Why "prequels" don't work, a short essay by Adam Wilcox.
I never heard of the term "prequel" until 1997, when it was explained in lavish detail by George Lucas to fan magazines trying to sell the world on why he wanted to show you how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. Before the internet was a household name, most of us got our news from very controlled media such as fan magazines, radio, and television. Like many, I was just as excited to see young versions of these legacy characters in their prime as anyone else. Mostly though...we were getting new Star Wars!
Flash forward to now, and it's a fine line between those who like the prequels, and those who don't. One thing often gets overlooked...we know how the story ends. You may, or may not like the characters portrayed by Ewan McGregor, Jake Lloyd, and Hayden Christiansen. How can you simply like a character that was already established as somebody else? It's a really tough sell. In the James Bond franchise, the main protagonist has been replaced by a handful of actors, but timeline is not really an issue, because each movie is arguably it's own separate adventure. Star Wars is episodic, but even NOW they have separate movies dancing around several timelines that are exhaustingly confusing to the average movie goer. This is part of why Solo is failing. In the case with Solo...you know Han and Chewie from episodes 4,5,6, and 7. So even if your a die hard fan that understands the time line, there is zero suspense. You KNOW Han and Chewie will make it out of any of the dangerous situations set up in Solo because they show up in the later movies.
The other part that is overlooked is character development. To make this simple, I am going to compare the premise of Solo, to Sergio Leone's classic Man With No Name Trilogy. All three movies exist in the same universe, but are not necessarily episodic. However Clint Eastwood's character remains the same. While he has various nicknames throughout all 3 movies given to him by the supporting cast, we don't really know his name, his origin, or his motivation. We only know he's a bounty hunter who wears a poncho, smokes thin cigars, has a brace on his trigger hand, and is also an anti-hero with some hidden values. What makes him entertaining is how he adapts and reacts to the situations around him. The allure, IS his sketchy past. We know that not all heroes wear capes. A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly are timeless classics that even influenced George Lucas Himself. Now let's pretend your going to give is a trilogy of films dedicated to telling us how Clint Eastwood's nameless character became a bounty hunter. You have to tell is where he was born, where he got his poncho, why he has a brace on his hand...why he smokes a particular brand of cigars. Now that you fill in all of those blanks, you demistifie the character, and now all of those blanks that you once daydreamed about, are no longer a mystery. And maybe you don't and most likely WILL disagree on the writer, or director's vision that character. This is part of why Solo fails. Just like Star Wars episodes 1-3.
It would have been more fun to not have a bland origin story for Han, but maybe just a fun adventure set in earlier times. I don't understand why all of these writers have the urgent desire to deconstruct these beloved toys to explain to us why they work? We have seen this trend fail in other franchises as well. Last year, Ridley Scott decided to explain to us where The Alien came from, and removed so much mystery that the Alien is no longer Alien. The Terminator tried this with "Salvation", another failure. J.J. Abrams was also chastised for telling is how Kirk, Spock, and Bones all wound up on The Enterprise. Leaving THOSE fans divided as well.
I wrote this painfully long essay in response to all of these articles and videos I keep seeing all over the internet. While Solo keeps getting chastised, fans and pundits are coming up with the same stupid ideas. "Give us, an Obi-wan movie, give us a Darth Maul Movie, a Boba Fett movie, Knights of the Old Republic....etc" All of these are prequels. Is this what we REALLY want? I admit a few years ago it was exciting to think about new movies with Han, Luke, and Leia, but they came out, and unfortunately they are just more in a long, long line of failed sequels and reboots. What should have happened was new characters, and NEW stories in the same universe. HOWEVER, Disney played it safe, and have been deconstructing these beloved toys for 2 and a half years, AND now there is a literal civil war among the fan base.
Firing the idiots in charge is a step in the right direction, but please STOP suggesting more prequels? I would much rather see something where I didn't already know the butler did it, get me? In a universe that spans endless comics, games, and books, are you telling me this is not possible, and Star Wars IS creatively bankrupt? Really?