Two big events in the Star Wars universe, Han Solo and Chewbacca meeting and Han Solo acquiring the Millennium Falcon, are events which we know surprisingly little about. I’m of course referring to the new canon era of storytelling and not the Legends one. In Legends, both moments have been fleshed out in some detail but in the new canon ear, neither has been expanded upon, until now that is.
With Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out in a little over a month, the Kasdans along with Director Ron Howard have a chance to, for the very first time, expand upon these monumental events. And we can already tell from the images, teasers and trailers that their intention is distinguish their version from the Expanded Universe.
Most of us know that Han Solo and Chewbacca met because Han freed Chewbacca from slavery which leads the Wookiee to swearing a life-debt to his new best friend. That much is canon thanks to the films and a few mentions in some novels and comic books. But that one sentence pretty much sums up what Lucasfilm currently wants us to know about the construction of the galaxy’s greatest duo.
What’s funny is that few people nowadays bother to ask any details surrounding this event. Where were they at the time, when was it and what were the details of the event. After all, this is a series that lives on details even providing minutiae on the most insignificant of trivial things, so it makes sense that these two’s relationship origin story would have been fleshed out. Turns out, not so much. In fact, in canon, there are no details surrounding this historic meeting, but all that is about to change with the release of the upcoming Solo film.
The expanded universe, now considered Legends, has fleshed this out for us and in good detail. And while there’s almost no chance the new film will draw from it completely, director Ron Howard has shown a willingness to borrow from Legends so it’s worth noting.
After the events in Revenge of the Sith (19 BBY) Chewbacca would spend his days freeing Wookiee slaves who had been captured by the Empire and Trandoshans, who were both prone to enslaving them for labour and/or profit. When Chewbacca intercepted a Trandoshan slaver ship on route to a slave transfer with the Empire, he led a successful mutiny aboard the ship killing all the Trandoshans on board including the captain, Ssoh. When Imperial forces showed up for the transfer they witnessed Wookiees being evacuated from the ship and the Commander, Pter Nyklas, launched Tie Fighters to intercept.
Although the freed Wookiees were able to escape Chewbacca was captured when the Tie’s, led by a young Imperial pilot named Han Solo, disabled the now empty Trandoshan ship. Once aboard the Star Destroyer, Nyklas ordered Solo to kill the Wookiee but Solo refused and was demoted. Chewbacca was placed on Coruscant and forced into labour with other Wookiees where they were all subject to regular lashings and other forms of abuse. On one such occasion Nyklas was whipping Chewbacca and Solo, who had finally seen enough, stunned his Imperial Commander with his weapon and freed Chewbacca.
Han was discharged from the Imperial Military and stripped of all his credentials, this forced him into a life of smuggling and gambling to make ends meets. Chewbacca would of course swear a life-debt to Han for saving him and remain by his side for the rest of his life. Thanks to what we’ve seen and heard so far, this will be a big focus of the film but there’s been no mention or sighting of Trandoshans, a slave ring or Commander Nyklas, so while they are giving us that charmed moment, it appears they aren’t going as deep as perhaps some would like. In a movie clearly packed full of exposition, new characters, new planets and Han’s origin story, some things would have to go, and likely Chewbacca’s time spent freeing slaves and becoming one himself is one of those things. Still, Wookiees don’t hand over life-debts easily so its important Ron Howard depicts Chewbacca in a dire strait and that slavery and slave trading is a viable economy and seedy underbelly that the Empire toils in.
The second area where the new film will be canonizing an important event in the life of Han Solo is his acquisition of the YT-1300 light freighter, the Millennium Falcon.
According to the Expanded Universe, again now called Legends, the whole thing went down at the "Cloud City Sabacc Tournament" in 2.5 BBY. This tournament gets its name because it is held on Bespin at the Cloud City gas mining colony, home of Lando Calrissian, and draws players from all over the galaxy. While playing a version of sabacc called “Corellian Spike”, Han was able to beat all 100 entrants and walk away with not only 20,000 credits but Lando’s prized ship, the Millennium Falcon. He did so by beating Lando’s near “Idiots Array” with what’s called a “Pure Sabacc”, the only hand that could have beaten Lando’s as he did have the “The Idiot” card.
Now, we’ve heard the new film will take us to Corellia, Kessel, Iridium, Savareen and Vandor but there’s been nothing mentioned about Cloud City or Bespin so that is a big change right there. Bespin has more to do with Lando’s life than Han’s anyways and with a crowded lineup already in place there likely just isn’t time to do more planet hopping. And like Chewbacca, Lando’s backstory isn’t entirely in play here so it will have to wait.
What’s also clear is that Lando and Han in the film will meet much younger than in the Expanded Universe. Bog Iger, Disney CEO, has stated the film will follow Solo from ages 18-24 and take place around 10 years prior to the events in A New Hope. That differs from Legends which has Han meeting Lando around age 26 and around 2.5 BBY, although admittedly in the Expanded Universe things can get a little blurry.
One thing the film appears to get right is that the version of Sabacc they play is “Corellian Spike”, which is evident by the inclusion of Han’s now famous pair of six-sided golden dice. While there are many versions of Sabacc, the appropriately titled “Corellian Spike” is synonymous with Han Solo and his home planet so its obvious the game we see takes place on Corellia. Another small but important distinction is that on Cloud City during the Sabacc tournament, spectators are only permitted to watch play from the holo-projection lounge, where in this film you can see the gaming area and table is crowded with people.
So, it appears Ron Howard and the Kasdans have a slightly different version of events when it comes to these two historic moments in the timeline. It’s not entirely important that the filmmakers check every single box however and all it does is officially take the Expanded Universe version of events off the canon table forever.
Which by the way isn’t necessarily a bad thing because if you remember, according to the Expanded Universe, Chewbacca is dead.
Till next time…MTFBWY.
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