The best thing that can be said for Solo: A Star Wars Story is that it’s better than it has any right to be. That isn’t a slight against director Ron Howard or his cast and crew, who clearly all put a ton of work and passion into the project, but more to do with the very idea of a young Han Solo movie not being the most inspired of creative directions. Yet somehow, Solo turned out to be a pretty entertaining entry in the Star Wars canon that ranks up there with Rogue One as the best prequel in the franchise. It’s a fun heist flick that explores the criminal underbelly of the Star Wars universe more than any previous film in the series and features a great cast featuring standout performances from the likes of Donald Glover as a scenery-chewing Lando Calrissian and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as an activist droid. What’s not to like?
For as much as Solo gets right, it’s also a film that coasts by on familiarity. Much like the prequel trilogy before it, the film is filled with winks and nods to the audience that frequently come off as feeling forced or unnecessary. If Solo had just been the Star Wars version of a classic heist movie with new characters and settings, it may have been something truly great but as it stands, the film is continuously sidetracked with a need to fill in the backstory of Han Solo, Chewbacca, and other characters we’ve been introduced to previously. As a result, Solo gives us a number of answers to questions that no one was really asking.
12. How Did Han Get His Last Name?
I don’t know about you, but I always just assumed that Han Solo’s full name was … Han Solo. After all, Star Wars is filled with characters with short and sweet surnames and “Solo” seems to fit right in that category. In perhaps the most cringe-inducing scene in the movie, we learn that not only is Han’s given surname not Solo, but that it was given to him on the spot for the most absurdly straightforward reason. Separated from Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and desperate for a way off Corellia, Han enlists in the Imperial Navy but when asked for his full name, reveals that he doesn’t have one. This prompts the recruitment officer to dub him “Han Solo” on account of him being on his own. Get it? Because he’s flying solo, you see? UGH
11. What Did Han Do To Secure A Life Debt From Chewbacca?
It’s hard to think of a better duo in the Star Wars universe than Han and Chewbacca, who were already close allies and friends when we first met them back in A New Hope. While I think most fans have always been somewhat curious to learn how a roguish man and a powerful Wookiee became joined at the hip, it’s never been a backstory that’s needed to be delved into too deeply. Unfortunately, if you’re making a young Han Solo movie, it’s kind of hard to do it without showing how Han and Chewie met and to the film’s credit, the manner of their meeting is rather unexpected.
Han gets thrown into a pit to be eaten and killed by a “monster” who turns out to be Chewbacca and after a short brawl, Han reveals that he knows how to speak the Wookiee language Shyriiwookand manages to convince Chewie to back off (wait, doesn’t Chewbacca understand English?). Han then proposes that the two work together to break out and gets Chewie to hit the support beam in the middle of the room repeatedly until it breaks. We’re led to assume this is the life debt that Chewie owes Han, but are we really supposed to believe that Chewie wouldn’t have stumbled upon this escape route previously in a fit of rage? I guess I was just hoping for something a bit more substantial, but at least it’s not as bad as the next Han/Chewie reveal …
10. How Did Chewie Get His Nickname?
After getting accepted into Beckett’s crew, Han and Chewbacca share a moment in which the former asks for the latter’s name. This prompts Han to reply, “You’re gonna need a nickname because I ain’t saying that every time,” as if shortening a three syllable name down to two is a huge relief for the vocal cords. This scene is arguably even more unnecessary than the “Solo” reveal, as it ignores how nicknames even work. No one just bestows someone else with a different name in an official manner. If Han had just referred to Chewbacca as “Chewie” in passing, it would have been a much more organic and believable moment.
9. How Did Han Get His Blaster?
Han Solo has always favored a blaster pistol as his weapon of choice (who can forget his famous “good blaster at your side, kid” line to Luke Skywalker in A New Hope?). Specifically, Han has always used a modified heavy DL-44 model, a popular choice among smugglers thanks to its above-average firepower and accuracy. However, it’s never really been a big mystery where he got it. As iconic as Han’s blaster is, it’s not like it’s on the same level as Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, for instance, and never really needed a backstory.
