This Star Wars article contains major spoilers.
Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the story of a young Han Solo before he ever met Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, or Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. Chronicling Han’s first adventures across the galaxy, Solo reveals how Han met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, how he became the captain of the Millennium Falcon, and how he escaped life as a poor orphan on his home planet of Corellia.
Like The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi before it, Solo features tons of easter eggs and callbacks to other Star Wars film adventures as well as the Expanded Universe at large. I’ve picked apart and dissected the film for all of its nerdy bits. If I missed anything, just hit me up on Twitter or in the comments below.
Han Solo & Chewbacca
– There’s honestly no reason you shouldn’t know this, but for the sake of the one poor soul who doesn’t: Han Solo was originally played by Harrison Ford in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens. He is played by Alden Ehrenreich in Solo.
– Han Solo is introduced as a petty thief on the planet Corellia, which is located at the Core of the galaxy. This has been Han’s established homeworld since the days of the Legends canon. It was first mentioned in A New Hope but didn’t appear as an actual location until the 100th issue of Marvel’s classic Star Wars comic.
– Solo opens with Han’s life as a street urchin, stealing and running cons on the streets of Corellia. The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin, which told Han’s origin story in the Legends timeline, also establishes Han as a kid who lived on the streets before being picked up by a criminal named Garrus Shrike and forced to work on a pirate ship called Trader’s Luck.
– The opening scene of Han running from stormtroopers with a vial of coaxium plays out sort of like the opening to any of the Indiana Jones movies, which always open with Indy running away from bad guys (or traps) with some sort of artifact or treasure. There’s an Indiana Jones-ness to this movie in general.
– Perhaps the BIGGEST revelation of all about Han is the origin of his last name. In the Legends canon, House Solo was once the ruling family in Corellia (yes, Han descended from royalty in this timeline). In Solo, it’s revealed that Han’s last name was given to him by an Imperial officer during his application to the Academy.
– Han’s father is mentioned in the movie, although we never get to meet him. This would indicate Han had another last name when he was a kid, but has chosen to abandon it. In the Legends timeline, Han was orphaned at a young age. There’s no mention of his parents at all.
– Han’s dice have become a pretty important symbol for the scoundrel. Although they originally only appeared in one shot in A New Hope, the Sequel Trilogy has given the dice new significance. You may remember Luke gifting Leia the dice before facing Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi.
As established by the new canon, these are Han’s lucky dice, which he used to win the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a game of “Corellian Spike” sabacc. This backstory has been skewed by Solo, though. In the movie, Han already has the dice on Corellia before he ever met Lando and never actually uses them during the sabacc game. This might be a continuity error or — more likely — Lucasfilm has decided to change the story.
So what’s the deal with the dice then? They may actually symbolize the years Han spent with Qi’ra on Corellia before the two were separated.
– Sabacc is a card game first introduced in Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu. You can read way more about sabacc itself right here.
– During his first sabacc game with Lando, Han bluffs and says that he owns a VCX-100 light freighter. Rebels features a VCX-100 known as the Ghost! Thanks to Logan Hodskins in the comments for catching this one.
– We also learn that Han acquired his signature DL-44 blaster from Tobias Beckett, who is quite the gunslinger. You can read more about the making of the DL-44 here.
– Like in Solo, Han also joins the Imperial Academy in The Paradise Snare. In the sequel, The Hutt Gambit, Han is discharged from the Imperial military for helping Chewbacca escape slavery.
In the movie, Han doesn’t necessarily leave the Empire because of its xenophobic stance on slaves. Instead, saving Chewie is sort of a circumstantial part of Han’s escape from the frontlines.
Ultimately, Lucasfilm keeps the classic origin of Han and Chewie’s partnership: Han saved Chewie from slavery, which is how they became partners.
– One thing that’s never mentioned is Chewie’s life debt to Han. It’s not clear whether that’s ultimately still canon. In Solo, it seems like Chewie chooses to stay with Han simply because they’re friends.
– The movie never explains how Han learned Shyriiwook, the language spoken by Chewbacca. However, in The Paradise Snare, it’s revealed that Han learned the Wookiee language aboard the Trader’s Luck from a female Wookiee named Dewlannamapia, who raised the young boy as her own son.
