*Contains no blatant spoilers, but several references to the plot in general.*
I know that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is suffering at the box office and being poorly reviewed, and has one of the worst Rotten Tomatoes scores in Star Wars history. I know there are entire subreddits and Facebook groups awash with shit-talking about the acting, the feminist droid, and the apparent SJW agenda that they feel has ruined the franchise.
Here’s the thing though: Those people are wrong. They’re just dead wrong.
“Solo” was a great–if not excellent–movie. It was never slow, confusing, or overly dialogue-heavy, despite a surprising amount of plot twists and double-crossings.
At the same time, somehow, the action was also never cheesy or cheap. The action fatigue that I usually experience about halfway through a Fast and Furious or John Wick movie never manifested.
Solo was a purely fun and whimsical action story about some space cowboys that had the exact right amount of comedy, romance, and nostalgia baked in.
For the full two hours, I had the exact warm-fuzzy feeling that only Disneyland rides can provide. Really, this metaphor is the best way to describe the movie:
Imagine you’re on the Matterhorn. You know the yeti isn’t real, and that you’re not in any real danger. The speed and thrill of the ride keep you smiling even as the suspense of waiting to see the animatronic snow monster is pushing your stomach up into your throat.
“Solo” felt a lot like that. Before the movie even starts, we know how it ends. We know Han and Chewie become best friends, that Han wins the Falcon from Lando, and everyone who is important to the rest of the Star Wars timeline more or less makes it out unscathed. But knowing the ending doesn’t make the ride any less fun, or the suspense any less real.
In fact, it’s only sin may have been simply following the Disney formula too closely. At the end of the day, predictability is as exhausting as it is comfortable.
I understand why some people didn’t like The Last Jedi. I don’t agree with them, but I fully understand it.
Rian Johnson took a lot of artistic risks, and as a result, the movie had an entirely different tone than every previous film in the franchise. Some people don’t like change, and that’s fine.
But Ron Howard took none of those risks with Solo, and the movie was about as traditionally Star-Warsy as it gets.
The real reason that “Solo” seems like it’s doing so poorly is that there is a huge group of Star Wars fans that are so trapped in their own notions about what the franchise is and should be, that they will never be able to approve of any new storylines that they didn’t personally come up with.
I didn’t write this tweet, but I wish I had because it lays out the eternal Star Wars dilemma perfectly:
I love how toxic Star Wars fans ran George Lucas off, and then now somehow want him back. You’re going to hate whoever makes these films, because your ego is so big that you think you’re the only one with good ideas
— Cloud Strife (@absolutecorey) June 1, 2018
Humans have a tendency to attach ourselves and our identities to lovable and nostalgic brands like Star Wars, to the point that we feel like we have a tiny bit of ownership over this dynamic, constantly changing thing that is decidedly not our own. Hardcore fans of other franchises like Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Trek struggle with this too.
We (Yes, we. I am often a perpetrator of this too) avoid toxic fan-syndrome by doing the same self-reflection that I believe will ultimately save the world some day: Taking a deep breath and acknowledging that we are not the center of the universe.