In 1997, my father took me to see the Special Edition release of Star Wars: A New Hope in theaters. It was my very first Star War, and instantly, I became infatuated with Han Solo. He was a morally ambiguous, sharp-mouthed space smuggler of indeterminate age, with a tuft of chest hair peeking out from his white space shirt. I was 7, and new to love. I dressed up as him for several of the following Halloweens. It was all very confusing.
The Han Solo obsession lasted for many years, and to this day, the sight of his space vest makes my heart quicken. So it is with great trepidation that I approach the arrival of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which purports to tell Han Solo’s backstory, but does not star a digital recreation of Young Harrison Ford, even though that is probably technological possible. Instead, it stars Alden Ehrenreich, who was perfectly fine in the rather not good Warren Beatty film Rules Don’t Apply, but apparently had so much trouble mimicking Ford’s signature gruff they had to call an acting coach to the Solo set. The movie comes out Memorial Day Weekend, but up until now, we’ve only gotten quick snippets of Ehrenreich as Solo. Today, though they released the extended Becoming Solo featurette (see above), and I just don’t know how to feel.
On the one hand, Emilia Clarke, who reportedly plays Solo’s childhood friend Q’ira, looks quite fierce. And, of course, there’s Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Leia missed out:
On the other hand, I’m having trouble getting behind Ehrenreich as Solo. It’s hard to recreate a character as beloved, iconic, and eternally taped to the walls of my childhood bedroom as Han Solo (though I did once try, via a Voodoo doll-making kit.)
Remember when Vince Vaughn did Norman Bates? That was bad. When Colin Farrell did Total Recall? Very bad. When someone other than Robin Williams voiced the Genie in Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar? Downright traumatic. Ehrenreich does seem to have picked up Solo’s smirk, puffery, and penchant for poor grammar, if not quite his essence, and I expect audiences will very much enjoy watching Clarke take him down a peg, plus Chewie can still totally get it. FINGERS CROSSED.
Anyway, we will never have Young Harrison Ford back, but we will probably have two more Solo films (as Ehrenreich accidentally revealed in a recent interview with Esquire) along with 70 million new Star Wars films, TV shows, video games, action figures, lunch boxes, sex toys, and blog posts written by ornery OG Star Wars fans who are still bitter no one’s optioned any of the fan fiction they wrote in elementary school. I am still accepting offers, if anyone’s curious.