Controversy and justifiable doubt has engulfed Disney’s recent decision to fire Miller and Lord, the up-until-now directors of the as-yet-untitled Han Solo Star Wars movie. Fans vocalized their arguements against the ruling and apparent suppression of creative freedom, whereas others understand Kathleen Kennedy and co. were entirely justified in taking back the reins. How will this decision fare for the future of the film and the Star Wars franchise as we know it?
On the surface, this decision seems disastrous. After all, late-stage studio intervention and editing are what led to the awkwardly-paced and Joker-lite Suicide Squad and the ultimately toneless Ant-Man, while the last-minute reshoots of Rogue One meant we were never able to see Gareth Edwards’ original vision come to fruition.
“Star Wars has always had an element of comedy but always remains focuses on the story being told. . .”
Ultimately this led to the final version of Rogue One sticking to its guns and playing it a bit too safe. Rogue One delivered the standard set-in-space action blockbuster with just enough nods to the Original Trilogy and one rather impressive 20-minute slice of fan-service to close the film to keep fans interested. Still, it was altogether a tame and soulless of a film. And while we might never know whether Edwards’ version of the movie would have fared any better, Disney’s decision to take control of the movie seems justified. The film was the first ever Star Wars spin-off, after all (those God-awful ’80s Ewok movies do not. . . do not count), and if it flopped, the studio would be hard-pressed justifying making any more.
However, after the lacklustre, if commercially viable, Rogue One, many fans were hoping these so-called ‘Star Wars Stories’ would experiment more with the current format, keeping the franchise fresh – especially important in the current one-movie-a-year climate. As the subject matter of these films seem to be falling short of this (a Han Solo prequel, and continued rumours about that Boba Fett spin-off), it fell to the style of these movies to try something different and rejig the all-too-familiar franchise.
But now, with the firing of Miller and Lord, famed for their improvisational comedy style (their major credits include The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street), have quashed these dreams, too. Despite all these misgivings, however, it seems that KK’s decision just might be justified.
“. . .Miller and Lord were not making an indie movie, but rather one story in a multi-billion-dollar universe. . .”
Star Wars has always had an element of comedy but always remains focuses on the story being told, with some fans even complaining that The Force Awakens focused a little too much on humour. Yes, the Star Wars Story movies might be an excellent way to push the boundaries of what a Star Wars movie can be, but this does not mean they should be genre-defying.
The focus should tilt towards new ways to expand the universe and tell the stories, perhaps by experimenting with more non-classical camera styles (Tarantino in space, anybody?). Especially considering the character that will probably end up being the title of the film in question: Han Solo has never been an overly comedic character. As this film is essentially a prequel to the Han stories we see in the OT, to introduce this element to everybody’s favourite gun-slinging space-cowboy now would mean this new characterisation would clash with how the character appears throughout most of the franchise.
“…the decision to axe Miller and Lord means that the Han Solo movie will not be as ground-breaking as some may have hoped.”
Love them or loathe them, there is no doubt that The Force Awakens and Rogue One have been in general well-received by the critics, showing that Kathleen Kennedy has no doubt long proved she knows what she’s doing in the running of cinema’s favourite franchise. There will always be the question of creative freedom, but it must be remembered that Miller and Lord were not making an indie movie, but rather one story in a multi-billion-dollar universe, with an already established style to which they were expected to comply.
Unfortunately, the decision to axe Miller and Lord means that the Han Solo movie will not be as ground-breaking as some may have hoped. Although it is possible Disney is only dodging the bullet that could have otherwise been shot down at their own two feet. And on the subject of shooting, if Miller and Lord made Han Solo shoot first, they would have done so for comedic, rather than dramatic, effect – and who would want to see that?
Featured image – Screengrab from Star Wars Episode IV
Media Courtesy of LucasFilm Ltd.