Star Wars plays it safe and picks Ron Howard to finish the Han Solo film


Lucasfilm officially announced that Ron Howard will direct the Han Solo origin film, and here’s why that could be taken as either a great or terrible idea.

Let it be known that most overhauls don’t happen in the blink of an eye. Phil Lord and Chris Miller knew things weren’t going as well as they hoped, and they might’ve even explored other options before Lucasfilm made the official announcement. It’s showbiz and mega-studios like Lucasfilm (and, of course, Disney) time things and as Jack Sparrow often says, “it’s about waiting for the opportune moment.” Often, the “opportune” moment becomes synonymous with the moment when things will cause the least amount of disruption.

But when it comes to Star Wars, that tends to be impossible. People have a lot of opinions and discourse in the fandom is as natural as the Force. Unfortunately, the captain of the discourse is a woman, and boy, people love to go after Kathleen Kennedy.

Here’s the thing: Her ship docks at a multi-billion dollar bay. Decisions aren’t made by asking if stopping at Cloud City or landing on a crater is a good or bad idea. There’s a much bigger picture. Unlike Han Solo, she absolutely needs to know the odds.

So, the Han Solo origin film is a cog in a well-oiled machine. To make everything run smoothly, yes, Kennedy needs someone who will play ball. And guess what? Ron Howard will play ball.

As Kennedy explained in her statement:

"“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie.”"

Star Wars is a decades-old franchise, with hopefully, several more decades ahead of it. Progress doesn’t occur overnight. Furthermore, we still don’t know if standalone films will work. Both films on the slate, last year’s Rogue One and next year’s Han Solo film, are really safe ideas. I mean, Rogue One began with A New Hope in 1977. Plus, everybody loves Han Solo. Does everyone love the idea of a Han Solo film? Mmmmmaybe not. But if Kennedy knows what people like and what guarantees money at the box office, getting the vehicle to the finish line isn’t that difficult.

Which is where Ron Howard comes in. Star Wars doesn’t want to be too ambitious right now. They want more stable ground and will follow the money to find it. Fortunately, Ron Howard maintains the ability to make a dramatic film while keeping things fun and compelling. He can following Lawrence Kasdan’s script (where Lord and Miller could apparently not) and he’ll be able to keep a “calming presence on set.”

Just look at his history. Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind? Compelling dramas. How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Whimsy. The Angels & Demons saga? Shaky but thrilling with intense effects. Realistically, wherever Howard may falter, Kasdan and Kennedy will be there to fill in the holes.

That’s what great filmmaking look likes. It’s a collaborative process.

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Of course, I’m not saying things will be flawless now or that we didn’t have other dream directors in mind. But it’s certainly not the worst thing Lucasfilm could’ve done.