Like “Betty or Veronica” or “Ginger or Mary Anne”, in the 1970s and early ’80s, you were either a “Luke” or a “Han” kind of kid. I evolved from wanting to be that snivelling shit from Tatooine into the swashbuckling scruffy-looking nerf herder and I’ve never looked back and Solo: A Star Wars Story checks all the boxes for the 10 year old kid in me.
In Solo: A Star Wars Story we learn a few things about the smuggler’s origin story, including:
- How Han got the surname “Solo”
- Why Lando Calrissian was the only character to mispronounce his first name (think “Han” as in “Dan” not “Dawn”)
- How Han won the Millennium Falcon “fair and square” in a game of Sabbac
- How the Kessel Run was made in less than 12 parsecs
- How Solo and The Wookiee meet
It’s on Corellia we meet Han and the woman known only to fans of the expanded universe and early concept art only one of two women we know Solo to have been with. The other? Jenny, the Mos Espa B-Girl at Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley who throws her drink at Solo for forgetting her name. The scene was later cut. But it’s here we learn Solo was a street kid, a “scumrat” as far as the Empire is concerned. It’s here we learn Solo never had a last name, and the irony of who gives it to him isn’t lost on the audience.
Of all the origin story plot points, the only weak one involves how Solo met the Wookiee known as Chewbacca and who gave him the nickname “Chewy”. I could have used a little more back story than what amounts to little more than a chance encounter.
One of the biggest peeves of The Empire Strikes Back for me was how Billy Dee Williams mispronounced Han’s name throughout the entire film. Was he not paying attention to the other actors? Did nobody say anything to him? Williams certainly managed to remember how to pronounce “Colt 45” after his success in the film.
The humour with which the film addresses this glaring mistake makes up for it all.
The game of Sabbac appears early in the film, but the scene plays with the emotions of fans who know the Falcon was won by Solo in the card game resembling Uno. The meeting of Solo and Calrissian on Cloud City in Empire begins with the smuggler insisting he won the freighter “fair and square”, suggesting there was some dispute over that fact. It’s cleared up in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and we get our first look at a brand new YT-1300f before it was “a piece of junk.”
Seriously: What the hell has Solo been transporting with this ship? Free-flowing biowaste? Just 10 years after he wins it, it looks like the piece of junk Skywalker whines about:
Perhaps the biggest, and most misunderstood, Han Solo legend is how he made the Kessel Run in less than
14 12 parsecs. Any self-respecting fan knows a parsec is a unit of distance, not time, so it’s a lot like golf: lower numbers are better. We learn in Solo: A Star Wars story why he made the run in the first place, and why distance — and therefore time — is of the essence. Transporting the raw (and volatile fuel) used for hyperspace requires a trip from the planet Kessel where it’s found to its refinery destination on the other side of a space maelstrom. There’s a route through the deadly cloud, but it’s 20 parsecs, leaving no room for error.
How Solo manage to make the run in “less than 12 parsecs” is also why the Falcon once had a closed-front, yet by A New Hope we see the notched-out mandibles we recognize today. You may also notice the reflector dish isn’t 1977 issue.
It won’t be the last time it gets torn off, either.
Solo: A Star Wars Story was a great film, kid, now don’t get cocky.