Solo Proves Lucasfilm Is Listening To Fans

Solo Proves Lucasfilm Is Listening To Fans

Though they might not know it, Solo is exactly what fans wanted for the film.
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This contains spoilers, just a warning. If you haven't seen Solo, just turn back now, go see it, and come back to read this. Seriously – spoilers from here on out. As I said last time, there is a division among the Star Wars fandom. Some say it's because of the Disney sale, others say it's more because of the rebooting of the Expanded Universe. And others, the most annoying ones, are pushing a boycott of Solo because they claim Disney/Lucasfilm doesn't listen to the fans. And they shouldn't – sometimes a fan theory can be fun, like saying the Mandalorian armor in Dryden Vos' private room could be a reference to his past, because that can be developed over time in other media, whereas the theories like Snoke being Darth Plagueis are just wild dreams that would alienate non-hardcore fans. Yet, despite the movies being their own projects that have little-to-nothing of fan input, Solo is more like a fan-designed movie than anything else. Final warning for spoilers, by the way.

In the EU, Han Solo began his smuggling career after rescuing Chewbacca from slavery while serving in the Empire, showing he had some heart despite his gruff exterior. Now this was pretty much taken as irrefutable fact, and made sense – Han seemed to know his way around the Death Star and knew how to “outrun Imperial starships.” In Solo, this story is pretty much the same – only instead, Han saves Chewbacca from imprisonment to get them off of Mimban so that Han can get the money to return home and help Qi'ra. That is much more in character with the Han Solo we all know and love from the Original Trilogy, while also being inspired by the story established in the Expanded Universe. In addition, the concept of Wookiee slavery under the Empire was a major aspect of the old lore, and made a reappearance in Star Wars: Rebels. Of course there was the rumors that Chewbacca's wife Malla would be in the film, but this was proven incorrect, the Wookiee in question was an old friend of his before the war. Lando Calrissian's journal has references to the Lando Calrissian Adventures trilogy of books from the 1980s, indicating that some aspects of those stories may have happened. Now that's not to say the movie is a perfect adaptation of the classic EU stories, but it does take the basic ideas and rework them to fit the canon and the saga as a whole.

Of course, it's not just Han's origins fans wanted to see. Before the trailers came out, before the changing of directors, even before casting took place, people all over the Internet and convention lines were discussing what they wanted to see in such a film. Events such as Han meeting Chewbacca, Han meeting Lando and winning the Millennium Falcon in a game of Sabacc, and the infamous 12-parsec Kessel Run. And guess what, every single one of those events was in the movie. Yeah, maybe the Kessel Run could have been the plot for a sequel, but at the same time, it didn't feel forced in at all. Even the golden dice, which were a major plot point in The Last Jedi, were explained, though the movie presents a different story than what was established in the recent reference books. And while not stated outright, the life debt Chewbacca owes Han is made, thus creating one of film's most iconic duos. The fan ideas and hopes for the film were all there. Of course they didn't just digitally de-age Harrison Ford, but Alden Ehrenreich was a great young Han Solo, getting the mannerisms that people demanded (including the famous pointing) in. Even the tone is exactly what the internet wanted to see in a Han Solo origin story. It's a heist movie, a Western, and a crime story all in one, not unlike the Joss Whedon show Firefly, right down to the ragtag group of smugglers and outlaws the movie follows. It isn't a comedy/action like Guardians of the Galaxy, it is a very dark, serious film that takes a character we've known for over forty years and gives him an origin story.

An unexpected choice made in the film was to make some deep, deep cuts into the canon and the EU lore. Throughout the film, Dryden Vos is said to have a boss himself, implying the true leader of Crimson Dawn is even more powerful. And at the end, that is revealed to be the case, with none other than Darth Maul being the man at the top. Ray Park and Sam Witwer reprise their shared role, Park, who portrayed Maul in The Phantom Menace playing the phyisical body, Witwer providing the voice from The Clone Wars and Rebels television shows. To a casual fan, this would be a surprise – Darth Maul survived? And it was to the majority of the audience I saw Solo with. But to the fans who have watched these shows and followed the story to the letter, this is where we found out just how much Lucasfilm follows the canon. A rather obscure reference to the EU is Qi'ra's mention of learning “teras kasi” from Dryden. This was the name of a Star Wars fighting game from the 1990s, usually considered one of the worst video games ever made – a lightsaber has less damage than a blaster, and even then the lightsaber is more like a baseball bat than a sword. Tobias Beckett is mentioned to have killed Aurra Sing, a bounty hunter from The Phantom Mernace and The Clone Wars, and Warwick Davis reprises his Phantom Menace role of Weasel, who is now working with Enfys Nest's Cloud Riders. There's been some discussion on how the new movies seem to ignore the prequels, but Solo embraces them, making characters that were background roles or developed across other media a major focus of the film. It's what the fans wanted, but as we know, this will probably cause some more division in the community, but hey, at least The Phantom Menace is getting some acknowledgment.

It's not that Disney isn't listening to fans. They are, but they're also the ones in charge of the production. If the fans got to make the movies, they wouldn't catch on with the mainstream audience. Solo is a good medium between what is profitable and what the hardcore fanbase wanted to see. For the typical moviegoer, Darth Maul being alive is a huge twist, but the fans know there's a whole other story building up to his cameo, and perhaps there will be a Maul-focused film. Meanwhile, you have the boycotting, the complaining, the fans who claim Disney has “ruined” the brand. If the Ewok movies didn't ruin them, then Solo won't. As it stands, Solo is the movie fans wanted to see, making sure to hit all the points they asked for. Of course some will turn around and say we didn't need to see all of that, but they'd complain if we didn't. There is no pleasing some people, and “listening to the fans” only causes productions to be more troubled and less risk-taking. And we need to have risks taken in the franchise, otherwise it gets stale. Star Wars movies aren't just for the people who have read all the books and seen all the TV shows, they're for a mainstream market, especially now. You can have a good medium between fan and audience targets, and if any of the Disney-era movies have done that, it's Solo. Now let's just wait and see how that Obi-Wan Kenobi movie turns out.

Cover Image Credit: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

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