There’s nothing wrong with wanting to write stories based on your favorite characters and stories. Who doesn’t love a good piece of fan fiction ever now and then? Unless of course, you’re a multi-billion-dollar corporation who happens to own Star Wars. Then it’s just embarrasing.
As excited as I was when the new trilogy was announced, I had to remember to stay cautiously optimistic. It was only a decade earlier that fans let their expectations rise to uncontrollable levels, leading to the soul crushing experience of watching the Phantom Menace on opening day. Thankfully when The Force Awakens was released, it put many of my fears to rest with memorable characters, use of practical effects, and amazing action sequences. Yet the retreading of A New Hope’s overall plot was disappointing to see. The Force Awakens played it safe, never straying far from what made the originals so great.
I was willing to give The Force Awakens a pass. I can’t even fathom the intense pressure J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan must have experienced when working on the film. Having to quell over a decade of fan disappointment must have been no easy task. Who wouldn’t play it safe in this situation? I know I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one who ruined Star Wars for the second time. Unfortunately, The Force Awakens sacrificed its own identity for a formula that was ensured to appease fans.
Rogue One was no different. The trailers looked promising, yet I couldn’t help but feel the film was falling into the same pitfalls of The Force Awakens. I wondered how likely we were to get a film more concerned with paying tribute than trying to tell an engaging story. Well…
It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy Rogue One. It’s that I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. You know something must have gone wrong when the best moment of the film revolves around characters from A New Hope instead of the new characters. Rogue One’s reverence of the old trilogy is emblematic of the problem seen in these new Star Wars Films. Shoehorning references isn’t good story telling. It’s a way of redirecting your attention away from cookie cutter characters and paper-thin plots. Strip Rogue One of its Star Wars name and you’re left with a rather mediocre sci-fi film. It’s a shame that these films have to rely on nostalgia rather than stand on their own merits.
So how about the Han Solo film? From all accounts, it sounds fucking terrible. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired over creative differences. Lucasfilm had to hire an acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich who is playing the titular character. Signing on Ron Howard to direct so late into the project might not be enough to salvage what sounds like nothing short of a train wreck. The closer they get to a full out old trilogy circle jerk, the worse these films seem to get. And even if the film ends up turning out better than what I expect, one vital question remains. Why?
No one asked for it, no one wants it, yet here we are. Because the last time we got an origin story of a beloved Star Wars character, it went oh so well. Don’t you want to see how Han got his vest? Or his blaster? That will definitely enrich your old trilogy viewing experience, right?! We already have two films that lost focus trying to squeeze in as many references as possible
Why should I expect the Han Solo film to be any different? I swear to god if I see a young Luke Skywalker, or the film ends minutes before Obi-wan approaches Han in the cantina, I’m going to lose it. The Force Awakens was the perfect end to one of the most beloved characters in all of sci-fi. Why must Disney insist on tarnishing the reputation of Han Solo?
I’m excited for The Last Jedi, but I hope to see the new trilogy begin to take steps away from the previous films and forge its own identity. Somehow I feel the films won’t be able to move until all the old trilogy characters have died, but if that’s what it takes, kill em all. I’m ready to see the next true phase of the Star Wars Saga.