While Solo thankfully doesn’t make a big deal out of the moment Han gets his blaster, it’s still hard to miss the small bit of ceremony that’s evoked when Beckett tosses him the weapon. Han even asks Beckett if he can show him how to do his spin trick, which is unfortunate because it makes Han feel like less original if he just copied someone else’s style. Oh well, at least the film spares us from showing us the origins of Han cutting off sleeves to make a vest.
8. How Did Han Beat Lando At Cards?
The fact that Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon in a game of cards is all part of his legend and it also provides context for his uneasy relationship with the ship’s former owner Lando Calrissian when the two meet in Cloud City during The Empire Strikes Back. However, reality rarely measures up to the stories we’re told and such is the case with the famous card game between Han and Lando, which is an all around disappointment. From the fact that Han enters the game with the goal of making Lando bet his ship to Han never having played Sabaac yet somehow being amazing at it, there’s little that works in these scenes outside of the banter between the characters.
The pacing is also a problem, as we have to watch Han and Lando play twice after Lando wins the first game (by cheating, mind you), only for Han to return later on to expose Lando’s deception and take his ship. Perhaps if most viewers actually understood the rules of Sabaac these scenes would have worked better but as it stands, Han beating Lando at cards worked much better as backstory than it does actually seeing it played out.
7. Who Did Han Love Before Leia?
You can tell by the way Han Solo begins putting the moves on Princess Leia almost immediately after meeting her in A New Hope that he’s a bit of a womanizer, but the knowledge that Han has had romantic trysts in the past is something that we were able to just quietly assume about him rather than needing to be explicitly told. In fact, Han never discusses his romantic past with Leia or anyone else in the original trilogy, so it’s rather surprising to see just how deep the connection between him and Qi’ra is in Solo.
We can tell by the way Qi’ra selflessly tells Han to leave her on Corellia or how Han then spends the next three years of his life trying to find a way back to her that their love runs deep and even though Solo ends with Qi’ra betraying Han, their story feels far from over. Qi’ra is clearly someone who left a permanent mark on Han and his ability to trust people, but we don’t really get a sense of this in his interactions with Leia. I get that the character of Qi’ra didn’t exist when the original trilogy was written but it’s going to be weird going back to those movies now with the knowledge that Han loved someone before Leia (possibly even more so) and yet never mentions her once.
6. How Did Han Do The Kessel Run In 12 Parsecs?
Han’s famous line in A New Hope about the Millennium Falcon doing the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs was really just a throwaway bit of backstory meant to establish the Falcon as a more capable ship than it looked. It’s also an example of Han being boastful and I’d argue we’re led to believe that he may have been making it to help sell himself as the pilot Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi should hire to take them to Alderaan. Of course, now we have Solo, which centers almost its entire second act on the Kessel Run and while parts of the sequence definitely work, seeing it in action is somehow less exciting than hearing Han talk about it.
Solo takes that throwaway line and constructs a huge action scene that shows off Han’s piloting skills, but also kind of undermines him when you realize that that L3-37’s navigational data and using the Star Wars equivalent of NOS to make the Falcon go fast at the right moment are the only reasons he succeeds. Solo also confirms that parsecs are a unit of distance, not time, which means that all Han really did was take a shortcut, confirming that the Falcon really isn’t as special as Han makes it out to be.
5. Why Does Han Talk To The Millennium Falcon Like It’s Alive?
The original trilogy has a number of scenes where Han Solo offhandedly personifies the Millennium Falcon, such as when he tells C-3PO to talk to the ship and see what’s wrong with it in The Empire Strikes Back. Han clearly has an affinity or special connection if you will with the Falcon, so it makes sense that he would treat it like a valued companion. We’re never meant to question his choice of words but thanks to a certain storytelling decision in Solo, every interaction Han has with the Falcon now takes on a disturbing undertone.
