10 Questions About Solo: A Star Wars Story Answered
Well, yet another Star Wars movie produced by Disney has been released, this time telling the story of the early days of Han Solo, and how a hotshot young renegade went on to become the lovable rogue space pirate we’ve known and loved for the past forty years. As with all of the big summer franchise tentpoles these days, Solo: A Star Wars Story leaves viewers with a lot of questions about the series mythology and the surprise cameos and the unexpected plot turns and the familiar faces. Here are 10 of those questions with the answers you desire. Warning: full SPOILERS for the movie will follow.
10. Wait, isn’t Darth Maul dead?
Passive viewers who only go to see the Star Wars movies will remember that at the end of The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan Kenobi avenges the death of his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, by cutting his killer Darth Maul in half and sending the two parts of him down a reactor shaft that appears to just be a bottomless pit. So, those viewers might be wondering what the hell he’s doing pulling the strings on Dryden Vos’ criminal activities. Well, you may have noticed during his brief hologram appearance that he now has a pair of robot legs to replace his bisected ones. And more eagle eyed and attentive and dedicated Star Wars fans will have been watching all the ongoing cartoon series, like The Clone Wars and Rebels, will know that he’s been confirmed to have survived the ending of The Phantom Menace and he’s alive and well, albeit with a pair of prosthetic legs. And now that he’s been reintroduced into the movies, his character and his ties with the organized crime operations of the galaxy can be explored in the future “Anthology” spin-offs. Maybe we’ll even get some backstory on how he ended up working with Dryden Vos in the first place.
9. How did they manage to keep such a big secret?
Darth Maul’s appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story is yet another surprise appearance of a character in a summer franchise blockbuster this year. First, there was (SPOILER ALERT!) Red Skull cropping up in Avengers: Infinity War after being presumed dead and then (SPOILER ALERT!) Juggernaut made an appearance in Deadpool 2. So, how did they manage to keep it out of the press? Some of the bigger, more shocking moments in Star Wars movies generally tend to be left out of the script. They tell people on a need-to-know basis. Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker, “I am your father,” was not included in the original script of The Empire Strikes Back and even Mark Hamill didn’t know when they actually came to shoot the scene, so his “No…that’s not true…That’s impossible!” response was improvised on the spot. And according to Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan, who wrote the script for Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Darth Maul reveal was left out of the script, too. “It was never specifically named in the script. It just said, ‘A character too secret to ever name.’ Everyone did a great job of keeping it secret, and Ray [Park, the actor who plays Maul] was such a delight.”
8. Why is there no opening crawl, but still kind of an opening crawl?
There’s a very specific format for how Star Wars movies begin. There’s a title card that reads, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” followed by the Star Wars logo pulled out into the far reaches of space, followed by an opening crawl in yellow text (okay, this is already sounding super pedantic) that sets up the plot, so that we can jump straight into the action. It’s already been decided and established that “Anthology” spin-off movies like Solo and Rogue One don’t get to have the classic opening crawls. They have the “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” but the opening crawls are reserved for the ‘proper’ Star Wars movies that tell the story of the Skywalker clan. But some fans believe that if it’s a Star Wars movie, it should have an opening crawl. The opening crawl has been there since the very beginning, following in the tradition of the Flash Gordon serials that influenced George Lucas to create Star Wars in the first place, and its purpose is to deliver all the boring information so that characters don’t have to prattle on with exposition and they can just blow up spaceships or shoot each other with lasers. We still get all that information at the start of Solo about coaxium and crime syndicates and stuff, but it’s across a series of blue on black title cards, like the “A long time ago…” one. And it’s a grammatical nightmare, too. Right after “A long time ago…” it says, “It is a lawless time.” That’s the wrong tense! This is just because “Anthology” movies aren’t allowed to have opening crawls, but the makers needed to take an info dump, so they just found a loophole and bent the rules and changed the whole house style. It’s not a deal breaker, but it does niggle.
