A 'Star Wars' Han Solo Trilogy Would Be the Very Definition of Franchise Fatigue
We haven't even seen Alden Ehrenreich on screen as the young version of Star Wars' beloved smuggler Han Solo, but Disney might already be getting cocky. According to a report from the New York Daily News, Ehrenreich has signed a three-picture deal with the studio, which could mean the Star Wars cinematic universe will feature a Han Solo trilogy in some form.
Disney hasn't confirmed the news themselves, and thus far the studio has just one Han Solo-led film on the cards which is slated to be released in 2018. Hopefully, that will be the only one about Han Solo.
While the studio's willingness to explore the Star Wars universe with anthology films — starting with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, out later this year — isn't inherently bad, these hypothetical Han movies pose a problem. Multiple spinoffs about a character audiences have known for four movies over the span of five decades is a deeply unoriginal prospect. That's antithetical to the unique storytelling and characters that made Star Wars a cultural phenomenon.
What's made the revamped Star Wars movie franchise compelling has been its new, inclusive cast of characters. The Force Awakens features Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey and Finn, respectively, and Felicity Jones stars as Rebel fighter Jyn Erso in the upcoming Rogue One. Despite certain misogynistic detractors online, the new leads have been met with a great deal of praise and excitement for the franchise's future.
Rogue One in particular, demonstrates that the franchise can turn a simple notion — one line from A New Hope's opening crawl about how the Rebels stole the plans for the Death Star — into a film that's ripe with new characters and backstory.
So why then would we need to revisit Han Solo for three more films — not even including his rumored cameo in Rogue One?
Disney's CEO Bob Iger has made it clear that there's no end in sight for upcoming Star Wars installments and that's understandable. The series is a veritable cash cow for Disney; the anthology series and episodic trilogy could just be the tip of the iceberg for Star Wars' ever-expanding future on screen.
But that future is contingent on continued fan interest. If Disney wants to avoid the dreaded franchise fatigue, a trilogy about a character that's well-established but potentially overexposed, is a bad plan.
Audiences are more willing than ever to abandon franchises mid-way through. An example of this is what just happened to the Divergent series: After a strong start, followed by diminishing returns, the final installment of the buzzy young adult series is reportedly ending with a direct-to-TV movie. Even the hottest franchise aimed directly at young moviegoers, isn't safe from fatigue.
There's plenty of room for more Star Wars films, but Disney shouldn't be afraid to explore other characters and stories from the expanded universe. Sure, not all these characters would work in solo films, but look at the overwhelmingly positive response to Disney's decision to include a beloved villain from '90s novel lore, Grand Admiral Thrawn, to its animated series Star Wars Rebels. This series knows how to buck the trend while also appeasing a mainstream audience.
Five decades later, it's easy to forget but George Lucas received little financial backing for A New Hope — in part because Star Wars was such a foreign concept to studios. Any Star Wars project can now be met with Disney's plethora of financial resources; that shouldn't mean the franchise reverts to a lack of originality with its reboots and sequels — an increasingly worrisome Hollywood trend. However, a Han Solo trilogy would certainly fit that bill.
Long story short: Disney shouldn't get cocky. They should get creative.