Faced with no other option, Han and his crew decide to upload L3-37’s brain into the Falcon in order to navigate a faster route through the Kessel Run. This decision saves the day but it also means that the self-actualized droid, who had just finished leading a droid rebellion down on Kessel, is forced against her will to become a glorified navigational computer for the Falcon (also, if this technology exists, why doesn’t EVERY ship have this functionality?). This is one of those decisions that seems like it was made entirely in service of the plot without taking into account how it might affect other aspects of the franchise, which it does because I know I’m never going to look at the Millennium Falcon the same again.
4. How Did Han First Meet Jabba The Hutt?
Alright, so technically we don’t actually see Han meet Jabba in Solo, but the film ends with him and Chewie on their way to Tatooine to meet the reviled gangster. We’re told that Jabba is putting together a team for a big score and seeing as how the film is really selling the idea of there being a sequel at the end (which is looking less and less likely given Solo’s disappointing box office performance), it seems inevitable that we’re going to witness their first encounter.
I have to wonder who really wants to go back to that strange desert palace and see Jabba try to intimidate Han in the Huttese language. We’ve already seen how this story ends. In fact, one of the first things we learn about Han in A New Hope is that he used to be one of Jabba’s trusted smugglers but is now in his bad books after ditching a shipment (something we also see him do in Solo during the train robbery). Nothing is to be gained from seeing Han and Jabba meet besides filling in more unneeded backstory, though if that first job is rustling up a Rancor to put in Jabba’s newly requisitioned pit, I may be on board.
3. Can Humans And Droids Have Sex?
Yes, yes they can.
Outside of the kinky fanfic corners of Star Wars fandom, the prospect of human-droid sexual intercourse has never been much of a concern for the franchise. However, thanks to a throwaway joke in Solo, we now know that humans and droids can indeed get it on, as L3-37 confirms as much to Qi’ra when asked how anything between her and Lando would even work. I think it’s safe to say that no one went into Solo expecting that this specific question would be addressed, but here we are.
2. How Did The Rebel Alliance Really Begin?
While I do think the third act reveal that Enfys Nest and her Cloud Riders are not pirates but rebels fighting against the crime syndicates and the Empire is a really good twist, there are parts of it that really don’t work within the larger story Solo is trying to tell. The main problem with these characters is that by having Han help them, it establishes that he is sympathetic to the rebel cause, which not only goes against his arc from optimist to cynic in the film but also makes his disinterest in helping the Rebel Alliance in A New Hope inconsistent, since we now know that he helped them out when they were in their infancy.
Speaking of which, did Solo really need to establish the formation of the Rebel Alliance? After Rogue One spent so much time showing how the Rebels went from a ragtag group of freedom fighters to a highly sophisticated army capable of striking a serious blow against the Empire, there was little need to go back further in time to explore its formative moments. I guess every Star Wars movie is mandated to include the Rebel Alliance in some form?
1. How Will The Audience Know It’s Darth Maul Talking To Qi’ra At The End?
By now, you probably know that the big cameo at the end of Solo is none other than Darth Maul (who just goes by Maul now, thank you very much), who is revealed to have been working with Qi’ra the entire time as the leader of Crimson Dawn. It’s a surprising moment to be sure, even if you’re someone who’s been watching shows like Clone Wars and Rebels and thus already knew Maul didn’t truly die at the end of Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
While it isn’t really clear at first that it’s Maul who Qi’ra’s talking to in this scene, we get a good enough look at him that anyone already familiar with the character is going to recognize him. Apparently, someone at Lucasfilm thought this wouldn’t be enough, so the decision was made to have Maul ignite his distinctive dual-bladed red lightsaber to hammer home the point. Qi’ra already knows who he is, so why would Maul need to do this? Does he just like turning his lightsaber on for dramatic effect? It’s just a silly decision that robs the reveal of a bit of its impact.