'Star Wars' Fans on YouTube are Still Divided About 'Han Solo'

With new Star Wars movies being released every year until at least 2020, fans of the mega-popular sci-fi/fantasy franchise can hardly complain. Or can they? The impending release of the standalone Young Han Solo movie demonstrates an interesting fissure in the fandom. While some fans are welcoming the recent behind-the-scenes changes on the new Han Solo film with open arms, others seem to have franchise fatigue. Has Star Wars become too formulaic and bloated for its own good? Or is the franchise more inventive and inclusive than ever?

Two recently published YouTube videos are perfect encapsulations of two opposite extremes of Star Wars fandom. On the one side are the cheerleaders who look forward to almost everything the franchise has to offer. For these fans, Chris Miller and Phil Lord getting fired from the Han Solo movie by Lucasfilm might be troubling, but no death knell; they already want to move on. Representative of this type of thinking comes in the form of a new video produced by Nerdist, in which the story of Han Solo is told in the style of Ron Howard voice-overs from Arrested Development.

Charmingly, this video captures the deadpan wit of Arrested Development while reveling in unabashed love and knowledge of classic Star Wars. It’s a compliment to what we all love about both Star Wars and Ron Howard. And though it’s a harmless spoof, the video has one underlying message: Ron Howard coming onto the new Han Solo Star Wars movie is good, and everyone should celebrate.

But there’s another side to the Fan Force. Not everyone believes that the firing of Miller and Lord from the Han Solo film was remotely normal, nor are they willing to cheer with delight every time anything connected with Star Wars is re-appropriated or repackaged.

Red Letter Media sits firmly on that skeptical — and satirical — end of the fan spectrum. Mike Stoklasa — one of the founders of Red Letter Media — is probably most famous for creating the extremely long and in-depth takedowns of the Star Wars prequels, done completely in the guise of a disgusting and intentionally offensive fictional character named “Mr. Plinkett.” Stoklasa’s approach to making engaging videos about Star Wars couldn’t be further from the Nerdist approach. He and his collaborators —notably Jay Bauman and Rich Evans — are distrustful of Disney, critical of nostalgic pandering, and slyly sarcastic about consumerist angle that pervades a lot of Star Wars fandom.

And so, Red Letter Media’s latest new video: “Disney’s Han Solo Terrible Movie Ideas,” gives fans the opposite, skeptical view. Stoklasa and Evans mock not only the seemingly unprecedented firing of Lord and Miller, but present ironic “ideas” for what the plot of the movie “should” be about. And even the most diehard Star Wars idealist will probably find a glimmer of truth in some of their criticisms.

Taken together, both videos beg interesting questions: is Star Wars only a corporate product now, an ingredient to be used for pop-culture shorthand? Or could it be an exciting playground for fictional innovation again? Or, on the other hand, is newness and innovation not something Star Wars fans crave in these new films? In other words, is Star Wars fine the way its?

The Han Solo movie is set to hit theaters on May 25, 2018.

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