You may not know exactly what a parsec is, but you probably know it only took 12 of them for Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon to complete the Kessel Run. Star Wars fans get giddy at the mention of the mythic route, which stands for the embodiment of the smuggler’s awesomeness. We never got to see Han race the run in the original six movies, but now with a standalone prequel movie — co-directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han — on the way, here’s the case for why it should finally be shown on-screen.
Thus far, Disney has been sparse in its release of details about what will be the second standalone Star Wars movie. Along with Young Han, it’ll definitely feature Chewbacca, it’ll have Lando in some shape or form, and it will be some kind of origin story. That’s about it for now. Adding the Kessel Run to that simple list wont hurt.
There are only fleeting details revealed about the Run throughout the movies; it’s really only mentioned in A New Hope, when Han is trying to impress Luke and Obi-Wan. “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?” he asks as he saunters up to the table in the ramshackle cantina. “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.”
That speed — which we are led to assume is quite fast — didn’t impress either the immature Luke or the wizened old Jedi Ben Kenobi, but it sure did endure audiences to Han’s brand of cocky braggadocio. It was even later included as a welcome callback when Han and Chewie steal the Falcon back from Finn and Rey during The Force Awakens. “This is the ship that made the Kessel Run in fourteen parsecs!” Rey geeked out while aboard the Falcon, to which Han grumbled back: “Twelve!”
Contrary to popular belief, the Kessel Run isn’t some sort of race. In Star Wars lore, the Kessel Run was a direct route used by smugglers to transport goods while avoiding heavy Imperial security presence. The ability to make the run made a smuggler very attractive to illicit goods dealers.
Though it was mentioned in passing in A New Hope and The Force Awakens, the run itself was actually depicted in the 1998 Expanded Universe novel, Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin. The EU has been rendered moot in the new and limited Disney canon, but the version in the novel could be of use if it makes its way into the standalone movie.
In the novel, Han is on Bespin and wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a card game called Sabacc. He and Chewie hightail it out of there, making a quick detour on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, where the Wookiee gets hitched. The good feelings don’t last long, as their luck changes and they’re rendered broke after a band of Rebels claims the Falcon’s goods and their possessions for the Rebellion’s cause. To make some quick cash, Han and Chewie take on smuggled cargo for Jabba the Hutt, using the famed Kessel Run as their route. They dump the cargo after they’re intercepted by Imperial forces, but 12 parsecs later and they’re clear across the swath of the Kessel Run lickety split.
This is the myth-making origin of a legendary character. It’s the perfect kind of connective tissue to the original trilogy and the type of fan service that also serves the story that Lord and Miller will likely try to tell in the standalone movie. It also involves Lando and Chewie. What more do you need?
Of course, putting something on screen immediately puts it in danger of not living up to the hype, especially after 40 years. Nothing beats a legendary scene you can imagine in your mind, and nothing is worse than a boring version that doesn’t live up to what you imagined. Still, these are the dudes who managed to make The Lego Movie into one of the funniest comedies of the year and not just a blatant marketing gimmick, so they’ve worked wonders before. If they manage to put it in the movie, then everybody will have heard of the Millennium Falcon.