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Few upcoming movies have caused a wider range of fan emotions in recent months than the Han Solo spinoff movie. The latest entry in the Star Wars franchise's slate of anthology films, the standalone origin tale for the Corellian smuggler went through a major behind-the-scenes overhaul earlier this summer when Phil Lord and Chris Miller stepped down as the project's directors and Ron Howard stepped up to take their place. Things seem to have leveled out for the project with Howard firmly in place, but newly revealed photos from the set now officially have us concerned. Specifically, it looks like Han Solo will be going on his famous Kessel Run adventure, and we think that's a bad idea for this movie.
First, let's go back and get some background. This situation developed last week when Ron Howard took to social media and posted yet another set photo from the Han Solo movie. In this instance, he provided us with a picture that appears to be of the Kessel spice mines. Check out the photo below.
Although the picture does not explicitly state that this location is a Kessel spice mine, it makes plenty of sense. The spices obtained from these mines play an integral role in Han's life as a smuggler before meeting Luke Skywalker, and the "Kessel Run" is a particular route that those smugglers use to circumvent the Galactic Empire's cruisers. Han frequents this secret path through space in the pre-A New Hope years, and his biggest claim to fame is that he made the legendary run in "less than twelve parsecs."
So why does this matter? Why shouldn't the Han Solo movie show something that's so fundamental to the character's backstory? The reason for that is simple: it won't help the mythology of Han Solo by showing it. The Kessel Run is a watershed moment in Han Solo's career as an intergalactic badass, but it works because it's shrouded in mystery. Some contend that he actually did make the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs, while others believe that he fabricated the story as a means to convince Obi-Wan and Luke to hire him for their trip to Alderaan. Fans have gone back and forth about this debate for years, with the biggest evidence for the "Han is lying" camp coming from the fact that a parsec is a unit of distance and not time.
Just look at the glance Obi-Wan Kenobi gives Han right after he makes his bold claim about the Millennium Falcon's speed in A New Hope's cantina scene. For years, fans have debated over whether or not this look is the Jedi's incredulity about the ship's speed or his hidden knowledge that Han apparently doesn't know what he's talking about.
We have seen the Star Wars franchise attempt to provide context for plot holes and ambiguous storylines before retroactively, and while it has worked for precise plot points, it has seldom worked for the characters themselves. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story worked because it fleshed out a glaring plot hole in A New Hope with regards to the Death Star's fatal (and intentionally placed) weakness. It helped add a new layer of depth and complexity to a previously simple idea from the first film while keeping everything that we love about the characters in this universe intact.
By contrast, allowing Han Solo to make the Kessel Run (and providing a definitive answer to whether or not he did it) could be more akin to showing Boba Fett or Anakin Skywalker as children -- two prequel trilogy decisions that have polarized Star Wars fans for years. Showing Han and Chewie make the infamous run through space does nothing to enhance the mythology of the character, but it effectively takes away a significant source of his mystique. The beauty of the character is that fans can project whatever they want onto him (the full-blown badass, the "shoot first" scoundrel or the self-aggrandizing, out-of-his-depth liar), but that goes away as soon as we receive a concrete answer to this long-running question. The movie doesn't need the Kessel Run to work, which means it should find brand new adventures and exploits for Han.
Whether or not the Kessel Run will happen in the Han Solo movie remains to be seen, but Ron Howard's vague social media post lends credence to the possibility of it becoming a reality. We will find out for certain when the Han Solo movie debuts in theaters on May 25, 2018. But before then, make sure to watch out for the next installment in the Star Wars saga when The Last Jedi premieres later this year on December 15.