Overnight we learned we have a new Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich has been cast as the young rogue in the upcoming film by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. I love Star Wars and Han Solo, but I meet this news with more resignation than excitement. I’d been holding out some small hope that the Han Solo standalone film would chronicle his years as an idealistic kid who lost his innocence when the Empire took over, or a cocky teen attending the Imperial Academy before abandoning it for adventure and, potentially, principles. But I guess we’re getting the story of the young smuggler and the Kessel Run with a likely Boba Fett cameo before his standalone film.
Okay. Fine. I’m not excited but I’ll go see it–probably opening night. I love Star Wars. And I’ve never been a fan of “voting with my wallet” because it privileges people who have bigger wallets and are already marketed to and represented in film (i.e. middle class and above straight white cis men). Instead, I will go and hope to be surveyed so I can say, “I enjoyed it! But when is the Leia movie?” I will go and write a review, “The wookiees were great but what I’m really looking forward to is getting to know the people of Alderaan.” I will go, but from now until then and beyond I will be campaigning for the Star Wars standalone I really want, the one featuring Senator and Viceroy Bail Organa.
I could come up with five hundred reasons why this movie should exist but I’ll stick with five.
- Bail Organa deserves better than the prequels.
I have a lot of affection for the prequels, particularly the two that feature Bail, but I know I’m in the minority. Bail Organa was instrumental in the creation of the Rebellion and he raised Princess Leia; that should be his legacy and it should be on film. Yes, we can watch the deleted scenes and cartoons, we can read the novels–they’re great!–but Star Wars is first and foremost a film series.
- Jimmy Smits deserves to headline.
The criticisms of the prequels (and there are plenty of entirely valid ones) often overshadow their undeniably wonderful parts. The prequels gave us our first black Jedi and made Leia’s father a Latino. Jimmy Smits quietly paved the way for Oscar Isaac and Diego Luna. And he brought so much to the little he was given to do. At the very end of Attack of the Clones Bail wordlessly reacts to the creation of the Republic Army and the start of the Clone Wars with a palpable sorrow and it remains one of my favorite moments in all seven films. I want more of that!
- Let’s subvert Princess Culture!
Disney is in the midst of a campaign to redefine their spate of Princesses as champions, peddling the tag line “For every girl who dreams big, there’s a princess to show her it’s possible.” Well, here is an opportunity to put their money where their marketing is. Princess Leia is already a champion. And a 12-15-year-old Leia learning to be a royal leader, politician, and rebel from her father is exactly the princess story Disney should make. Dads and daughters (and everyone else) want to go to the rebel princess movie!
The Star Wars universe spends more time grieving Obi-Wan Kenobi than the entire planet of Alderaan. And well it should, because Obi-Wan is beloved and Alderaan is an unknown. In seven films there is exactly one scene set on the planet and it features no dialogue. Three of its citizens are seen on screen for more than five seconds and they are all named Organa. Is Wedge Antilles from Alderaan and/or related to the Captain Antilles who pilots Bail Organa’s ship or the Bail Antilles who was up for Chancellor against Palpatine? Does Lor San Tekka call Leia royalty because he’s Alderaanian? The films never tell us. The last time Alderaan is mentioned on screen is in A New Hope and Leia’s response to an expression of grief at its destruction is “We don’t have time for our sorrows.” That’s deep, and it’s sad, but imagine how much sadder it would be if we got to know the vibrant, peaceful citizens of Alderaan and their leader who taught Leia that lesson.
- Darth Vader
A New Hope makes it clear that Vader and Leia have history. At the least they know of each other, and it’s not a stretch to think he’s sparred with her and/or her father before. Fans want more Vader–they clamor for his appearance in Rogue One and Episode VIII. Here is an opportunity to make a film about both of Leia’s fathers. To show Anakin’s daughter hidden in plain sight, being raised by someone he respected and came to hate. It could feature an explicitly Force-sensitive Leia, talented but untrained, and a Vader who struggles with regrets he hides even from himself–both of which would nicely parallel the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens. And Vader isn’t the only one who might appear. A film centered on Bail Organa could feature Obi-Wan, Yoda, any of Padme’s family or handmaidens, those elusive possible Alderaanians Antilles or Tekka, and of course Bail’s wife and Leia’s mother, Breha.
Seriously, why is this movie not already being filmed?