Solo is Actually a Big Deal For the Star Wars Franchise

Solo’s ratings were so low, but it is actually not as bad as they say.

by Brad Langhoff

Staff Star Wars Junkie

Despite lackluster revenue and depressed Rotten Tomato scores, Solo: A Star Wars Story may have had more impact on the future of the Star Wars franchise than most any other review’s have been able or — from what an obstinate friend’s boycott’s suggests — willing to realize. Precedents matter, and Solo set a couple of important precedents without our noticing of it, likely because The Last Jedi’s successful attempts at subverting both Star Wars and general film tropes left us looking for much more conspicuous changes to love, or in my friend’s case, to make hateful Reddit comments about.

First off, Solo, although viewed as a swashbuckling adventure film reminiscent of the serialized space operas of yore, is actually very much a biopic at heart. Such is entirely alien to the Star Wars universe. With its unabashed time skips and emphasis on defining moments of Han’s coming to age, rather than on aesthetically pleasing space battles and on more symbolic gestures imbued with practically religious meaning, Solo quietly but boldly etched itself out to be more akin to Aviator than to Flash Gordon.

This is not all that Solo does differently from its operatic forebears. Most of the films are emotionally austere, even in light of The Last Jedi and its Marvel-esque humor and tear-inducing scenes. Solo, meanwhile, has an unprecedented and pervasive humanity to it that sets itself in relief to the other films. The romance is unabashed, Lando and Han clumsy in their young and developing identities, and the moral hazard presented in Han’s naïveté much more relatable than ones involved in maintaining elitist religious institutions and poor master-apprentice dynamics. For once, that galaxy from far, far away had come down to Earth.

This is all not to say that Solo had no flaws; it most certainly had them: the plot was perfectly predictable and the film just seemed to miss its crucial emotional high notes. And some of its relatively new features, such as moral complexity and humor that’s, well, anything but deadpan, are continuations of the developments seen in other, recent films. However, Solo’s eeking out a fairly positive Rotten Tomato score of 70% as a biopic is significant, as the franchise is neither old nor young. It’s old enough to warrant an expansion of genre and flair, and young enough to desperately need an experiment in such expansion to succeed. Fortunately, Solo casts a new hope for what seems to be endless, future directors who will have to contend with the fact that Star Wars will eventually have to do more than continue its serialization of the Skywalker opera – my friend be damned.

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