'Han Solo' Movie Will Have An Imperial Presence, But What Does This Actually Mean?

"The Empire Looms Large." That's what Ron Howard, the director of Lucasfilm's still-untitled Han Solo movie, tweeted today, along with a photo of a Death Star trooper's helmet. So what might that mean for the new film? Let's take a look at some Star Wars history to potentially find out.

Before we go any further, here is Howard's photo from the film's set:

What Could This Mean For Han Solo?

That distinctive helmet, the control panels, and the production designs visible in the background are pretty good hints that the Death Star will be featured in the upcoming movie. That doesn't really tell us much about the timeline, since we already know from Alden Ehrenreich's casting about the age they're looking to explore in Solo's backstory in this movie. (The actor is 27 years old right now.)

But while we've seen the Death Star extensively in the Star Wars films already, from the destruction of it in A New Hope to the creation of the original's superweapon by Galen Erso in Rogue One (and we even got a quick peek at it during the closing moments of Revenge of the Sith), Solo himself doesn't see the Death Star for the first time until the events of A New Hope. So there's no chance he sees it in this movie, and since we don't know very much about the film's supporting players, it's hard to speculate who among them might be taking a tour of the likely-still-under-construction space station.

(I find it a little odd that the Death Star would feature in the first two Star Wars standalone films, but I suppose its imagery is recognizable enough that Disney would want it out there to pull in the normals who don't know when this takes place on the timeline.)

The Empire Strikes Back - Han Solo

The Imperial Connection

Disney and Lucasfilm announced that all of the Extended Universe material is no longer canon, but in that material, Solo first meets Chewie when Han is – are you ready for this? – serving in the Imperial army. Yup, Han Solo once fought for the bad guys. He gets booted from the army when he saves Chewie from being beaten by Imperial captors (a very Moses move), which causes Chewie to swear him a life debt; thus began their smuggling partnership and long-time friendship.

But again, that information is no longer canonical, so it remains to be seen how it could factor into the Han Solo movie. Will Han still serve as an Imperial cadet? Could he step foot onto the Death Star and somehow have his mind wiped to forget about it? Or, perhaps most likely, were the Death Star trooper helmets simply worn on any other ships Han and Chewie may have encountered in their travels?

We'll find out when the untitled Han Solo film hits theaters on May 25, 2018.