Spoilers for Solo and other Star Wars-related content, in general.
Promo pic of 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story
There exists a decidedly hard lesson to be learned from this film, one that we believe encompasses the very fragments of what gives a franchise its larger-than-life success. In the grand scheme of things, it is easy to fall prey to the misnomers that it is all down to the unique storytelling potential, and in some cases, the epic scope that constitutes its world-building which earns a franchise its high repute. While those factors do certainly contribute, at least at the very beginning, to attracting viewers to show support for a specific intellectual property, the continued sustenance for any given franchise to thrive on rests squarely on one single facet: keeping the fans happy.
Now, do not get us wrong: Solo was a decently entertaining albeit unnecessary movie. There was certainly plenty of things that the film introduced that would make any Star Wars fan ready to throw their money at it for repeated viewings. After all, an exploration of the early life of the galaxy’s most iconic smuggler turned Rebel hero was sure to be an absolute hit among the already established fandom. Much to the dismay of the studio, however, the dream of expanding the Star Wars franchise beyond its existing storylines quickly turned into a box office nightmare giving the IP its first-ever flop in nearly 40 years. In short, not many people came out to support the film.
Why Solo: A Star Wars Story failed
Star Wars’ dynamic duo, Han and Chewie
Of course, as you may very well already know, this lack of interest in Solo is not the fault of the movie itself, but the rather unpalatable events that led up to the release of the film. Approximately six months before Solo opened in theaters, fans had flocked in droves to the cinema to catch the second installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi. While critics were quick to praise the film for its “subversion of classic tropes”, the fandom, on the other hand, lambasted the movie, in particular the portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the film, taking to social media to vent their frustrations to the online world.
Now, there is entirely nothing wrong with fans expressing their displeasure at what they were given. After all, you cannot please everyone all the time. Therefore, in hindsight, the right approach was to merely allow the fandom to let out the grievances of their dissatisfaction and then promptly move on from the issue. Instead, in the Bizarro world that we live in, numerous articles regarding the backlash towards the film began and continued to label fans as being “toxic” for expressing their outrage. Even the film’s controversial director, Rian Johnson, took to Twitter to battle it out with disappointed fans in a flurry of insults. This relentless attack on the fandom did not just halt there, as prior to Solo’s release in theaters, the famed review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes furnished a cheeky consensus regarding the film that ended with the reviewing site telling fans to “check their expectations at the theater door”.
Thus, with such a repulsive display from the media, reviewers, and various other figures towards the Star Wars fandom, it is no wonder that Solo bombed, hard. In lieu of managing the issue by allowing time to heal all wounds, these individuals chose to double down and subsequently blow things out of proportion. This stems from their severe lack of understanding towards fandom, or simply an understanding that had been ignorantly taken for granted. In the same way that no business could ever sustain itself without the loyalty of its pre-existing patrons, a franchise can never retain its success without the support from its fanbase. It is not so much a need to placate them, but a need to accord them with some modicum of respect for sticking by the franchise after all these years. You do not necessarily have to agree with them, but to dismiss their woes with vicious retort does not help the situation either. Sometimes, it is far better to listen without eagerly awaiting the chance for rebuttal.
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