In case you’re wondering, there are three Wookiee languages in total: Shyriiwook, Thykarann, and Xaczik.
– Chewbacca wears an ammunition belt across his chest throughout the Original and Sequel Trilogies. He wears two belts in Solo.
– Chewie doesn’t have his famous bowcaster in this movie. Instead, he equips a regular blaster rifle.
– We need to talk about that Kessel Run. Han completes allegedly zooms through the dangerous smuggling route in “less than 12 parsecs.” It’s revealed that this is a lie fabricated by Han. When mentioning that he’s completed the run in 12 parsecs, Chewie questions this. Han replies, “Not if you round down.”
This might also explain why Rey thought Han had completed the Kessel Run in 14 parsecs. It seems that there are conflicting accounts about Han’s exploits and the smuggler isn’t happy about it.
– This is the first Star Wars movie not to feature the famous line, “I have a bad feeling about this, ” but Han DOES deliver an offshoot of that: “I have a good feeling about this.” Nicely played, Solo.
– During his final standoff with Beckett, Han fires his blaster while his mentor is midway through a sentence. This is a reference to the “Han shot first” debacle from A New Hope. In this case, Han definitely DID shoot first.
Listen to the latest Star Wars Blaster Canon podcast:
Lando Calrissian & L3-37
– Lando has “retired” from smuggling by the time we meet him in Solo. If you’d like to see the most charming con man in the galaxy at his smuggling best, check him out in Rebels season 1 episode 11, “Idiot’s Array,” as well as Marvel’s Lando miniseries by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev, which is just brilliant.
– “The Lando Chronicles” are a reference to The Lando Calrissian Adventures, a trilogy of novels written by L. Neil Smith in 1983. The books are Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, and Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka.
– The scene where Lando is chronicling his adventures opens up two possibilities about the con man: 1) The Lando Calrissian Adventures are an in-universe fabrication, created by Lando to make him seem more adventurous than he actually is, and 2) the events in the novels take place before Solo. We’re going to assume the former because it’s more fun.
– While recording “The Lando Chronicles,” Lando references “the Sharu.” They’re the advanced alien race featured in Mindharp of Sharu.
– Lando’s droid companion, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge with a scene-stealing performance, is named L3-37. The name is reference to “LEET,” which is an English alphabet unique to the internet where you use numbers and symbols to replace certain letters. You can read way more about LEET here.
– Both standalones have featured memorable droids and Lucasfilm may be naming them in a specific order. K-2SO stole the show in Rogue One and L3-37 does the same in Solo. If the studio is going in a specific order, then “L3” would follow “K2.” By this logic, the next standalone may feature a droid named “M4.”
– Interestingly enough, Lando also had a droid companion in The Lando Calrissian Adventures named Vuffi Raa. Described as having five tentacles and being part of an extra-galactic sentient-droid hybrid race known as the Silentium, Vuffi traveled around with Lando as his co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon. L3-37 might be a reference to Vuffi.
– Although it’s never mentioned in the movie, L3-37’s body is made of scrap droid parts, according to EW. She is self-made, meaning that she’s modified herself through the years. This makes her very unique among the droids of the film saga.
– L3-37’s superior navigation system is uploaded to the Millennium Falcon’s computer after being mortally wounded on Kessel, which means that her consciousness lives on through the ship. This might also explain why Han sometimes refers to the Falcon as a she or “baby” or “sweetheart” when in a bind. He could actually be talking to L3!
– Lando mentions that he hates mining colonies. Little does he know that he’ll one day end up as the Baron Administrator of Cloud City, a Tibanna gas mining colony on Bespin.
– The best exchange between Lando and Han comes in the third act of the movie when the con man tells the scoundrel that he hates him. Han simply replies, “I know.” This is a direct reference to Han’s famous line in The Empire Strikes Back when Leia tells him she loves him and he replies, “I know.”
– Solo also makes reference to how Billy Dee Williams pronounces Han’s name in The Empire Strikes Back. It almost seems like Lando actually says “Han” wrong on purpose in order to annoy the young smuggler…
Scum & Villainy
– Qi’ra’s name is almost certainly taken from “Kira,” which was Rey’s original name in the early planning stages for The Force Awakens.
