Two mysterious teasers in, and it’s still a little odd trying to piece together what Solo is. That is, unless you’ve got a little background info on some of those characters and name drops. So let’s go through these sneak peeks and see what we’re looking at!
Here are the two teasers in question to jog your memory:
Han Solo: Imperial Cadet
In the first teaser—where Han seems to be signing up for the Empire—it’s possible that this is part is a fake-out; Han’s face is largely covered, making it more likely that this is some sort of set-up for the job we find out about in the second teaser. That being said, Han’s Imperial training (something that was fleshed out in A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy) is still likely in play. In the voiceover, Han mentions he was kicked out of the Flight Academy for “having a mind of my own.” First off, it’s likely that the Flight Academy is run by the Empire, because they run pretty much everything at this point in time.
Second, “having a mind of his own” could reference Crispin’s explanation for Han’s expulsion from the Imperial Navy: he rescued Chewbacca from a slaver. Seeing as the Empire freely used Wookiee slave labor, that was a fireable offense, and is also the reason Chewie follows Han around from that point on—he owes Han a life debt. The life debt itself and Solo freeing Chewbacca from slavery are re-canonized elements in the current Star Wars novels, so that is definitely a part of their history. It’s just a question of whether this was the action that got Han ousted from the Empire.
Childhood of Crime
Han talks about running scams on the street from the time he’s ten years old, which was also part of Crispin’s trilogy—when Han was a kid, he was part of a crew run by Garris Shrike, a man who kept a crew of children to run scams and petty theft for him. It’s unclear if Shrike exists in this version; Woody Harrelson claimed that he was playing the part of Shrike in an interview, but his character is now listed as Tobias Beckett. But whether or not he did this at the behest of another person, Han clearly had a rough childhood where he had to swindle to survive.
A Friend Who Knows Him Too Well
Emilia Clarke is playing a character named Qi’Ra, who is apparently someone who knows Han quite well, or at least thinks that she’s got his number. In Crispin’s trilogy, a young Han fell in love with a woman named Bria Tharen, an affluent Correllian who briefly succumbed to drug-induced occultism. Han saved Bria’s life and delivered her back to her family, only to meet up years later and eventually find out that Bria was working covertly for the Rebel Alliance. Han wanted no part of the Rebellion, but still cared deeply for Bria. Eventually, her activities for the Rebellion got her killed (in Crispin’s trilogy, she was one of the crew responsible for liberating the Death Star plans), leaving Han devastated.
It is unlikely that Clarke is playing a character very similar to Bria, but it’s certainly possible that aspects of the character were lifted from Tharen to construct Qi’Ra, particularly if she’s someone who has known Han for a long time.
One Dangerous Job
Harrelson’s Tobias Beckett appears to be recruiting Han for some manner of crime or heist (Beckett pointedly calls him “kid,” which will later become Han’s favorite pet name for Luke Skywalker). It could be that the job has something to do with the Empire, hence Han’s bad disguise at the recruitment center and their attempt to escape from a Star Destroyer at the end of the teaser—but these could also be separate incidents that have nothing to do with the heist itself. There are clearly other people on this job, including droid L3-37, a small alien, and Thandie Newton’s as-yet unnamed character.
Several years back, Timothy Zahn wrote Scoundrels, a book about one particular job that Han runs between the events of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Lando is in on the score along with several old comrades, and the heist doesn’t go exactly as planned, leading to a massive rift between Han and the criminal community he had been a part of. It’s possible that pieces of Solo are also being lifted from this story as well, now that it has been placed under the “Legends” banner.
These are some of the more likely avenues that the film might take, but we won’t know until the film hits theaters/ We won’t have to wait long either—Solo: A Star Wars Story is be released on May 25th.