Why we're worried about the Han Solo movie

It feels weird to be worried about a Star Wars movie, and yet here we are. Solo: A Star Wars Story is due in theaters in late May, and every week, it seems there's new cause for concern about the franchise's second anthology installment. From its troubled production to the story it's telling, it looks like we could be in for a train wreck of prequel trilogy proportions. 

Don't get us wrong: nobody wants this movie to be a letdown. Unfortunately, a number of factors surrounding the film have left us suspicious that this very well might be the case. Here's a rundown of all the reasons we're worried about Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The directors were replaced

Reshoots are pretty common in this era of blockbuster filmmaking. Adjustments always need to be made after a principal shoot has wrapped, and sometimes a new director is even brought in—in fact, it happened with the first Star Wars standalone movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which added director Tony Gilroy to take over for Gareth Edwards. That being said, directors being replaced mid-shoot is a far more troubling sign—and something for which Solo: A Star Wars Story is now infamous.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, of The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street fame were hired to helm Solo due to their great track record and knack for whimsical comedy-heavy action. Unfortunately, we may never know what their version of this picture would have looked like, because six months into production, they were fired and replaced with Ron Howard

A new director coming on definitely seems like a sign that the film needed saving. More troublingly, the movie's shoot was already near completion—meaning that whatever had already been shot couldn't have been saved in reshoots. The studio thought it needed a full-on course correction at the eleventh hour, and there's no telling if even a filmmaker as experienced as Howard is capable of steering that big a ship back on course on such short notice.

Alden Ehrenreich needed an acting coach on set

Be it nailing a tricky accent or learning a martial art for stunt work, it's very common for an actor to have an instructor brought onto a movie set to help them learn the skills necessary to really nail a performance. However, it's an entirely different story when the instructor in question is, well, an acting coach.

Alden Ehrenreich, the young actor taking Solo's reins from Harrison Ford, is largely unknown at this point, though he's turned in some good supporting performances in movies such as Stoker and Hail, Caesar! He beat out the likes of Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller for the role, so he must have done something right during auditions, but apparently it didn't translate to the shoot. 

A few months into production, it was reported that Ehrenreich's performance wasn't clicking—to the point that an acting coach had to be hired to help him figure out the role. Now, to be clear, acting coaches aren't entirely uncommon on film sets. However, Ehrenreich's was hired significantly later in the shoot than usual, meaning that even after months of filming, his performance still wasn't working. It reportedly garnered comparisons to Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura, and while Carrey is great as Ace Ventura, that isn't something a Han Solo performance should resemble. At all.

Deadpool 2 moved up to compete with it

Speaking of Deadpool 2, a recent change of scheduling saw the film moved up a few weeks. Originally slated for a June 1 release, the film is now hitting theaters on May 18—a mere week before Solo. Now, Deadpool was a huge hit and the character has built up a tremendously passionate fanbase over the last several years. But even the most diehard fans would admit that Mr. Pool's popularity doesn't hold a candle to the Star Wars franchise. So why move his movie up to compete directly with a new installment in one of the most popular film sagas of all time? The implication is that Fox doesn't think Solo will put up much of a fight.

New Star Wars movies have a history of staying at the top for a good long while. The last three have pulled at least two straight weekends in the number one slot. You'd think with all the hype behind the first movie, Fox would want to give Deadpool 2 some breathing room on either side of its release to get a strong box office run, so the fact that they're moving it up to compete directly with Solo implies that they don't think Solo will hinder its box office success at all. That's a move that wouldn't be made without some careful, calculated consideration beforehand. It says far more about a lack of faith in Solo than it does Deadpool 2.

The summary makes it sound like a snoozer

Movie synopses are often vague, summing up nothing the audience couldn't glean from a trailer or basic intuition, so expecting Solo's official story summary to be a compelling read or contain any major revelations is setting yourself up for disappointment. Nonetheless, upon looking over the official synopsis of the film, it's hard not to respond with a resounding meh.

The summary confirms that portions of Solo will focus on how Han won the Millennium Falcon from the other greatest outlaw in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian, as well as how Han and Chewbacca became the best bros this side of the Outer Rim. That's pretty tame territory for a Han Solo movie, if we're being honest. It tackles the exact subject matter you'd expect, which is a bit of a letdown, especially in the wake of The Last Jedi and Rogue One, neither of which played it safe in the slightest in regards to the stories they told. To go from that to the most predictable plot possible is anticlimactic at best, and downright boring at worst. Furthermore, it's subject matter that's already been covered in Extended Universe media, and while that may no longer be canon, it's still a storyline fans have already seen play out. Tackling new, unexpected ground would have at least given viewers something to be excited about.

