Yesterday, news broke that Harrison Ford is apparently very close to committing to appear in Star Wars Episode VII. Needless to say, half of the Internet rejoiced, while the other half booed through their cupped hands.
In other words, it’s the Internet.
At any rate, upon seeing these reactions, we wanted to collect up some of the responses and try and sift through why people are so keen to see, or not to see, the great actor return to arguably his most iconic role. We’ll bring you the good stuff tomorrow, but the stuff people are worrying about? Well, here we go…
While Harrison Ford, a Hollywood actor with fitness and dietary coaches at his disposal, is almost certainly in better shape at 145 years old than the average 32-year-old comics blogger, nobody’s asking those of us who hide behind our keyboards for a living to fight a Storm Trooper.
Nope, that’s the exclusive domain of Star Wars actors, and it’s difficult to imagine Harrison Ford still being up to that particular challenge.
Now, one argument against this is that frankly Han never did a ton of hand-to-hand combat to begin with; most of his value was behind the wheel of the Millennium Falcon and there’s no reason that Ford can’t do that.
It’s worth noting that many fans think Ford acquitted himself pretty well in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, doing his best with the script he was given, and they were able to cover up some of the things he couldn’t do anymore via the use of dialogue that joked about his age.
The problem, then? Well, he’s another five years or so older still and they haven’t even started to shoot. Even accounting for the fact that Han is a lot snarkier than Indy and the jokes would probably land better in Star Wars, you don’t want him to be having so much trouble in the shots where he’s clearly himself that anything they hand to the stunt performers is going to seem silly and unbelievable.
Speaking of the devil…
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was—hold onto your hats, folks, this one’s going to knock you down—not the worst movie ever made.
That said, it was a huge disappointment, particularly coming on the heels of The Last Crusade which was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect way to close out the series. Coming back nearly twenty years later, the feeling was that you had to really be able to justify that behavior—and Lucas and company just didn’t do that.
While the entire concept of Star Wars Episode VII has the potential for the same kind of fan backlash, Ford risks really hurting his reputation if he somehow manages to do the same level of damage to his image as Han Solo that he did to Indiana Jones. In spite of years of impressive performances, Ford is best known for two “once-in-a-generation” roles. Screwing both up within five years or so? That’d be deadly.
He Doesn’t Even Like the Role
One of the things that sometimes gets lost in the fans’ enthusiasm to see Ford return is that he’s never particularly been fond of the role of Han Solo.
“I don’t think there’s a way to weave [Han Solo] back into the story,” Ford said in a 2010 interview when he was asked about the prospect of sequels. “And besides which, as a character he was not so interesting to me.”
Do we really want, in a film that’s going to have this level of expectation and this level of pressure, an actor who isn’t entirely sure he wants to be there?
Even if he does well in the fiilm, there’s an element of the original Star Wars that will die a little when you see Han Solo running around in grandpa khakis. It happened to Indiana Jones, and it really has little to do with age as much as it has to do with the illusion of immortality.
The joke is that Superman and Batman will stay thirty forever, because that’s the age where they’re most interesting and that’s the age where artists can easily draw them on-model. Well, unfortunately actors don’t get to do that, although fans may like it better if at least their characters did. And in the same way that fans have a hard time looking at Darth Vader the same way after they saw him as a whiny, lovesick puppy in the prequels, it may be hard for them to look back at the original trilogy and see Han Solo quite the same way once they’ve seen his character evolve into a man near the end of life.
Letting Actors Dictate the Plot
A while back, the rumor was that since Ford had wanted Solo to die in Return of the Jedi, part of his contract for a potential appearance in Episode VII would be that it would be the character’s last appearance on film and that he would be allowed to die in the movie.
Ford had long lamented that he didn’t get to do Han’s death in the original trilogy, joking more than once that “Dead Han Solo” action figures wouldn’t sell, so George Lucas wasn’t interested.
And while the death of Han Solo is absolutely something that could work in the series, it’s not something that should be determined in a boardroom while negotiating over salaries and lunch breaks.