– Qi’ra is Han’s first love. They grew up together on Corellia and ran scams on the streets for Lady Proxima. Qi’ra is at the very least inspired by Han’s first love from The Paradise Snare, Bria Tharen, a member of a wealthy family on Corellia.
Han and Bria didn’t actually meet on Corellia but on the planet Ylesia, where Han is hiding out from Garrus Shrike and Bria is suffering from an addiction involving pleasure…I’m not going to go into too much detail on that. Just read the book.
– Here’s a deep cut: the form of martial arts Qi’ra and Dryden Vos use in combat is Teras Kasi, which first appeared in the 1996 non-canon novel Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry. Prince Xizor, the leader of the Black Sun criminal organization (which we’ll get to in a minute), was a master practitioner of Teras Kasi. Darth Maul also practiced this martial arts style in lightsaber combat, which, in retrospect, should have been a tip off that the former Sith apprentice was going to show up in the movie at some point…
There was also a really bad Star Wars fighting game developed by LucasArts called Masters of Teras Kasi for the PlayStation. Don’t bother playing it, though.
– Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson, could also be modeled by a character from The Paradise Snare: Garris Shrike, the captain of the decommissioned troopship Trader’s Luck. From a certain point of view, Shrike’s the guy who raised Han after he was orphaned. In fact, Shrike raised a bunch of orphans to become his own band of thieves. Han eventually escaped Trader’s Luck to join the Imperial Academy, although Shrike plotted to kill the young pilot later.
– It’s revealed that Beckett killed Aurra Sing. Prequel fans undoubtedly know that Sing was a bounty hunter first introduced as a background character in The Phantom Menace. She also appeared in several episodes of The Clone Wars (voiced by Jaime King), fighting alongside the villainous Cad Bane, Boba Fett, and Bossk. Fun fact: the very first sketch of Aurra Sing for TPM by illustrator Doug Chiang was labeled “Babe Fett.”
– Speaking of Bossk, he is mentioned by Val (Thandie Newton) during a conversation with Tobias. She feels that Tobias should have called a pro like Bossk to pull off the heist on Vandor-1.
– Beckett mentions a big job on Tatooine from a big-time crime lord. We all know he’s referring to Jabba the Hutt. Solo ends with Han and Chewie zooming on the Falcon towards Tatooine and their destiny.
– During the Kessel heist, Beckett uses a familiar disguise first worn by Lando in Return of the Jedi during the mission to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt.
– Beckett dreams of one day retiring and learning to play the valachord. The instrument was first introduced in the 2015 novel Aftermath by Chuck Wendig.
– Dryden Vos is played by Paul Bettany. The villain was originally going to be played by Michael K. Williams (The Wire), but he had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict during reshoots.
– Dryden Vos shares a famous last name with Jedi Master Quinlan Vos, who appears in quite a few Prequel era comics from the Legends timeline as well as The Clone Wars animated series and the 2015 novel Dark Disciple by Christie Golden. There doesn’t appear to be any connection between Dryden and Quinlan, though.
– Vos is the leader of Crimson Dawn, a criminal organization first introduced in the 2018 novel Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older. In the biggest reveal of the movie, we learn that Crimson Dawn is actually affiliated to Black Sun, which is a criminal syndicate run by Darth Maul. Black Sun was first introduced in Shadows of the Empire.
– If you missed The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, you’re probably wondering how Maul was able to appear on screen after being sliced in half by Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace. It’s revealed in The Clone Wars that Maul survived his mutilation through sheer force of will. Throughout the series, he slowly rose to power, fueled by his thirst for vengeance against his former master, Darth Sidious. Eventually, Maul created the Shadow Collective, a criminal alliance that included Black Sun, Death Watch, the Pyke Syndicate, the Hutt Cartel, and the Nightbrothers.
At the height of his power, Maul became the ruler of Mandalore. Of course, as with all empires, Maul’s criminal alliance slowly fragmented as it fought both the Galactic Republic and the Separatists (not to mention the Sith). Maul ultimately failed to get his revenge against Sidious.
