'Solo' May Be a Franchise All Its Own

Actor Alden Ehrenreich confirms he signed on for a trilogy of Han Solo adventures.

Solo

Actor Alden Ehrenreich confirms he signed on for a trilogy of Han Solo adventures.

The folks over at Disney do not enter into business on a wing and a prayer. Ten years of constructing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and four billion dollars spent acquiring the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas have taught the studio the necessity of a well-engineered plan. Directors can come and go as they please, but actors need their timeline nailed down. If you want to be Han Solo, you better arrange your life accordingly.

In a new interview with Esquire, Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s Alden Ehrenreich lets slip that he signed on for multiple appearances as the title character. Specifically:

“Three…I don’t know if that’s officially, uh, public. But—yeah.”

Now, the reality is that this comment could eventually amount to nothing. Rogue One star Felicity Jones was also attached to a three-film contract. Maybe her character pops up in another side-story, or maybe she remains obliterated on the planet Scarif. These contracts are just part of the job. If Solo comes out next month and is a total failure, we’ll never hear from Ehrenreich ever again.

However, this is Star Wars were talking about. Solo will not be a colossal failure. At worst, it will be a mild box office disappointment and a critical letdown. Based on that last trailer, I’m personally starting to get pretty gosh darn excited. Picking up the reigns from Lord and Miller (whom Ehrenreich defends in the interview), Ron Howard seems to have captured the serial-spirit that made the original film the rollicking entertainment that took over the world.

This may change after the film comes out May 25th, but currently I am down for more Solo. In the expanded universe, he has had such a rich life outside of the movies. Brian Daley’s “Han Solo at Star’s End” from 1979 is definitely goofy given a modern context, but it was the first to reveal a smuggler worthy of a saga beyond that of the Skywalkers. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi would eventually domesticate the character, but his appeal requires a rapscallion’s heart. That’s why we keep returning to his past.

The more polite Solo became, the less interesting I found him. That’s the excitement of following the Ehrenreich version. This is the Han Solo that shot first. This is the Han Solo who placed his love for the Millennium Falcon over the safety of some farm kid. Money talks.

What’s even more intriguing to contemplate is what a three-picture deal might mean for other characters.  Donald Glover‘s Lando has already stolen the show from what little we’ve seen of him. I probably didn’t think it possible, but the devilish, untrustworthy charm of Billy Dee Williams is alive and well inside Glover’s wink and a smile. He also has the raddest designer wear in the galaxy.

More Solo means more Lando. Oh hell yes. More Lando hopefully also possibly means more L3-37. That droid sidekick commands the screen, shredding through Stormtroopers with delightful glee. Let us now commence Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s galactic takeover.

There is a lot riding on this film. Not just for Ehrenreich. The shape of the Star Wars franchise will be determined by Solo‘s acceptance. Having suffered a little fanboy negativity with The Last Jedi, Disney could satiate those desperate to cling on to their nostalgic love for the original trilogy with this film.

If Solo smashes the box office, we could be stuck in the past for quite some time. That has its pluses and minuses. We just want a good movie. Deliver that and I don’t really care what era we’re trapped inside.

Update: In an interview with Fandango, Howard addresses the possibility of Solo sequels:

I think the fans are going to define all of that. I mean I think that Lucasfilm and Disney in casting actors, and particularly younger actors, want to see what happens and build upon that. Certainly, they want the commitment from the young actors, but there are no concrete plans. I think there’s been a lot of creative energy and now marketing energy going behind this movie.

I think these are exactly what they’re meant to be, or what they’re designed to be. They’re single movies exploring the galaxy; but of course, as a company, I think they’re going to be very interested to see how people respond to it and take it from there. This whole thing is kind of a cool, ambitious exploration of what the galaxy and the ‘Star Wars’ sensibility can continue to mean to fans.

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.