So yeah, the directors of the upcoming Han Solo movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were fired this week and quickly replaced with veteran Ron Howard, and it was a little jarring at first. These two guys have slowly become some of the best talents in Hollywood, starting all the way back when the worked on the under-watched Clone High and creating two new cinematic franchises in the Jump Street movies and all the LEGO spinoffs. For all those Star Wars fans who were worried about a Han Solo origin movie, the fact these two guys were being brought on board was a sigh of relief (as was the casting of Donald Glover as Lando, but that’s a different story), but now that they’re gone, we’re back in uncertainty.
This firing has also cemented another narrative that’s been slowly seeping into the Disney-produced Star Wars universe, where the most powerful corporation in the world, much like what happened with the Marvel movies, are hiring unique directors with unique sensibilities only to push them away when they start straying too far from the corporate overlords. That legitimately sucks, but contracts are a two way street, and if certain reports are correct, they were utilizing their more improvisational style in filming rather than sticking to the script that Lawrence Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy had approved. In the end, Disney is making the product and putting up the money, so they get kind of get final say, even if it means some bad PR.
But as excited as I was about these two guys coming on to direct, over this week I started thinking about what a Han Solo movie directed by them would’ve looked like. I’m a firm believer that good comedy is the hardest kind of movie to make, and if you can accomplish that other things are easier to do (see the Russo Brothers making the best Marvel movies and everytime a comedic actors goes dramatic, he gets awards and nominations), so I don’t doubt that ability of those two to make a good Han Solo movie. But then I remember what I like about there comedy.
The LEGO Batman Movie is all about mocking the rather dark reputation that Batman has become associated and how he and the Joker are basically boyfriends. 21 and 22 Jump Street spent it’s entire runtime pointing out how stupid everything about their plots were. The Last Man on Earth stars Will Forte. They’re artistic vision comes from a place of ridicule, and maybe that isn’t the best thing for Star Wars right now.
Star Wars is my favorite entertainment franchise of all time, and I treat every aspect of its canon tales and stories in the same light. Unlike the Marvel movies, where I can appreciate both the moral fights between Cap and Iron Man over the needs for a central authority to keep unlimited powers in check and Star-Lord distracting Ronan with a dance-off, Star Wars, to me, has a fixed aesthetic. I do admit, though, that I generally think every Star Wars story has some merit to it. I don’t hate the prequels (especially since The Clone Wars fixed all the really bad stuff), I thought The Force Awakens narrative worked even if it retread a lot of A New Hope‘s beats, and Rogue One gave us a chance to see the galaxy on-screen outside of the Skywalker clan. I was not, however, a huge fan of when The Force Awakens tried to slip some Whedon-esque dialogue into the script (like Poe’s “who talks first” shtick or Finn’s weird boyfriend hangup). There is a certain reverence afforded to a Star Wars movie, I think, and maybe these two wouldn’t be able to not poke some fun at it. You know at some point they would try to mock the ‘parsec is a measure of distance, not time’ thing nerds have been harping over for decades, but whereas Rogue One made it’s fix to a piece of Star Wars canon (why does the Death Star have such an obvious weakness?) a riveting story, that would just come off as eye-rolling.
I don’t think these two were the wrong choice to direct a Star Wars movie, but Ron Howard isn’t a bad choice either. His movie will probably be a little safer, and more in line with what Disney wants. To be fair, though, we are in the Phase I of Disney’s Star Wars universe. After Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX, we’ll probably get those more outside-the-box Star Wars films. Ones starring all our favorite bounty hunters. An exploration of the Old Republic. How did Mace Windu get his purple lightsaber!? The possibilities are endless. But now, Disney still wants to ensure their product has longevity, and if this anthology film was to fall apart, it would’ve hurt their chances of making new ones, restricting them to only following the adventures of Luke’s great-great grand-kids or a Palpatine clone or something basic like that.