His cameo in Solo takes place between the Prequel era but before Rebels, which is why he still seems to have some hold on Black Sun and Crimson Dawn. By the time he’s reintroduced in Rebels, Maul has struck out on his own in search of a Sith holocron that might lead him to secret to destroying the Sith as well as the location of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul finally perished in his rematch with Obi-Wan on Tatoonie.
– Maul is played by actor and martial artist Ray Park, who first portrayed the character in The Phantom Menace. He is voiced by Sam Witwer, who also voiced the character in The Clone Wars and Rebels. (Fun fact: Witwer also provided his voice and likeness for the character of Starkiller in The Force Unleashed video games.)
– The lightsaber Maul brandishes in his cameo is the same one he uses in Rebels sans the “walking stick” attachment. Also, it should be noted that this cameo prevents Solo from being the first Star Wars movie not to feature a lightsaber at all.
– Maul also uses the Force to equip his lightsaber, which prevents the movie from being the first without any mention or use of the Force.
– The original pilot in Beckett’s crew is Rio Durant, the four-armed Ardennian voiced by Jon Favreau. The veteran actor and director also voiced Pre Vizsla, a Mandalorian from The Clone Wars, and is set to write and produce the upcoming Star Wars live-action series.
– At one point, Durant refers to Han as a “flyboy.” This is a reference to Princess Leia, who calls Han a “flyboy” in A New Hope.
– Enfys Nest’s group of marauders, The Cloud-Riders, turn out to be a diverse group of freedom fighters from across the galaxy who want Crimson Dawn’s stolen coaxium because it’s “the blood that brings life to something new.” This seems to indicate that The Cloud-Riders are on one of the splinter cells that eventually came together to become the Rebel Alliance. The Ghost crew from Rebels was another such group.
– The Cloud-Riders actually first appeared in the old Legends canon. The original Cloud-Riders first appeared in classic Marvel comic, Star Wars #8, a story titled “Eight for Aduba-3” — the same issue that introduced Jaxxon, that green rabbit dude whom you still can’t believe in a Star Wars character. In this story, the Cloud-Riders are raiders who attack a village on Aduba-3 once a year, burning crops and kidnapping the woman. Han and Chewie organized a group called the Star-Hoppers of Aduba-3 in order to combat the evil raiders, Magnificent Seven style.
Shout out to commenter Derek Whaley for pointing this one out to me!
Planets, Aliens, Ships, & More
– Solo was originally set to be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie) before they departed midway through filming due to creative differences. Veteran director Ron Howard took over and reportedly reshot 70 percent of the movie.
– We’re probably reading WAY too much into this, but Solo‘s “opening crawl” sure seems like an homage to the opening crawl from Blade Runner, which starred Harrison Ford.
– We learn a few things about the Millennium Falcon from Solo. While Lando’s version of the ship is a lavish luxury freighter capable of incredible speeds and plenty of space to smuggle coaxium, we learn that it’s through Han’s…unique piloting skills that the Falcon transforms into the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
One thing that’s different about the Falcon in Solo is the ship’s solid bow. In the Original Trilogy, the Falcon has a mandible design. We learn that the front of the ship once had an escape pod, which was detached by Han during the Kessel Run. The smuggler later modified the mandible to house a concussive missile launcher.
– The Falcon also has its circular radar dish knocked off during the Kessel Run. This is a reference to how Lando loses the Falcon’s radar dish during Return of the Jedi. Han definitely scratched the Falcon first, though. By The Force Awakens, the radar dish is now rectangular.
– The Falcon’s first chronological appearance in the film saga is in a brief cameo in Revenge of the Sith. It can be seen landing on Coruscant. The ship wasn’t called the Millennium Falcon yet at that point.
– The speeder Han and Qi’ra use to evade Lady Proxima’s thugs and the Empire is an M-68 landspeeder.
– The Corellian hounds that are sent after Han and Qi’ra are an homage to the Death Dogs in Willow, another movie directed by Ron Howard, according to co-screenwriter Jon Kasdan.
– One of the planets featured in the movie is Mimban, a muddy and rainy swamp world. The planet was first introduced in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster, the first Expanded Universe novel ever. It was also meant to be the setting of a low-budget “Star Wars II” had A New Hope not been a massive success. You can read way more about Mimban here.
