I watched Solo: A Star Wars Story again. It made me appreciate all the fantastic things about the film but also highlighted some things that really bothered me.
The biggest issue I have with Solo: A Star Wars Story is the underutilization and under-development of the female characters.
I realize that a lot of the issues with this film can be traced back to the fact that it was basically redone halfway through production. However, I personally find it frustrating that no time was spent in developing the women in this film.
In watching the film again, I realized that every single female character (of which there are only two) are completely thrown away.
This bothers me for several reasons. First, having complex, well-developed female characters is an important part of on-screen representation and this film did not deliver that.
Don’t get me wrong. I thought that both Thandie Newton and Emilia Clarke did beautifully in their roles with the lines and character development they were given. That is part of what made the whole situation even worse. These two actresses had so much to offer the audience and they were underutilized.
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Second, there was so much potential for both characters. Qi’ra, especially, had so much more she could have offered the plot. She has a sordid past, and it wasn’t even minutely explored.
She would have been an excellently developed, morally grey character, and that would have been unbelievably satisfying. I believe that she had the potential to be one of the most complex female characters in the entire Star Wars universe and I think that, with an actress as brilliant as Emilia Clarke, she could have been one of the most moving characters too.
There were moments where we almost tasted that intricacy of character, but then they were shut down and she was, once again, just Han’s female sidekick.
With Val, there wasn’t even that breath of intricacy that we experienced with Qi’ra. Val dies in the first ten or fifteen minutes of the film
This is such a tragedy because Val is the first African American woman that has been billed as more than a peripheral character, and she really didn’t end up as more than that. Her character is important, but she is never given any real weight because again, she just acts as a female counterpart to a much more developed male character – in this case, Woody Harrelson’s character, Tobias Beckett.
I feel that same way about Enfys Nest, who ended up being more of a plot device than a real character. She has so much potential to be a wonderfully intricate character. I would definitely read a book or watch a movie that featured her in the lead role.
Now, my frustration with the underwritten female characters does not mean I disliked the male characters (for those reading this that will inevitably jump to that conclusion). I really enjoyed Han, Lando, and Tobias in the movie. They were interesting and complicated. I just wish the women had been given the same treatment when it came to rounding out characters.
Hopefully, in the future, we will get to see more of all three female characters I’ve mentioned above. They deserve to be developed fully, and I think their stories would add a lot to the Star Wars Universe.