A strange thing just happened to me as I pondered what to expect from Chris Miller & Phil Lord’s (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) newly announced Han Solo movie. Due out May 25, 2018, this prequel will focus on “how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley.” Miller and Lord will direct. Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back) and his son will write. As I processed all of this news I started poking holes at the very idea of this movie. Hasn’t this story been told already? Come on, there was that whole TV show all about Han’s adventures as a young man, and the third movie had the prologue sequence with River Phoenix playing a young version of him. Now, in the new movie he’ll probably be played by Chris Pratt.
And then I realized I was thinking of Indiana Jones. It turns out that when it comes to Harrison Ford’s iconic characters I always go to Indiana Jones first, Han Solo second. I realize that might come off as me kind of crapping all over the idea of a Han Solo movie, but it’s just my way of admitting where Han Solo ranks in my head. Because I pretty much wasn’t even born when the first three Star Wars movies came out I’m not quite as swept up in the idea of Han as one of cinema’s greatest rogues, an iconic representation of masculinity for an entire generation of filmgoers. To me, he’s clearly a classic, cool character, just not one I’ve ever really thought about at great length. It doesn’t help that in recent years Harrison Ford threw Han under the bus, “As a character [Han] was not so interesting to me. I thought he should have died in [Return of the Jedi], just to give it some bottom,” he told ABC while promoting Morning Glories, “George [Lucas] didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”
Of course, Ford is back as Han in this year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and now the search is on for who will play him in the prequel. At 36, Chris Pratt is actually three years older than Ford was when he made the first Star Wars. So, Pratt might be too old for a prequel. THR suggests Kingsman: The Secret Service’s Taron Egerton, X-Men’s Nicholas Hoult, The Fault in Our Stars’ Ansel Elgort, Mud’s Tye Sheridan, Tron: Legacy‘s Garrett Hedlund, The Flash’s Grant Gustin or Anthony Ingruber, the guy who played a younger version of Harrison Ford in Age of Adaline.
Whoever they cast will probably be amazing since Miller and Lord are in charge. They have built their careers on turning bad ideas (a movie about Legos?, an unnecessary 21 Jump Street adaptation?) into smart, funny movies with just the right amount of self-aware humor, and now all of Hollywood wants them. They’re supposed to also make Lego Movie 2, Lego Batman and a live-action Flash movie for Warner Bros., an animated Spider-Man movie as well as a Channing Tatum-led Ghostbusters project for Sony. Plus, there’s still the prospect of a 21 Jump Street/Men in Black cross-over sequel. They directed the pilot episode of Fox’s Last Man on Earth, which they still work on as executive producers with star Will Forte. It’s assumed that several of those projects must have fallen apart or will now fall to someone else, though for several of them (like The Flash) Miller and Lord only ever committed to producing/writing, not directing.
That will all work itself out. This Han Solo movie won’t come out for three more years. However, when it does arrive what exactly can we expect in terms of actual plot? Thankfully, SlashFilm took a deep dive into that very question when the mere idea of a Han Solo prequel was first rumored around the time Disney bought LucasArts. At that point, we didn’t know if the new Star Wars movies would incorporate anything from the “Expanded Universe,” i.e., the years upon years of books, games and magazines which have continued the Star Wars story. We’ve since learned that all of those items have been flushed out of continuity, though Disney holds the right to re-use some of the best ideas. Instead, Star Wars canon going forward is being established in Star Wars Rebels on DisneyXD and various official comic books and books. But if the Kasdans plunge through all of the now non-canon books what storyline ideas might they run with? Well, most of the ideas are simply answers to the questions fans have had about Han Solo for years. According to SlashFilm:
1) Why Doesn’t Han Believe in The Force?
In A New Hope, Han tells Luke that “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Solo seems to be the Star Wars galaxy equivalent of atheist, probably the result of something that happened to him when he was younger. In the books, Solo got his start piloting under the alias Vykk Draygo working for the High Priests. But he eventually discovered the true nature of the operation was a scam designed to lure Pilgrims into becoming slaves.
