Box office figures tell harsh tales. While Rogue One earned more than a billion dollars worldwide, Solo could not even crawl past 400 million dollars globally. The difference in narrative perspective explains the Death Star-sized revenue gap.
Certainly a plot to steal the Death Star plans is hardly original. Yet the Rogue One filmmakers seized the opportunity to have audiences learn more about the Star Wars universe. Suddenly, the once glistening, clean and heroic Rebellion takes on grey streaks of amoral, even criminal actions. The heroes are still being coifed off-screen while the grunts – formerly limited to Wilhelm Screams – look somberly towards their next suicidal mission. Corcuscant no longer comes off as either Jedi or Sith Central, but a social hotspot where socialites mingle with Imperial officers, government officials to be exact. Rogue One builds a world of conflict, reared on the arable soil of George Lucas‘ universe. Solo lacks such narrative courage.
Solo may glimpse the ship yards on Corellia where Star Destroyers are built, but fails to continue along this initially spirited path. Beyond the all-too-brief impressions of an Imperial industrial planet merely lies the usual runaway caper Han Solo is born for. It is Han against the same faceless Imperials and an angry crime lord as always. The film never realizes the unique perspective Han should have on his surroundings. Solo hectically races past many potentially insightful asides to rush audiences towards the tried-and-tested Rebellion. Even more stunningly, the film squanders the only reason to afford Ham Solo his own film: it‘s not the origins of his last name, his blaster nor Chewie. It is the well-established fact that Solo used to be an Imperial officer. Apart from a throwaway scene, audiences are refused access to the mind of an initially invested, even auspicious Imperial pilot. How grand would it have been to see Han Solo, celebrated ace pilot of the Empire, be thrown off course at the half-way point of the story to evolve into the sarcastic smuggler we meet in A New Hope? It would have been one billion dollars grand, to be honest, rewarded for building the Star Wars Universe in meaningful, augmentative ways.