Of all the various dramas and fan debates that have raged about Star Wars over the years, perhaps the least divisive project from the franchise in the past two decades is that way precisely because no one really cares about it that much. With no sequels, prequels, or spinoffs on the horizon, 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn’t invite the same kind of the same kind (at best) passionate or (at worst) ugly online back-and-forth as Georce Lucas’ prequels, J.J. Abrams’ sequels, or just a stray episode of The Book of Boba Fett, because it’s become the franchise’s forgotten child. But the year before Solo hit theaters, the film was big news because the guys making it — the directing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller — got their walking papers and Ron Howard was brought on board to direct. Now, Lord and Miller are finally opening up about the experience.
Lord and Miller were guests on KCRW‘s The Business podcast (via The AV Club) to discuss their new Apple TV+ comedy series The Afterparty when the subject of their departure from Solo: A Star Wars Story came up. Lord and Miller weren’t specific about what it was about the finished product that differed from their own vision, but they did hint at it through some indirect criticisms. “If you’re giving the audience exactly what they expect and a bunch of ‘fan service,’ they’re going to end up disappointed. They’re gonna be like, ‘Yeah, this is stuff I already knew,'” Lord said on the podcast. “The trick is to figure out what it is they don’t quite yet realize that they want… I think people are really savvy now and so you have to stay two steps ahead of them and I feel like that’s our job.”
Chris Miller also referred to the notion of fan service, saying, “I don’t really relate to some fear of a fanbase… There are people out there, I suppose, that are trying to game the marketplace and follow a formula. They’re trying to serve the quarterly earnings of a big company, but a company doesn’t make a movie or write a song, these things are made by human beings.”
Just going by their remarks, it seems clear that at least one big bone of contention between the directors and the studio was something the directors think catered to “fan service,” and there are any number of things that could be the culprit. Anything from the origin of Han Solo’s name to the Darth Maul cameo could be interpreted as fan service, though those examples seem like tiny things to leave a movie over. In a 2018 discussion with E Online, Solo: A Star Wars Story co-writer Lawrence Kasdan implied the tone of the story he envisioned clashed with what Lord and Miller wanted to do.
Thankfully for Lord and Miller, the pair seem mostly positive about their experience. They spoke to the podcast about the friends they still talk to from the crew of Solo and the 90 days of shooting “no one” can take away from them. As the AV Club points out, the pair would go on to win an Oscar for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and they’ve just been nominated for another, for their animated sci-fi comedy The Mitchells Vs. The Machines.