinson described Solo as the "safest, most forgettable Star Wars movie" and criticized what she termed as the "box-ticking approach to filling Solo's story as distinctly unimaginative." Similarly, National Review critic Kyle Smith dismissed Solo as a "soulless intergalactic freeway pile-up" and criticized the fast-paced nature of the plot.
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Notes and referencesEdit
- Solo: A Star Wars Story on Wikipedia
- Fritz, Ben (May 10, 2018). Intrigue and Drama on the Han Solo Set. The Wall Street Journal. wsj.com.
- Tapley, Kristopher (May 2018). Inside 'Solo': A 'Star Wars' Story's Bumpy Ride to the Big Screen. Variety. variety.com.