"Solo: A Star Wars Story," the upcoming film detailing the origins of everyone's favorite scruffy looking nerf-herder and the character probably at least a third of children born after 1960 pretended to be at one point — Han Solo, had plenty going against it from the beginning. The film, which debuts in May and stars Alden Ehrenreich as the iconic smuggler, would have to get out of the Death Star-sized shadow of Harrison Ford's portrayal of the character, and the production struggles the film went through over the summer seemingly cemented some already weary fans' concerns of the film.
The teaser for the first footage hit during the Super Bowl in a 30-second spot that cost $3 million, with a full trailer debuting the next day. The reception could best be described as "Didn't receive the most hyperbolic hatred or curses to the creators' names on YouTube that day," which probably didn't thrill Disney — but it was undercut by the announcement two days later that the creators of the HBO juggernaut "Game of Thrones" David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would write and oversee a new set of "Star Wars" films. Disney chose to take the spotlight off their next intergalactic installment to hit theaters and instead draw the limelight to what appears to cover uncharted territory in one of the most iconic franchises of all time.
Admit it: The words "Han Solo origin film" probably earned a groan from you, or at least a swift eye roll, the moment you heard about it. It can be argued that Ford's brain-ensuring, magnetic portrayal is one of the primary reasons why the character is popular enough to warrant a four-quadrant blockbuster with a nine-figure budget in the first place. Unless the producers were planning on using a time machine to go hunting for mid-70s Ford, the entire concept of the movie may seem pointless for some fans. Without Ford's trademark smirk and attitude that suggests he thinks he's above all of the wacky alien cantina shenanigans, it's not hard to see why some audiences would wonder what the point would be. Plus, it could be argued Han is better when he's mysterious. Showing how this smarmy gunslinger came to be sure isn't as much fun as imply imagining his origins. As demonstrated by the 2007 Hannibal Lecter prequel film "Hannibal Rising" — admit it, you either completely forget that even existed or were blissfully unaware of it in the first place — sometimes it's better if you don't know how an iconic character came to be.
Those inherent concerns with the very concept of the film meant it already had enough hurdles to overcome. Then came the public firing of the film's directors, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who already have a track record of making ill-advised ideas work, such as "The LEGO Movie" and the "21 Jump Street" films, then replacing them with Ron Howard. Then the floodgate of rumors opened up: Howard had to shoot and/or re-shoot the bulk of the film! The script is a mess! Disney is expecting the movie to bomb and is already writing it off! Ehrenreich's performance is so terrible that an acting couch had to be hired for him! (If you Google "Alden Ehrenreich," the eighth entry that comes up is "Alden Ehrenreich acting couch.")
While the trailer didn't necessarily quiet the film's naysayers, it did hold some promise. It appears to be a heist film, which makes sense for the character. Donald Glover's brief appearance in the trailer as Lando Calrissian immediately counts as a win. Plus, the scene where Emilia Clarke's character tells Han, "I am the only one who knows what you truly are" and Ehrenreich smirks and responds "What's that?" suggests a veil of cocky bravado we know from Han, but it also comes off as if he's genuinely asking her, because Han doesn't know who he is yet either. There appears to be some promise here, with nice visuals and character design. The idea exploring how a character that clearly didn't always know what he was doing but played it off as he if did — really, who isn't able to relate to that? — discover his swagger and confidence could very well be a story worth exploring.
Of course, it may be telling that instead of keeping the cultural focus on the Solo film, Disney announces the new trio of films less than five days later. It isn't known what the film will focus on, but it appears as if it won't be an anthology film like Solo or 2016's "Rogue One". The last film to hit theaters, "The Last Jedi," had a heavy emphasis on excising the past in favor of letting news ideas flourish, but in a billion-dollar enterprise where already-established iconic characters compel people to keep buying the movies, playing the games, reading the books, etc., new and fresh ideas aren't always the number one priority.
That said, unless these films are related to the other anthology movies that may have been rumored for years but not confirmed, like Obi-Win Kenobi or Boba Bett installments or are a trilogy focused on Salacious Crumb - which is probably wanted by zero people who aren't me - these films, like the announced trilogy to be ushered in by "Last Jedi" maestro Rian Johnson, may explore ideas and worlds without relying on a familiar face. While that is creatively healthy for the franchise, it does suggest the Han Solo film is being shoved off to the side before it even hits theaters.