WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters tomorrow.
Solo: A Star Wars Story gives us the definitive origin of Han Solo and answers many of the franchise's fans’ long-burning questions. The audience gets to bear witness to the first time Han meets Chewie, when he wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian, when he gets his blaster, and even his 12 parsec Kessel Run.
However, the film also answers a question nobody was asking — Is Solo really Han’s last name? Considering there was no plot thread left dangling in Star Wars: Episodes I-VIII or Rogue One to suggest that Solo wasn’t his surname, why the filmmakers felt the need to address this detail is beyond us, and the result will likely be one of the film's most hotly debated moments for years to come.
The film starts with Han and his first love, Qi’ra, trying to escape their impoverished life on Corellia. Our roguish protagonist steals a M-68 landspeeder and a vile of valuable hyperfuel to get the lovers to the spaceport and off the planet. Problem is, they're being chased by the local crime boss’ thugs as well as Imperials.
The pair manage to make it to the spaceport and avoid detection, but the thugs have Corellian hounds and are hot on their trail. Qi'ra bribes an Imperial Emigration Officer with the hyperfuel and the two are almost home free. Han steps through the threshold but right before Qi’ra does, she's nabbed by their pursuers. She pleads with Han to save himself and he reluctantly agrees, but vows to come back for her.
However, the Scruffy Nerf-Herder isn’t out of the woods yet. Stormtroopers are asking to see ID before passengers can board ships and Han doesn’t have any. So he sidles up to the Imperial recruitment desk and makes the snap decision to enlist. He gives his first name as Han but when the recruitment officer asks: “Who are your people?” (meaning, what is your last name), he responds, “I’m alone. I don’t have people.”
The Imperial thinks on that for a second, and enters “Solo” into the empty field.
This film also establishes that Han’s father worked the line at the CEC (Cornelian Engineering Corp) plant that manufactured YT-1300s. So although he's a street urchin when we first meet him, we know he was at least partially raised by his dad. This begs the question, then, why keep the name "Solo" after his time with the Empire. He only took the title out of necessity, and even if he doesn’t have people currently, he did at one point. Plus, as soon as he meets Chewbacca, they become inseparable, maning he’s not “solo” for long.
While there have been a number of popular novels and comics about Han Solo and Chewbacca’s early years over the decades, they all were deemed non-canon and tucked under the Legends banner when Disney bought Lucasfilm. Regardless, in that continuity, Han starts as an orphan but eventually learns that the Solo name is famous and that he is the descendent of the king that brought democracy to Corellia, Brethren e Solo, as well as a notorious pirate known as Dalla the Black. The point being, Solo used to be a name of some esteem in the Star Wars universe, but now it is simply a tacked-on title given to him by some no-name Imperial cog. Boo.
Directed by Ron Howard from a script by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. They’re joined by Thandie Newton as Val, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos and Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett. The film opens Friday nationwide.