Last week the news broke that directing duo, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, had left the team creating Disney’s next standalone Star Wars movie, based on everyone’s favourite renegade smuggler, Han Solo.
The pair left the project due to apparent ‘creative differences’ with producer and Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan. The rumour-mill exploded into life as to the exact reason behind Lord and Miller’s departure so late on in the production of the movie, as filming has been underway since January 2017.
Experienced director, Ron Howard, who has taken charge of such films as Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and Rush is set to pick up where Lord and Miller left off, with under a year remaining until the May 2018 release date.
I’ve always been sceptical about this film since it was revealed in 2015. I’ve never really seen the purpose of learning about Han Solo’s backstory and I feel that we know all we need to about the character when we first meet him and his furry companion, Chewbacca, in the Mos Eisley Cantina. My biggest worry is that any spin-off could take away from the image of that character first seen in 1977, one of the most popular and iconic in the Star Wars franchise.
If done well however, it could definitely be an interesting insight into the character, and this is where the directorial debate comes in. I am a huge fan of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, as their work on the Jump Street films and The Lego Movie has really set them apart as leading talents in their field. The issue with the directing pair is that they are known for their comedy. Now, while this may not be a problem in another film perhaps, Han Solo has never been seen as a comedic character. He is a sarcastic and selfish, narcissist when he is first introduced and showing a younger version of this character in a comedic light would simply not fit, so I can understand why Disney and Lucasfilm have decided to part ways with the directors.
Their replacement, Ron Howard, is a very dependable choice and it’s safe to say that the picture is in safe hands. However, it is undoubtedly detrimental for the film that the change has come about so late on in the game. Most of the work has already been done by the original directors and if the tone of the film is now set to change with Howard, then it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see this film go through extensive re-shoots much akin to those seen in Lucasfilm’s first Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One.
While this intervention by the studio could easily be seen as suppressing Lord and Miller’s creativity, a comedic Han Solo film just simply wouldn’t work. It’s a shame for the directing duo as they are both widely regarded as two of the biggest talents in the modern industry.
The most intriguing element to this debate is why Lord and Miller were selected in the first place. If there was any hint that their style would not fit with the film, why were they kept on for so much of the production? Maybe we’ll have the full answer as to why they were let go in time, but for now the focus has to go onto what their replacement can achieve in a what is a very short space of time.
It’s going to be a monumental task for Howard to complete the film on schedule, especially if re-shoots were to take place, but I have no doubts about his talent as a director and I feel that he will create a film more fitting with the feel of the Star Wars universe than Phil Lord and Chris Miller, providing there are no more issues surrounding this film.