"I've got a really good feeling about this!" It's what a young Han Solo exclaims in a key moment in Solo: A Star Wars Story, the standalone action-adventure released in May 2018 that explored the formative events in the life of the cynical pilot-turned-hero. Played by Alden Ehrenreich, Han is just about to steer the Millennium Falcon through the dangerous Kessel Run, a kind of interstellar obstacle course littered with carbon-bergs and tentacled creatures, not to mention a collection of black holes known as the Maw. Nevertheless, he likes his odds.
This time, however, the odds weren't exactly in his favor — even if, as we all know, he makes the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Released on the heels of 2017's The Last Jedi, which sparked controversy for some of its moodier and more daring narrative choices, Solo: A Star Wars Story had a hard time shaking its reputation as a troubled production. Dogged by reports of on-set turmoil after Ron Howard was brought on to replace original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Solo just couldn't quite catch flight at the box office. Although it still surpassed $200 million in North America, with international tallies topping $390 million, by Star Wars standards, that's not exactly hitting the jackpot.
But if anyone knows how to stage a comeback, it's Han Solo. This is the guy, after all, who saved the day in 1977's Star Wars, turning up in the Falcon at just the right moment during the Battle of Yavin to help the Rebel Alliance take down the Death Star. Originating the role, Harrison Ford was mesmerizing as the space mercenary who tried hard to hide his innate decency but who ultimately always followed his conscience, whether he liked to admit it or not.
With that in mind, here's a pitch: #MakeSolo2Happen (credit for the hashtag goes to fans who have been lobbying tirelessly on Twitter for months for a big-screen follow-up). But maybe this time, Han doesn't need to star in a big-budget movie, but rather, a limited series on streaming service Disney+, one that could mine entertaining episodes from the character's checkered past.
A Solo show could build upon all the strengths of the recent film while also exploring additional dimensions of the character. Box office performance aside, Solo, written by father-son duo Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence "The Empire Strikes Back" Kasdan, is a wildly satisfying popcorn movie, tracing Han from his time as a hustler on the rough-and-tumble streets of his native Corellia through his brief stint in the Imperial Navy and then onto his early days in the underworld where he encounters the mysterious Enfys Nest. Along the way, he meets Wookiee soulmate Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), a young cool cat named Lando Calrissian (played, unforgettably, by Donald Glover) and fights for a future with his childhood sweetheart, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke).
In the months since its initial release, Solo has found a following among curious viewers who might not have made it out to theaters to see the film but came to it instead at home on Blu-ray, digital, and streaming. And with good reason — again, the movie is good. It's entertaining and spirited and funny and audacious and a little bit romantic and yes, also flawed, but when you think about it, isn't that also a fitting description of its protagonist?
In the lead role, Ehrenreich had the thankless task of putting a new spin on one of the most iconic characters in the history of cinema, but he managed to make young Han at once recognizable and surprising. As he's proved with memorable performances in such films as Rules Don't Apply and Hail, Caesar!, Ehrenreich has a facility for character work — it would be a pleasure to watch him continue to chart Solo's journey from budding smuggler to the full-fledged, there's-no-question-he-shot-first space pirate we meet in a cantina on Mos Eisley. Seeing him bond with Suotamo's Chewie during a series of jobs gone wrong, watching the pair of unlikely friends stage narrow escapes? Total bonus.
As a character, Han Solo grew out of the cinematic tradition of cool frontier loners played by Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood — he's the embodiment of the gunslinger archetype, the world-weary foil to Mark Hamill's wide-eyed farm-boy Luke Skywalker. In other words, he's exactly the sort of guy you'd meet in the world of Disney+ highly anticipated new series, The Mandalorian, a richly drawn galactic Western about an armored bounty hunter tracking down his prey in the lawless reaches of space. (Perhaps this also a good time to note that it's Han's nemesis Boba Fett who popularized Mandalorian armor.) A potential Solo series would function as a worthy companion piece.
What's more, Disney+ already has announced plans for a character-based series based on the exploits of another fan-favorite: young Obi-Wan Kenobi as played in George Lucas's prequels by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor. Also in the works is a spy thriller focusing on Cassian Andor with actor Diego Luna reprising his memorable role from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story -- the 2016 prequel adventure that finally revealed how the Rebellion came to be in possession of the plans for the Death Star at the beginning of Episode IV. Han would be an ideal addition to this slate.
Star Wars has endured as a landmark in popular culture for decades thanks to the expansiveness of its galaxy, its soaring storytelling, and its collection of mythic characters that captivate the imagination. Few, though, are as beloved as the scoundrel who won the princess's heart only to meet a deeply tragic end. A Solo show could extend Han's live-action screen life just a little longer with wholly new adventures or tales drawn from the Expanded Universe (like the "Legends" novels by Brian Daley and A.C. Crispin).
As Solo himself might say, trust me. It could definitely work. I've got a really good feeling about this.
Gina McIntyre is the New York Times best-selling author of Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down as well as 2018's Star Wars Icons: Han Solo, which offers a comprehensive look at the creation of the character and his legacy in the Star Wars universe and beyond.