With just a day to go until the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, so many questions hang in the balance about the origin story of a hero we all know so well. One particular stand-out among these questions is the identity and history of Qi’ra, the film’s leading lady.
In the trailers, the character goes from joyriding as a street punk with Han to commanding the shot as a cape-donning badass. How this growth happens isn’t something that’s been explained outright, but by connecting the pieces from interviews and footage, we can try to begin to understand Qi’ra: a complicated heroine – or an equally complicated antagonist, if things go as badly for Han as they usually do.
Portraying Qi’ra for the first time on the big screen (and hopefully not the last) is Emilia Clarke, who is best known for her earth-shaking role as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. Clarke’s casting was announced last year, but it wasn’t until just last month that fans were given her character’s actual name – or, at least, the name she goes by. Clarke’s role in Solo marks her fifth big screen role, and the second time she’s joined a massive movie franchise following Terminator Genisys.
Below you’ll find a summary of everything we know so far about Solo’s billed “femme fatale” and the things that are already presenting her as someone far more complex than you’d imagine at first glance. With that in mind, there are semi-spoilers beyond this point, so turn back now if you want to go into Solo with no further knowledge of the film at all.
Qi’ra Is Han Solo’s Childhood Friend
So much about Qi’ra is shrouded in mystery, including her origins and what her true motivation is in the movie, but one thing is for sure: she’s no stranger to Solo. As teenagers, the two worked together to brave the harsh industrial cities of Corellia, their homeworld. A momentary homage to American Graffiti in the Solo teaser trailer shows the two speeding through the streets of Corellia during their younger years, alluding to the story told in Most Wanted by Rae Carson.
The young adult novel, which releases on the same day as Solo, follows Qi’ra and Han as they “do whatever it takes to get by” as street kids on Corellia. The current summary of the book pits them against one another for the same job under a crime boss, which goes wrong (as usual) and forces the two of them to work together in order to outrun a droid crime syndicate, their boss, a gaggle of pirates, and the Empire itself.
This, of course, is why Qi’ra knows who Han is, and where he comes from. “They grew up as pals, as partners in crime,” Emilia Clarke told EW back in February. “There is obviously the romantic side of things. But they grew up together. So they were kids together.”
She’s Stylish and Secretive
While we see her in roughly three costumes during the trailer (which is a considerably low number for any Star Wars film heroine who isn’t named Rey, Rose, or Jyn) it’s not hard to tell that by the time Qi’ra “grows up,” she’s inherited a sense of style that functions to her needs. When it comes to playing the game of smugglers and scoundrels, one must be versatile, and Qi’ra’s outfits each seem to show off a different side of her. Clarke has described playing the multi-faceted Qi’ra as “fun,” saying that she “has a couple of guises, but essentially she is just fighting to stay alive.”
She Has Her Own Plans, Separate from Han
While Clarke was fairly mum on the issue with EW, it seems like there are quite a few skips in time throughout the film. From the streets of Corellia to a fancy party, Qi’ra visibly becomes someone different – “an enigma,” as Clarke describes her character. How much time Han and Qi’ra spend apart is as much of a mystery as her intentions by the time they cross paths again, but whatever has happened, it’s changed her as a person and made her into someone far more secretive, who wears different masks, in a way, to get where she needs to go.
All of this seems to serve Qi’ra, who, despite the elegance of her looks, hasn’t completely left the “underworld” of Star Wars lore. “It’s dangerous and it’s sordid and it’s ugly, and it’s really, really dark,” Clarke said. “It has been really fun to put Qi’ra in that. She has a couple of guises, but essentially she is just fighting to stay alive.”
Everything Clarke has said about Qi’ra seems to allude to an act of betrayal – or perhaps betrayal that’s actually an act – or something even more complicated than that. It’s likely that the solemn look in her eye in one of the newest promo shots hides the secrets to her end game.
Why Han Solo Never Talks About Qi’ra
It feels like Qi’ra may be one of those characters who leads the audience along from Han’s point of view directly. She won’t easily let us in on her plans and is likely going to be as secretive of them with the fans as she is with Han. While it seems like she joins in on the big heist orchestrated by Beckett, she might have alternative plans, and they might not be as nice as Han would expect of a childhood friend.
Regardless of what happens, there may be a reason why Solo hasn’t yet mentioned Qi’ra is any of the still-developing Star Wars canon. Clarke even seemed to hint at it during her interview with EW, but stayed mum on the fact for fear of being “cut out” of the film entirely. Whether their paths diverge due to tragedy or betrayal (or both) is completely unclear, but whatever happened, it caused Han to keep that part of his life in the past. We sure hope she survives, though.
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on May 25.