How many of you have always wondered how Han Solo met Chewbacca? How he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a poker game? How he did the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs? Maybe you’re wondering whether – or not – he was voted “Most Likely to Be Frozen in Carbonite” in his high school yearbook?
The fact of the matter is that a Han Solo prequel, which is the latest of the new Star Wars “anthology” films that will fill in the gaps between official episodes of the main series, is a really, really bad idea. One would think that after audiences had to suffer through watching a kiddie Darth Vader yelling “yippee” and learning that the galactic force is actually a chronic medical condition (midichlorians, anyone?), filmmakers would realize that de-mystifying all the heroes in the galaxy far, far away is a fundamentally awful idea.
It stands to reason, then, that the latest troubles gripping the production of the Young Han Solo film can be fully divorced from the wretchedness of the concept itself. The movie has been shooting for almost three months. Without warning, the two directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were given their walking papers.
“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project,” they said in a statement. “We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true.”
Union rules make for silly make-up work
Keep in mind that this is virtually unheard of in the annals Hollywood. Directors are occasionally fired before the cameras start rolling, but they’re almost never given the boot when there’s three months of actual footage in the can.
The last time a big budget studio blockbuster switched directors in midstream like this was way back in the late 70s, when Richard Donner, who was directing the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films simultaneously, was told his services would no longer be required for the second film, even though roughly 80 percent of “Superman II” had already been shot.
Donner was replaced by Richard Lester, who actually went back and reshot a large number of the scenes that his predecessor had finished. It’s not that there was anything wrong with these scenes the first time around. But union rules require that the director that gets credit for a movie has to have been responsible for shooting more than 50 percent of it.
“Superman II” was released was released in 1980 without giving Richard Donner any credit, despite the fact that he had shot nearly half of the film. Decades later, “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” was released on DVD, and it was clear to everyone who had seen both versions that this particular Superman film would have been far superior if Donner had been allowed to finish the job.
Back to a galaxy far, far away
With regard to Han Solo, Lord and Miller have been replaced by Oscar-winner and Happy Days survivor Ron Howard, whose last movie, “Inferno,” didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, despite its flammable title. No word on whether Howard will reshoot what has already been shot, or whether Lord and Miller will share a directing credit with him. That’s a union decision, and audiences can rest assured that whatever the Director’s Guild decides will not take the actual quality of the movie in question into consideration.
All these shenanigans ought to be enough to convince the producers that they had a serious misfire on their hands, and maybe it’s time to cut their losses and move on. There are plenty of other stories to tell in that galaxy far, far away that don’t require viewers to do an act of “retroactive continuity” on their childhoods.
Han Solo has already suffered all kinds of indignities at George Lucas’s hands. In the Special Edition of the first movie, he was forced to shoot second in the cantina, and he was digitally altered in order to step on a CGI Jabba the Hut’s tail.
For heaven’s sake, he was murdered by his own son in “The Force Awakens.” Isn’t it time to give him a rest and let Harrison Ford move on from rehashing his Star Wars roles to rehashing his Blade Runner and Indiana Jones roles? (Yes, both of those are real things. The Blade Runner sequel looks pretty good. But a fifth Indiana Jones film will have a lot of heavy lifting to do to wipe away the Crystal Skull stench.)
The fact of the matter is that there are only a handful of good Star Wars movies and far too many bad ones. M most of the bad ones are prequels. Instead of just sacking the directors, the producers ought to put the whole idea of a Han Solo prequel out to pasture.
(Teaser image photo from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)