Much of the film was reshot on a very tight turnaround

Movies take a very long time to make. A few months are typically spent on the principal shoot, with another six or so dedicated to post-production. Given this, perhaps the most troubling detail of the directorial issues surrounding Solo is that when Lord and Miller were replaced by Ron Howard, they'd already been shooting the movie for six months.

This means that all the time Howard spent re-directing the film was originally earmarked for postproduction work like editing and effects. On top of that, Howard has apparently reshot as much as 80 percent of the film. He hasn't so much been doing reshoots and adjustments as he's shot an entirely new film—all in the time the movie was supposed to have been being edited and finalized in post-production. And while the principal shoot just recently wrapped, there's already a round of reshoots scheduled, meaning Solo won't have its final shoot finished until roughly three months before the film debuts in May. It's a very tight turnaround time for a movie, even for a director as experienced as Howard, and it's hard to see how this will do anything but diminish the quality of the final product. If Solo turns out to be good, it'll be in spite of its chaotic production, not because of it. 

The script was reportedly unworkable

A good script is often the basis of a classic film, though the opposite is just as true. If the story and the way it's told isn't up to snuff, the director, actors, and editor are going to have trouble; countless bad movies have problems that begin in the scripting phase. Unfortunately, if rumors are to be believed, you can already count Solo among them.

The screenplay, by longtime Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan, has been described as "unworkable," which puts anybody directing the movie at a deficit to begin with. Kasdan has been an integral part of the Star Wars franchise for decades, which makes it especially surprising to hear that his script is one of the biggest issues with the film. It's the sort of flaw that can't be fixed regardless of who's at the helm. It's an uphill battle to shoot a movie while trying to figure out how to make the script work to begin with, and would largely explain a great deal of the issues on the set, from the prolonged shoots and reshoots to the directorial issues.

Explaining too much is a bad idea

One of the reasons Star Wars is special is owed to the way the original films built a sense of shared history—a sense of a world that existed long before the story told in the movies started. The films achieve this through everything from set dressing to minute details of character interactions. Throwaway lines open up worlds of possibilities, and speculation as to what they could mean. 

Sometimes, these implied histories benefit from being expanded. Han's shady past with Jabba the Hutt is a great example of this—it was alluded to in A New Hope, and came back around to bite him in Empire Strikes Back. But in crafting an entire origin story for Han, the filmmakers seem to have failed to realize that some things are better left unexplained.

Solo has promised revelations ranging from Han's real name to what the Kessel Run is. Certain ground being covered in a Solo origin (like his friendship with Chewie and how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando) is inevitable. But the Kessel Run? Explaining how he got his name? This skews dangerously close to revealing too much about a character whose appeal largely hinges on his shady past—emphasis on shady. The prequel trilogy stands as a fair argument that some things (we're looking at you, midi-chlorians) are better left to the imagination.

You can't please everyone

Divisive as it may be, much of The Last Jedi's acclaim is owed to the singularity of its vision. Director Rian Johnson seems to have been unconcerned with making a movie that would deliver everything that every single Star Wars fan wanted from Episode VIII, and sticking to his vision is what makes the film so special to so many people. The opposite approach seems to have been taken while making Solo, as much of the conflict surrounding the production appears to be centered around efforts to make a movie that will appeal to all fans of the franchise and the character. There's only one problem: that's impossible.

Han Solo is literally one of the most popular movie characters of all time, and perhaps the single most quotable. He's an icon. As such, the stakes are pretty high for Solo, especially with a new, unproven actor taking over the role from Harrison Ford. The filmmakers are obviously feeling the pressure of doing the character justice, which is completely understandable. But even if the film were technically perfect, some people are bound to be disappointed by it. It's the bitter truth behind even the most diehard of fandoms: you can't please everybody, and trying to do so is a futile quest.

It could invalidate Han's arc

Because of how beloved Han Solo is, it can be difficult to remember that the Han we meet in A New Hope is a selfish sleazeball who only redeems himself at the last minute. By the next film, he's regressed again, more concerned with saving his own skin than he is with helping the Rebellion. His redemption comes in Return of the Jedi, when he finally sticks around, helps the Rebellion defeat the Empire, and works out his relationship with Leia. Han's arc hinges on his moral ambiguity and conflict.

We can't help but wonder how an origin story will affect that story. If Han is portrayed as a good guy in Solo, it's going to invalidate his tremendously powerful (and ultimately poignant) evolution. It hinges on him starting off as kind of a bad guy; the last thing we need is a revelation that he was actually good all along.

And that's the thing Disney and Lucasfilm seem to have failed to realize. The person Han Solo is when Luke and Ben stumble across him in a grimy cantina is the character who started the journey that made fans love him in the first place—and the person he'd become when it ended made that story even more resonant. It's difficult to imagine that adding an even earlier chapter will have any kind of positive impact on Han's Star Wars legacy.