Friday, 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 brought you some of the stuff we were worried about yesterday, but what we’re jazzed about? Well, here we go…
Fans are so into continuity that it’s really kind of absurd. DC Comics has had entire events that changed their universe(s) just to accommodate writing errors and back story tweaks that were never meant to be so serious.
So is it any wonder that George Lucas made the (awful) decision to change Sebastian Shaw into Hayden Christensen for the “special” edition of Return of the Jedi? It probably seemed like a great idea at the time, since if he hadn’t done so fans would have spent years joking, “Except that Anakin looked like some old English playwright in the last movie.”
This is the flip side of that—it really would materially impact the film’s continuity if anyone other than Ford were going to play Solo, so unless it was absolutely necessary (as in, the film picks up eight months after the previous installment, or something, in which case all of the principal players would likely have to be recast), it seems unwise to recast that role.
Rounding Out the Cast
Assuming—as almost everyone is doing—that the films will star Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and the like, if Harrison Ford were missing, it would stick out like a sore thumb. Not only would his absence be felt (think Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but trying to replace him with another actor would just feel bizarre in light of the fact that the new person would be bouncing off Ford’s old screen mates. Can you imagine anyone else talking to Chewie, while Mark Hamill looks on confused?
It would also lend the film a sense of grandeur that it would lack if the movie poster screamed “We got everybody except the famous guy!”.
The prequels hurt Star Wars big time with the hardcore fans. If you bring back the original cast, though, you don’t even have to reference them. The events of those films are so far in the past to the characters—and the original trilogy are so much more immediate—that bringing Han Solo back into the fold allows you to basically say, “Hey, remember what a great time we had together in The Empire Strikes Back? Let’s do that again!”
Lending the Films Legitimacy
Bringing back the original cast would give the Disney/J.J. Abrams regime an olive branch to hand to the fans. It would allow them to say, “Okay, guys, look—we bought up all your favorite toys, but we aren’t here to hoard them or to break them. We’re here to shine them up and put them out where everyone can see how great they are.”
And, as noted above, Ford is key to that dynamic because it’s him that will make it “the whole cast” instead of just “the ones who have said a thousand times they want to do more Star Wars.”
Just plain nostalgia
Look—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Do you REALLY want to be the guy who re-casts Han Solo? Because I don’t.
Besides, as we noted in our previous installment, there’s really very little standing in the way of Ford taking the gig. Even assuming that he’d be heading back to war, which is not a given, he’s a pilot who has a big, hairy powerhouse of a co-pilot. He can pretty much just sit and crack wise about getting old and how Wookiees are really good to get your work done for you.
And, of course, there’s the fact that while Ford and Lucas didn’t always see eye to eye on where his character needed to go, Lucas is no longer part of the conversation. One would assume that, with those problems in the public record, a conversation would happen before Ford was even hired and a map for the character’s destiny would be placed on the table for everyone to agree upon.