Star Wars is Disney's gift that keeps on giving. The house of the white-gloved mouse managed to turn Star Wars: The Force Awakens into one of the most profitable films in history and single-handedly reinvigorated people's interest in the franchise. The next steps in Disney's plan for the far away galaxy are the Star Wars spin-off stories: films separate from the numbered episodes that expand the galaxy and delve into the stories of both unknown and fan-favorite characters.
The only announced stories so far are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the untitled young Han Solo spinoff. Given Rogue One's timeline, many fans hoped to see the new Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich, in the film in some capacity. While Solo's inclusion has so far been a rumor, Ehrenreich's casting made people wonder why Disney would chose an actor so early into the spinoff's development.
Was that a sign that everybody's favorite nerf-herder would make at least a cameo appearance in Rogue One? Well, for anyone hoping it was, we have some bad news for you. Rogue One director Gareth Edwards gave an interview to Extra and shot that down:
When asked about whether Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) or Han Solo would appear in the film, he only said this:
"I'm not sure I'm allowed to do this but I think I should. I can put to bed, Han Solo is not in the movie."
There you go. Unless these comments are Gareth Edward's way of misdirecting audiences — which, by the way he answered the question, doesn't seem to be the case — Han Solo will not take part in the events that kickstart Star Wars. Believe it or not, his absence from the film affects not only Rogue One, but also his solo adventure. Let's take a look:
How Does Han Solo's Rogue One Absence Affect His "Solo" Film?
Han Solo in itself is a very risky project as it is unpredictable whether one, it will stand on its own, and two, how audiences will receive it. So, while tying his story in some form to Rogue One by introducing Alden as the character could help the spinoff in a big way, Disney made the right decision by keeping him out of the film.
This gives Han Solo complete freedom with its story. By not having him in Rogue One, you avoid tying him into a specific time and space that could hinder his own story's possibilities. As mentioned above, Han Solo is an extremely risky project, being a film devoted to a character that has always worked best as part of an ensemble; now add to that narrowed story possibilities due to establishing the younger version of the character as already being in a certain place in his life even before his own film arrives.
Granted, Rogue One takes place less than a year before A New Hope, so one could argue that the character's stories wouldn't be as narrow; but, avoiding that tie, as small as it may seem, can mean great things for where the writers and director want the character to appear before A New Hope.
Something that can also be avoided by not having him in Rogue One is a common problem that prequel stories often present for their universe's continuity: show an established character's earlier years and establish his personal growth and/or adventures but then have that development be taken away because that's not the state in which we meet the character.
A big example of this is Anakin Skywalker. The complaint many had with Anakin in the prequels was his whiny and brooding personality. The character was then reintroduced in the "prequel" series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. During the course of the show (which takes place between Episodes II and III) we got to know Anakin, a quippy Jedi Knight, become a more experienced, noble and trustworthy warrior, worthy of a future-savior prophecy, so... where did all that character growth go in Episode III? Nowhere, because he was a completely different character.
This could be the same situation for showing Han Solo approximately a year before A New Hope. Even if he just has a small part or cameo in the war against the Empire before he actually joins the Rebellion with Luke, why was he so skeptical and unwilling to do anything outside his comfort zone in A New Hope? His perception of the world by being in any way a part of its craziness would be different from the one he had when were first introduced to him.
Now, keep in mind that Han's inclusion into Rogue One doesn't need to mean bad things for the film or the continuity of his character. A cameo from him could be perfectly handled and not affect his future storylines that much but I am showing why keeping him out of the film was the right move by presenting all its possible problems.
Could His Absence Affect Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?
Rogue One is in a very different situation than Han Solo. While this spinoff is based on a single line from the very first Star Wars crawl, its plot is much more universal and has an ever-lasting impact in the Star Wars Universe. However, there's no denying that Han Solo's absence, especially after The Force Awakens, could be a critical factor in its box office earnings.
Why? Because including Han Solo not only means the legendary character being in the film for 30 or five minutes; it means having him in the same movie as Darth Vader for the first time in over 30 years, which in turn gives Rogue One the advantage of having two fan-favorite characters in its plot.
After The Force Awakens' success, it's fair to say that Rogue One will most likely not reach the same box office figures. Granted, Darth Vader having a prominent role in the film will help it enormously but...can you imagine the impact that Han Solo's appearance would have had, not only in long-time fans but general audiences that go to see these films just for the brand recognition?
To sum it up, can Han Solo's absence affect this film? It's a yes-and-no answer. Yes, because I am sure that his inclusion would bring many more people into the theater and no, because for all we know, Han was never a part of Rogue One, so it wouldn't be fair to state that a film that didn't have him in its plot will suffer. Ultimately, Rogue One will succeed or fail because of what it is and what it contains, not for what it doesn't.
Han Solo's Absence Has The Potential To Both Help And Hurt
Han Solo's absence poses quite a tricky situation for Rogue One and his own film: It has the potential to benefit and hurt both projects. If recent mediocre box-office numbers for sequels to incredibly successful films are any indication, we live in uncertain times. We don't know how audiences will react to the inclusion of a certain character or storyline in terms of speaking with their wallets.
With today's unpredictable movie-going audiences, Han's inclusion or absence can mean a myriad of different outcomes from both a critical and financial perspective. However, considering the bad outweighs the good with the possible outcomes, Disney made the right decision in leaving Solo out of Rogue One, as it lifts a burden off of the films' shoulders. But what do you think?
What do you think of Han Solo not appearing in Rogue One? Was that the right move?