The Super Bowl brought us a glimpse of Solo: A Star Wars Story, teasing this morning's full teaser trailer debut. It’s a movie that’s had a turbulent production process, with the departure of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the director’s chair, and Ron Howard stepping into their shoes. Those issues, along with a Memorial Day release date, had fans beginning to get worried about the state of the Anthology film. Luckily, the first trailer seems to have eased those concerns, offering us the first glimpse of the smuggler and his origin story before he ever even heard the name Skywalker.
Many fans know Disney abandoned what was dubbed the ‘Legends’ canon (continuity based on decades of comics, books, etc.) for a new, cleaner continuity, but the studio is clearly embracing some elements of Han’s backstory from those stories. The set-up for the first trailer takes place as Han is being recruited into the Imperial forces, making the bold statement that he’s going to be the best pilot in the galaxy. In the Legends canon, Han did spend a brief bit of time as a pilot in the Imperial Navy. He continuously managed to make an impression on his superiors with his piloting skills. And this is where he was put on the course to meet Chewbacca.
When Chewbacca and other Wookies were imprisoned on a slave ship commandeered by the Empire, Han was ordered to kill Chewbacca. The Wookie had been injured but was managing to pilot the craft. When Han refused, his superior Officer ordered them both into construction work. It seems likely that if they’re introducing Han’s Imperial career, they’re probably headed towards a similarly iconic moment where the smuggler defies the Empire and escapes with his new best friend. It’s a heroic moment of near-self-sacrifice, one that is far too important to leave out of this film.
The trailer points further towards Legends continuity through the supporting cast of characters that make an appearance. It’s not hard to see the similarities between Woody Harrelson’s Beckett and Garris Shrike, a notorious criminal who runs a group of smugglers, pick-pockets, thieves and scoundrels that all do his bidding. Shrike mainly focused his attention on orphans, a sci-fi Fagin who knows he can be their only support system, meaning that they would work harder for his attention. Shrike first appeared in “The Paradise Snare,” the first novel in the Han Solo Trilogy, which detailed Han’s origins as an orphan on the streets. When he brought Solo into his group, he fostered his keen passion for piloting, and got him into Swoop racing. He used this skill to make even more money out of Solo.
There are several moments in the teaser that seemed to show Solo racing through the streets of Corellia, showcasing his recklessness and early skills as a pilot. He even knocks out a pursuing Stormtrooper with his speeder. We’re clearly going to see the development of those flying skills across the film until he finally gets into the iconic cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.
Speaking of the Falcon, the film will undoubtedly explore the relationship between Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover), and how Han won the Falcon from him. It’s been noted several times that Calrissian wasn’t impressed with Han’s reckless nature when it came to flying, and we clearly see that through Lando’s horror at the maneuvers pulled by Solo when evading the Imperial fleet.
Finally, we have Tag and Bink, two hapless former Rebel troopers who disguise themselves as Imperial Officers to escape capture. No matter where they go, they end up in hot water. The pair had their own comic book series detailing their misadventures across the original trilogy, and now they’re ready to make their big screen-debut. The Star Wars: Tag and Bink Are Dead series saw the pair accidentally influence some of the biggest plot points across the original trilogy, purely by accident. Even though they’re seemingly killed in the explosion of the second Death Star, they return as Force Ghosts. How they’ll influence the events of Solo remains to be seen.
Disney is clearly drawing influence from the history Legends canon provides, even if the studio isn't making it all officially part of its continuity. It gives Disney an advantage of paying homage to what’s come before, whilst allowing its creators to pave new ground. Hopefully that new ground will see Alden Ehrenreich give a thoroughly entertaining performance as everyone's favourite smuggler.
Directed by Ron Howard and from a script by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Michael K. Williams and Woody Harrelson. The film opens May 25.