A look back at ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ 5 years later

Alden Ehrenreich is Han Solo in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY.
Alden Ehrenreich is Han Solo in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. /

In May 2018, Star Wars fans and moviegoers were given a prequel about the origins of one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars franchise with Solo: A Star Wars Story. Five years later, there is still much division in the fandom over this film, so it’s a fantastic time to do a retrospective.

Solo centers around a heist involving Han Solo as he joins a group of outlaws working for Crimson Dawn. In the movie, we learn how he met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, became the Millennium Falcon’s captain, and even got the surname “Solo.” It does not, however, give us the story of his time as an Imperial Navy cadet. For that, you will have to go read the Marvel comic book series Han Solo – Imperial Cadet, written by Robbie Thompson. This series fills in the gap between when Han joins the Empire to become a pilot and when we see him again as an Imperial soldier helping to occupy a mud-ridden planet.

Throughout its production, the film had its share of problems. First, after much of the filming had already taken place, the directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller left the project due to creative differences with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, according to Variety. Ron Howard replaced them. Also, during Howard’s reshoots, actor Michael K. Williams left his role as Dryden Vos due to scheduling conflicts. That role instead went to Paul Bettany.

Overall, the movie sported quite a stellar cast. It included megastar Woody Harrelson as Solo’s mentor Tobias Beckett, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as Han’s childhood friend and love interest Qi’ra, actor/singer/comedian Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and, of course, Alden Ehrenreich in the role of Han Solo himself.

To this day, there is still much debate over whether or not Ehrenreich was the right casting for the role. For instance, according to The Wrap, Ehrenreich “was struggling to fill Harrison Ford’s big shoes as the legendary smuggler.”

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy even commented that she blamed Ehrenreich for the film’s poor performance in an interview with Vanity Fair. However, she later backtracked these statements, saying:

"“I never say never. It’s certainly not something that we’re doing with any intention right now. We’re still talking about Lando with Donald Glover, for instance, but I don’t think we would intentionally just look back at some of the characters like Luke and Leia and whatnot and decide arbitrarily to do a story. There would have to be a really strong reason why.”"

While the aforementioned statement is true that Alden has some big shoes to fill, the same could be said about any actor trying to pull off the swagger so perfectly encapsulated by Ford. Nobody playing the role of a younger Solo could likely have made all the fans entirely happy, despite calls for Lucasfilm to embrace recasting these characters.

While there are things about the film that some might consider flaws and caused the movie to fail at the box office, many things about Solo made it an entertaining Star Wars movie. It’s beloved enough by fans that the #MakeSolo2Happen hashtag has trended over the years on social media.

The strong Western influence in the film was particularly impressive. As the original trilogy was highly influenced by old science fiction and samurai movies, Solo gave us a strong cowboy feel, especially with the main characters and the settings heavy on the frontier aspect of the galaxy.

The voyage of the galaxy that Solo took us on was a trip, visiting many planets that we might previously have never heard of or seen in live action. Some of these planets included Solo’s birthplace of Corellia, the swamp planet Mimban, the cold frontier planet Vandor, the spice mining planet Kessel, and the Outer Rim planet Savareen. There was plenty of action throughout the film. The action sequences encapsulated a good Star Wars movie, from the “car chase” moments on Corellia to the heist on Vandor and all the way through to the shootout on Kessel.

While it is entirely valid to say Solo did not necessarily hit all of the marks for many viewers, it is also safe to say that, five years later, it deserves another look. Perhaps now more than ever. In a universe where the more grounded concepts of the scum and villainy aspects of Star Wars have been expanded with excellence by The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, perhaps now it is time for the naysayers to give Solo: A Star Wars Story another chance.