From: Benjamin Freed
To: J.J. Abrams
Subject: Always in motion is the future.
I see that you have released the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. How exciting! The Internet sure seems excited, based on the freeze-frame of Han Solo and Chewbacca that whizzes enthusiastically down my Tweetdeck display every 0.35 seconds. But, however deep into the post-production phase you and your colleagues at Lucasfilm might be, we need to talk. It appears you ignored the missive I sent you last year about my idea for a sequel: Old Solo, a deeply emotional character drama that could win the Star Wars saga its first Academy Awards for something besides music and visual effects.
I believe, Mr. Abrams, that this was a grave error. So before it is consigned to development hell for eternity, here, again, is an outline of the movie you should have made.
Opening: The traditional John Williams fanfare plays over the Star Wars title as the opening scroll explains that 40 years have passed since the end of Return of the Jedi. The New Republic has established its governance of the galaxy, the last remnants of the Galactic Empire have been defeated for good, and the characters from the original trilogy have gotten on with their lives.
Pan down to a run-down house in a sleepy part of Corellia. Inside is a crotchety, wheelchair-bound Han Solo, who lives here alone. Leia is gone, having left him years ago. Luke doesn’t come around anymore. Han’s kids won’t speak to him. His only visitor and caretaker is Chewbacca.
Bitter and almost entirely solitary, Han has become quite unpleasant in his old age. In fact, the first 75 minutes of the movie is just Han verbally abusing Chewie about his medication, needing more blankets, where Leia is, and so on. Chewie weathers all of Han’s abuse, because he knows if he doesn’t visit, Han will starve and die alone. (I should point out here that Chewbacca is also elderly. He walks around with the assistance of a Wookie cane, which is just a log.)
But halfway through the movie, Han gets real nasty, telling Chewie he wishes he’d left him on Hoth all those years ago, and that Ewoks are more intelligible than Wookies. The Ewok insult is too much. Chewie snaps and starts breaking everything in the house (plates, tables, old blaster rifles). Amid the rampage, Han pulls himself up from his wheelchair and tries to reason with Chewbacca, but the Wookie belts him across the chest. Smash cut to black.
A badly wounded Han wakes up in some space hospital. Leia is standing at the end of his bed, like Diane Keaton in The Godfather Part III. “I knew you still loved me,” he says. Leia replies: “No, Han. I’m still with Wedge. The hospital just had no one else to call.” (More backstory: Ten years before Old Solo, Leia and Han divorced. Leia got remarried to Wedge Antilles, who, haunted by his participation in two campaigns to destroy both Death Stars, which killed hundreds of thousands of troops, is now an anti-superweapon activist.)
Han asks Leia where Chewbacca is. He wants to forgive Chewie for being such an awful friend all these years. A space doctor walks in, and says that after hitting Han, Chewie panicked and called the paramedics, but had a massive stroke while waiting for the space ambulance. Chewie will live out his days as a patient at the Cloud City Assisted Living Center (a Calrissian Holdings Company property), while Han now has nobody to take care of him.
Leia looks on with pity and says she and Wedge will take in Han for his final years. “Get Luke here instead, and tell him to bring the lightsaber,” Han grumbles.
In the final sequence, Wedge takes Han back to Corellia to get a few belongings before moving in with Leia and Wedge. Han enters the run-down shanty alone. He surveys the room and realizes his best memories were years ago. “I’m sorry, Chewie,” he cries. Smash cut to credits/John Williams closing fanfare.
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May the force be with you, Mr. Abrams, and please acknowledge receipt.