I’m going to start by saying that if you haven’t seen the Star Wars “Solo” film yet, then I feel you should. It wasn’t at all awful, and the story was a pretty solid one. I have my complaints, but they didn’t necessarily ruin my overall enjoyment of the film.
But regardless of the fact that the film was not at all bad, it still underperformed in the markets. As the Daily Wire has reported, the film is yet to make half of its $375 million budget back. The shock of Solo’s lackluster return has caused Disney to put the “Star Wars Stories” on hold in the meantime.
While I was hopeful for the announced Boba Fett movie, my reaction to the announcement that they wouldn’t keep going was oddly one of relief. Understand that I love Star Wars, but I’d rather love it for it was, not what it is.
But what is it’s problem? What did Solo do wrong?
Nothing major. I have some nitpicks as to the character choice for Han Solo, and the politicization of the droids, but otherwise, the movie was relatively solid. Same can be said for Rogue One before that. A solid movie that had a very “Magnificent 7,” doomed hero feel to it.
The problem isn’t necessarily with Solo or Rogue One, but with the main story. At this time, the Star Wars films currently being made with Kathleen Kennedy at the helm are a despicable mess laced with political messaging and nods to the cause du jour. The galaxy far, far away feels too close to home, and it contains all the most annoying parts of it.
For one, many Star Wars fans find it odd that Daisy Ridley’s character “Rey” is somehow so powerful with the force that she can defeat everyone she comes across, be they a highly trained Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) or the most powerful Jedi living, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in single combat. Rey’s character is the ultimate Mary Sue who, if not for her supporting cast, would be a boring character. She can do all and defeat all. Her character arch is relatively shallow, and too often anticlimactic.
And while J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” was essentially a predictable rehash of “A New Hope,” it was Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi” that really had fans heading for the exits. Horrible plot direction, shoe-horned in characters, and the heinous misuse of established characters had fans in a virtual riot. Luke Skywalker was nothing like the character we had grown up with, Rey was far more powerful than she had any right to be given her single day of training, and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) may be a ridiculous character I wish never existed on par with Jar Jar Binks.
Even Hamill couldn’t hold back his disdain for Johnson and the direction of the movie during the filming and consistently expressed it in interviews. One such interview was during SXSW, where Hamill makes it a point to highlight how Johnson’s philosophy for the movie was to kill the past and even going so far as to write that into Kylo Ren’s lines, to which Johnson agrees and says “I’m trying.”
The problem is, the past is where the answer lies for the franchise’s success, and yet the people continuing on the legacy have no respect for the place Star Wars came from. They would rather treat the old characters as disposable, and push forward with the new cast, half of which is comprised of dismissible characters.
Also, as Ben Shapiro wrote accurately, much of the blame for the failure of the modern Star Wars films lies in its social justice adherent producer Kathleen Kennedy, who is so focused on creating strong female characters that she forgot to create good ones.
The reception for TLJ was so horrid that now producer Abrams came to the films defense and blamed the hatred for it on — and I’m not kidding — misogyny. Abrams kicked a hornet’s nest here, and ended up making it even worse, and confirming far too many fears surrounding the film moving into a social justice political realm. He just made it so much worse.
(If you’d like to read my response to Abrams, as well as some further critiques to TLJ, please follow the link here.)
All of this has left an overwhelmingly bitter taste in the mouths of Star Wars fans. As I’ve covered ad nauseam, introducing politics into the realm of escapism results in people turning away and finding something better to do. This applies to anything from sports, to shopping. Star Wars fans don’t want social justice in the movies, and the results of them forcing it down our throats is that many have turned away.
Solo — not a bad movie for all intents and purposes — went largely ignored likely due to the fact that many don’t want to reward Disney for turning a beloved franchise into a sad pile of bad stories, bad characters, and political messages. On top of that, they’re afraid that if they go to another Star Wars movie they’ll just have their heart broken again, and the fandom has had that happen one too many times, ever since the prequels.
If you ask me, it sounds like Disney execs put the wrong films on hold. Rogue One and Solo were just fine. What they need to do is reexamine what they’re doing with the main films, fire those who are poisoning it (Kennedy and Abrams) and push forward with a fresh, clean slate that will deserve the respect of fans both new and old.
If they don’t, then Star Wars will die a tragic but well-deserved death within the American film legacy.