December 7, 2023

The ultimate watch list to get you fired up for Solo: A Star Wars Story…

We don’t have to wait much longer for the origins of the soft-hearted scoundrel to be revealed in Solo: A Star Wars Story. After an eternity of secrecy, fans have been hit head on with trailers and clips that finally lay out the vibe of the flick.

EW’s exclusive coverage revealed that the Kasdans looked beyond the Star Wars universe to find inspiration for their origin story. They name-dropped Treasure Island and The Big Lebowski among others, while also referencing neo-noir and cloak-and-dagger thrillers as their influences, and promising an “off-kilter tone.” Director Ron Howard has hinted that we’ll see a film with more of a old-west flavor than we’re used to in our Star Wars.


And then there’s the marketing and merchandising. From the retro character posters to the far-out fashions from HerUniverse, the Solo vibe is definitely rooted in the 1970s. Can you dig it? I can. It feels like Star Wars is taking us back to that pre-prequel period of lived-in world-building and retro-future kitsch that is distinctly from the galaxy far, far away.

If you want to get yourself in the right frame of mind for some noir mystery and gunslinging action, check out some of the films that have inspired—or could have inspired—the blended genre vibe of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Solo himself Alden Ehrenreich mentioned this 1969 classic on the red carpet at the Solo: A Star Wars Story premiere. It’s easy to see why he took inspiration from Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and their wild west outlaw romp. There’s a gritty natural setting, humorous banter, and a mentor-mentee relationship I imagine Beckett and Han will mirror.


Bullitt: Show up for Steve McQueen at peak leading-man badass; stay for the timeless car chase through the steep streets of San Francisco. It’s not the Kessel Run, but it’s still thrilling watching that green Ford Mustang catch air, and the plot twists, high stakes, and dangerous mobsters will pump you up for an underworld adventure.


Chinatown: The Mother of Dragons has made many references to film noir and femme fatales when speaking about her character, Qi’ra. Her polished look radiates classic elegance, and her motivations are elusive. She instantly reminded me of Faye Dunaway’s socialite with a secret from 1974’s Chinatown. At the film’s climax, Jack Nicholson’s PI Gittes finally breaks the facade; we’ll have to see how long it takes before the true Qi’ra comes out in Solo.


Shaft: In 1971, bad mutha John Shaft cemented his place in cinema culture forever. Richard Roundtree is a scoundrel after Lando’s own heart: a no-nonsense tough guy, dripping with swagger and rocking incredibly fly outerwear. The plot pits two organized crime units against each other, and the iconic Isaac Hayes soundtrack perfectly matches the seedy setting: the underbelly of New York City. I’m expecting John Powell’s imaginative score to highlight the grit of the shady corners of Solo’s world, too.


American Graffiti: Set in the idyllic early-1960s, this coming-of-age story told through muscle cars and teenage angst is special for many reasons. This is the first pairing of Ron Howard (in front of the camera as class president Steve) and “The Maker” George Lucas, who co-wrote and directed the 1973 flick. The one-night journey of the characters in American Graffiti is full of the same youthful optimism we expect to see, at least for a while, in Solo. Bonus: you’ll also see Harrison Ford before he was Han Solo, piloting a ‘55 Chevy One-Fifty.

What other films do you think could have provided some inspiration for Solo? Leave a comment and let us know!

Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in cinemas May 25.


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