7. Why does Rio Durant’s voice sound so familiar?
When you were introduced to Beckett’s crew in Solo: A Star Wars Story, you were probably pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces. Of course, you recognized Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton, but you may have had a niggling feeling that you recognized Rio Durant’s voice, but weren’t sure exactly from where. At times, it sounded like Jack Black. Or maybe Rich from Community. It turns out it was Jon Favreau, the guy from Couples Retreat and Swingers. This information should elicit “Ohhhh, it was him!” responses from some people, and “Who the hell is that?” responses from others. MCU fans will recognize him as Happy Hogan, Tony Stark’s head of security, while Friends fans will recognize him as Pete Becker, Monica’s rich boyfriend. He’s also found a lot of success as a director, having helmed the first two Iron Man movies and the recent photorealistic live action remake of The Jungle Book. Favreau had previously teased his role in the movie as “a very cool and important alien character.” As it turns out, Rio isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things – but he does have a couple of funny lines and he’s not exactly a forgettable character.
6. How the hell do you play Sabacc?
For all the plot twists and character betrayals and Easter eggs, by far the most confusing part of Solo: A Star Wars Story is the Sabacc scenes. We rely on the responses of the people standing around the table to see if a play is good or bad. If they cheer, it’s good. If they gasp or laugh, it’s bad. Meanwhile, the players are babbling on about “Staves” and “Commanders” and it all gets very baffling. All we can follow is who wins at the end and the fact that Lando is cheating. Hasbro has actually released a version of this game, described as “a cross between blackjack and poker,” so we can explain the rules. It’s very popular in the Star Wars universe, and there is even an annual tournament held where all the best players square off against each other. Basically, you can have anywhere between two and eight players, and a Sabacc deck has 76 cards, which are divided into four suits: Sabers, Flasks, Coins, and Staves. Each suit has eleven numbered cards and a further four ranked cards: Commander is worth twelve, Mistress is worth thirteen, Master is worth fourteen, and Ace is either fifteen or one (it’s all very derivative of our cards on Earth). In case you lost count, that totals sixty cards. The other sixteen are Face cards, which are made up of eight pairs, which all have negative values: The Star is worth -17, The Evil One is worth -15, Moderation is worth -14, Demise is worth -13, Balance is worth -11, Endurance is worth -8, Queen of Air and Darkness is worth -2, and the Idiot card is worth zero. To win, you need to have a hand that’s worth either 23 or -23, which is known as “pure Sabacc.” You’ll recall Lando using this term when he first beats Han with his cheating card. Over the course of four rounds, a couple of pots go around – the Main Pot and the Sabacc Pot – and the players either bet or fold until the very end when they have to reveal their hand. You’re screwed if you have more than 23 or less than -23, but if you’re the closest within those parameters, you win the Main Pot. If you won with “pure Sabacc,” like Lando did, then you get the Sabacc Pot, too. It’s actually quite simplistic.
5. Whose ship is the Millennium Falcon?
For years, we’ve known that Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of sabacc, which was actually depicted in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Throughout the original trilogy, it’s Han’s ship. In The Force Awakens, we saw that Han had somehow lost the Falcon and it had ended up in the hands of scrap dealer Unkar Plutt on Jakku. And then Rey, Finn, and BB-8 take off in it and bump into Han and Chewie, who reclaim it as their own. It’s currently transporting the Resistance away from the First Order in anticipation of a big showdown in Episode IX. But for decades now, we’ve just taken it as gospel that the Falcon was Lando’s ship that Han won from him. However, as we’ve now seen from the events of Solo, the ship never really belonged to Lando. When he first gives Han a ride in it, they have to cut off an impound lock, and he says he only keeps it around to get “from A to B.” It doesn’t really seem like it’s his ship. So, whose ship really is it? Who designed it? Who built it? Well, it was originally a Corellian freighter ship and it was initially given the much duller name YT-1300 492727ZED. So, based on the impound and the fact that it was seen docking in the Senate Office Building right after the Battle of Coruscant, it seems like Lando stole it.
