Lord and Miller Are Better For Superheroes Than “Star Wars”

On June 20, 2017, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy fired Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the directors of the 2018 young Han Solo film. Lord and Miller, who were previously tapped by Warner Bros to direct The Flash (2020), apparently clashed one too many times with Kennedy, as well as the film’s screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens). After news of their firing became public, I breathed a brief sigh of relief. They were never a good fit for Han Solo in the first place.

The two filmmakers are mostly known for their work on 21 and 22 Jump Street and The Lego Movie. Their typical style of comedy is rooted in parody: it tends to be referential or self-aware in ways that often break the fourth wall. Look to 22 Jump Street, when undercover officers Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) go to visit Captain Dickson, portrayed by Ice Cube. Upon seeing Dickson’s new glass encased office, Schmidt remarks that, “It looks like a giant cube of ice.” There are also several running gags in The Lego Movie regarding Batman such as his love for “black or very, very dark grey” or his theme music literally saying things like “Darkness/No parents.”

This kind of humor doesn’t work for Star Wars, which takes place in its own universe rather than one even partially adjacent to ours. It certainly doesn’t work for Han Solo, even though the character was in The Lego Movie. Han is mostly known for his charm, bravado, and sarcasm. Comedy involving him is typically either situational or plays off his personality traits and/or flaws.

He’s the guy who charges a group of stormtroopers head first only to turn tail because he forgot he was outnumbered. He’s the guy who’s genuinely offended when someone calls him “scruffy looking.” He’s the guy who sarcastically thanks a protocol droid for interrupting his first kiss with Princess Leia. He’s the guy who, after witnessing that it was more than just some “hokey religion,” will tell you that faith alone is “not how the Force works.” At best, his humor might be self-referential, like the trash compactor joke in The Force Awakens — but even that was pushing it.

Where Lord and Miller would do wonders, however, is in the realm of comic book movies — especially superhero movies. Their style of comedy would be perfect for Spider-Man, who quips so much he annoys his allies as much as his adversaries. Marvel seems to agree; the two have worked on an animated film featuring the character slated to release next July.

Deadpool, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Their humor would be perfect for Deadpool, a character with a long history of breaking the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience or acknowledging his own existence as a fictional character. They would be fantastic with Plastic Man who, like Spider-Man, mixes comedy and heart in ways that could easily mesh with the audience. His powers also lend themselves well to situational comedy.

Personally, I would love to see them return to direct The Flash. While I feel Wally West would be a better fit for the two than Barry Allen, Flash characters have enough variety for them to have a lot to work with — especially The Rogues. Warner Bros are still on board for Lord and Miller. Are you?

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