Han Solo's 'Star Wars' Film: Everything We Know About Chewbacca, Lando and More

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A television presenter does a piece to camera under a giant image of Han Solo, as enthusiasts wait to spot members of the cast at the European premiere of "Star Wars, The Force Awakens" in Leicester Square, London, on December 16, 2015. Reuters

After decades of listening to Han Solo brag about Kessel Run in several Star Wars movies, we'll finally get to see him put his money where his mouth is.

The first solo Han film, directed by Ron Howard, doesn't have a release date or official title yet, but there's already a ton of information about the project online. The newest updates point to one of the most contested parts of Han's backstory, Kessel Run, and hints at the way Han might meet his buddy Chewbacca. Star Wars fans familiar with the novelizations may recognize Kessel's spice mines, which appeared on Howard's Instagram this week, as a terrible place often worked by enslaved Wookies.

The Han Solo prequel follows Han, according to screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, in his business dealings about 10 years before the events of the original Star Wars trilogy. Disney CEO Bob Iger says we'll meet Han at 18, and the film will follow him to approximately age 24.

That means we'll see young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) before he meets Luke and Leia, and before he has any understanding of Jedis or the Force. Han will obtain the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) through a card game, if the film follows the lore from other films, and he might meet Chewbacca, who could be a young Wookie slave working in the spice mines on Kessel.

According to popular Star Wars novelizations, Han met Chewie on a slave ship that was transporting Wookies illegally, and he saved the wounded Chewie from his dark fate. Since Star Wars films have been ignoring novelization plotlines for years, there's no reason to assume Han Solo's film will use this scene. However, since Howard has teased both "spice" and "Kessel" on Instagram, Chewie's origin story would fit into that setting nicely.

Which other familiar faces could appear in the film?

Han Solo's untitled film is technically a Star Wars period piece, as Rogue One and George Lucas's prequels were. That means that technology will look a little different compared with what we've seen in The Force Awakens and that most people aren't yet concerned with the Sith. Darth Vader exists at this point in the timeline, but he's not likely to appear in the Han Solo film at all, as evidenced by the actor who played him in Rogue One saying he is "100 percent not filming."

If we place Han Solo's movie in the timeline according to the ages of other characters, Luke and Leia are younger than Han and are only children at this point. Leia is being raised as royalty on Alderaan, and Luke is tinkering on droids on Tatooine. Saw Gerrera from Rogue One is an active political dissident somewhere, though producer Kathleen Kennedy has said he will not appear in the Han Solo film, as Disney has larger plans for the character and can't muddy the waters with too many appearances.

The Galactic Empire, led by Emperor Palpatine, has just come to power after the summation of the Clone Wars. Howard posted a photo to Instagram this week in which a stormtrooper is barely visible; if stormtroopers are marching around during the Han Solo film, that means the Empire is already a functioning system, though they may not yet be omnipresent enough that people are making stormtrooper action figures, as they apparently do by the time Rogue One happens.

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A Death Trooper holds Jyn Erso's stormtrooper action figure in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd / Jonathan Olley

So if Han is completely unaware of both Jedis and Sith lords in his solo film, what will provide the intrigue? Luckily for fans, Han's checkered past involves a lot of bad deals, including the one that initially pisses off Jabba the Hutt enough that Jabba appears with a vengeance in Return of the Jedi. Therefore, there's a possibility we'll see an early Jabba in Han's solo film, not to mention a younger Greedo, the bounty hunter whom Han kills in A New Hope.

Rabid Star Wars fans already know quite a bit about Han's youth from offhand comments made across the existing films. Kessel Run, a challenging flight maneuver Han allegedly made on the planet Kessel while driving the Millennium Falcon, was mentioned in the original trilogy and in 2016's The Force Awakens. Accounts of what exactly happened have changed over time within the Star Wars reality; we see Rey breathlessly describe Kessel Run to Finn in The Force Awakens, and Han corrects her, saying he made it in 12 parsecs, not 14.

In Han Solo's prequel film, we'll get to watch Han drive the Falcon through that challenge for the first time. Howard teased the sequence this week with an Instagram post captioned, "Spicey?," referring to Kessel being a planet popular with smugglers moving "spice," a popular drug.

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Spicey?

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There has been a great deal of shuffling on the Han Solo project, even aside from co-directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord being fired in June. Iger said in March that the Han Solo prequel would portray Han as he "gets his name," which led fans to believe that "Solo" was a nickname. Kennedy clarified the statement in April, saying that she had no idea what Iger had meant and that Han Solo was actually named Han Solo.

For a brief moment there, Star Wars fans wanted to believe that Han's actual surname was Ren, which would make his son Ben's Sith name, Kylo Ren, and the evil Knights of Ren seem all the more ironic in The Force Awakens. However, that theory doesn't seem to have much evidence behind it anymore.

Perhaps the character most hotly anticipated in the Han Solo film is young Lando Calrissian, whom Glover will bring to life while sporting the mustache made famous by Billy Dee Williams, who played the older Lando in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. From Star Wars film lore, we know that Han and Lando have maintained a prickly friendship for years, and that the Millennium Falcon, Han and Chewie's prized ship, originally belonged to Lando. Han won the Falcon in a card game called Sabacc in Cloud City, but further details have yet to be given in the film.

What about original characters and ideas?

In August, Michael K. Williams, who had previously been cast in the Han Solo film as a humanoid/animal hybrid alien, told Deadline that his role had been cut from the film entirely once Howard took over.

As for unfamiliar faces in the franchise, Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) wrapped filming on the Han Solo film this week. Her character is rumored to be named Kira, and no details regarding her relationship to Han have been released. Paul Bettany (The Avengers), also playing an original character, wrapped filming in early September. Woody Harrelson's character, Beckett, is a fellow criminal to Han and apparently serves as a kind of mentor to the young smuggler. Thandie Newton (Westworld) will also play a dominant character, though no details about her role have been released.

The Han Solo movie does not have a release date, and no trailers or teasers have been made available online.

Han Solo's 'Star Wars' Film: Everything We Know About Chewbacca, Lando and More | Culture