Alden Ehrenreich

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A slight dig at ‘Solo’ rifles Star Wars fans

People are arguing that 'Solo's star doesn't deserve the blame for its shortcomings.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on May 17, 2022   Updated on May 18, 2022, 2:01 pm CDT

It’s been months since a new Star Wars property last graced our screens (The Book of Boba Fett), but that hasn’t stopped Star Wars fans from discussing every aspect of the galaxy far, far away ad nauseam. People are still arguing about The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker years after their respective releases, they’re constantly reconsidering the prequels (which are good now), and seemingly at least once a month, they present the unpopular opinion—that is, in retrospect, quite popular—that Rogue One might be an underrated film.

With the Disney+ limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi on the horizon, Lucasfilm is forging ahead. But a quote from a Vanity Fair cover story about the future of Star Wars that looks back at one of its less successful ventures is bringing out a passioned defense of yet another Star Wars movie.

Toward the end of the cover story, Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican addresses one of the elements driving part of the current set of shows as it looks to the future: The return of Luke Skywalker, captured with a mix of Mark Hamill’s performance, a younger actor standing in, and deepfake technology placed on the other actor’s face. It’s a constantly evolving technology and a highly polarizing one. But as Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained, you can’t necessarily recast those iconic roles and points to Solo: A Star Wars Story as an example of it not panning out due to its box office reception with the article also suggesting that nobody would’ve been able to properly capture the essence of Han Solo, not even star Alden Ehrenreich.

The 2018 movie Solo explored Han Solo’s younger years, with Alden Ehrenreich taking on the role of the smuggler originated by Harrison Ford. The film has its admirers, but it made less at the box office than any other live-action Star Wars movie. Solo’s swagger may be too singular for another actor to replicate. “There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” says Kennedy. “Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”

The cover story doesn’t linger on Solo. Instead, it looks ahead to the future with teases for The Acolyte from Leslye Headland (set about 100 years before The Phantom Menace), a post-Return of the Jedi show said to have Amblin vibes from Jon Watts, and upcoming movies from Taika Waititi and Patty Jenkins while the long-planned Rian Johnson movie trilogy is “Back-burnered.”

But, even with the many reveals and teases from Lucasfilm and the stars of its shows, the slight dig at Solo drew ire from fans. While Solo may have gotten a mixed reception from critics and had the worst box office run of any live-action Star Wars movie, it wasn’t a total failure. Solo was plagued with many issues—Lucasfilm fired the original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller after they shot 70% of the movie, it came out only months after The Last Jedi, was poorly marketed, and took an offputting “fill-in-the-blank” approach to prequel storytelling—but Ehrenreich as Han Solo, fans argued, wasn’t one of them.

On top of the praise for Ehrenreich, they also pointed to Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian as a successful recast. Even Ewan McGregor, who’s reprising his role as a younger Obi-Wan, was an initial recast for a prequel—as is Genevieve O’Reilly, who’s reprising her role as Mon Mothma in the prequels for Andor.

They also pointed to the behind-the-scenes issues during production

Even Star Trek got a mention as another legacy franchise that recast some of its most famous roles without it completely tanking.

For now, Star Wars shows are going all-in on the nostalgia factor between love for the prequels (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Rogue One (Andor), Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels (Ahsoka), and the original trilogy (whichever of those shows Luke Skywalker shows up in). And while the technology that brought us a younger Luke will likely continue to play a role, it also reveals a shortsighted approach to those shows; deepfakes can only take you so far.

You can read the full cover story here.

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*First Published: May 17, 2022, 3:08 pm CDT