Prequels are tricky business. We all know this. The appeal and the danger is in delving deeper into the history of characters already well established in other films. Geroge Lucas’s desire to explain away the cool was first seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There we saw everything from Junior’s hat to his fear of snakes summed up in one quick 15-minute prologue. The great bearded one would further mine Indiana’s history in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He just couldn’t help himself.
This backstory virus spread to The Phantom Menace, and fandom is still in the process of recovering. Solo: A Star Wars Story goes a long way in healing that pain. While there are plenty of winking nods explaining the meaning behind our favorite moments of the original trilogy, the fan service here is mostly clever, or at least, perpetrated with love.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of unanswered questions. For every explanation, there is a quizzical “huh” sparked in the back of the mind. Some of our most anticipated meet-cutes are withheld for potential sequels down the road. As I walked into the theater last night, news of the Boba Fett movie sent tingles through my mind. Would Solo detail their first encounter? Sadly, no. Gotta leave us wanting more.
What you’ll find below is a list of questions that sprung to mind as the credits rolled. Some were born out of joy, a few born out of annoyance. It was immediately clear that Ron Howard had just set up a lot of plot for another series of spinoff sequels. Whether these elements are answered in Solo: Part Deux, Lando, Kenobi, or the Boba Fett film is yet to be determined.
1. Why trade an opening crawl for multiple title cards?
Have I lost you already? This might be pedantic. I’m of the opinion that all Star Wars films, not just the “Skywalker Saga” entries, should maintain the opening crawls. They keep the films tied to their serial roots and help slam you into the epic tone needed for the space opera. Removing the crawl from Rogue One was a jolt to the system, but one I eventually accepted.
What I don’t understand is removing the crawl only to replace it with multiple title cards after “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” Especially when the next title card immediately changes tenses with “It is a lawless time.” Is Star Wars a legend, or sci-fi news? If you’re going to choose to explain the history of crime syndicates on Corelia via text then use the damn crawl.
2. What is Han’s real name?
In a desperate attempt to flee the clutches of Lady Proxima, Han darts into an Imperial recruitment center. The officer asks him for his surname, and Han’s only response is that he’s alone (cue Batmanuel from The Tick: “I’m not alone, I’m lone.”). Red tape being red tape, the officer brands Han with a new handle, “Solo.”
We know from a conversation later on in the film that Han had a father before committing to Proxima’s Artful Dodger business. Neither he nor Lando wanted much to do with their dads, but where there is a father there is usually a surname. Could we get another revelation deeper into the franchise? Han Skywalker! Who knows what Darth Vader was up to on Corelia post-Revenge of the Sith. The new Saga films are lacking in the creepy incest vibe.
3. How many deserters did Chewbacca eat before Han dropped in?
Han’s punishment for attempting to desert the Empire is to be thrown into the pit with “The Beast.” The creature’s handlers imply that the animal has not been fed in some time, and Han will make a delicious meal for the Wookiee chained below. Chewbacca roars from the shadows and goes for Han’s fatty bits.
If not for some mysterious knowledge of the Wookiee language, Solo would have ended his adventure inside the belly of the fuzzball. Was this a breaking point for Chewbacca? Or is he already familiar with the taste of man-flesh? You certainly see the husks of Imperial armor scattered around the dungeon.
4. How did Han learn Wookiee?
I was not prepared to hear the growl seep out of Alden Ehrenreich’s throat. Was Wookiee a language taught in the sewers of Corelia? Maybe he was educated in the same school where Thor learned Groot.
5. Did we see the Life Debt event between Han and Chewie?
Decades of Expanded Universe consumption have taught us that Han and Chewbacca became a duo as a result of a life debt. Wookiee lore teaches that if your life is saved by another then you are honor-bound to serve your savior. Does this moment qualify as that unifying life debt event?
From my perspective, Han is as equally saved from a dungeon death by Chewbacca as Chewbacca is by Han. Without Chewie’s beastly strength, they would still be chained to that pole. Another heroic circumstance must be coming.
So are Han and Chewie even best friends yet?
By Solo’s climax, Han and Chewie certainly seem like pals, but there is still a long way to go before they become the BFFs we see in A New Hope. As addressed above, their escape from Imperial chains does not seem to qualify for the grand Wookiee life debt event. Chewie has gained entry to the co-pilot seat, and a respect is there, but the “laugh it up, Fuzzball” camaraderie still awaits.
That’s the problem with prequels. I’ve spent too many years contemplating what Han’s rescue of Chewbacca looked like that no matter what Lucasfilm concocted, the result was bound to disappoint the mystery swirling inside my brain. Unless Solo: Part Deux reveals yet another layer to their union.
6. Who are Enfys Nest’s Marauders?
These space pirates are always on the trail of Beckett’s gang, eager to steal their score from underneath them. They’re revealed not to be the jerks originally labeled by Beckett, but a group of wannabe rebels looking to topple the reign of the Crimson Dawn. Their righteous talk is the first sign of the galactic civil war that will rage through A New Hope – Return of the Jedi.
The Cloud-Riders are compiled of a variety of species, including a character who looks very similar to Erido Two-Tubes from Rogue One. That film takes place roughly 10 years after the events of Solo. It’s easy to see how the Cloud-Riders could join Saw Gerrera’s goons on Jedha.