– There is a particular “crystal skull” that decorates Vos’ office. This could be a reference to an Indiana Jones movie that doesn’t exist in my headcanon. Another theory comes from commenter Kevin Rowe, who points out that the crystal skull could actually be a reference to the one on the cover of the novel Han Solo and the Lost Legacy by Brian Daley.
– The droids duking it out in the fighting pit are GNK power droids, better known as “gonk droids” because of the distinctive noises they make.
– The droid fighting pit could be a reference to robot combat shows like Robot Wars and BattleBots. L3-37 would HATE those shows.
– The six-eyed alien that is trying to peek at Han’s cards during the first sabacc game is an Azumel named Argus “Six Eyes” Panox. He is a reference to the “many-eyed” giant from Greek mythology named Argus Panoptes. Also, don’t the Azumel sorta resemble the three-eyed Gran?
– Classic Star Wars species who appear in Solo include Twi’leks, Wookiees, and Trandoshans.
– The planet Kessel, best known for its harsh conditions and mines operated by slave labor, has been around since the very beginning of Star Wars. Kessel was first mentioned by C-3PO in A New Hope and has subsequently appeared several times in the Expanded Universe.
In George Lucas’ Journal of the Whills outline for what would eventually become A New Hope, Kessel appeared as a star system called “Kissel,” which contained the planet Utapau (you may remember it from Revenge of the Sith as General Grievous’ final resting place).
Kessel first appeared in the flesh in a comic strip published by Los Angeles Times Syndicate called “The Second Kessel Run.” You guessed it: it’s about Han and Chewie attempting a second run through the dangerous smuggling route.
– In the Legends timeline, Kessel was the home of a huge spice mining operation (this was totally ripped from classic 1965 sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert). However, it seems that coaxium is Kessel’s main export in Solo.
– The Kessel Run, the infamous smuggling route, was also first mentioned in A New Hope by Han while boasting about the Millennium Falcon. The route is 18 parsecs long.
– It should also be noted that parsecs are a unit of distance, not speed, in the real world. The original line from A New Hope is “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs,” which would indicate that parsecs are a unit of speed. George Lucas later explained in the Star-Words letters section of Marvel’s Star Wars #6 (1977) that the error was a hint that Han was lying about the Falcon’s exploits while negotiating with Luke and Obi-Wan.
According to Wookieepedia, writer Kevin J. Anderson later retconned the explanation, turning parsecs into a valid unit of distance in terms of the Kessel Run:
“The Kessel Run is through the Maw. Event horizons around black holes are dependent on the speed at which you are traveling. A standard ship has to do the run in eighteen parsecs because to cut the route any closer, the ship would get sucked in. The Falcon, however, is fast enough to straighten the route and cut over six parsecs off the distance traveled.”
Okay, that’s enough about the parsecs…
– The rescue/revolt scenes in the spice mines are reminiscent of those in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which features Indy saving children from slave labor at the hands of the evil Kali cult.
– Droids featured in the revolt on Kessel include both astromech and protocol droids.
– Speaking of droids, this is the first Star Wars movie to not feature C-3PO or R2-D2, who even popped up briefly in Rogue One.
– Scarif is also mentioned in passing. This tropical planet first appeared in Rogue One. Jyn Erso and the other Rebels infiltrate Scarif in order to steal the plans to the Death Star.
– Savareen, the final planet introduced in the movie, first appeared in a West End Games role-playing publication, Star Wars Journal 9, in 1996. In both the old and new canon, the planet is known for is brandy.
– John Powell is only the third composer to score a live-action Star Wars movie (John Williams and Michael Giacchino are the other two, of course). His excellent score features a few homages to Williams’ original music, including sections of “TIE Fighter Attack,” “The Asteroid Field,” and the “Main Title” theme. All of these musical cues are just exquisite.
– You can also hear a slightly modified version of “The Imperial March” in the recruitment video for the Imperial Academy on Corellia.
– Warwick Davis, who first played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, makes a cameo in Solo, reprising his cameo role from The Phantom Menace, Weazel, who was first introduced as a thief and member of the Hutt gang on Tatooine. He’s become a spy and Enfys Nest’ lieutenant since then.
– Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s brother, makes a cameo as the guy running the droid fighting pit. He’s appeared in several of his brother’s movies.