The summer blockbuster season has officially begun, and with it a new Star Wars to the delight of fans around the world. Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the story of Han Solo before he became the lovable rogue and smuggler we all know from the original Star Wars trilogy. The film is a blend of genres: part Western, part caper, and part adventure movie. If you loved the look and feel of this standalone Star Wars tale and are itching for more, we’ve got you covered. From ’70s heist flicks to good old fashioned Westerns, here’s a list of films to check out next if you enjoyed Solo: A Star Wars Story:
Not just a chase movie, Bullitt (along with The French Connection, arguably) is known as the definitive heist movie. Steve McQueen stars as police lieutenant Frank Bullitt, tasked by the ambitious Senator Walter Chalmers to keep watch over the brother of well-known mob boss, Pete Ross. When a pair of hitmen kill the witness, Lt. Bullitt follows their trail through a complex web of lies and double-crosses. Featuring one of the most famous car-chases in history, Bullitt is the model blueprint for any heist film. In Solo, filmmaker Ron Howard harkens back to the ’70s caper vibe of Bullitt, particularly during the scenes showing Solo pulling off the much-talked-about heist on Kessel. Speaking to Nerdist, Howard acknowledged the ’70s movie vibe and influence. “There’s another vibe that I really wanted, it was this kind of ’70s vibe. There were two kinds of movies that we did talk about a lot, and one of them was Bullitt. There was kind of a McQueen feel. I also feel that Alden has a natural slightly sort of Paul Newman vibe. And then there’s also that sort of heist/western vibe. That was certainly there in the Beckett character and in the frontier, and that feeling that they’re operating in a kind of lawless wide open environment.”
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Based loosely on fact, this 1969 Western follows the story of famed Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman), and his partner Harry Longabauch, the “Sundance Kid” (played by Robert Redford). After an attempted train robbery goes wrong, the pair find themselves on the run with a crack posse hard on their heels. Solo: A Star Wars Story shares a few similarities with this classic Wild West picture. A failed train robbery serves as a major plot point in both movies, resulting in their respective characters becoming outlaws that need to prove themselves to varying degrees. Han Solo and his mentor to the criminal underground Tobias Beckett agree to pull a dangerous job on Kessel. Butch and the Kid? The duo flee to Bolivia in search of a more successful criminal career. At the Solo premiere when asked about preparing for the role of Han, actor Alden Ehrenreich even named checked the film. “Speaking of ‘70s movies, one of my favorite movies growing up was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Ehrenreich remarked on the official Solo premiere live stream. “I think this movie [Solo] has a little bit of the fun of that film.”
Gangster No. 1 (2001)
A Paul Bettany character inspired by… another Paul Bettany character? Strange, but true! Bettany’s Solo character, the ruthless crime lord Dryden Voss, takes inspiration from Bettany’s role as an ultra smooth, utterly savage criminal in British mob movie Gangster No. 1. According to Solo co-screenwriter Jon Kasdan in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “Gangster No. 1 is a wild movie and Paul is great in it. It’s a combination of class and swagger and real danger, which I think is a fun thing, and he absolutely inhabits it.” Both characters are not to be messed with, they will stop at nothing (including murder) to be at the top of their game in the criminal underworld.
Directed by Solo co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Silverado is an underdiscussed gem. A throwback to the Westerns of the 1950s, the plot concerns four disparate heroes (played by Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Scott Glenn, and Danny Glover) who converge on the town of Silverado to battle against the crooked sheriff Dennehy. Much like Solo, the film culminates in an epic final showdown between two conniving outlaws. Han Solo may not be a cowboy, but he’s the closest thing Star Wars has to one in a galaxy far, far away.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
At first glance, the Coen Brothers’ 1998 film noir/stoner crime comedy may seem like a strange choice. Look closer at the relationships between the characters in The Big Lebowski, and therein lies the key. Think of Han and Chewie as The Dude and Walter Sobchak of the galaxy, respectively. Solo co-screenwriter Jon Kasdan found inspiration in the Coens’ now iconic duo who fumble their way into the crime world. “[Solo] has that flavor of a crime world that has weirdness and surprise and people stumbling into things — and other people very intentionally getting into [trouble],” he remarked to EW. “The Big Lebowski is a great example because Solo has a more off-kilter tone than you’ve ever seen in [Star Wars].”
The seedy criminal underground that draws Han Solo into its ranks mirrors the one found in Michael Mann’s 1995 heist movie masterpiece, Heat. In the film, a group of bank robbers lead by mastermind Neil McCauley (played by Robert DeNiro) start to feel the pressure from police after mistakenly leaving a clue at their most recent heist. Both sides try to find balance between their personal and professional lives amidst the chaos. McCauley and his younger partner, Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), share a student-mentor relationship akin to Tobias Beckett and Han’s. Each duo includes an older, wiser criminal showing their younger, street-smart protege the tools and skills needed to survive in the underworld.
Treasure Island (1950)
Walt Disney Pictures chose to adapt Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure as their first live-action film ever. The movie follows young Jim Hawkins who finds a map to the treasure of notorious pirate, Captain Flint. Jim enlists the help of Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesy to procure a ship, the Hispanola, for the voyage. Along the way, they encounter the infamous pirate Long John Silver, who boards the Hispanola and takes Jim hostage in an attempt to find the treasure himself. Solo and Treasure Island both center around a young man’s maturation admist an action-packed adventure. Both Han and Jim encounter characters with suspicious intentions, and each character matures into adulthood informed by the corrupt criminals they meet.
Images: Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, FilmFour, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures
Michelle Buchman is the social media manager at Nerdist Industries. She’s also a huge cinephile. Feel free to follow and chat movies with her on Twitter, @michelledeidre.
MORE STAR WARS!
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- Eight essential Han Solo comics for fans to enjoy.
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- Learn more about Solo’s surprise character
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