Clint Howard in Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Millennium Falcon

To me, the most heartbreaking echo into the future is the union between the Millennium Falcon and Lando’s droid L3-37. L3-37, played by Pheobe Waller-Bridge, is unlike any droid we’ve seen in Star Wars. Headstrong. Sexual. And she also has the most impressive navigational mind in a droid that anyone has ever seen.

Her body is shattered after leading a droid and slave rebellion on Kessel and Lando grieves for her as though she were flesh and blood. He loved her. Truly.

And it’s difficult for him to let go, but when an Imperial blockade blocks the path through the Kessel Run, Han needs all the navigational help he can get. Qi’ra and Lando work to install L3-37’s mind into the mainframe of the Falcon itself.

It works and she’s able to map the maelstrom and help find Han a route away from the Maw and through the Maelstrom, directly to their destination. But it was at a terrible cost.

Now, every time you hear Threepio tell Han, “I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect,” it will always gut you.

You’ll also notice throughout the films, the screenplate of L3-37’s they install in the cockpit of the Falcon can be seen, plain as day, adding a ghostly presence to the navigational systems of the Falcon and a reason Han might personify the ship in his language the way he does.

“Hear me, baby? Hold together.”

It also makes you reevaluate his words about the Kessel Run. If you notice, he never takes direct credit. He always says that it was the ship that did it. Having known L3-37, it makes a lot more sense.

It’s a fitting end to her character as well – she wanted to bring freedom to the galaxy and strike at injustice and she became the ship that fired the shot that destroyed the second Death Star.

solo prequel comic

The Force Awakens

As we fast forward through the saga to the end of Han’s life in The Force Awakens, we come back to his final appearance in Star Wars and want for the beginning.

We have to look at Han’s ending with Beckett in this context, tied with his ending with his son. Through Solo, we see Woody Harrelson’s Beckett serve as the father figure that Han has attached himself to. He wants desperately to be in the crew and no one wants him there. This serves as a direct contrast to how Han treats Rey, giving her the treatment that he wishes he’d received when he was younger. “I been thinking of bringing on some more crew, Rey,” he tells the mysterious young girl, trying to offer her the place that he fought so hard for with Beckett. He sees so much of himself in Rey, from the hardscrabble upbringing as an orphan to her aptitude as a pilot and mechanic.

This is Han’s central character trait in The Force Awakens, to treat others the way he wished he’d been treated as a young man. This is no more apparent than during his ending showdowns in both Solo and The Force Awakens. 

In both cases we have a father figure on one side of the equation that has forced a confrontation with their son. In both cases, the father has to die. But the emotion Han wanted from Beckett is the emotion he gives to his son. Han doesn’t want to kill Beckett, but knows he has to and that it’s the only way to survive. In The Force Awakens, Han has been in the other side of this equation and knows that he will do anything his son needs for him to survive.

He gives his son the choice he never had. But his son makes the wrong decision and Han pays for it. But, as in both scenes, Han offers a last comfort to the other party in his duel. He cradle’s Beckett’s body in his dying breaths and he puts his hand on his son’s face one last time before his own death.

This is who Han really is. It’s who he’s always been. He just spent so many years fighting it that he didn’t really begin to live true to his authentic self until A New Hope. 

solo reactions

The Last Jedi

The final punctuation mark on Han Solo’s life, however, comes not with his death in The Force Awakens, but in his memory in The Last Jedi. Solo offers us a look at the significance of his golden dice. They first appeared briefly in A New Hope, but we didn’t see them get their due until The Last Jedi. Luke, being the empathic person he is, pulled them from the Falcon to mourn his friends death. Clearly, he knew what these dice meant to Han, one of the few relics of his childhood he was able to retain.

Seeing Han offer those dice to Qi’ra and then get them back on Kessel proved how much emotional significance they had, which is why their appearance in Solo will add so much more to their weight when Luke delivers them to Leia, or when they vanish in Ben’s hands at the end of The Last Jedi.

A good Star Wars film will offer us new things to think about in new contexts from one end of the saga to the other. Even though it’s been disguised as “a fun heist film,” Solo: A Star Wars Story delivers on that promise in spades and we’ll be picking out threads and themes from it for decades.

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