2) Who Were His Love Interests Before Leia?
In the expanded universe prequel history, Solo’s most notable relationship pre-military was with Bria Tharen, one of the pilgrims who had come to Ylesia seeking religious sanctuary. They escaped together after discovering out the mission was a scam. Tharen left Solo because she felt that she was holding him back and to join the Rebal Alliance.
3) How Did He Piss Off The Hutts?
In the expanded universe, Solo indirectly killed Zavval the Hutt while trying to steal a small cache of treasures from the High Priest Toroenza’s treasure room. This death led to a bounty being placed on his head by Zavval’s Hutt relatives.
Bria Tharen later asks for help in attacking a slave colony. After succeeding, Tharen steals the smuggler’s valuables to aid the Rebel Alliance, forcing Solo and Chewbacca accept a smuggling job from Jabba the Hutt to compensate their losses.
An Imperial cruiser tried to stop Solo while he was illegally transporting an highly potent drug called spice for Jabba. In an effort to escape, Han decided to jettison his cargo. Jabba demanded that Solo pay back the worth of the cargo, and interest on this debt added up over the years.
4) How Did He Meet Chewbacca? Lando?
Didn’t he rescue Chewbacca from slavery? Will we see that? What about Lando?
In the expanded universe, Solo befriends Lando Calrissian after the gambler saved him from Boba Fett.
5) How Specifically Did He Get the Millennium Falcon?
We will likely see the series of events that end with Han Solo getting possession of the customized Millennium Falcon. The ship originally belonged to his friend Lando Calrissian, but Lando promised whoever won the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament finals could pick “any ship on his lot.” In the books, Sabaac is a card game which is huge across the galaxy. The games are very long, often lasting for days. The tournament lasted four days, something which would probably be tweaked or spiced up in the movie. The last two men were Han and Lando, with Solo winning the game. Calrissian was very reluctant to hand the Falcon over to Han but kept to his word.
6) When Did He First Meet Greedo the Bounty Hunter?
In the expanded universe, Greedo had encountered Solo twice after being hired by Jabba the Hutt, “demanding payment, but was humiliated both times.” I’m sure we’ll see an early encounter with Greedo, further proving George Lucas’ revisionist intentions that Han didn’t shoot first.
7) How Did He Make the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs?
In Episode IV: A New Hope, Han Solo convinces Obi-Wan that his ship, the Millenium Falcon, is fast enough to get to Alderaan by saying: “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?… It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” I’m sure we’ll probably see the Kessel Run and learn just how Solo was able to do a 18-parsec route in only 12 Parsecs, or if he actually did it at all.
Lucas kind of messed up by writing the original bit of dialogue, because a parsec is a unit of distance, not time — equivalent to about 19 trillion miles or 3.26 light-years.
Many fans have theorized that the seemingly nonsensical claim was something Solo made up to impress Obi-Wan. Solo is not beyond lying to get his way. If you remember, Luke gave Solo a disbelieving look of after he made the claim.
The Kessel Run is a popular travel route for smuggling operations that goes around the Maw, a cluster of black holes. The expanded Universe claimed that Solo was able to shave a third of the distance and time off the normal route by flying dangerously close to the black holes. About.com argues that Han’s Kessel Run claim “was therefore not just a boast about his ship’s speed, but also his skills and daring as a pilot.”
Those are just some of the ideas, all of which assume a Han Solo prequel will mostly be like Guardians of the Galaxy and give us a brief introduction to our lovable rogue as a little kid before a time-jump leads us to spending most of the movie with him as an adult. However, the Kasdans could choose to spend a little more time with Han’s childhood and focus more on how he became a smuggler.
What do you think? What would you like to see in a Han Solo prequel? Or are you more apprehensive, fearing that Han is only as interesting as Harrison Ford could make him and the idea of a younger actor playing him just sounds wrong? Let me know in the comments.