Though it came out on top at the box office for its second week running, Solo had the cards stacked against it from the beginning (check out our review here). Facing market oversaturation of Star Wars content, criticism of lead actor Alden Ehrenreich and fans’ backlash, the primary complaint about Solo is simple: “why did we need this movie?”
And all I can ask is: why do we need any movie?
I understand where the upset comes from. The appeal of Han Solo as a swashbuckling space smuggler came from the mystery that surrounded him. We didn’t know his history—we just knew he was cool. And for those who wanted to learn more about him, there are mountains of Star Wars content in the extended universe: novels, television shows, graphic novels, and more. Die-hard fans felt their toes trod upon when The Force Awakens declared the extended universe non-canon, and Solo follows in that tradition by superseding The Han Solo Trilogy novels, written by A.C. Crispin and originally published in 1998. If you wanted to learn more about Han, the information was there; if not, so be it.
So why did we need Solo? We didn’t. But we also didn’t need The Last Jedi, or The Force Awakens, or the prequel trilogy. We didn’t need the original trilogy, either! We don’t watch movies because they’re good for our health; we watch them to have fun. And, frankly, Solo delivers. It’s a thrilling ride in the Falcon with all your old friends and some new ones, too. It gets more political than its predecessors, but all movies have gotten more political in this age of hyper-relevance to our present day. It had humor and heart, and it didn’t take liberties with Han’s character (we had all figured out he was a romantic at heart halfway through A New Hope). Personally, I don’t take issue with Ehrenreich’s performance—he shouldn’t have been a perfect Harrison Ford impersonator in the first place, and no one could perfectly replicate Han Solo because no one's hair will be as bad.
This isn’t to say Star Wars has no message or ideology, which it most certainly does, but its primary job is to lead audiences on a thrilling ride, fighting bad guys and flying spaceships and winning the day. We don’t watch these movies to dissect carefully their sociopolitical statements—we watch them because we want to use the Force! We want to run a rebellion while rocking wacky space buns! We want to make that trench run! Maybe we didn’t need Solo: A Star Wars Story, but Han didn’t need to save the day as Luke made the trench run, either. And where would have that gotten the galaxy?
Agree? Disagree? Duke it out in the comments below! (I've got a bad feeling about this.)