I creep silently around the corner of the Imperial safeguard. The forest moon of Endor is humid, and I feel the sweat creep down my face. Some of the droplets are from the water in the air, while some of the sweat is from the nervousness I feel. But hey, I am Han Solo, great smuggler and general great guy. This kind of sneaking around is what I do best, and adding a dash of blasting Imperial scum makes it all the better. They have cost me too many paydays.
As many of us have, I am pretending to be a Star Wars character, Han Solo in this particular case. I have my DL-44 toy blaster at the ready as I sneak around my apartment. I am but another child playing in the Star Wars sandbox.
This proverbial sandbox that Star Wars for decades has allowed us to play in is one of the greatest parts of the galaxy far, far away. So many of us, as fans of the saga, have created our own stories with these characters we love, be it with action figures, fan fiction, role playing, video games, or anything of the like. It starts as a child, and continues on year after year.
For me, Han Solo was the character that whose story I always wanted to explore when I was a child. The suave smuggler captivated me from the first time I saw him sit down at the cantina. For years I created his story with my plastic blaster.I did not know anything about him before his fateful meeting with Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, thus the sandbox was ripe for building. The mystery is what made him great.
Now, please do not mistake me, I read the books with Han Solo both post- Return of the Jedi and pre-cantina. I wanted to know more about him, mostly because I wanted to be him. If I knew more about him, I could be more like him. Then again, if I could create the story of who Han Solo was before meeting his Jedi companions, I could make him be someone attainable.
This is the Han Solo paradox. The mystery is what makes him exciting. Yet still, we want to know about him because of how much we love the galaxy created in Star Wars. It is but the nature of mystery. Fast forward to today, where a Han Solo anthology film is on the horizon. I think back to the stories I created in my childhood, and fear that mystery that makes Han so exciting will be lost.
Now, I have been a big supporter of pretty much everything that Disney has done since its acquisition of Star Wars. I supported the reset of canon because all of the mass that was the Expanded Universe was becoming quite cumbersome. It was just too hard to keep up with. While I was sad to see the end of Clone Wars, if I am to be honest I understand the logic behind getting rid of it. At the same time, Rebels has become my favorite television show of all time. I have watched each episode at least twice and see it as a storytelling masterpiece that Clone Wars simply could not touch. On the anthology film front, I am almost as excited for Rogue One as I am for Episode VII. It is, most certainly, a great time to be a Star Wars fan.
Nonetheless, one of the things that Star Wars teaches is that light and dark will always exist, and therefore we must deal with them. In my opinion, the Han Solo anthology film could be the first dark step in these bright times.
On that dark side, the Han Solo film could be nothing more than a money grab. Very easily it could just answer ever question we have ever had about the smuggler turned rebel. How did he get the Falcon? What happened between Lando and Han before the original trilogy? How did Han and Chewbacca meet? Was Han in the Imperial navy? What about his parents? What about Corellia? See the point?
With opinions aside about the prequel trilogy aside, the truth is they answered a lot of questions that the original trilogy had given us. All the same, one of the things that made the original trilogy great is that we did not know everything. What were the Clone Wars? What was the reason Vader turned to the dark side? What was the story with Han and Chewie? These questions, and numerous others, are what allowed so much of us to invest in the story of Star Wars. We could engage and become a part of the story, and thus the story radiated in the very depths of our soul.
As a teacher of fourth grade students, one thing that I have to do is not give my students everything. They have to create a path of their own, particularly when being creative. If I do not do so, then they will become dependent on everyone else to be able to understand even the simplest of things. Often I will ask my students a question and then just walk away. They have to build the answer on their own. George Lucas did this for the Star Wars fandom, and just like my students, those fans that were willing to engage got a great sense of joy from the journey rather than the destination.
On the other side of the coin, the Han Solo movie could be the very definition of the light side. If I were given the chance to make it, I would take a microscope and focus in on one of Han’s adventures. Choose one question and answer it, if it is necessary. Just show us who Han was and enhance his character in the later stories. But leave part of the mystery. Leave the intrigue. Leave the Han Solo Paradox firmly in place
Now, I would trust Disney with my first born child. Even still, I would think about that child every day. I would wonder how the child is growing and developing. I feel the same about Star Wars right now. If it is part of Star Wars canon, I will want to know about. Still the same, there will be things, for all of us, that we will not like. Also, there will be things, for all of us, that we love. At the end of the day, though, I believe it really comes down to effective storytelling, be it for Han Solo, Boba Fett, Mon Mothma, or the ice cream machine Rebel pilot. The point is the journey that we go on, not where we end up. If good storytelling becomes the engine, the ship will fly straight for generations to come.