In recent weeks it has been well reported that the directors of the Star Wars Han Solo film, Lord and Miller were fired from the production, merely a few weeks away from the end of principal photography.
While we may never know in detail the exact events which transpired, there have been a number of leaks and reports indicating a few key issues with the troubled production. First and foremost appears to be Lord and Miller’s unwillingness to compromise their vision for the film when creative direction starting coming in from Lucasfilm; something that Gareth Edwards also received on Rogue One, but was far more willing to compromise on.
Lord and Miller come from a strong comedic background, having made films such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and 21 Jump Street. While their background doesn’t preclude them from being able to make a film with a more serious tone, by all accounts this wasn’t where they were heading with Han Solo, and the idea that they’d be able to bring a goofy, comedic take to the film seems to have always been destined to end badly.
Reportedly, the directors encourage dynamic film-making on set, often making use of improvisation. This approach appears to have clashed with script writer Lawrence Kasdan, who previously worked on Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens. Concerns appear to have been raised from Kasdan’s camp claiming that Lord and Miller didn’t understand the Han Solo character, with a goofy “Ace Ventura” take being delivered rather than a sarcastic and selfish take.
Further to Kasdan’s concerns, reportedly Alden Ehrenreich had also shown concern at the creative direction of the film. His performance was already under question with additional acting coaches brought in to work with him. How much of this was due to Ehrenreich’s unhappiness with the “comedic” direction he was receiving is unclear.
The fate of Lord and Miller seemed inevitable, the only real surprise is that it took so long to happen. It’s interesting to think how much creative flexibility Lord and Miller thought they might have received on a property with so much invested in it and so many stakeholders to please. While there might be a corner of the galaxy ripe for artistic interpretation and a new direction, the Han Solo film doesn’t appear to be it.
Ron Howard has been brought on to finish the film; after the turmoil already experienced, Lucasfilm have turned to a trustworthy and well established ally to get the film across the finish line. There have been further announcements of additional weeks of filming in order to course-correct the final cut. While Ron Howard’s directing career has been mixed, he’s a proven, competent film-maker. These qualities alongside a Kasdan written script are likely to give as good a result as Lucasfilm could hope for.
We will have to wait and see how things turn out with the Han Solo film, but whether we need a Han Solo film, is the most pertinent question that should have been asked before all this.
Not only is Han Solo one of the most beloved characters in film history, but there’s little a Han Solo prequel film can add in the context of Episode IV. The original Star Wars film is as much a Han Solo film as anything else, the character’s progression from smuggler/rogue to hero of the rebellion has already been well depicted, and with Force Awakens that arc came full circle with the new trilogy of films building on the foundation of Han Solo’s legacy.
The Han Solo film may well fill in some background detail such as the events of Lando and Han’s friendship, how Han acquired the Falcon, and possibly even how he came to have a bounty on his head from Jabba the Hutt (even he gets boarded sometimes). But in terms of a meaningful arc for the character, it’s already been done. There’s only so far they can take it before it’ll need to blend in with that memorable cantina scene on Tatooine. We already know the information we need in terms of his background that has a purpose in the classic trilogy. In this context, it seems there could be other standalone Star Wars film ideas that might be better placed to receive the big picture treatment; Knights of the Old Republic, anyone?