I finally got around to watching Solo: A Star Wars Story. I enjoyed it. I know a lot of people panned it (my neighbor tells me often how much he hated it). I enjoyed it, for a lot of reasons, but the first two were these:
- It wasn’t a Jedi story.
- It wasn’t a Skywalker story.
And yet it romped through the same many-cultured world in which those stories existed. In Solo, I felt like Disney was finally exploring a truth I discovered back in the early 90’s when friends and I dabbled in the d6-driven Star Wars table-top role playing game:
The SW universe is expansive and wondrous, with room for a LOT of stories.
Only one of us played a Jedi. The rest of the team was a mish-mash of characters (a wookie, a pilot, and a Mon Calamari). And while our campaign quickly nose-dived into a farce, it opened the possibility for me that there was far more to explore in the Star Wars universe than just the Jedi/Sith fight and the Skywalker dynasty.
In Solo, we got to see the story of a vagabond turned smuggler, and all the seedy underworld of one part of that universe. We witnessed the pivotal moment when he earned the life-debt of his wookie friend. We learned how the Milennium Falcon turned into the luckiest piece-of-shit freighter, and that in Episode 4 when Han brags to Luke about calculating the jump to hyperspace, he was flat out lying. There were plenty of clever nods to the other movies, and plenty of humor both dry and otherwise.
But the story stood on its own, too. There was drama and compassion, turns and twists, and coldness. I really got a feel for not only the initial brusque nature of our favorite smuggler, but how he got that way, and how maybe it was just a mantle he wore because he knew his compassion would get folks killed. Whether you knew the other movies or not, this movie showed his depth.
On top of it, there were plenty of plot hooks into other stories about Lando, the underworld, and some of the other villains unveiled later in the movie. They delivered a good tale, and left room to spin more in our favorite universe.
No, it wasn’t a Jedi story. It was a character story. And it had a lot of character. I liked it.