Perhaps the most surprising thing about the teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story — like the TV spot that teased it Sunday — is how dull it is. Not in the sense of “it’s not particularly exciting” — although that’s true as well, and I’ll come back to that — but visually: It’s filled with desaturated color, dimly-lit sparse scenes and moments that might be more dramatic if only you could properly see what was happening. (Oh no! They almost hit…something with teeth…in the clouds…maybe?)
It’s a visual aesthetic that harkens back to the previous Star Wars Story, 2016’s Rogue One. There, it arguably fit; that was the most dystopian, pessimistic Star Wars of them all, which made the lack of visual spectacle feel thematically appropriate. With Solo, however, that’s not as clearly the case. Surely, if Han Solo belongs in any particular look from the original movies, it should be the hive of scum and villainy of the Cantina of the very first movie, filled with colorful aliens and things happening all over the place. That busyness, the sense of danger and hustle, feels appropriate for Solo in a way that what’s on show in this first trailer simply doesn’t.
That disconnect between the audience’s existing ideas of who Solo is and what the prequel seems to promise based on the teaser runs throughout the trailers in terms of dialogue, as well; while Solo has always been filled with bravado, it’s nonetheless unexpected to hear him talk about wanting to be the best pilot — wouldn’t the Han we know just automatically declare that he is? — or seeing characters talk about being the only people who know who Han really is. Sure, part of the point of a prequel is to reveal hidden depths to the stories and characters everyone is already familiar with, but wasn’t part of the charm of Han Solo his lack of depth…?
It’s not as if this idea that Solo used to be an entirely different person…
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