4. Who’s the gangster on Tatooine?
Towards the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Beckett suggests to Han that he should head out to Tatooine where a gangster is putting together a crew for a big score. In that instant, nerds’ nerdy senses started tingling as they realized he was referring to Jabba the Hutt. Han confirms that that’s where he and Chewie are headed next at the very end of the movie on the maiden voyage of the Millennium Falcon. So, will we be seeing Han’s tangles with Jabba play out on screen to fill in the blanks between this movie and A New Hope? Well, we might do. The door is open. Director Ron Howard has said that the fans will decide if there’s a sequel, and so far, not enough fans have gone to see the movie for it to be performing on par at the box office. But there’s every opportunity to explore Han’s relationship with Jabba in other “Anthology” movies. Guillermo del Toro has actually pitched a Jabba the Hutt movie to Lucasfilm. He said, “I would do the sort of Godfather saga that Jabba the Hutt had to go through to gain control. One, because it’s the character that looks the most like me, and I like him. I love the idea of a Hutt type of mafia, a very complex coup. I just love the character.” So, who knows?
3. Was Qi’ra just playing Han the whole time?
In a franchise that infamously has a dearth of strong female characters outside of Princess Leia and Rey, Solo: A Star Wars Story comes as a delightful surprise in that it has not one, but two strong female roles. There’s Lando’s droid L3, played wonderfully by the British writer and comedienne Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is an outspoken feminist and droid rights advocate, and then there’s Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, who is a character unlike anyone we’ve ever seen before. She’s much more sinister than we could’ve ever expected. In the end, she kills her manipulator Dryden Vos, and at first, it seems like she’s doing it to protect Han, her true love. But as it turns out, she has much darker and more selfish intentions behind her actions. She knew this was how things would end and it would give her the chance to snatch the Crimson Dawn right from under Vos. She betrays Han and takes off without him to run a crime syndicate under the rule of Darth Maul. It’s not at all what we were expecting from her character. But was she just playing Han the whole time? Was he just a pawn in her larger plan? It seems unlikely, since she let him live and was clearly grappling with some emotions when she had to leave him behind.
2. What will Qi’ra do now?
Qi’ra is one of the most interesting new characters that Solo introduces into the Star Wars universe. From the trailers, it seemed like she was just a generic cookie cutter love interest thrown in there to add a romantic angle to the movie’s plot. In fact, it seemed like you could predict her whole arc. It seemed like Han would get his big score with Beckett and his crew, go back to save Qi’ra, go on the run with her, and then her death at the end of the movie would be what propels Han to become the Force-bashing cynic who would say, “I know,” when a girl told him she loved him. But boy, were we wrong. As it turns out, she could take care of herself and didn’t need Han to save her, and she had a dark side. She wasn’t necessarily screwing him over the entire time, but she did use him for some personal gain, and her actions at the movie’s climax, although they ended up saving Han’s life, did have self-serving intentions. The last time we saw her, she was just flying off in Dryden Vos’ ship to take his job and be a crime lord. So, what will she do next? Well, essentially that. She’s the new boss of the Crimson Dawn and she’ll take up Vos’ mantle as an intergalactic Tony Soprano. Whether we’ll see Emilia Clarke resume her role in future movies remains to be seen, but Qi’ra will be getting a story arc on the next season of Forces of Destiny.
1. Will there be a sequel?
The fact that Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn’t literally end with Han and Chewie meeting up with Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker at Mos Eisley Cantina and instead teases the gangster adventures with Jabba the Hutt and Greedo that led to Han being on Tatooine and available to meet them in the first place suggests that the producers wanted to leave the door open for further sequels following Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. Ehrenreich is signed on for two more movies, and has said that he wants any future movies to be standalone adventures, rather than chapters of a larger story. He said, “I think each being its own kind of adventure story and, like, almost the Indiana Jones mold would be pretty fricking cool.” Glover is interested in doing a Lando movie that would be “Catch Me If You Can in space.” Sadly, based on the fact that Solo has been underperforming at the box office with a global opening of about $150 million (which does sound like an awful lot, but the movie will need to make at least $500 million to break even), we might not get to see those sequels, so we might not see Han’s adventures with Jabba or how Lando ended up in bed with Darth Vader at Cloud City or what Darth Maul’s role is in all of this or where Qi’ra ended up.