Solo: A Star Wars Story, the second “Star Wars Story” since the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 came out this past weekend to a an underwhelming $84.8 Million, marking this as the least successful installment of the franchise in the Disney era. By all accounts, it is safe to say this is the worst received critical installment of the Disney era as well, and cost over $250 million dollars to make. This number would not seem so high had Solo done even half as well as Rogue One, which literally made over $1 Billion dollars at the global box office. Granted this number came a month after the release, and the movie heavily marketed Darth Vader and included that scene. Solo does not look to reach anywhere close to those heights, and many have theorized why this happened.
No one (except for maybe George Lucas) was screaming to the heavens for a Han Solo movie in the first place; but considering it was written by the Lawrence freaking Kasdan and his son, Jonathan, was Lucas’ original idea that he was working on before the Disney purchase, and was directed (albeit eventually) by whom George offered to direct The Phantom Menace in Ron Howard, many are left wondering how they recover from this, when the idea itself seemed impossible to mess up, and this was supposedly the “best Star Wars script of all time.”
This is not Star Wars fatigue, the isolation of a portion of the fanbase, or any other popular internet theories, this is just simply a mediocre movie that did not have the luxury of a Darth Vader cameo or a fresh, intriguing new story that fans wanted to see (Han was like the Joker, we didn’t really need his backstory, and even if we did, the legends stuff was satisfactory even if it is no longer canon, and we learn all we need to know in this really old movie called A New Hope). This was the first Star Wars movie in the Disney era that felt completely unnecessary and frankly predictable.
When Disney came up with the idea for the Star Wars “Story,” they wanted to do several lower budget, smaller in scale/scope movies to explore different genres and stories in the Star Wars universe away from the “Skywalker Saga”. Rogue One was their war movie, and it made a BILLION DOLLARS, which changed the perception of these “Stories” to say the least. Solo was part heist movie, part western, a part coming-of-age story, and part Lando (maybe) has sex with a robot movie? The performances in this movie are not bad, the movie is fine, and this will not be the last time we see many of these characters, but there were clearly two different movies shot, and some performances suffer as a result of this. Disney has already announced Star Wars movies from Game of Thrones showrunners Benioff and Weiss, The Last Jedi, Looper, and Brick Director Rian Johnson, Episode IX from The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, and rumors of possibly a Lando movie, a Kenobi movie and a Boba Fett movie from Logan director James Mangold have surfaced. Without even mentioning the Jon Favreau TV series, or the Dave Filoni animated series announced as well, many will look at Solo‘s shortcomings as a reason to doubt the future of these movies.
With so much in development, the higher ups at Lucasfilm clearly do not see a “Star Wars Fatigue,” but it will be interesting to see if they are right or not. Episode IX comes out over a year and a half from now, the longest break we have had without a Star Wars movie in the past few years, and this could be the last time we see only one Star Wars movie released a year. Episode IX is going to make a lot of money. I mean a lot of money. The movie after that will be the first test to see if Star Wars can do what Marvel did to their franchise, or if they even want to. There is a good chance that Solo is merely the Iron Man 2 of the universe, meaning not unwatchable, but not particular good either, but Star Wars does not have the luxury Marvel has to be able to make a small heist movie like Ant-Man as Star Wars is holy text to many fans, and Disney cannot afford to ruin this IP.
It will be interesting to see if the next “Star Wars Story” has a much smaller budget and experiments with genre like Rogue One did, and if that movie is Boba Fett, I would love to see a much smaller Boba Fett in the realm of Sicario, or Argo than an attempt to please everyone that ends up pleasing no one. Disney has done great things for Star Wars, and brought Star Wars back into the mainstream, and given us more Star Wars than we thought we would ever get. There is a lot of great canon content currently in existence, from the books to the Poe, Lando and Vader comics, and even the recently finished animated show follow up to Clone Wars from Dave Filoni in Star Wars Rebels, but a large majority of the audience that makes the episodic films or even Rogue One break box office records is not consuming this content, and was very confused by a certain spoiler’s cameo in Solo as a result of this. While this content pleases corners of the fandom, this content cannot be made if no one cares about Star Wars anymore. This is not the case, but the success of the Favreau TV show, the conclusion of the new trilogy, and the future movies currently in development will determine how much we really care about Star Wars, and how much those behind Star Wars do too.
One Last Thing: Please let Star Wars last long enough so we can get a Jabba the Hutt gangster film like the Godfather. This isn’t my idea. It’s been on the internet for a while. But please make it happen.