“It’s true. All of it.”
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By the end of his life, Han Solo came to believe in things. The Force. The Rebellion. Maybe even himself.
But that was a long road. The new standalone film Solo: A Star Wars Story journeys back to his younger days when faith was harder to come by — partly because everyone he knew really was a liar or thief.
As part of EW’s cover story about the May 25 movie, we have new images from film. Here’s a deeper dive into what they show and what the film will reveal about the guy who spent a life proving that multiple wrongs do make a right.
Punch it, Chewie!
We’re going to see the meet-cute. Lawrence Kasdan (who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens) joked to his son Jon, who co-wrote this script with him, that Solo is a secret bromance.
“To me, this is a love story between Han and Chewie,” he says. “Their relationship has always been my favorite part of the saga, and the fact that only Han understands what Chewie is saying, I find a very funny possibility for comedy.”
“Wookiees have so many positive qualities,” Lawrence Kasdan adds. “But what they don’t do is make it easy for you to get in.” He means that figuratively. They don’t make it easy for you to get close to them. But in a literal sense, they’re great for tearing open doors.
Alden Ehrenreich is taking on the smuggler role from Harrison Ford, portraying Solo several years before we meet him in the Mos Eisley cantina in 1977’s original Star Wars. The filmmakers say the movie is a combination film noir and Western, with buddy comedy elements smuggled inside.
The smooth operator
Donald Glover has already grifted his way into the hearts of Star Wars fans, just by flashing a single smile as Lando Calrissian. In this scene, he’s playing cards with his two-headed alien friend. “Yeah, we are playing a game of sabacc,” Glover says. ” A lot of it, you know?”
That’s the same game that Han Solo played to win the Falcon from his old frenemy. But we don’t yet know whether that takes place in this particular scene. “We are getting a taste of that. How good is Lando? How good is Han?” Glover says.
Next page: Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, the femme fatale
The femme fatale
Han grows up on the mean streets of the galaxy with one friend, a fellow cast-off, Qi’ra, played by Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, who becomes this galactic noir’s mystery woman.
“She has a couple of guises, but essentially she is just fighting to stay alive,” Clarke says. In other words, don’t be fooled by her character’s elegant facade. “If you’ve got a really glamorous lady in a really sordid environment, you kind of know the glamor is hiding a few rough roads,” Clarke adds.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind…
Wrong way on a one-way track. Han Solo and Chewbacca are taking part in a heist, but Lucasfilm isn’t ready to reveal just what they’re stealing. It’s aboard this double-sided train, however, a machine known as “the Conveyex.”
Thinking there may be some clue to its contents, EW translated the Aurebesh writing below them. No luck. It spells: “Hitch Joint.”
Woody Harrelson plays a criminal who’s hoping to up his status with a big score by organizing a daring heist. For a guy who didn’t grow up with a father, Tobias Beckett becomes a mentor to Solo. Here you see the trio seated at the table where Chewie would later play Luke Skywalker in a game of Dejarik chess.
”He’s a powerful criminal, but a free agent,” says director Ron Howard. “Tobias Beckett really shapes Han more than anybody, as Han comes to believe that in a lawless time, he needs a moral code.”
And yes, the Falcon sure looks neat and tidy, doesn’t it? It’s got a different appearance on the outside, too.
Next page: The shapeshifting starship
The Millennium Falcon looks radically different in Solo than in any of the other Star Wars films. What’s with the closed nose that we’re used to seeing as a prong?
“I wonder what that could be?” Ron Howard says coyly. “You’ll have to see. The Falcon is a character in the movie, without a doubt. That machine is a defining factor in Han’s future. Every aspect of this movie moves, shifts, and transforms in very interesting and yet plausible ways.”
Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays this mechanical character via motion-capture. She’s got a more idiosyncratic personality than your typical droids. She’s more human — which probably means more emotional and slightly less rigid.
Her name is a reference to “leet,” the practice of replacing certain 1etters in w0rds with numb3rs that 100k simi1ar.
There’s a reason some of her parts look familiar, too, even though she’s unique in the galaxy. More on her tomorrow as part of the “Rogue’s Gallery” during EW’s Han Solo Week.
Mudtroopers on Mimban
At first, this photo didn’t look like much. Some dirty Imperial officers and a medical droid in a hazy photo. But then Lucasfilm revealed where it was set: Mimban. It’s a name that will delight Star Wars completists because the planet has one of the longest histories in galactic lore.
Keeping with this universe’s tendency toward planets with one dominant ecosystem, Mimban is a swamp world, a marshland. It has an atmosphere full of thunderstorms, so its sky is perpetually overcast and the land is always draped in mist.
The planet was the setting of the 1978 novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Allan Dean Foster, which took place two years after the events of the original Star Wars and saw Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia stranded on the muddy planet while Darth Vader searched it for a Force relic known as the Kaiburr crystal.
The novel is no longer canon, but as the first major follow-up story to Star Wars, predating even The Empire Strikes Back, it remains dear to the fans who’ve been following since the beginning.
Kybur crystals later became part of the canon as the key element that powers a lightsaber — and in Rogue One, we learned they were harnessed to channel the energy blast of the Death Star. But Mimban has already slipped back into the official narrative in other ways.
It was the site of many battles and even got a mention on the animated series The Clone Wars. In Star Wars legend, it’s the site of several Imperial mining operations, which raid the world of its resources to fuel the Empire’s war machines.
Exactly what the Empire is doing there in Solo has yet to be revealed, but fans can rest assured that Mimban is still a limitless resource for Star Wars storytellers.
Coming up: A Q&A with the new Han Solo — Alden Ehrenreich
And later: What Harrison Ford contributed to the making of Solo.