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‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Teases a “Rite of Passage” for an Iconic Character

Between blaster fire and new best Wookie friends, a closer look at ‘Solo’ reveals a potentially fun romp rife with rugged charm.
Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich
By  · Published on April 30th, 2018

Between blaster fire and new best Wookie friends, a closer look reveals a potentially fun romp rife with rugged charm.

For the longest time, I was not excited for Solo: A Star Wars Story. This sentiment has definitely been shared among other Star Wars fans who may have had trouble picturing anybody but Harrison Ford embodying Han Solo. And especially now — after eight Skywalker-focused movies in this film franchise — it feels about time to break out of the legacy mould a little (even if fanboys don’t agree).

Yet not one but both Solo trailers have inspired a change of heart in me, at least to the point of giving the film a benefit of the doubt. Of course, the more different Alden Ehrenreich‘s iteration of Han feels to Ford’s original, the better, but the movie itself is also already tonally intriguing from what little footage we’ve seen. Despite Rogue One being the only other anthology film we can compare Solo to at the moment, the latter seems primed to continue a welcome trend of smaller Star Wars adventures that are rough around the edges but brimming with personality — not unlike Han himself when we meet him as a more optimistic almost-hero.

In Lucasfilm’s newly released featurette titled “Becoming Solo,” fans are taken on a journey into the depths of this new-old Han that they’ve never met before. Watch it below:

In the video, director Ron Howard sets up the Empire’s iron grip on society as the backdrop for the rise of our favorite larger-than-life swashbuckler. There is much emphasis placed on how a wildcard could really set a resistance into motion; Han is a “free spirit” that goes through an important “rite of passage.” He faces a number of challenges that include the sheer amount of blaster fire and the people Han meets along the way — some are adversaries lurking in the shadows, but others will eventually become enduring life-long partnerships.

In textbook Star Wars fashion, nobody acts alone; even the bravest and most powerful cannot function without the support of a crew. But the “Becoming Solo” footage makes it clear that no matter what happens during this heist — that’s spearheaded by Paul Bettany‘s Lord Dryden Vos — the people involved are delightfully unpredictable, potentially maladjusted and sporting their own agendas.

So far, Solo seems to lack the refrain of absolute necessity in its narrative. Where Rogue One was anchored by the impulse to uphold the greater good, Solo is only concerned with its protagonist for now. There aren’t any complaints, though, as this could actually bode well in differentiating both Star Wars Stories within the wider anthology format. The notion that Han and his premiere ragtag crew are only in it for themselves presents a well of potential for a Star Wars offshoot, because part of the thrill in watching a movie about them involves getting to witness how these characters will eventually fit together on screen.

As Ehrenreich himself says in an interview for The Star Wars Show:

“You spend a lot more time dealing with the feelings and the kind of inner life of the characters.”

Rogue One provides Star Wars fans with fresh characters that have virtually nothing to do with the original core three films and sets itself apart from the Skywalker Saga while still embracing familiar, well-loved themes. Solo may be a completely different beast and instead deliver insight into characters old and new, which sounds fascinating.

That being said, we already know how Han will end up in the rest of the movies chronologically, and so Emilia Clarke‘s Qi’ra still has to allude to something bigger for the character. A new “Han” TV spot — released a day prior to the featurette — has Qi’ra asking Han if he’s after “something else.”

That’s the biggest gamble for Solo at the moment: the constant tension between being fresh enough to warrant its own existence and a reminder that Han as a character is deeply linked to the lore that kickstarted Star Wars in the first place. Thankfully, the promotional material for Solo has so far managed to balance out both those elements impressively and then some. We have to wait for opening day to really decide Solo‘s fate, but bit by bit, it’s getting more hopeful.

Solo: A Star Wars Story premieres at Cannes on May 15th and lands in cinemas domestically on May 25th.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)