We also catch a glimpse of Warwick Davis amongst the clan. Is this Weazel, the weapons dealer who attended the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace in The Phantom Menace? A lot of ugly history has occurred since that momentous sporting event, and the Davis seen here has had the joy sucked out of him. The onetime friend of Watto could have easily pulled a Tony Stark in the wake of The Clone Wars, joining the Cloud-Riders as a means of making amends for past actions.
7. How does it work between Lando and L3-37?
Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37 is an absolute scene-stealer in Solo. The Millennium Falcon co-pilot has the entire galaxy mapped out in her noggin, and by the film’s end, she’s a big reason as to why that famous ship is such a special hunk of junk. Too bad she had to go out as a droid martyr because she’s the one character I would be most excited to see in another feature.
What’s the deal with her and Lando? L3-37 tells Qi’ra that she has no sexual interest in that man despite his obvious desire to take it to the next level. Qi’ra asks, “How does that work?” L3 responds, “It works.” Oh yeah, she’s got experience in that department. But does she have experience with Lando? He appears devastated when he’s forced to (horrifyingly) upload her lifeless brain into the Falcon‘s navigation computer. There was something more there.
8. What went down between Beckett and Aurra Sing?
My favorite easter egg in the entire film. We learn that Beckett was the person responsible for finally slaying the bounty hunter Aurra Sing. Who’s that? Well, back in ’99 Lucasfilm tried to make a big deal of this Phantom Menace blink-and-you’ll-miss-her character. She is briefly seen observing Ani’s pod race, and that was enough to warrant several action figures, expanded universe novels, and a guest-spot in The Clone Wars. I look forward to seeing her final moments with Beckett played out in a Marvel comic book.
9. What’s Bossk up to?
Another rad bounty hunter gets a namecheck in Solo. While Val bemoans Han as a new addition to their crew, she asks Becket if Bossk was too busy for their job. Probably. Maybe he’s hanging with his Empire Strikes Back costar Boba Fett. The bounty hunters always have the best costumes, but the screenwriters can never find anything interesting for them to actually do.
10. What did Chewie say to the other Wookiee?
“Psst. Give my love to Lumpy.” Sadly, the Holiday Special will remain non-canon. Dreams are dashed.
Chewbacca frees another Wookiee (voiced by C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels!) while helping Han steal the hyperfuel coaxium from the refinery planet. Back-to-back, they kick a lot of slaver ass but don’t depart together on the Millennium Falcon. They have their own plots to travel. Before they go their separate ways, Chewie and the unnamed Wookie touch foreheads. They’re brothers of some sort, lost Wookiees in a galaxy that has no love for their species.
11. How many double crosses can one character support?
Qi’ra tells Han that he’s a “good guy.” He refutes such slanderous talk, but we know his heart of gold will eventually take hold somewhere between the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Hoth. My question though, is Qi’ra a good guy?
I lost track of the double crosses towards the end of Solo. Is she playing Han all the way back on Corelia? Was there love there? She is looking out for numero uno, but Hollywood history wants us to feel an actual romance between these characters. I say she’s out for herself. She’ll side with whatever cretin will keep her alive, and her next partner might be the death of her.
12. Why are Qi’ra and Enfys Nest not in the other Star Wars films?
Qi’ra and Enfys Nest are the only characters introduced for the first time in Solo that survive but don’t pop up in the rest of the Star Wars Saga. Clearly their adventures (and deaths?) are meant for future spinoff stories. Depending on Solo box office, we will meet their fates in Solo: Part Deux. If the Ron Howard film fails to match expectations, though, you can expect their stories to find their conclusion in an animated adventure. Or a comic book, where the real failures fall.
13. Did Han shoot first in A New Hope?
He definitely shoots first in Solo. Before Beckett can utter another line of distraction, Han fires a direct hit to the heart using the DL-44 blaster he was gifted. That’s screenwriters Lawrence and Jon Kasdan washing away the fantasy of the A New Hope: Special Edition. Sorry Greedo, this Han would never give you a chance.
14. How did Darth Maul hook up with The Crimson Dawn?
What the what!? Darth Maul! The Sith Lord who was last cinematically seen plummeting to his death in The Phantom Menace is back in holographic form with a nifty pair of robot legs. To fully understand how that’s possible, I recommend checking out Christopher Campbell’s article explaining the ending of Solo. You’ll need to do some expanded universe homework to make this all work.
How did this psychopath position himself as Dryden Vos’s puppet master? How do you go from Darth Sidious’ pet to Jabba the Hutt rival? I think he’s just mad that the Emperor replaced him with Darth Vader, and he decided to sulk in his own corner of the universe.
15. Did we just meet Rey’s parents?
I’ve seen some speculation that Rey’s mom could be Enfys Nest. I’m not so sure about that. The impression I got from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi was that Rey was dumped on Jakku because she was another mouth to feed that her folks couldn’t afford. As Kylo Ren spits with contempt, “They were filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead, in a paupers’ grave…” I tend to believe him, but should I?
Under his logic, Beckett and Val are more likely candidates. Of course, Val’s suicidal decision during the train heist negates that possibility. Enfys Nest seems too virtuous to dump a baby in the desert. Although, if Lucasfilm is looking to add a little nobility to Rey’s origins, a badass rebel mom could go a long way.