This article contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Read at your own risk.
Originating in the seminal Star Wars film, Han Solo has grown to become a fan favourite for nerds and cinema goers alike. Portrayed with a wonderful performance by Harrison Ford, Han was able to go from strength to strength during his tenure in the first trilogy. With a once off appearance as an older man in The Force Awakens, many of us thought that this would be the last live action sighting of our favourite smuggler. With an unwarranted decision to provide a needless backstory, 2018 saw the delivery of a movie that predictably did more bad than good.
Solo: A Star Wars story is not an overtly bad movie. It has many problems but is technically serviceable in most ways. Its structure could have worked with new characters, but this was not the case. Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian had already been seen in the prime of their lives and an origin story was completely unneeded.
Having a certain amount of mystery to an individuals past often works wonders for their depth, especially with someone like Han. When you first watch A New Hope and it hints at moments from a time before, your imagination envisions what they could be. Solo: A Star Wars Story clears the fog of this mystery, revealing information best hidden, while contradicting the original trilogy in the process.
The Ways Solo: A Star Wars Story Diminishes Our Favourite Smuggler
Giving Us an Origin for His Surname
In Star Wars, everyone has a dumb name. There has never been any consideration to Boba Fett or Jabba the Hutt’s title, nor has anyone thought there should be reasoning for a pilot named Luke “Skywalker”. Calling someone who mainly looks out for themselves “Solo” can be seen as lazy writing but it does not need explaining. Providing this silly exposition lessens Han as it gives a backstory for an element that did not require it.
Evoking negative emotions from its existence, Star Wars fans are left with this odd memory every time they think about his name. Having it simply be his birth name would have been perfectly fine as this plot choice only dilutes his story.
Showing Us The Famous Kessel Run
In the original trilogy, Han spoke about doing the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. For years, Star Wars fans considered what this could be. Perhaps it was part of a famous spaceship race, or maybe it was a competition against other criminals. No matter the specifics, we as an audience would always imagine the possibilities of the fabled feat. Solo: A Star Wars story takes away the cool mystery by showing us exactly how it happened.
If a film must show us this, it would behoove them to give us something extraordinary and worthy of its glory. As it turns out, Han’s Kessel Run was a boring flight through some thunderstorms and away from a CGI monster. Leaving this mythical tale alone would have given it a cool vagueness, but we are instead left with a disappointing reveal that is not nearly as impressive or interesting as we previously pictured. From this point on, every mention of the Kessel Run is no longer as legendary as it was before.
Having Han Help the Rebellion Before Episode 4
At the end of Solo, Han acquires the Coaxium from Dryden Vos and gives it to Enfys Nest’s Rebel group before leaving. The reason this part of the story lessens Han as a character is that it ties in with the final point I will make below.
At the beginning of A New Hope, he is a smuggler who cares only for himself and Chewbacca. There is little care for much beyond this and only offers transport for Luke once promised payment. He cares not for the Rebellion as he is a selfish criminal. His character progression in the movie is connected closely with his decision to join the Rebels at the end. This decision is lessened greatly by the fact that he has met and helped Rebels before. Viewers can only see this as less impactful as his decision in Episode 4 now holds less weight. Even so, the main reason this is a negative is because this moment is propelled by Han Solo’s moral alignment in the rest of the film. An alignment that contradicts and ruins his development in A New Hope.
Having Han be a Good Guy Before Episode 4
The entire point of Han Solo’s character arc in A New Hope is that he starts out as a morally dubious man that cares only for himself and Chewbacca, progressing until he decides to become a hero and help the Rebellion. Solo: A Star Wars Story contradicts this by showing us that he was always a good man. He is portrayed as the individual we see in The Empire Strikes Back, while he should be the murderous criminal we meet in the Cantina. He may perform crimes in Solo but he is still a white knight that always makes the moral choice.
Fans hated the “Han shooting second” change as it took away from his journey in Episode 4. His story is not as interesting if he starts and ends the same. In Solo, we have another nail in this coffin with the reveal that his character did not grow in the way we previously thought. For a film that so badly wants to end on a “Han shot first” moment, it fails to understand the reasoning behind “Han shooting first”.
These are a few of the key moments that actively detract from one of cinema’s biggest icons. Despite being competently made, Solo: A Star Wars story devalues more than it adds within the Star Wars universe. It is a movie that provides a damaging backstory, worsening the canon in the process. Han Solo is still a spectacular character worthy of celebration, but there is no doubt that he has been harmed by this prequel. For an outsider, it can still be enjoyed in many ways. However, for many Star Wars fans, it is a tale that is best forgot.