"Star Wars" fans know Han Solo is a smuggler, a scruffy-looking nerf herder, and possibly a nice guy, but other than that, little has been known about the roguish Han’s past before he popped up in “Star Wars: A New Hope” and shot alien Greedo (first, obviously).
Now fans will learn a lot more about Han with a forthcoming movie from Disney that will focus on the character’s early days.
Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who co-created the MTV animated series “Clone High” and are probably best known for co-directing and co-writing the 2014 animated smash hit “The Lego Movie,” will co-direct this movie about Han. The film will be written by Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote what is often called the best “Star Wars” film of all time, “Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back,” and Jon Kasdan, who wrote the screenplay for the 2007 film “In the Land of Women” and the 2012 film “The First Time” and also directed the two films.
Other spin-off films being planned for the “Star Wars” universe include “Rogue One,” which is set to be released in 2016 and stars Felicity Jones of “The Theory of Everything.” “Rogue” is being directed by Gareth Edwards of the 2014 film “Godzilla” and rumors recently swirled that iconic “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader may be a player in “Rogue.”
Creating these spin-off films reflects a larger Hollywood trend of focusing on a certain character when creating a new movie rather than making a straight sequel. But the strategy behind the “Star Wars” franchise currently seems to include both of the methods being used by the fellow successful franchises of Marvel and “Harry Potter.”
“Harry” is moving backward in time, with a new movie, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” focusing on an all-new character (magical creatures expert Newt Scamander) who had his heyday long before Harry was even born. Meanwhile, the Marvel films have continually moved forward, with most of these new movies taking place in our present day. The franchise briefly looked backward for the youth of superhero Captain America, who came of age during World War II, but other than that, Marvel has stayed away from prequels.
The “Star Wars” series, meanwhile, is moving in all directions. One can assume the new film “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens” takes place after “Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi,” both from its numeral title and also from the fact that actors Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher are all returning and presumably aren’t being altered to look younger.
But the film series is also looking backwards with this new Han Solo movie and possibly “Rogue One,” which could take place before the film “Star Wars: A New Hope.” Marvel has already proven that once audiences get invested in a fictional universe, they will turn out for just about any movie that's part of that franchise. Now Disney will discover if that proves true for “Star Wars” as well.