You know what’s a beautiful, wholesome thing? Fandom. I think of my frequenting New York Comic Con every October, and for as much as I love rummaging through longboxes of comics and waiting in line to play video games, I see people just pleased as punch in their cosplay and explosions of nerdy glee.
In an age where the Internet spews all kinds of toxicity towards film and entertainment it supposedly loves, as well as individuals who work so passionately to realize these gargantuan undertakings, it can be refreshing to see a rowdy fanbase not decry their “favorite” franchises, but simply ask for more.
While perusing Twitter the other day you might have seen any number of strange things, but hard to ignore was the massive #MakeSolo2Happen trend that gained traction in the days celebrating Solo‘s one-year anniversary. The means of making a film on the scale of, well, pretty much anything Disney does these days are tremendous, so it would be easy to dismiss the movement as a pipe dream. Still, a little directorial acknowledgement must feel nice.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) May 23, 2019
Now, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a bit of a sore subject depending on who you ask. Largely viewed as the straw that broke the tauntaun’s back, the scruffy nerf herder’s big break struggled at the box office (as much as a movie made for hundreds of millions can “struggle”), with subsequent shuffles in Disney and Lucasfilm’s planned Star Wars lineup presumed to be tied to the fatigue induced by the film. The franchise is suffering from bloat, with some of our own writers here at Flixist feeling the weight of a Star Destroyer. And when Luke Skywalker himself says enough is enough, it’s, well, enough.
The Last Jedi went into wide release on December 15, 2017. Solo opened on May 25, 2018. 162 days to wait. 162 days to heal. The Last Jedi was met with a backlash from many fans, who were personally and maliciously assaulted by Rian Johnson’s film. So much in fact that, hey, they had a petition too! But people were so offended they wanted a remake. Go figure.
Full disclosure, I think both The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens are mediocre movies, and as parts of a trilogy simply aren’t telling me a story that I feel is worthy of continuing the Star Wars legacy. Things feel arbitrary, ideas seem to be panning out too little too late, and Star Wars as a whole just isn’t the no-brainer source of joy it once was for me. But me? My wounds healed faster than diaper-Luke in a bacta tank. Some others? Not so much.
So with that deep, searing pain felt by fans in mind, here comes Ron Howard swooping in to save Solo, the cast here for a good time, some great sets and costumes and guess what? People were having none of it! The commercial underperformance and dark cloud that hovered over Solo gave Disney a pause. “Maybe Star Wars isn’t invincible..?
But you know what’s a pretty good movie? Solo: A Star Wars Story!
The #MakeSolo2Happen movement is a casual but passionate wave of fans who in fact did enjoy Solo, a movie that myself and our own Matthew Razak liked a bit too. Where some “fans” were still seeing red from all the Snoke and mirrors of Last Jedi, blasters most-definitely set to “kill,” others were able to enjoy Solo for the ride that it was.
Bradford Young’s gorgeous photography might have been marred by some technical difficulties, but it’s there, and it’s gorgeous. From dimly-lit back alleys and gambling dens to the sleek lights of a crimelord’s party ship, I say with the utmost sincerity that I think Solo is likely the best-looking of the recent Star Wars films. Both in terms of framing and lighting and technical jargon, but also Donald Glover’s great wardrobe as a suave, young Lando.
And there’s something emblematic about it being “young” Lando. Solo, for all its late-game hints at a dark criminal underbelly (possibly to be explored if we #MakeSolo2Happen) and literally-dark visuals, is simply about being fun. It’s an adventure, about a cocky young man who would eventually become a legend. It throws you into the war scenes (which, I often forget myself, are incredible) and then into the subsequent criminality in ways The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly tracks its lust for gold across a Civil War battlefield, or the way Kelly’s Heroes don’t care about fighting the Nazis–they’re just in it for the loot! It’s swashbuckling and it doesn’t much care to weave an epic yarn, yet for its “small” story, we sure do get an eyeful of the galaxy.
I mentioned fandom earlier. You know what’s an annoying, entitled, nasty thing? Fandom.
#MakeSolo2Happen comes at an interesting time. I mentioned toxicity earlier, and the past few weeks have given us a glimpse into the mind of pop cultural crusaders. With Game of Thrones‘ final season meeting vitriol from fans, and the casting of Robert Pattinson as Batman being dismissed before cameras start to roll, the loads of love for our boy Han is a nice reminder that sometimes, rabid fans aren’t always angry rabid fans. Petitions to remake Thrones‘ eighth season and remove the Patt from the Bat are already underway, and it’s neither infuriating nor frustrating; don’t let the whiners weigh you down. You want a Game of Thrones reshoot? Terrific! Let’s get to spending those hundreds of millions of yours! I’ll start wrangling those King’s Landing extras, someone call the Khaleesi. How long are your scripts?
In an era where creators are being maligned and put on the defense for creating, it’s nice to see that some people just want to #MakeSolo2Happen.