Han Solo
The "Star Wars" franchise began in 1977 with "Episode IV: A New Hope." (Image via Stalker Magazine)
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Han Solo
The "Star Wars" franchise began in 1977 with "Episode IV: A New Hope." (Image via Stalker Magazine)

The newest “Star Wars” installment proves that the franchise is slowly dying.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” hit theaters this past Memorial Day weekend, but it was met with historically low ratings and box office sales. The Han Solo origin story simply fell short, and it proved that Disney needs to stop cranking out new installments to the franchise.

“Solo” tells the pedigree of “Star Wars’” novelty badass, Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich. The film is star-studded — Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson and, of course, Han Solo’s sidekick, Chewbacca, all make appearances.

It’s not the casting that makes this stand-alone so cringe-worthy, though. In fact, it almost seems as though this movie was destined for greatness if it hadn’t been released 41 years after the world was officially introduced to Han Solo.

Han Solo Star Wars franchise
Since 1977, “Star Wars” has had three trilogies, two anthology films, an animated film and three TV films. (Image via LATF USA)

The film, as a chapter of the elongated “Star Wars” epic, is a letdown, even with low expectations already plaguing it before its release. The opportunity to create an extension of fascinating Han Solo knowledge was at Ron Howard’s fingertips, yet he managed to let it slip.

For fans that grew up with the original trilogy, the slew of movies that came in the late 1990s and early 2000s were already more than enough. And though, despite the fact that the current films (“The Force Awakens,” “The Last Jedi”) have begun breeding an entirely new generation of “Star Wars” fans, die-hards can’t help but wonder: Why are all these new films even necessary?

The problem with “Solo” is that it does absolutely nothing for the “Star Wars” storyline. Sure, an argument can be made that it gives fans a fair amount of background as to how Han Solo became such a rugged and reckless individual. Maybe, if anything, it gives this new generation of fans a reason to feel attached to Han Solo (but realistically, if that’s the case, just watch the original “Star Wars” instead).

While “Solo” is an entertaining watch, a very small percentage of fans were truly curious about his origins. It might have been questioned at some point, but the background information given in the original movies seemed to suffice all this time. There was no Twitter campaign or official hashtag urging someone to make this movie, and Harrison Ford never called Disney to demand it be made. In short, no one asked for “Solo.”

The probable reason behind the creation of “Solo” is, of course, money. The film is kid-friendly (with the exception of a few violent scenes, but that’s normal for “Star Wars”), and it gave Disney a good-enough reason to reboot classic characters like Lando Calrissian, not to mention Darth Maul’s cameo at the end.

With a new “Star Wars” movie comes new toys, merchandise, brand deals and press. So Disney most likely made “Solo” with the largest intention of Disney continuing to bank on the world’s favorite space opera franchise. With the way Disney is capitalizing on “Star Wars,” it’s difficult for fans not to perceive the films as a cash cow more than an actual story.

Han Solo Star Wars
After almost quitting the franchise, George Lucas decided to create the prequel trilogy when he saw the burst of CGI technological expansion in the early 1990s. (Image via Social Moms)

Looking at the recent movies as a long-winded excuse to cash in on the billion-dollar franchise is enough to ruin someone’s perception on any upcoming film. Disney is notorious for insistently milking a franchise until everyone’s sick of it, and that’s just what they’re doing to “Star Wars.”

Finances and capitalism aside, these new “Star Wars” films are slowly ruining the original storyline. When it was first released, “Star Wars” was a wacky yet lovable cultural phenomenon that no one was prepared for. It was simple. The goal was to defeat the Empire and, as a result, the good guys came out on top. But now there’s a slew of films both preceding and following the original trilogy that seems to complicate everything.

Forget Episodes I, II and III (the “prequels” most fans would like to overlook anyway), and ponder the necessity of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.” There’s no doubt that these films are entertaining extensions, but it harms the knowledge everyone already had about “Star Wars.” Better yet, what about “Rogue One,” the standalone predecessor to “A New Hope”?

For hardcore “Star Wars” fans, the more recent films are definitely entertaining enough to sit through. But the fact that “Solo” peaked at a mere $101 million opening weekend (“Revenge of the Sith” made $158.5 million in four days) is enough to show that the more Disney pushes “Star Wars,” the less people care.

Perhaps what continues to catapult the “Star Wars” franchise is the nostalgia factor. In the same sphere, it’s possible that the nostalgia factor is what Disney tries to cash in on as it continues to create films that, once again, nobody asks for.

Nostalgia can only carry the installments so far though, and it’s beginning to wear thin. In fact, the news that Disney is planning to release a Boba Fett standalone in 2020 only further drives the point that it’s time for “Star Wars” to end. Not to mention, who even wants a Boba Fett origin story?

But the nostalgia aspect perpetuated by Disney is in no way a coincidence. After the rather violent death of Han Solo in “The Force Awakens” (spoiler alert, by the way), it’s possible Disney wanted to find another way to continue cashing in on his character. Han Solo’s death hit fans right when they weren’t expecting it, and maybe “Solo” was a way to revive the connection they felt when he was first introduced.

Although there is a certain cringe factor to “Star Wars’” current state, that doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to enjoy the movies Disney is churning out. “Solo” is in no way perfect, but it is an amusing prequel featuring some of the original “Star Wars” characters that fans already love.

Although the film isn’t immune to criticism just because it’s a product of the franchise, it’s understandable why some fans found comfort and joy in it. Instead, it’s the principle of the movie that rubs fans the wrong way.

As a standalone film, “Solo” is an entertaining galactic action blockbuster with tinges of nostalgia scattered through. As an installment of the “Star Wars” films, “Solo” is a pathetic attempt to bring attention — and money — to the 10-movie-long franchise.

Writer Profile

Melissa Lee

SUNY Oswego

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