Ask any Star Wars fan what their favorite Disney Star Wars film is and you’re likely to get one of three answers. It’s either Rogue One, The Last Jedi or none of them. One answer you’re almost assured not to get is Solo: A Star Wars Story. The Ron Howard directed look at the younger days of Han Solo was panned by fans and critics alike, although these days it holds steady at around 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. Personally, I liked Solo quite a bit. I left the theater wanting more, which is more than I can say for Episode IX. Almost everyone agrees however that Donald Glover’s portrayal of Lando Calrissian was spot on. Now, Lando is back in a new Star Wars series on Disney+.
Big shoes admirably filled
Lando was one of the most beloved characters of the original trilogy. Billy Dee Williams did an amazing job bringing the sweet-talking swindler to life. He made him both likable and a scoundrel. As such, when Solo was announced, it brought up a major question about who would play him. There were calls to just not have Lando be a part of the movie, but that would have been a big mistake. To do a movie about the origins of Han Solo and not show him winning the Millennium Falcon off Lando would have been borderline criminal. Fortunately, they found their man in Donald Glover.
Fresh off his success from Spider-Man: Homecoming and years of success on Community, Glover was cast to play the younger version of Lando. I saw a lot of “If anyone can do it, it’s probably him.” from the Star Wars community, which is about the nicest compliment you’ll ever get out of that fan-base. Despite the underwhelming performance of the movie, Donald Glover as Lando was pretty universally praised.
Can a Lando Star Wars TV series work?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Let’s break down why. First and foremost, you’ve got an established asset in Glover, who has already shown he can play the character. Beyond that, he’s been on Community for 11 years. He clearly has the longevity to grow and evolve as the show dictates across multiple seasons. And we’ve seen from The Mandalorian that Disney is perfectly capable of creating a well-rounded and exciting show.
Now, that said…. well, nevermind.
No no! That was doubt! What’s wrong?
Okay, so there is something that bugs me about using Lando in a new Star Wars series! It’s the same issue I ended up having with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Because of when it takes place, I knew going into it that nothing earth-shatteringly important could happen. If something did, we’d be left wondering “then how come we didn’t hear about that in episode IV!?” Unlike The Mandalorian, which used an all-new cast of characters, Lando could be weighed down by his appearances in the original trilogy.
At the end of the day, we know Lando is going to survive. He has to for the story to make sense. We also know logically where this show ends. At some point, he’s going to come into possession of the Cloud City over Bespin and begin operating a mining facility. If he doesn’t, then The Empire Strikes Back suddenly has a plot hole 12 parsecs wide.
To be fair, knowing where the journey ends doesn’t invalidate seeing the journey itself. I had already read the books when Lord of the Rings came out. Seeing the movies was still 150% worth it. We knew how the prequel trilogy would have to end, and while I found those movies to be garbage, it wasn’t because I already knew how they would end. At the end of this day, the success of this show will come down to the writing and to Glover’s performance. and I feel pretty good on those two fronts!
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Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for FIJI Water