The New SOLO Trailer and the Inherent Issue with Prequels
The latest trailer for 'Solo : A Star Wars Tale' hit recently and it was a marked improvement upon the first offering even if it fails on an important point. Portraying the film as more an ensemble piece than a film focused exclusively on Han may just be a trailer blip, but that aspect is rather intriguing. Truth be told, I do not need to know anything about Han's past. I don't care for the exact details of the Kessel Run, how he got the Falcon or that he once said "I have a good feeling about this" in his earlier years before having a markedly less positive view on things down the line. None of that is interesting to me on a personal level. While those moments will undoubtedly be in the film, it's not clear if that's the main focus or just minor moments that hit and move on from. The trailer does seem to hint at an unsure Han who has not yet fully embraced the swagger we saw when an old man and a farmboy come looking for a ride out of town. That transition has my interest. This is a Han with more of a positive outlook and we see what made him, to quote Luke in The Last Jedi, so "Han" about things.
For now though let's push that aside and discuss the last moments of the trailer which embody the issue with prequels. If you have not seen it already, here it is.
The final look from the trailer has everyone's favorite walking carpet hanging out of a train with a rock face coming up at a great speed.
Spoilers : He lives. So does Han. So does the cool dude with the fly robe outfit. These three characters, all featured rather heavily, are not in any peril whatsoever. We know that. They all live for another 40 (ish?) plus years. No matter what happens on screen you can rest assured that no true physical harm will come to them. That really steals the thunder out of any dramatic positioning you can perform with these three pieces.
This then leads to what the filmmakers must achieve to gain any interest in the plot. We need to care about the other players in the performance. In addition, while physical harm cannot come to Han, Chewie and Lando, emotional harm can. We can feel for these characters in their need for revenge or other motives due to emotional damage.
Allow me to introduce Emilia Clarke's Qi'ra.
If anyone is in mortal danger, it is her. You can argue Woody Harrelson is also on the short list but he dies a lot in films nowadays so that would be par for the course. Clarke's Qi'ra could be the emotional attachment that Han develops and loses which causes him to turn a cold shoulder to most he meets in the future. She seems to already know Han in the trailer and absolutely sees though his bullshit.
Trailers are supposed to peak my interest in what the film is bringing to the table. Showing me characters who are 100% safe does not really stir my excitement or make me wonder what will happen next. Emilia Clarke, while playing a character we know little about, is highly recognizable and rather admired due to her work on Game of Thrones. We want to know Daenerys will be safe. It's silly but we care about this kind of stuff. We carry over other media and associate. Again, it's silly but there you have it.
If the trailer would show Qi'ra in some danger and Han in distress as a result, then at least I would be legitimately concerned. This can also fall into the category of the trailers showing too much though. It's a hard line to walk. I would chance that against a response of indifference though if we are picking swords to fall on.
The fate of Solo is known. No mystery can be explored there. The inner workings of the man are the real stakes and for that to be up on the pedestal we need to be invested in those around him whom we do not know the fate of. As he cares, so do we. This film needs us to care about more that what we already did. The trailer fails in doing so. Let's hope the film does not.